Like everyone else around the world, you’re probably reading this article while quarantined at home to keep you safe from the coronavirus. It’s great to have more time with the family but work stoppages and businesses shutting down during the quarantine period is not good for your financial health.

Even if the quarantine period is lifted, there’s a possibility it might get imposed again. Until such time that a cure or a vaccine is found, getting quarantined periodically might be the new normal.

That means more interruptions in the flow of your income. 

Now, that doesn’t have to be the new normal! Just because you’re quarantined doesn’t mean your ability to earn money is. 

If you’ve always dreamt about starting a business while staring outside the window of your office cubicle, now is the best time to turn that dream into reality. 

Here are 10 online businesses that you can start from home RIGHT NOW!

1. E-Commerce/Online Retail

E-commerce is a growing industry

From a US $1.3 Trillion industry, e-Commerce has boomed into a US $4.2 Trillion industry and is expected to hit US $6.5 Trillion in 2023.

We’re talking global numbers here. 

In the United States, e-Commerce now accounts for 11.2% of total retail sales. Six years ago, the number was only 4.2%.

As more people continue to depend on mobile technology to manage their needs for work and life, e-commerce will continue to grow. 

Certainly, it is not too late for you to start an e-commerce business!

Of course, you’ll need products or services to sell. The most purchased products online include fashion apparel, smartwatches, jewelry, exercise equipment, and things for your pet. 

You’ll need to source suppliers or vendors. Another option is to get into dropshipping where you offer to sell the products of the manufacturer and earn a commission. The manufacturer will take care of the shipping.

For sure, you will need an e-commerce website to showcase the products you will be selling. 

The benefits of having an e-commerce website for your business will be the subject of another blog. For now, if you want to learn more about an e-commerce website, give us a call. 

Let’s schedule an online meeting and we’ll take you through the process!

2. Online Tutorial

“How to play guitar”

“How to speak Spanish”

“How to make your own video game”

People are constantly searching online for courses on how to learn new skills or how to get better at their hobbies and interests. 

If you are considered an expert or certified to teach a specific skill, why not monetize your passion and create a course about it online? 

Promote your courses on social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Give examples of what you can do or offer limited-time only free lessons so people can get an idea of what your courses are about. 

For example, on YouTube, musicians give free lessons. If you want more in-depth instruction, click on the link and sign up for personalized courses on the website. 

3. Consultancy Services

As you know, the global quarantine period affected many businesses. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the month-long quarantine could cost the global economy $1 to $2 Trillion. 

Business owners, CEOs, and top-level executives are thinking of ways to recover and get back on the road to profitability once the quarantine period is lifted. However, unless a vaccine or cure is found, the business sector will remain at risk of undergoing periodic quarantine. 

If you’ve accumulated decades of business success, maybe it’s time for you to leverage your work experience and help these industries recover by starting an online consultancy business. 

You need to put up a website with a powerful and compelling BVP or Brand Value Proposition on the Home Page. Your BVP should hook the interest of the visitor within 6 seconds.

Get testimonials from clients who benefited from your expertise. You can display the testimonials on the Home Page or the Services Page. 

Finally, blog eight to 12 times a month to improve your visibility. In fact, before going live, your blog page should have 4 to 6 articles published.

Then, heavily promote your business consultancy website on social media. Reach out to your network and let them know you have a consultancy business that can help them get back on track. 

4. Affiliate Marketing

Another way to start an e-commerce business is to simply promote and sell the products of other businesses on your website. This is called Affiliate Marketing and if you’re good, you can expect to receive checks worth thousands of dollars in the mail every month!

Let’s say you decided to offer guitar lessons online. It will take time to create high-quality videos on learning basic chord shapes and progressions. 

In the meantime, you can reach out to other online music businesses and ask if you can sell their products – string cleaners, strings, picks – on your website. You can mention the products in blogs such as “How to Choose the Best Strings for Your Guitar” or “Flatpick or Fingerstyle – Which One is For You?”

Many online businesses start out as affiliate marketers because it takes time to create their own products and services. Meanwhile, they continue to blog to improve their reputation and attract more followers. Affiliate marketing gives them an opportunity to make money while the products are being produced. 

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5. Membership Site

A Membership Site is a website that gives subscribers – your members – access to unique content, training tools, and other materials of value every month for a fee. 

This is a wonderful feature that you can include on your website if you are offering online instruction or business consulting services. 

For example, if you are a business consultant, the membership fee can include one-on-one consultation once-a-week for the entire month. You can offer the same benefit if you offer online instruction. 

If you provide good service that delivers results for your clients, the membership site can generate months of recurring income for your business. 

6. Digital Marketing

With the quarantine, people are cooped up in their homes where the daily commute has been replaced by trips to the kitchen from the bedroom. To stave off boredom, many are resorting to Netflix, Facebook or YouTube.

Whatever you decide to do to waste away the time, you will notice the undeniable presence of digital marketing. 

Online content is everywhere!

If you did not catch on then, hopefully, the quarantine period has made you realize the value of digital marketing. Consumers will see your marketing content and ads whenever they are online, which is estimated to be 6 hours per day!

Starting a digital marketing website is perfect for those with experience in this field. Certification is a big plus but not necessary. What is important is to have good knowledge of the following processes:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Writing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Link Building
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

As a Digital Marketer, you don’t have to do everything. Assemble a team of remote workers who have these skills. Network for clients via social media and online platforms such as UpWork and Freelancer or go through your contacts list. You could also find lists similar to this that include Web Design Companies.

7. Freelance Services

Similar to Digital Marketing, if you have a specific skill that you are really proficient at, monetize it by offering freelance services.

All you have to do is create an online profile on a freelancer website. Upwork, Freelancer, Guru, Fiverr, People Per Hour, and Toptal are among the most popularly used. 

Once your online profile is set, you can start bidding on projects that are posted by clients. 

As a first-time freelancer, it might take some time before you can sign up your first client. Look at it as a numbers-game but take a conservative position.

For example, if you want to sign up 1 client, assume that your success rate will be a low 2%. Therefore, to sign up 1 client you have to bid for 50 projects per month or:

1 client / 0.02 success rate = 50 project bids per month or 2 project bids per day

It’s not easy to bid for projects! Read the job ad very carefully and bid only on those projects where you are confident of your qualifications.

8. Personal Training Services

An estimated 23% of the United States’ population gets regular exercise according to a report published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We expect more people to exercise regularly once the quarantine is lifted.

Without a cure or a vaccine, doctors and scientists have suggested that a strong immune system will help give you a better chance of fighting off the coronavirus. Exercise is one of the most effective ways of strengthening your immune system. 

Even if gyms and fitness centers reopen, people will remain wary of patronizing establishments where social distancing is improbable. Also, gym equipment has been known to harbor different types of bacteria.

If you are a certified Personal Trainer or someone who is particularly skilled in an activity or sport, you may want to consider starting an online Personal Training business. 

It will take some time to have high-quality video content produced for your personal training website. In the meantime, why not take videos of your home quarantine workouts and post them on social media? 

Let your community know that you can provide online fitness consultation and create personalized exercise programs for them. 

9. Homemade Products

Are you an amazing cook? Do people know of your ability to bake delicious cakes and cookies? Can you make elegant jewelry or design unique, eye-catching t-shirts? 

Now, is the time to fully-explore your talents!

You have a captive market – the community where you are quarantined. In some areas, you cannot travel past your town or city. People can only leave home at certain hours to replenish supplies. 

Having special treats once in a while will help them bring a sense of normalcy. 

Post your delivery service on social media. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are excellent social media networks to use for image-heavy products. 

If possible, distribute samples door-to-door. Don’t forget to include information about your contact number and delivery hours.

Who knows? Maybe after the quarantine period, your sideline can become a good source of income. 

10. Graphic Design 

If you have an eye for design and a good feel for software programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, and Affinity Designer, start an online business offering graphic design services. 

Every day, entrepreneurs are working on new business ideas. They will need logos for branding purposes and images for their websites and social media presence. 

Put up a website with a portfolio page or “Showroom” that highlights your designs. Promote your services through social media and reach out directly to your business contacts. 

You can also bid for projects at online freelance platforms that cater specifically to graphic designers such as Fiverr, 99Designs, UpWork, Freelancer.com, and Behance.

Conclusion

We believe that you should only worry about the things you can control. You can’t control the coronavirus or the onset of other unforeseen events. However, you can control or at least manage, your financial well-being. 

If the quarantine taught us anything, it is to value what we have – family, health, and our jobs. Hopefully, the newfound appreciation will help us realize that nothing is set in stone. Work and life remain intertwined in that what affects one affects the other.

