For sure you’ve read all the stories about the number of businesses around the world that have closed down because of the economic effects of the global pandemic. 

The media tends to report more “gloom and doom” because it sells. The truth is, there were a good number of businesses that made money – even generated record-setting profits during the lockdown.

What was the common denominator among these businesses? They all invested in building an online presence and the foundation of their Internet-based model is the website. 

How The Pandemic Highlighted The Need For A Website 

If there’s a lesson that can be learned from the global pandemic that put even the world’s most powerful economies on lockdown, it’s the importance of having a presence on the Internet for your business. 

While many brick and mortar businesses closed down, those that invested in e-commerce and simple business websites continued to ring in the cash registers. 

Think about it. When you needed food and supplies delivered to your home, all you had to do was place your orders at an e-commerce website or arrange for home delivery via a courier app. 

And when economies opened – it didn’t change anything. 

Many people still preferred to stay at home to work or run errands through the Internet. People discovered that working from home was not just more convenient – it was also more productive.

Of course, the threat of getting infected remains real. More so now that the virus has mutated into 2 strains as of this writing: the United Kingdom and South African variants.

The combination of these factors has led to a surge in online spending. Here‘s a shortlist of countries that experienced an increase in e-commerce transactions at the time of the new normal:

  • United States – 18%
  • Russia – 45%
  • Brazil – 66%
  • Mexico – 79%

Analysts expect a significant increase in the volume of online traffic in the United States as the rate of infections continues to climb. 

If you don’t have a website, the good news is – it’s not too late to set up one for your business. Consumer behavior has changed. Your business has to accommodate changes in consumer behavior to survive the new normal.

10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs A Website In 2021

A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management COVID-19 response revealed the following results on how the pandemic has changed the business environment:

  • 43% of respondents started to rethink their business strategies.
  • 32% of respondents focused on finding new ways to deliver products and services.
  • 22% of respondents have asked their employees to learn new skills that are transferable to the business.

Having a website ticks off all the boxes. 

It’s a new business strategy that gives you another avenue for delivering products and services to your customers and generate income. To maximize the benefits of having a website, you’ll have to learn new skills such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, email marketing, and content writing.

Sure, engaging in social media marketing is great for promoting your business. However, when it comes to running an online business, the website should be the cornerstone of your strategy.

Here are 10 reasons why your small business should have a website in 2021.

1. Hedge Your Business Versus Uncertainty

The threat of a lockdown is still there despite the availability of vaccines. The virus can still mutate and more study needs to be done on the effectiveness of the vaccines that are currently being used. 

If you don’t have a website, what will you do if another lockdown happens because COVID-19 mutated into a deadlier, more infectious strain? 

With a website, your business is protected versus uncertainty. If another lockdown is mandated by the government, you can get a good night’s sleep knowing that your business has another address on the Internet. 

2. Keep Your Business Open 24/7

The mall and commercial office spaces have closing hours. The Internet doesn’t. Long after you’ve locked up the doors of your establishment, your website remains open to attend to the needs of your customers. 

Your website can still accept and process orders for your merchandise. Are you a consultant or a service provider? Your potential customers can still book appointments on your website. 

Lockdowns, weekends, and holidays won’t matter either because your website will remain open 24/7. 

If customers place their orders on a Sunday, you’re already assured of business on Monday. All you have to do is to deliver the goods first thing Monday morning!

3. Accommodate the Needs of Your Customers

According to a study conducted by Omdia, Internet usage has increased by 70% since the pandemic. Omdia which is the research arm of Informa Tech believes that the surge in Internet usage is clear proof that consumer behavior has changed.

Consumers preferring to transact online is no longer a trend – it’s the current reality. 

And having a website is not only for people who want to buy. People have different reasons for clicking on a URL:

  • Request for customer assistance or support
  • Learn more about the company
  • Read your blogs
  • Research relevant information to address a specific need
  • Find out the products and services that you offer
  • Conduct competitor research
  • Find out the location of your store(s)
  • Find out your contact information

A website will make work and life easier for your customer. It will accommodate the changing behavior of consumers. 

4. Competition Has Gone Online

With so many businesses closing down, you might think there’s less competition. On the contrary, competition has become tighter. 

Customers have become more discerning about their choices in order to get more value out of their money. You’ll need to have every advantage over your competitor. And if you don’t have a website, your competitors have a big advantage over you!

Given the increased amount of time spent by consumers online, you can be assured that more small businesses are realigning their budgets to fund their websites. 

Your potential end-users are all searching for information on the Internet from their mobile devices. If you don’t have a URL, you’ll never be found. 

5. Level the Playing Field With the Big Boys

The Big Boys in Business – Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba – all made money during the pandemic. Likewise, other big companies that were in struggling industries such as Fender and Gibson guitars, earned record-setting revenues. 

They survived and made money because the Big Boys invested in e-commerce websites. Their customers were able to place orders safely and conveniently from their homes while on lockdown. 

A website will level the playing field with the Big Boys. If you’re a retailer of guitars but your products are priced competitively, you might drive customers away from Fender and toward your e-commerce website. 

If you’re a retailer of consumer goods and electronics of the same brands sold by Walmart or Amazon but have a wider selection of budget brands, more people may prefer to do business with you. 

Keep in mind that with the continued innovations in digital technology, more consumers will be dependent on their mobile devices to conduct research before purchasing. 

It’s no longer automatic for the Big Boys to generate a sale. In the end, consumers want more value for their money.

WebsiteStandOut

6. Capitalize on Opportunities

Think about this scenario.

You’re in the business of making homemade jam, jellies, honey, and condiments that are sourced from local, indigenous materials. Someone comes across your website and sends you an inquiry – if you can export to the European market. 

These are opportunities that happen every day on the Internet because the businesses are discovered through their website. 

When you’re operating 24/7 in a market where close to 5 Billion people are constantly searching for information, engaging with businesses, and sharing opinions, opportunities will always exist. 

7. Find New Customers

If your business is located inside a mall or a commercial building, the bulk of your market will consist of consumers residing within a 5-mile radius. 

But if you’re on the Internet, there are no jurisdictions to worry about. Any consumer or business that has access to the Internet and has a need for your products and services can become your new customer.

On the  Internet, there are no barriers or walls or closing hours. Your marketing efforts will not be limited to a locality. Your digital marketing campaigns can reach a wider audience. 

You can reach customers who have not heard of your products. If they like what they’ve read or heard about your products, you have the potential of creating new customers in different markets. 

8. Professionalize Your Business

If you think having social media pages is enough to properly represent your business, the majority of your customers will disagree with you.

A survey by Verisign showed that 84% of consumers shared the opinion that a business with a website is more credible than a business with just social media. 

A website is a one-stop-shop for consumers who want to know more about your business and the products or services that you offer. The standard website has 5 web pages with each one having a specific function.

  • Home – Contains the Brand Value Proposition; “Why we offer the best solutions for your needs/concerns/problems”
  • About Us – Gives the visitor unique insights about the people behind the company; builds familiarity and confidence that there are real people running the business.
  • Products and Services – A virtual showroom of the products and services offered by the company. 
  • Blog – Provides the visitor with fresh, unique, and engaging content developed to highlight the expertise and value of the company.
  • Contact Us – Provides all the information needed to reach out and connect with the company. Your website will be fitted with buttons that can improve sales conversion and generate valuable leads you can use email marketing:
  • CTA Button – What do you want the visitor to do? “Buy Now – Click Here!”
  • Sign Up Button – Capture leads by enticing visitors to sign up for monthly newsletters in exchange for their email addresses. 
  • Social Sharing Buttons – Make it easier for site visitors to share your blogs on their social media pages.

9. Increase Customer Engagement

A website can also be used to increase customer engagement. Oftentimes, a customer might visit a website to address a particular issue. 

The customer will go to the “Contact Us” page which provides him with various means to get in touch with the company:

  • Phone Number
  • Fill-Out Form
  • Email Address
  • Chat Support

With a website, customers no longer have to be “put on hold”. They have different ways to relay their problem or concern.  If both phone and chat support have a queue, the customer can opt to send an email or fill out a form.