To protect life, we must ensure that our work or means of livelihood is covered. If you’re employed, your stream of earnings will be affected by work stoppages. 

By starting your home-based online business, you open another stream where new revenues can flow through. 

While there is no vaccine to protect you from the coronavirus, an online business will immunize your finances from future periods of quarantine. 

Do you have other ideas for an online business that you can start now? Please share in the comments section. 

And if you need help in getting a website up for your online business, give us a call or an email. We’ll set up a video conference call and take you through the process of web design. 

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community!

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As the old saying goes, “a man’s home is his castle” but what if the castle is about to house a place for work? 

Working from home is a great opportunity to build a career that affords you work-life balance. However, if you’re not careful, the balance could be tipped in favor of work and disrupt home life. 

Here are 10 tips that will allow you to productively work from home without turning the roof under your head into your old brick-and-mortar office.                                            

1. Don’t Work From Your Bed

Just because you are working from home does not mean you can work anywhere. There are areas in your home that can and will inhibit productivity. One of them is the bedroom. This isn’t just an opinion; the reason is supported by research.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University believes that working from the bed will weaken the mental association between sleep and your bedroom. 

According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, working with computers before bedtime will reduce the amount of melatonin that you produce. Melatonin is a hormone that influences your Circadian or sleep/wake cycle. 

The bedroom is for sleep and relaxation. To ensure a good night’s sleep, keep computers and other devices off the bedroom’s premises.

2. Stay On A Consistent Schedule

One of the perks of working from home is that you get to set your work schedule. You don’t have to follow a 9-to-5 or a 6 – 8-hour work schedule because you have the benefit of having flexible hours. 

Plan your schedule one week ahead. If you have family obligations – your daughter’s piano recital, your son’s soccer game, picking up a relative from the airport – mark them on the calendar. Then, plan your work schedule around them. 

Another option is to find the hours of the day where you are most productive. Oftentimes, these are the hours after you have taken care of the day’s other activities such as taking the kids to school or attending to banking duties.

The most important thing is to stay on a consistent schedule whether it is 9-to-5, 6 am to 12 pm or 1 pm to 7 pm. 

By doing so, you are dedicating time to get actual work done. You will be more focused and committed to accomplishing the day’s tasks. 

3. A Home Is Still A Home – Dedicate A Space For Work

The bedroom is not the only area in the house that you shouldn’t work from. 

Here are a few more areas that you should not set up office:

  • Living Room – You might get tempted to lounge around your comfortable sofa or watch the latest Netflix movie.
  • Kitchen – The refrigerator, oven, microwave, and cupboards are just a step away. Not only will you lose productive hours but you will gain excess weight.
  • The Family or Recreation Room – Ping-pong table? Dartboard? Billiards table? Pinball machine? Video games? These are great activities to do with the family but 100% detrimental to work.

If you are committed to building a work from home business, then dedicate a space for work.

  • Buy high-quality furniture
  • Buy a computer that is set up only for work.
  • Give it the look and feel of an office – wall clock, filing cabinet, and whiteboard. More on the whiteboard later!

Keep the home office off-limits to everyone during work hours. 

4. Use A Task Management Software

To be more productive, embrace technology. Integrate a few digital tools into the workflow to help organize tasks and stay on top of deadlines. 

You can find many wonderful software programs on the Internet that are very effective and come with a free version. At Mountaintop, Asana is our preferred task management software. 

Asana is easy to use and has features that make it the ideal tool for collaborating with remote teams. Every time a project is posted or completed, an email notification is sent to designated team members.

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5. Install A Whiteboard In The Office

The whiteboard is an old school office fixture that is simple, basic, and yet, continues to significantly contribute to productivity in this day and age of apps and smart technology.

Research has proven that writing with pen on paper improves cognition and helps establish a stronger connection between you and the task compared to typing on a keypad. The same can be said when writing on a whiteboard. 

Before ending the workday, write your goals for the following day on the whiteboard. There will be no guesswork. When the alarm goes off and after you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you know exactly what you’re going to do. 

Upon entering the home office, the whiteboard will be the first thing you’ll see. It will seem that your built-in laser sight has been triggered and you can’t wait to zero in and complete your targeted goal.

6. Remove All Forms Of Distraction

Once you’ve set up your home office with the right furniture, a spacious workstation, and the latest computer, there is still one thing left to do.

Remove all forms of distraction which include your mobile phone, video game portable console, social media, and other websites that have no relevance to your work. 

Unless there is a scheduled audio-visual call, we suggest closing Skype. Oftentimes, your contacts will send you messages. Most of these messages could just be personal in nature.

The constant blinking that notifies you of these messages can be a source of distraction. 

As we suggested earlier, the home office should be a no-entry zone during work hours. Unless it is an emergency, ask your family and friends to refrain from knocking on the door. 

7. Update Your Tasks As Needed

Even if you’ve written down the day’s goals the night before, don’t hesitate to change or update your tasks as needed. 

Business is unpredictable. 

For example, a client may request that you prioritize a project because he has a very tight schedule. It is also possible that a client whose project you designated as “Priority Number One” will ask you to put off additional work until further notice. 

Remember that one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you don’t have a boss because you are the boss. You call the shots and that means you have full control over your work schedule. 

Yes, write down your tasks/goals the night before but adapt a flexible work schedule.

8. Don’t Work In Your Pajamas

It may feel nice to get out of bed and go straight to your home office but what you wear can affect how you work.

For one, dressing in office clothes will set the tone for the day. Similar to why you should not work from your bed, dressing up creates the proper mental association – pajamas are for sleeping, office clothes are for working. 

You don’t have to put on a tie or a dress suit. Wear something informal but appropriate enough for a Skype audio-visual call with a client or your remote team.

9. Exercise During Breaktime

Sitting for long periods may lead to chronic pain or discomfort on your back, shoulders, and neck. Working on the computer for long stretches can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. 

You need to get the blood circulation moving from time-to-time. If you spend 90 minutes working on a task, take a 30-minute break after and use the time to do some light exercise and stretching. 

You don’t have to go to the gym or change into your workout clothes. Perform sets of 10 repetitions of squats, pushups, and situps. Get in a quick 10-minute yoga or Pilates session. 

10. Use An Alarm Clock Or A Timer

Sometimes we get so engrossed in what we’re doing that we lose track of time. An alarm clock will be your constant reminder that “time’s up!”

Productivity is all about quality work. It’s not about the number of hours spent but how you spend those hours. 

You should also remember a very important reason why you made the decision to work from home – so you can spend more time with your family. 

Once the day’s work hours have been completed, shut off the home office PC then change from your office clothes to your stay-at-home clothes. 

Conclusion

Over the next few years, expect more people to work from home. As an entrepreneur, you save up on rent, avoid the inconvenience of the daily commute, and become more productive. However, your home should still feel like home. 

Think back to the time when you worked 9-to-5 in a traditional office. When work became stressful, you couldn’t wait for the clock to strike five so you can head out the door and drive to the waiting and loving arms of your home. 

You wouldn’t want your home to be a place for stress. It will affect your relationships with family and defeat the purpose of working from home. 

Do you have other tips that will improve productivity for those who work from home? Please share them in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to have similar content for your website, please give us a call or an email. We’re more than just a website design and development company. Our digital marketing program can help bring your business to the next level.

And feel free to share this article with your community!

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The idea of working from home is very appealing. Imagine not having to deal with the inconveniences of the commute – the traffic, looking for a parking space, errant drivers, just to name a few. 

You get to manage your work schedule and streamline your expenses. All of that plus the opportunity to become financially independent.

The transition from a 9-to-5 office environment to a work from home lifestyle is not as easy as you might think.

There are days that you wake up to an empty home and the silence can be deafening. Not having co-workers around or experiencing the hustle and bustle of a busy office will take some time to adjust.

Then, there are the unforeseen events that can disrupt the natural flow of work and life such as the coronavirus pandemic. 

10 Ways To Stay Productive And Remain Positive While Working From Home

Although the coronavirus or Covid-19 had been under the microscope of many leading scientists around the world, the outbreak happened faster than expected and spread far and wide.

It seemed that overnight, our lives were turned upside down. Across the world, people had to practice social distancing and were mandated  by their respective governments to self-quarantine. 

Even if you were working from home at the time the quarantine took effect, you, like many around the world, must have been thinking, “life will never be the same again.”

In addition to the usual challenges of managing projects while working at home and dealing with disruptors such as technical latency issues, now with the virus, we had something new – something we’ve never dealt with –  to worry about. 

Work and life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean you should allow the situation to affect your productivity and positivity. 

It’s a global pandemic – yes – but not the end of the world!

Here are 10 ways you can stay productive and remain positive while working from home.

1. Remain Optimistic, Search for Opportunities

If you own a business that was affected by the lockdown, use the month-long quarantine period to search for opportunities. Perhaps the quarantine is a sign for you to adapt to an Internet-based business model. 

Think about it. The businesses that continued to operate during the lockdown were the ones with an online presence. 

These businesses either had a telecommuting program in place or set up a global remote team composed of virtual assistants and freelancers.  

Despite the situation, remain optimistic. Visionaries are those who find opportunities during times of chaos. 

2. Focus on the Solution – Not the Problem

Did you experience a power outage while in the middle of an important Skype call with a client?

Send an email to the client from your smartphone. Explain what just happened and inform him that you will be heading out to the nearest Internet shop to continue the Skype call.

The client may get back to you and suggest that the call be rescheduled tomorrow. At any rate, the client will appreciate your immediate attention to the problem.

When we’re in a difficult situation, we tend to spend more time focusing on the problem instead of finding solutions. Problems trigger powerful emotions such as despair, frustration, and anger, all of which drain us of much-needed energy.

That’s why the more you dwell on problems the worse they become because you are feeding them with your energy. 

To get out of a difficult situation, focus your energies toward finding solutions. The more time you spend formulating, testing, and evaluating courses of action, the sooner you can find resolution and move on to more productive endeavors.

3. Practice Effective Time Management

It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home. There are so many distractions – the couch, TV, social media, the kitchen, and your pet. Put them all aside by creating – and committing – to a work schedule.

Effective time management starts the night before. Summarize your tasks and arrange them according to the degree of importance. Pick out no more than 3 key tasks and prioritize them for the following day.

Dedicate 90 minutes of 100%, full and undivided attention to each task. Once the time period has been completed, take a 20-30 minute break to recharge. 

Managing your hours in a day will help you become productive. And when you’re able to accomplish many tasks, you develop a positive attitude. 

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4. Create a Productive and Positive Workspace

Your workplace does not have to be your “Happy Place” but it should be conducive to productivity and encourage a positive attitude. 

Here are 6 tips to help you create a productive and positive workplace:

  • Keep your workplace clean and organized.
  • Buy a comfortable chair. 
  • Use a spacious table.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Post positive and inspiring messages in select areas.
  • Make sure you have a nice view of the outdoors. 

Lastly, dress for work! Nothing too formal – a neat dress shirt and slacks will be fine. Wearing office clothes will put you in the right mood and frame of mind for work. 

5. Stay in Touch with Your Value Chain

Are you working with a remote team? Stay in touch with them from time to time. Don’t just talk about work. Find out how things are going at home and with the family. 

Touch base with your clients. How are they coping with the quarantine? Is everyone in their household in good health? 

The success of a home-based business isn’t just measured by dollars and cents. For the greater part, success is measured by the number of long-term relationships you were able to build. 

It’s great having a reputation for being productive and a consistent provider of high-quality products and services. But being remembered as someone who constantly exuded a positive attitude will help you maintain clients for the rest of your career.

6. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good. That’s why exercise is popularly recommended by doctors to people who are suffering from depression.

Regular exercise strengthens your body and its immune system. It keeps your energy levels up and gives you the confidence to overcome difficult situations. 

It will be great to work out in a gym but you can get good exercise at home:

  • Do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, and sit-ups.
  • If you have stairs, walk up and down the steps for 10 minutes. 
  • Take a 10-minute walk outside your house. 
  • Lay down a mat and do Yoga or Pilates.

You can set up a small home gym with a jump rope, resistance bands, a yoga mat, a few dumbbells, and a stability ball. 

You don’t have to train like “The Rock” to get fit – just keep moving!

7. Eat Healthy and Well

Eating pizza “with the works” might make you feel good but as soon as the food settles, you’ll regret having that extra slice. 

Starchy carbohydrates will get your blood sugar levels hitting highs and lows throughout the day that will make you feel sluggish. As your body struggles to digest all that fat from the cheese and processed meat, you’ll feel tired. 

Instead of choosing processed food, opt for natural sources of macronutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. They have fewer calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and easier to digest. 

You will have fewer mood swings and more energy throughout the day. Likewise, eating vitamin-rich foods will help strengthen your immune system. 

8. Get Enough Sleep

If you’ve been exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, the third component of a fit lifestyle is to get enough sleep – at least seven hours every night. 

Recall the last time you got poor quality sleep. 

  • How did you perform at work? 
  • Were you sluggish? 
  • Were you able to focus on your tasks? 
  • How many tasks were you able to finish?

The health benefits of a good night’s sleep have been well studied and documented. Getting less than the recommended hours of sleep will affect all aspects of your health – physical, mental, and emotional. 

Here are a few tips on how to get good quality sleep every night:

  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime
  • Shut off all computer devices including your smartphone two hours before bedtime
  • Don’t work on tasks one hour before bedtime
  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach

As much as possible, avoid taking sleeping pills and other types of sleep medication. Try meditation or going through deep breathing exercises.

9. Avoid Contact with Toxic People

Toxic people will complain about anything and everything. They bring negative energy wherever they go. Being around toxic people will stress you out and drain you of positive energy.

Can you encounter toxic people while working from home? Yes! Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. No one’s perfect; some of your family members may have acquired the toxic gene. 

Another place where toxic people thrive is social media. How many of your “friends” on Facebook rant on a daily – or hourly – basis? 

To stay productive and positive, avoid contact with toxic people. Follow our earlier advice – practice effective time management. Let’s add a corollary to that one – keep your office locked during work hours.

Limit your time on social media. These networks can be a great source of information but they can be powerful productivity and positivity disruptors as well. 

10. Look for Inspiration

Sometimes a moment of inspiration can give you a better jolt than a double espresso. 

There will be days when you feel that you’re not up to the task. Distractions may have gotten the best of you or perhaps all the white noise has drowned out the remaining voice of reason. 

When you start questioning the purpose – the “why” of working from home – look for a source of inspiration that can get you back on the straight and narrow. 

You can find inspiration anywhere – a book, a song, a phrase, the great outdoors or from your family. Use that inspiration to reconnect with your purpose and serve as a reminder of what makes you get up every morning to seize the day.

Conclusion

The coronavirus added another layer in our quest to achieve work and life balance. 

  • “Are quarantines and lockdowns the ‘new normal’?”
  • “How will this affect my family and work and for how long?”
  • “Can we ever go back to normal – the ‘old normal’?”

Such negative thoughts become the white noise that keep us awake at night and affect our performance at work. Many go through periods of mental stress and emotional distress. 

Collectively, these are conditions that cultivate an environment of negativity,  pessimism, and unproductivity. 

You don’t want that.

Your family doesn’t want that.

Your customers and clients don’t want that.

You should only focus on the things you can manage – work, family, and your health. You remain accountable to them and thus, should find ways to stay productive at work and remain positive for your family and yourself.

Do you have any tips to share about staying productive and positive that were not covered by this article? Please share them in our comments section. 

And if you need assistance in getting your online business off and running, give us a call or drop us an email. We offer web design and digital marketing services that will help grow your business.

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There was a time when we were obsessed with getting as little sleep as possible.

We’d brag with “I only slept five hours last night” or “I only got four hours on Monday” like it was something to be proud of: a genuine achievement we could boast about to our peers. We’d wear it as proudly as any other badge of honor.

Luckily for our collective sanity, we are slowly starting to realize the importance of sleep. Not only that, but we’re also shifting our focus to living a balanced life, as opposed to killing ourselves on the job and sacrificing as much as we humanly can. Finally, we’re putting our wellbeing if not first, at least in the top three.

Let’s explore why sleep is so intricately tied to success, and how you can work on yours.

Sleep Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Not that bouncing back from a heart attack wouldn’t be a great achievement – but clearly, forgoing the emergency room is simply common sense.

A major risk factor of heart disease and stroke is high blood pressure. Sleep helps our bodies keep it in check and regulate it better, lowering the risk of heart disease and its unpleasant complications.

Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

Getting enough sleep is a prerequisite to fighting off all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to major inflammations and more serious diseases.

When our bodies are under constant strain, they will not be as good at preventing diseases and injuries as they otherwise would. Each night, we have to give them the time they need to repair and recover from what we have inflicted on them during the day.

Considering the fact that illness-related productivity drops have cost US businesses $530 billion a couple of years ago, the link between health, productivity, and success are clear to see.

Sleep and Mental Health are Profoundly Connected

Depression and anxiety are more prevalent today than ever before in the history of humankind. And while we have yet to understand either of these mental challenges fully, what we do know is that not getting enough sleep can intensify their symptoms and make coping all that more difficult.