This is a great way of mollifying an irate customer! 

The next step is to address the concern within 24 to 48 hours. Even if you can’t arrive at a resolution, at the very least keep the customer informed and updated.

 10. Support Your Brick-and-Mortar Business

Another way to view the website is that it’s like having a second branch of your brick-and-mortar business. Only this time, it’s located on the Internet and not inside a commercial establishment. 

With a website, you have a second source of revenue. Customers who are located far from your business will have the option of buying online rather than be inconvenienced by the long drive. 

Your business website will remain open whether it’s snowing hard outside or if your city is experiencing inclement weather. 

In fact, if weather conditions are too risky to go out, you can keep your brick-and-mortar store closed and just direct customers to your website via multiple high traffic social media channels.

Conclusion

We can all agree on one thing.

Business today is more uncertain than ever. 

When faced with uncertainty, you need to have more options. A website will give your business multiple options that you can use to overcome the various challenges coming your way.

If there’s another lockdown or if people continue to prefer working from home, your website will give them the most convenient and easiest way to reach you. On your part, you continue to generate income for your business.

Promote your products via social media but give your followers a venue they can visit to learn more about your business – the website – where you can generate leads, build an audience, and potentially convert interest into sales. 

Assure your customers that you’re concerned about their satisfaction and value their opinions by creating multiple points of contact between you and them through your website. 

If 2020 was a disappointing year for you, let 2021 be the turnaround year. 

Get a website for your business right now!

Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll set up a mobile-responsive and optimized website for your business. We can do different types of websites to suit your business needs. 

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

Many people couldn’t wait for the year 2020 to be over. 2021 seemed like a breath of fresh air; as if everyone had woken up after the nightmare that was 2020. The reality is January 1, 2021, was just 24 hours removed from December 31, 2020. The situation has not changed. The world is still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. And it’s for that reason, that 2021 is a good – no, great year – to start a business. 

From Pandemic To Endemic?

Toward the end of 2020, pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to have their proprietary vaccines available in the market. The vaccines represent some measure of hope that life could go back to normal once people are inoculated. 

However, early reports from scientists appear to hint that there’s no going back to the “Old Normal”. 

Even after you’ve been vaccinated, you still have to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and observe good hygiene when in public places. Offices will not run in full capacity. The threat of lockdowns will always be there. 

Scientists from the UK believe the pandemic will eventually become endemic or a part of life much like the flu.  

If the new normal will just become “The Normal” – then there’s no reason to stop and not pursue your dream of starting a business. You will just have to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior. 

People will continue to have needs. And consumer needs will open up new markets of opportunity. 

Our Fearless Forecast For 2021

“In the midst of every great crisis, lies great opportunity.”

  • Albert Einstein

The lockdowns that ensued after the COVID-19 spread was declared a global pandemic triggered recessions all over the world. Several businesses closed down and never recovered after the economy reopened. Billions of people around the world lost their jobs. 

As we discussed earlier, having the vaccines available will not significantly change how we live or work. Life, as we knew it in the New Normal, will continue. 

And so should your pursuit of your entrepreneurial dreams!

Rather than give up or wait for a more opportune time – we recommend integrating digital technology into your business model. 

The importance of a business having a digital component was highlighted by the pandemic. The businesses that survived and even thrived during the lockdown period were the ones that already had digital systems in place and an online presence. 

Businesses going digital is a phenomenon that won’t stop anytime soon – not in the next 4-5 years. The world was trending toward digital as far back as 2015, the pandemic just accelerated it. 

Digital is the way to go and it forms the backbone of our fearless forecasts for 2021:

1. Greater Demand for Mobile Responsive Websites

Mobile devices accounted for 60% of online traffic in 2014. Yet, as of 2019, only 36% of small businesses had a website. 

We believe there will be greater demand for mobile responsive websites because the pandemic has significantly changed the online behavior of consumers.

A report from Statista on the effects of the pandemic on online traffic revealed the following:

  • A month-to-month increase in online traffic of 7%.
  • An 8.3% increase in the number of online transactions.
  • A 1% increase in the number of sales conversions.