When we are under constant stress (as we are), exposed to countless stimuli, and when our minds don’t have enough time to process everything that’s going on around them, we start to get more irritable, we lose our focus, and our moods tend to suffer.

Sleep Boosts Productivity

How much sleep you get is in direct proportion with how productive and focused you can be during the day.

Of course, it’s not the only factor that plays a key role, but it is among the more important ones.

Losing just a single night’s sleep will make your response rates 50% lower than someone who has a 0.1% blood alcohol level.

And thus begins a vicious circle. If you are less productive, you’ll want to make up for the unfinished tasks by staying at work longer. That will, in turn, mean you don’t get enough sleep again, and so on.

This will lead to all kinds of unpleasant consequences. Your mood will deteriorate, you will begin to worry more, your attention spans will shorten, and you won’t be able to rest even when you do get to bed.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

Sleeping well is not just about sleeping for a certain number of hours. Sleep quality is also very important, as our brains truly get to rest only when we fall into deep sleep.

Here’s what you can do to help it get there:

  • Invest in a quality mattress that will help your body rest better.  
  • Maintain a sleep schedule. Regardless of what day of the week dit is, sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time.
  • Stop looking at a screen (including your phone) at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Read a book or meditate before going to bed, as opposed to engaging with technology.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-aired at all times, as temperatures and air quality have a large influence on how you sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed if you can help it.
  • Listen to relaxing music or sleep stories if you need help falling asleep.

While it may take some time to get used to, practicing good sleep hygiene will slowly get you into the right rhythm, and you will fall asleep more easily.

Wrap Up

Instead of trying to do more and sleep less, focus on getting enough sleep so that you will be able to do more. A well-rested and relaxed mind will be much better at performing all kinds of tasks. It will be more creative, more productive, and a much more pleasant space to occupy.

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or headed off to a long drive, it would make the journey more pleasant when you have something to listen to. Sure, having your favorite singer blaring in your headset or the car’s sound system provides a welcome respite from the monotony of the moment. But why not use the time to jumpstart your knowledge, pick up new ideas, or stay updated on the latest developments by listening to a podcast during the commute?

The Growth Of The Podcast Community In the United States

According to the latest report published by the Infinite Dial, more than 50% of Americans have listened to at least 1 podcast and one out of three Americans listen to at least 1 podcast per month.

In comparison, the number in 2018 was one out of four Americans.

Another interesting statistic that was revealed in the study was more young Americans were listening to podcasts. 40% of Americans aged 12 to 24 have been listening to podcasts compared to 30% the previous year.

What makes the report from the Infinite Dial compelling is that the increase in the popularity of the podcast the past 2 years was markedly significant. There has always been a steady growth in the popularity of podcasts but the increase from 2018 to 2019 was a clear jump-off point. 

A podcast can be entertaining, yet informative. Although the content of podcasts are regulated and have to subscribe to guidelines set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, discussions come across as more authentic. 

The banter between the host, the guest, and the audience – the call-in listeners – is freewheeling, sound unrehearsed, and extemporaneous. 

That does not mean the content is not researched! 

In a podcast, the show invites well-respected and highly competent resource people as guests. You can be assured, more or less, that the information you get from a podcast is updated and valid. 

If you’re not yet part of the podcast community, it’s not too late to join in! 

To get you started, here is a list of our favorite podcasts to listen to during the commute.

1. Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller

Marketing can often be frustrating for many businesses because the campaign doesn’t produce the expected results.

In an effort to get answers, entrepreneurs and marketers tend to over-analyze the problem instead of focusing on the building block of every marketing campaign.

Its message.

Donald Miller and his team understand the power of storytelling and how to harness it for maximum results. People love to hear stories. But not everyone is an effective storyteller.

If you want your market to patronize your business, your story must be compelling enough to get them interested in the products and services that you offer.

Listeners of his podcast love the way Donald shares helpful tips on improving the message of your marketing campaign.

His approach to delivering content on his podcast best represents his idea on the most effective way to tell your story.

Keep it simple and easy to understand!

Put it this way, if people don’t understand your message, how and why will they talk about it to others?

If you’re unsure of your ability to tell your brand’s story, don’t worry. Listen to Donald’s podcast and he’ll put you on the right track so you can connect much better with your market. 

2. Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management, and Customer Service by Lee Cockerell

Lee Cockerell was the former Executive Vice-President of Operations for the Walt Disney World Resort. He spent 10 years managing 20 resort hotels, 2 water parks, 4 theme parks, a shopping and entertainment complex, the sports and recreation facility of ESPN, and more than 40,000 employees.

How did Lee manage all the responsibilities required of a Senior Operating Executive of the world’s most popular vacation destination?

The first syllable of the word “Leadership” is pronounced “lee” and the word is synonymous with Mr. Cockerell who is a big proponent of leadership within an organization.

In his podcast, Lee shares the lessons he learned on leadership, management, and customer value during his time on the “happiest place on earth”.

Lee pulls no punches and gives his unique perspective on the challenges of making it in the big world of business. He discusses why having substance is of more importance than the image you present.

For Mr. Cockerell having an MBA degree and wearing the nicest, most expensive suits amount to nothing if you don’t respect the culture of the organization. To learn how to manage people, you must learn how it is to be managed.

Take 20 minutes to learn valuable tips on business from Lee Cockerell. 

 3. Seth Godin’s Start-Up School

Seth Godin is one of the most respected experts in the field of marketing. In 2018, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Marketing Association. He has also authored close to 20 books. Many of his books, such as Free Prize Inside and The Dip have become must-have in every entrepreneur’s must-read list.

If you haven’t read Seth’s works, you can listen to him in Seth Godin’s Startup School. Think of this as a “reality podcast” where Seth takes 30 entrepreneurs through a master class on how to start and grow their businesses.

Under Seth’s guidance, these entrepreneurs learn to appreciate and apply concepts that may not have been taught in school such as managing your fears, trust, motivation, and how to effectively manage cash flow. 

4. The EntreLeadership Podcast

EntreLeadership is a podcast hosted by Alex Judd. Alex is an in-demand Leadership Coach who believes you can only get better at what you do if are willing to operate outside of your comfort zone.

As the host of EntreLeadership, Alex shares his thoughts and ideas on leadership and gives valuable tips on how to cultivate the best qualities in you. The show regularly features guests who have made an impact on their respective fields.

On any given day, you may find yourself listening to career-defining insights from Mark Cuban, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and Jim Collins plus the most reputable persons from the world of medicine, politics, sports, and the sciences. 

5. Lead To Win with Michael Hyatt

New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt hosts the Lead to Win podcast which focuses on topics that help entrepreneurs, managers, employees, and everyday people gain knowledge on improving personal development.

Michael knows what he is talking about in the podcast. He used to be the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers before making a successful tenure to life as an entrepreneur.

His entrepreneurial pursuit was included in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. Within 3 years, Michael’s business grew by 330%.

Listen to Lead to Win and learn useful tips for holding productive meetings, staying on track with your goals, co-existing with co-workers, choosing a business coach, improving mental fitness, and increasing your level of productivity. 

6. HBR IdeaCast

HBR Ideacast is the perfect podcast to listen to for people who are motivated to move up the corporate ladder. If you’re looking to find ways to become a more effective manager, listen to this podcast on the commute to work.

HBR editor Sarah Green Carmichael leads a team composed of HBR staff members to engage valuable resource people from different industries in lively banter and insightful interviews.

Although the show is categorized as a management and marketing podcast, it covers more ground than advertised. You will gain knowledge and insights on diverse topics such as science, health, and politics. 

7. The Liberator Podcast

GIANT Worldwide is a world-renowned company that strongly advocates leadership development. The company creates amazing programs and publishes top quality content designed to help anyone – entrepreneurs, office workers, and corporate executives – harness the skills to become effective leaders.

The Liberator is a podcast that has become popular because it is a wonderful resource for learning useful tips on leadership and personal development. Hosted by GIANT co-founders, Steve Cockram and Jeremie Kubicek, the Liberator has helped many of its listeners become more productive and actively involved in the progress of their business and people.

In every session, Jeremie and Steve introduce the latest developments in the world of business as well as new concepts, ideas, and methods in developing leadership skills. 

8. The Pitch

One of the limiting factors in starting and growing a business is funding. For many entrepreneurs, borrowing from a bank is out of the question because of the credit requirements and high-interest charges. Funding through interested investors has become a preferred option.

But what are the risks of getting venture capital? How will it affect your ownership of the business? Are having venture capitalists onboard your business worth it?

More importantly, is your business worth the risk for the venture capitalists?

The Pitch is a show that will answer all of your questions about venture capital. Hosted by entrepreneur Josh Muccio, the podcast is loaded with tips on how to sell your idea to investors, maintain good relationships with them, and make the arrangement prosper. 

9. Side Hustle School

If you’ve been thinking about augmenting your monthly income with a side job, listen to the Side Hustle. This is a podcast that’s worth a listen for anyone who’s thinking of opening another stream of income through a sideline occupation.

The Side Hustle is hosted by Chris Guillebeau, a bestselling author who has written several books and written blogs on the topics of entrepreneurship and personal development.

Every podcast show will feature resource people who have gone through the experience of starting a side hustle. Learn valuable tips on how to succeed – as well as how to avoid their mistakes.  

 10. Dear HBR

Dear HBR is a must-listen-to podcast for those who embrace the daily 9-to-5 grind at the office.

The excellent hosts led by Harvard Business Review editors Alison Beard and Dan McGinn talk about the issues that matter to everyone who works at an office – from the newest recruit to the company CEO.

Alison and Dan provide wonderful insights to all of your questions. Nothing is off-limits! Dear HBR makes it a point to invite renowned topic experts as they handle each question with thought and objectivity.

Dear HBR will also give you updates on the latest research on management, productivity, and valuable tips on motivation and dealing with toxic employees. 

Conclusion

As you have read, most of the podcasts we recommend are focused on entrepreneurship, personal, and leadership development. We acknowledge the value of small businesses not just in America but in the entire world. 

In America, 99.9% of businesses registered are categorized as small – 30.2 million businesses in all.

The sad reality is that more than 50% of these small businesses close down after 5 years. 

Can you imagine if we can improve the success rate of small business America to 55%? Our economy will be more robust and progressive!

Listening to these amazing podcasts is not a guarantee that you will turn your business around. But the tips and insights they share will give you the necessary knowledge to give your business a fighting chance to survive – and thrive!

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

And if you want to know how we can help you manage and grow your business through website design and digital marketing, give us a call! 

Keeping on top of all the assignments that stem from running a company can be challenging – even when you have a whole support system behind you. But when you’re a solopreneur, it all comes down to how much you can accomplish on your own. For the most part, this means maximizing your effectiveness and minimizing distractions.

If your goal is to bring your small business to the next level (and maybe even expand), you will need to find a way of staying in control of all the challenges you face daily. The following strategies help you do exactly that. By implementing them in your daily work routine, you’ll find the perfect way for you to achieve your goals without losing precious time, energy, or resources.

Strategize

If the word strategize reminds you of going into battle, then you’ve already got this whole business thing under your thumb. Because that’s exactly what business is – a war for survival in a cruel, dog-eat-dog world. The only way to make it out alive is to know very well what you’re doing. 

For most entrepreneurs, this means putting a lot of effort into their products or services, designing a great website, maintaining a strong social media presence, and paying close attention to customer service and quality control. And although not many like to think about it, it also means creating an effective exit strategy that you can implement in the case of unexpected circumstances (or simply more exciting projects on the horizon).

A good business plan can also help you determine your goals, and even more, turn them into to-dos you can tackle on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Finally, don’t forget about the importance of your calendar and good project management software.

Don’t underestimate the beneficial effects of rest

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs tend to make is that they work themselves to the bone. In the long term, this can lead to some pretty serious consequences. Burnout affects up to 44% of workers, which is alarming when you think about the negative effects it has on physical and mental health. 

To avoid it and achieve a better work-life balance, it’s important that you get enough downtime. This means limiting the hours in your workweek, taking the occasional vacation (even a staycation will do), making sure you’re eating healthy, exercising on a regular basis, and practicing some form of meditation. Aside from getting you to take regular breaks from your company, these habits are also beneficial because they can help you sleep better.

Keep your eye on the prize

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is lose focus. And as a solopreneur, you definitely won’t be short on everyday distractions that will require your immediate attention. This is especially important if you work from home –a concept that always seems so convenient until you find yourself sitting at your desk at 2 AM because you haven’t been able to get any work done during the day.

Practicing self-discipline is key. Be conscious about removing distractions. For some, this will mean scheduling a specific time of day for replying to emails. For others, it’s silencing their phone or cutting down on multitasking. 

Another great thing you can start implementing today? Setting short-term and long-term goals. Defining these will help you focus on the big picture, while still allowing your vision to be flexible enough to embrace any positive surprises you encounter on the way.

Use all the tools (and help) you can get

Although, as a solopreneur, you don’t have any employees, there are still ways in which you can save time on mundane tasks. 

For example, you can use automation tools for things like invoicing, tracking expenses, or social media strategies. Even basic programs such as Microsoft Excel can go a long way in helping you get things done more efficiently, and often more accurately.

Another thing you might want to consider would be to outsource menial tasks or assignments that need a skilled worker such as an accountant. While you could take care of all your finances on your own, perhaps there are better ways to spend your time than going through receipts each month.

Conclusion

For your business to succeed, it is important that you approach it with both wisdom and willingness to do hard work. 

Luckily, as a solopreneur, you already have the drive and passion that are at the core of a satisfying career. Combine them with a few smart productivity practices, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming not only effective but, more importantly, satisfied with where your business is headed.

Other than “to lose weight”, “to start a small business” is another popular resolution for the New Year. 

In a survey on small business conducted by Guidant Financial, it was revealed that 27% of Americans were more encouraged to transition from corporate life and begin a career as a small business owner. 

If you are planning to start a small business this year, here are 5 challenges that you might face in 2020.

1. Cultivating a Productive Culture Within the Organization

You cannot run a small business on your own. You need to hire good people to help you manage the different areas of your business. Take note, we said “good people”, not the “best people”.

When companies say they want to hire the “best people” for their business, nine out of 10 times, Human Resources is probably focused on the information stated on the Curriculum Vitae.

There is nothing wrong about hiring candidates with the highest educational attainment, longest tenure, most citations and awards, and those with the brightest achievements in their career. 

Their accomplishments in academics and career, thus far, put to rest questions on talent and qualification.

However, hiring the best people does not necessarily mean having the most productive people on your team. 

An employee with all the accolades and achievements can become destructive if he is not a good fit for the culture of your organization. 

Think of a talented but wrong-fit employee as an All-Star caliber player who can’t make a team win because he can’t play with his teammates. He does not want to play within the system and is only concerned about accomplishing individual goals. 

On the other hand, you can have a candidate with modest accomplishments but fits perfectly with your organizational culture. 

He is willing to work within your system; play by your rules and “unlearn” skills that he believes are contradictory to your company’s processes. 

It only takes one ill-fitting employee to infect your business culture. 

In contrast, an organization composed of right-fit employees will foster an environment that is productive, encouraging, and nurturing and will put your business on the fast-track to long term growth and sustainable success. 

Our advice: Put greater emphasis on soft skills over hard or technical skills. 

Soft skills refer to the personality or behavioral attributes that best define the candidate’s approach towards work and life, in general. 

There are software programs that use behavioral-based algorithms to pre-screen applicants by identifying those who share the same values as the company. 

The preliminary interview should feature questions and encourage discussions on topics that best uncover the candidate’s foundational values and deeply-rooted attributes. 

Finally, having candidates participate in group work such as projects and discussions will help identify the ones who fit best in your organizational culture.

2. Adopting Efficient Business Models Without Compromising the Quality of Goods and Services

In an uncertain business environment, small business owners should not only train their focus on revenue-generating programs. 

Small business owners might have to develop or adopt business models that promote greater efficiency – lower costs without compromising the quality of goods and services. 

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Tap Into Global Talent 

Talent is not restricted to any single region in the world. You can find talent everywhere. This is the reason the freelance economy has been growing for the last 2 decades. 

The growth of the freelance economy is tied in with the expansion of the Internet. In March 2000, the Internet was only accessible to 304 million people. Fast-forward to 2020 and there are 4.4 to 4.5  billion people on the Internet every day!

The growth of the Internet has made it possible for businesses to reach out and tap into global talent. 

While there is no significant discrepancy in talent or qualifications across the globe, you can capitalize on comparative advantages such as lower costs of labor. 

For example, in comparison to North America, where the average wage rate for a full-time employee can range from $16 to $20 per hour, you can hire freelancers at one-third the cost. 

  • Integrate Technology-Based Solutions

You can significantly streamline costs by integrating technology-based solutions to your processes. 

For example, instead of using landlines or post/pre-paid mobile phone services to communicate, you can switch to Internet and app-based communication channels.

Communication platforms such as Viber, Skype, and Messenger are effective, dynamic, and cost less compared to traditional channels. 

  • Outsource Tasks

Tasks such as accounting, digital marketing, customer service, and administrative functions are key activities in running a successful business. However, if you have to hire full-time employees to manage each task, your payroll could blow up your monthly budget.

The solution? Outsource or delegate these tasks to qualified third-party service providers.   

In outsourcing, the service provider usually offers flexible payment options. You can negotiate a fixed monthly fee, payment on a per-project basis, or based on performance. 

Outsourcing is a proven way of managing costs without compromising the quality of products and services.

Outsourcing is also a viable solution to the recruitment problem.

In the same survey conducted by Guidant Financial, 22% of small business owners reported that recruiting and retaining employees was one of their most serious challenges to growth. 

If you are having a hard time recruiting talent for your business, you may want to consider outsourcing select tasks to third-party companies or freelancers. 

3. Building Stronger, More Purposeful Relationships With Customers

The idea of building purposeful relationships with customers was put to light by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”.

According to Kahneman, consumers tend to patronize businesses that have successfully triggered an emotional response from them. They understand the “why” or purpose of your business; not just “what” products and services you sell.

Consumers know “who” you are and subscribe to the same values that your business espouses. 

Yes, customers care about what goes into your product. However, they would be more interested in learning why you developed the product and why you got into this type of business. 

Customers want to see a face behind the brand, not just a logo. Customers love a brand that is fully engaged with its end-users because it makes them feel more important and appreciated. 

Our advice: Get out of the comforts and confines of your office. Be active on social media. Set up a website where your followers can find your products, services, and learn more about your company.

Blog actively; but not just about your business. Share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions with your customers. In other words, become a thought-leader. Let your customers know that your brand is not the business. 

You are the brand. 

4. Fortifying Defenses Versus More Aggressive Cyber-Attacks

2019 rung in the New Year by having 1.7 billion records leaked or stolen in various cyber-attacks all over the world. According to a study by Juniper Research, half of cyber-attacks target small businesses. 

Yet, small business owners spend less than $500 on programs designed to fortify defenses against cyber-attacks. 

Dealing with cyber-attacks is part of your current reality as a small business owner in 2020. There are no signs of slowing down and these attacks will only become more aggressive. 

Unless you take these acts of cyber-criminality more seriously, it will not be a question of how, but when your website, social media accounts, and other sources of online information will be compromised. 

Your website stores valuable pieces of information. Your clients and customers have entrusted their business/personal information to your care. It is your responsibility to safeguard and protect their data from malicious online thieves. 

What will you do if you found out your website has been hacked and all of the confidential information – Social Security Numbers, addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers – were all stolen?

Our advice: A single breach of data can destroy everything that you have worked for. Cyber-criminals are trying to stay a step ahead. Today’s latest anti-virus software can be obsolete tomorrow. 

Protecting your small business website isn’t just about getting the latest anti-virus software. You need a holistic defense system; one that can scan, screen, identify and eliminate attacks before they can do damage. 

And it will not break your bank account.

If you want to know how we have protected 100% of our clients’ websites from cyber-attacks over the past few years, give us a call. 

Let’s talk about defense and strategy!

5. Managing Work-Life Balance

One reason why an entrepreneur makes the shift from a 9-to-5 office worker to a small business owner is to have a better work-life balance. But perception is often different from reality. The entrepreneur soon finds himself spending more time at work instead of life.

All the benefits of entrepreneurship – financial independence, managing your own schedule, and having more time with loved ones – become fleeting thoughts; fantasies that may never be realized. 

Small business owners should strive to find a balance between work and life. Putting in more hours at work will not guarantee success. It will only succeed in stressing you out and affecting relationships with friends and family. 

Mobile technology has created a conundrum. Automated processes, software programs, apps, and cloud-based platforms have made it easier to get work done. 

However, instead of clearing out our schedule, we end up doing more things in the same number of hours per day. 

Take a look around you. There are people working on their smartphones while having dinner with family. Couples are answering emails instead of spending quality time with each other. 

Our advice: Productivity is achieved by the quality of hours spent at work, not by the quantity of hours. Set realistic goals – targeting 3 to 4 tasks or projects per day is reasonable and doable. 

In the same way that you schedule time each day for work, schedule time each day for the other important areas of your life – family, friends, self, and silence. 

In your moments of silence, take the time to express gratitude for the day’s successes and failures that have given you valuable insights on how to become better. 

Lastly, be in control of technology, don’t let it control you. Technology is a wonderful thing but it can be disruptive if not managed responsibly. When you’re with family – be with family.

Conclusion

2020 is just another year. If you think about it, 01 January 2020 is just 24 hours removed from 31 December 2019. However, does that mean that the challenges you faced just before you closed the books in 2019 remain the same? The answer is “No”.

The challenges that small businesses face in 2020 are greater and more magnified because with the new year comes new competition, new regulations, new consumers, and new technology. 

The best way to overcome these challenges is to take a more calculated and measured approach to managing a business. 

Think big but start small.

Establish your business culture. How do you want your business to run? Who are the people you would want to work with? What type of working environment do you want to promote in your business? How do you want people to feel about working for you? 

Focus on business efficiency. Look into ways that you can streamline costs without compromising the quality of output. Integrating smart technologies and proven cost-saving processes such as outsourcing can significantly improve business efficiency without breaking the budget.

Prioritize your existing market. Finding new customers is great but don’t neglect your existing customers. They are a wonderful source of recurring business through repeat purchases and referrals. 

Take the necessary steps to buildin strong relationships with them by incorporating an effective customer service process in your business.

Try to mitigate business risk by addressing potential pain points right away. Don’t become a statistic. Fortify your website’s defenses against cyberattacks because you never know when the criminals have trained their sights on your business.

As part of your planning process, give us a call. We can help you map out an effective strategy for starting and growing your small business. In addition to website design and development, we provide digital marketing services that can help promote your business, its products, and services. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community!

Every leader has their own version of what the word “good” will mean for them.

As will every employee.

Being a good leader is about more than getting good results – it’s also about team happiness, efficiency, and productivity.

But when your team is faced with a tight deadline, your role as their leader changes, too.

Here is how you can adapt to the situation and still make the most of it.

Have a system in place

The best thing you can do in the first place is to set up a system that all your employees will be familiar with and able to adhere to.

This system needs to encompass everything, including the designated communication channels, attendance and days off, responsibilities, and task delegation – the whole shebang.

The reasoning behind the system is that you, as the team leader, need to be aware of everything that is going on at a glance, without having to make a single call or send out a single email.

This will enable you to predict breached deadlines and the potential for disaster, and allow you to act accordingly as well.

A good project management tool to help you achieve just that is a Gantt chart, which you can customize as much as you need to.

Know your team

Another prep step that leads up to the tight deadline scenario we are discussing, and the most important prerequisite for success in any team, is knowing your players well enough to be able to assemble your starting lineup flawlessly.

Pardon the sporting reference, but you get the picture.

There will be people in your team who are great at what they do and are also great communicators. There will be those who are great at what they do, but have no idea how to communicate. And of course, there will be those who are great team players, but lack the skillset to get the job done at the same level.

Your team needs all of these players, but all of these players need to keep working on what they lack – with your help, of course, and that applies to the best of them, too. And you need to know where each of them stands, and where to place them at a time of crisis.

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Set clear goals and agree on the necessary steps 

When a deadline is tight, the most basic thing will help out the most: a well-laid plan.

Call a team meeting and come to a decision together – you don’t need to come up with the plan yourself. In fact, the more heads involved, the better it will be.

Make sure everyone takes on what they can and what they know. This is where your knowledge from the previous two steps comes in. Don’t let the nice, kind person who always volunteers but never gets anything done on time take on too much. Don’t let the most talented person take on all the work.

You are the leader, so it’s up to you to make the final call. But the more input each individual provides, the better your team will perform.

Communicate

When things are stressful and the repercussions can be significant, it’s important to keep everyone in the loop.

Make it clear with your team that they need to tell you everything, even when they come off bad, or someone else does.

Fearing the consequences, employees tend to hide from their managers when they are struggling with something. And while you will never be able to eliminate this fully, try to enforce a rule that no punishments are handed out as long as the person in question raises the red flag in time.

You can hope to meet any deadline only once everyone is clear on their specific responsibilities and priorities. Your job is to achieve just that. Don’t hand all the info out to everyone: as you hold all the cards, you should know exactly who needs to know what.

Have a Plan B

Deadlines will be missed sometimes. It’s just that simple.

Before that happens, it’s important to have a backup plan in place.

First of all, it’s your job to let the higher-ups know that you won’t be able to do it in said amount of time. But instead of just coming in with the bad news, have a solution ready.

How much extra time will the task take? Can you add in some overtime to get it done sooner? What are the overall outcomes you will have achieved? 

Try to focus on the good, not just the fact that the deadline has been missed.

Depending on the situation, there might be some music to be faced. You will be the one facing it, more likely than not. Don’t take it out on your team, if you are certain they could not have done better. If what it would have taken to meet the deadline is for everyone to perform at a perfect level the entire time, the deadline was never realistic, so don’t forget that.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, when things might feel like they’re getting out of control, always remember to trust yourself like the captain at the helm of a ship. 

Don’t place upon yourself the burden of having to be perfect – good leadership rests on good organization, understanding, and communication. Strive to grow and learn from each experience, and with each new deadline, you’ll be better and better at all of these fields. And your team will definitely appreciate you for it! 

the journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain

Buying an existing business is a good idea. If the enterprise has been in business for an impressive number of years, that is a sign of its reputation and stability in the industry. Should you take out your checkbook and issue a downpayment or reservation fee?

No.

When it comes to buying an existing business, don’t take chances and assume everything is in order. Performing due diligence via a financial audit is a smart first step but it is not enough.

Financial records and bank statements will not give you an idea of how the business is perceived by the industry and its market. You should perform an audit on the business’s online presence to learn more about its reputation and approach to managing its activities.

Here are the 6 things that you should look for when performing an online audit on a business:

1. Brand Awareness – Determine the Online Reputation of the Business

You may be surprised by what a simple Google search may yield!

With the Internet accessible to more than 4.5 billion people or 58% of the world’s population, it will be hard to stay hidden for long. News websites, content aggregators, and Internet users regularly upload or share information that captures their interest. 

If the business you are planning to buy engaged in news-worthy shenanigans in the past, trust that your Google search may pull out deal-breaking reports:

  • Was the business engaged in fraudulent activity?
  • Is the business mired in debt? 
  • Is the company facing lawsuits from clients or customers?
  • Is the government after the business for tax evasion?
  • Does the company have a director who is suspected of criminal activity?
  • Are the products of the business the subject of scrutiny regarding their quality?
  • Are the employees treated proper?

You should also check the social media pages of the business.

  • What are they regularly posting about? 
  • What topics or issues appear to be of interest to them?
  • How is the lead-in to the content presented? Is it in a professional manner?
  • How does the company moderator interact with the commenters? 

70% of recruiters screen the social media content of job applicants to assess if the candidate is a good fit for the company. 

You should do the same with a business before you buy it because your company will assume its brand. The message of the brand must align with your business’s purpose, values, and vision.

A good website to visit is Glassdoor.com which allows current and former employees to post reviews, comments, and information on their employer. If the business you are planning to buy is listed in Glassdoor, you may get helpful information about the company.

Of course, there is always the possibility of reading reviews made by disgruntled employees. After going through a few posts, you may have a better idea of what the company’s culture is like. 

2. Uncover the Relationship of the Business with its Customers

One of the greatest benefits of the Internet is that it creates avenues for customers to engage with the business. Among the most popular avenues are social media platforms and chat messaging.

If the business you are planning to buy has social media accounts – and it should – visit their pages. When a business opens a company page, people who follow or like the page will be allowed to post comments. 

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect business. It is not realistic to expect every consumer to like the product or service. Then, there are the unfortunate incidents. No matter how stringent the quality control processes are, mishaps are bound to happen.

The usual course of action is for customers to file a complaint. While some customers will be discreet and choose email or chat messaging as the medium of communication, many will post the complaint on the business’s social media page.

When reviewing the social media page of the business, assess the following:

  • Are the majority of the comments or posts from irate customers?
  • Did the company respond in a respectful manner?
  • Did the company respond within an acceptable time-frame such as 24 to 48 hours?
  • Do the engagements between the customer and the company result in extended communication threads?
  • Was resolution eventually achieved?
  • Did the business provide a process for the customer to follow?

The new term for customer service is relationship management. Businesses should take great care of their relationships with customers. 

A disgruntled customer can become a loyal customer if the issue was dutifully resolved. Excellent relationship management will also strengthen the brand of the business. 

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3. Assess the Scope and Depth of the Business’ Online Presence

The scope and depth of the business’s presence on the Internet should play a factor in determining its true worth. After all, you are buying their brand. 

  • What online activities has the business undertaken to build its brand?
  • How much work has been done to increase brand awareness online?
  • How strong is brand recall? 
  • Does the website attract an impressive amount of traffic?
  • Do the social media pages have a good number of followers?
  • How would you assess the level of engagement in the business’s social media pages? 
  • Which channels of communication are in place? Chat support? Social media moderation? Email? Inbound call service? 
  • How invested is the business in ensuring excellent customer service? 
  • Does the business have a blog page?

If the business has not done much or anything at all to enhance its online presence, that means you will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting to give the brand the traction it needs on the Internet.

All of that heavy lifting may come at a heavy price:

  • If the business does not have a chat support service, you will have to install the feature on the website or on its social media pages.
  • If the business does not have social media pages, you’ll have to set up the accounts yourself. Building a network of followers will take time. 
  • If the business did not blog, you may have to hire a content writer to create compelling blogs.

Building the business’s presence on the Internet will cost you resources in terms of time and money. 

As the saying goes, “Your business is representative of your leadership”. If there is no online presence, you should start to wonder about the people you are dealing with.

4. Existence of Social Proof

You’ve done the feasibility studies, checked the finances, and performed due diligence. In business, there is no such thing as a “sure thing”. Even if the results of the projections are in your favor, it does not mean the business you purchased is a good deal. 

One way to ease your worries about the viability of the business is to look for the existence of social proof.

Social proof is a concept that was introduced by Robert Cialdini, a professor of Marketing at Arizona State University. According to Cialdini, consumers change their behavior based on the actions of others. 

For example, if you see a long line of people outside a donut store, you will be compelled to join the queue because your assumption is that the food must be good. 

Of course, you may end up disappointed when reality falls short of expectation. Still, the presence of an impressive queue was enough to get you to try the donut store – and ring the business owner’s cash register. 

What types of social proof should you look for that attest to the viability of the business you are purchasing?

  • Product or Business Reviews
  • Influencer’s Endorsement
  • User, Client or Customer Testimonials
  • Positive Reviews or Reports From Various Media
  • Social Media Shares of Published Content

When reviewing social proof, take the good with the bad. You can’t please everybody. Consumers have individual tastes and preferences. However, if the feedback is overwhelmingly negative, you might want to re-think your decision to purchase the business. At the very least, use social proof to tilt final negotiations to your favor.

5. Is the Website Responsive?

It’s not enough for the business to have a website. It must be responsive. Otherwise, your business will not be accessible to potential customers who use mobile devices to conduct an Internet search.

How important is it to have a website that is mobile responsive? More than 60% of searches on the Internet are carried out on a mobile device. 

If your website is not mobile responsive it will not set up properly on a smaller screen. The Internet user will not have the patience to zoom-in just to read your content and to navigate around your website. 

What will happen if the website of the business is not mobile responsive?

For the reason that the Internet opens up your business to an ocean of opportunities, you simply will not thrive with a website that is not mobile responsive. Thus, you will have to spend to make the website mobile responsive. 

Similar to building the online presence of the business, you have to bring up the matter of the non-responsive website to the negotiation table. 

6. Is the Business Visible on the Internet?

Does the business post content on its website and social media pages? Blogging is a proven way of building the brand of a business. Its other benefits include driving more traffic to the website, generating leads, improving the search ranking of the website, and enhancing the business’s online presence. 

However, to realize these benefits, the content must be optimized. 

It won’t matter how amazing the blogs read. They won’t be seen unless the content is optimized with the right keywords. 

And it’s not just the blogs. The content on the website must also be optimized. 

Here’s a checklist of what to look for when testing for website optimization:

  • Presence of broken links
  • Optimization of meta tags
  • Page loading time
  • Existence of spelling errors
  • Quality of keywords
  • Assess the quality of the links 

Improving site optimization will take time. If the content published thus far isn’t good quality, then you will have to start from scratch. Poor quality content is described as content that is:

  • Irrelevant
  • Not informative
  • Poorly researched
  • Embedded with irrelevant links
  • Not unique or fresh; risk of plagiarism
  • Presence of spelling and grammatical errors

Poor quality content will affect brand perception. Spelling and grammatical errors will put off readers. Plagiarism will damage the reputation of the business perhaps beyond repair. 

It is strongly advised to run the published content through a plagiarism checker program such as Copyscape before finalizing the decision to purchase the business. 

Conclusion

Buying a business is like buying an old house. 

The value of the property is not on the house itself but on the land it is built on. Of course, the value of the home is considered when calculating the final sale of the property. 

A house that is for sale may look good on the outside but make no mistake, it is a depreciating asset. 

Even if the seller says he spent for repairs, don’t take his word for it. Inspect the house from top to bottom. Bring in an engineer or general contractor to give you a professional opinion. 

If you have to conduct repairs, the cost should be factored in when negotiating for the final price because you will be spending extra money to make the house livable.

Like real estate property, the business you acquired can pay out dividends in the future. However, before buying it you have to ascertain the viability of what you are paying for. 

Otherwise, you end up paying more than it’s worth. If the online reputation is poor and potentially beyond repair, you may never recover the cost of the investment.

Are you thinking of buying a business? Give us a call and we’ll help you run an audit on its website and overall online presence. 

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community or with someone who is planning to buy a business.

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Since we started Mountaintop Web Design, we have made a conscious effort to seek out the best talent available to help us provide top-notch, world-class services to our clients. 

Talent is never the monopoly of one country or one region. In a truly globalized economy and with the scope and reach of the Internet, you can access talent from different parts of the world. Collaborating with people from other nations and cultures has been a rewarding and enriching experience for us. 

In the years we’ve spent working in the trenches with our friends from Southeast Asia, we made it a point to learn how Asian small businesses differ from Western small businesses when it comes to managing enterprises.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits we learned from working with small businesses in Asia: 

1. Family Comes First

Did you know that the vast majority of family-owned businesses come from Asia-Pacific? 

According to a study funded by Credit Suisse, the family-owned businesses from Asia-Pacific have a total market capitalization of $4 Trillion. As expected, China accounts for the largest slice of the pie with 159 companies and $1.38 Trillion in market capitalization.

The rankings for the most number of family-owned companies are as follows:

  • Asia-Pacific and Japan – 528 companies (53%)
  • Europe – 226 companies (23%)
  • The United States – 121 companies (12%)
  • Latin America – 64 companies (6%)

Why does Asia have so many family-owned businesses? 

For years, we’ve heard or read stories of Asian family-owned enterprises being protective of the business’ succession. 

Is there more to this ideology than just to “keep it (the business) within the family?”

The Credit Suisse study found out that family-owned businesses outperformed non-family-owned businesses in terms of revenue growth and profitability. For example, in Japan, family-owned businesses delivered more than 25% greater Cash Flow Return on Investment (CFROI) than non-family-owned businesses.  

A study conducted by Harvard University on family-owned businesses in the Philippines reveals 2 reasons why these types of businesses perform better than their counterparts.

  • In family-owned businesses, management and family are one and the same. The family is the business. Therefore, they do not experience the standard conflicts between management and the shareholders on issues such as governance, returns, and management pay as do non-family-owned businesses.
  • In a family-owned business, the founders remain deeply involved in the business even after they have gone past retirement age. The founders have taken up a greater role as a symbol of commitment, hard work, and discipline to inspire employees to perform at their best every day at the office.

Generally, while the founders are still alive, the other key role in the organization –  CEO – is delegated to outsiders or non-family members. The reason for this is to create a balance between tradition and the demands of globalization.

In time, when the founders have passed on, the business is carried on by the succeeding generations. 

2. Everyone Starts From The Bottom

As discussed in the previous section, when it comes to family-owned businesses, Asia rules the world. 

In the Philippines, 80% of small businesses are family-owned. If you are a Filipino, you are expected to work for the family business after you have graduated from university.

That does not mean you will walk straight to the Chief Executive’s office the day after you receive your diploma. You have to work your way to the top and that means starting out from the bottom. 

A friend of mine from the Philippines said that when he worked for his father’s ship-staffing agency, he had to start out as a Liaison Officer. The job meant heading off to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) every day to process the documents of the seafarers. 

As a Liaison Officer, days are spent waiting in queues for several hours and going from one department to the next getting signatures and having work contracts approved. 

The job of a Liaison Officer in a recruitment agency is regarded as entry-level. It is usually given to a seafarer who cannot find work and needs to earn money to pay for his expenses while in the city. 

According to my friend, the experience was hard and humbling but gave him a deeper perspective on what overseas Filipino workers go through to find greener pastures in other countries. 

He also gained a better understanding of the culture of the overseas worker. It helped him articulate ideas and establish strong, trustworthy relationships with the seafarer and the shipping principals which were based in Singapore and Malaysia.

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3. Respect Days of Religious/Spiritual Obligation

Asia is a continent where the countries practice a wide range of religions such as Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, and Taoism. Religion and spiritualism are a big part of life among Asians. 

The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia.  86% of its population is Roman Catholic. The Philippines observes the following religious holidays: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, and Christmas. 

Filipinos also observe the days of religious obligation as instructed by the Catholic Church. Many businesses do not have work during religious holidays. It is a tradition for employees to be with their families and to maintain the practices that have been handed down for generations. 

For example, during Maundy Thursday, Filipino families visit and pray at 7 churches. On Good Friday, Filipinos troop to Churches at 3:00 pm to hear a special mass and listen to the priest’s rendition of Christ’s “Seven Last Words”. 

Although Asia is home to different religions, spirituality has a big influence on how Asians live their lives and make decisions. Historian Teodoro Agoncillo once described Filipinos as “fatalistic”.  

Filipinos have a favorite phrase “Bahala na” which translated to English means “I leave it to fate”. Another version is “Bahala na si Lord” or “I leave it to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Applied to business, the Filipino will do his best to succeed but he understands nothing in life is certain. 

The industry can be very competitive and others want to succeed as much as he does. Thus, he will leave the outcome to fate or to his faith in Jesus Christ. If success is for him, it will happen. If not, he will try again. 

Faith gives Asians hope. If everything else fails, he has his beliefs to fall back on. If he succeeds, he gives credit to his faith more than anything else. 

4. Perform Beyond the Value of Your Service

Outsourcing has grown to become a very profitable industry for nearly 20 years. Outsourcing’s jump-off point was the year 2000 when the industry was valued at $45.6 Billion. By 2014, outsourcing hit a high of $104.6 Billion. 

Asia became the global hub of outsourcing. Countries such as the Philippines and India became the primary destinations of companies that wanted to outsource services. 

The biggest benefit of outsourcing for businesses is its ability to lower costs by capitalizing on comparative cost advantages particularly labor. 

For example, hiring a full-time accountant in the United States will cost you $29.63 per hour. In comparison, outsourcing services to an accountant in the Philippines will only cost you $3.33 per hour. 

However, when you outsource to Asia, the saying “You get what you pay for” does not necessarily hold true. The reason why the outsourcing industry continues to thrive in Asia is that the quality of service and deliverables is world-class. 

According to the online job platform UpWork, freelancers from the Philippines are the 3rd highest earners in the world which confirm the continued demand for their services.

In general, Asian businesses do not want to commoditize their services by driving prices to basement-bargain levels. The rates are lower simply because these are in line with industry standards. 

Asian businesses share the belief that once they have proven their worth to the client, requesting for an increase in fees should be within reason. Thus, they provide work that is over and above the monetary value of their services. 

Yes, companies in Asia do respect religious holidays but many will set up small-size workforces to render services to clients during these days of obligation. The businesses don’t mind paying their employees twice their daily wages to make sure the clients’ needs are covered. 

Asian businesses don’t view their clients merely as clients but as strategic partners; one that shares a common interest to succeed in the industry. 

Conclusion

Close-family ties, a strong belief in honorable work, respect for faith and spirituality, and unwavering commitment to provide their best to clients and customers – we learned that Asian small businesses do not separate the enterprise from who they are. 

The popular thought process is to keep life and work separate – who you are at home should not be the person running the business. We should be more professional or formal at work so that our employees will respect us. 

But how is it to be a “professional”? Does wearing a formal tie, dress shoes, a pressed shirt, and slacks and a face-forward appearance fit the bill of a professional business owner? When employees say “Good Morning!” or “Good Afternoon!”, should it be considered as a sign of respect? 

As the popular saying goes, “respect should be earned, not given.” If you manage people and clients from the position of your values – the principles that made you who you are – you are being authentic and truthful to them. 

The employees, clients, end-users, suppliers, and other stakeholders in your business value chain who are aligned with your values would be motivated to help you attain long-term, sustainable growth. 

Put it this way, if you manage your business and attend to the needs of your employees and clients with love in your heart – the same way you feel when you are with family – how can you ever go wrong? 

If you enjoyed this article, please go ahead and share it with your community.

And if you want to learn more about Mountaintop’s services and how we can help your business achieve new levels of success, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

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