The numbers may not sound impressive – but take note – this is on a global scale. A 1% increase in sales conversions could mean billions of dollars for a country. 

The data was corroborated by the following tech companies that experienced increases in usage:

  • Verizon – 75%
  • T-Mobile – 45%
  • Facebook – 70%
  • Marqeta – 82%

The website is your business address on the Internet. That’s where people will go to find your products and services. The website becomes your one-stop destination for people who are looking for information and solutions. 

But it has to be mobile-responsive. If you don’t have one or if your current website is not mobile-responsive, give us a call and we’ll get you started.

2. Digital Marketing Will Be the Difference-Maker

A study by global advisory company FTI Consulting Incorporated estimated that U.S. e-commerce retail enjoyed a US$71 Billion windfall in 2020 as more consumers shifted toward Internet-based shopping. 

Of course, the shift in shopping behavior was greatly influenced by fears of contracting COVID-19. 

We expect the upward trend to continue as COVID-19 remains a health concern for consumers over the next few years. 

With more businesses expected to integrate Internet-based systems, the battle for market share may come down to which company has a more effective digital marketing strategy. 

The reason for the strong shift toward digital marketing is the process’s ability to target an audience. With targeted marketing, you’re able to maximize your budget by attracting segments with the highest probability of buying your products and services.

Digital marketing also provides you with analytics – real-time data that measures how your strategies are working. Through analytics, you can identify the strategies that are delivering consistent results so you can allocate more resources and maximize the return on investment. 

When COVID-19 hit, many businesses cut down budgets for paid advertising and traditional marketing strategies such as TV ads and print ads.  

As the economy slowly opens up to life under the new normal, businesses will prefer to utilize more cost-effective processes such as Digital Marketing. This viewpoint is echoed by the consulting agency, Kantar. 

WebsiteSecurity.Protection.Monitoring

3. Demand for e-Commerce Services and Apps Will Increase

As we mentioned in the previous section, the U.S. e-commerce industry benefited from the lockdown measures. 

In our opinion, the availability of the vaccine will not significantly affect the upward trajectory of the e-commerce industry. There might be a slowdown but consumers have adapted to the home-based lifestyle. 

The continued increase in the number of mobile users, as well as patronage for mobile services, supports our contention that demand for e-commerce platforms and apps will grow over the next few years.

Sensor Tower, an app intelligence and data collection company forecast that global spending for apps will hit US$171 Billion in 2024 or more than twice the US$85 Billion spent on apps in 2019 – worldwide.

What this tells us is that businesses are evolving and adapting to COVID-19 by using digital technology as its new environment.

4. The Freelance Economy Will Boom

Offices and businesses are slowly opening for business and this has given people some semblance of normalcy. However, it’s still widely mandated for offices and businesses to observe social distancing by operating their physical locations at only 30% capacity.

Businesses cannot function properly with manpower down to only 30%. The best option has been for businesses to tap into the freelance economy – remote workers who are contracted to manage select tasks and functions. 

Freelancers are individuals who have decided to monetize their specific skill sets by offering their services to companies that prefer to hire talent on a contractual basis or those who are amenable to flexible scheduling. 

Under a contractual work or flexible scheduling arrangement, companies can reduce labor costs and increase productive hours. 

A report by the largest online freelance platform, UpWork, confirmed that many businesses have recognized the value of freelancers. 

According to UpWork, the freelancers contributed US$1.2 Trillion to the U.S. economy during the pandemic. The demand for freelancers has led to more young, qualified, and highly-skilled professionals changing careers from 9-to-5 office workers to remote workers. 

Hiring freelancers isn’t the only remote option for businesses. 

You can set up your own team of remote workers composed of your current employees. Instead of calling them freelancers, office employees who work from home are called telecommuters. 

The advantage of setting up a telecommuting arrangement in your company is that you don’t have to spend time and resources training them. 

As current employees, they know their job and have already been indoctrinated into your company culture. Generally, employees are happier working from home and are more productive. 

5. Products and Services That Improve Home Life Will Be in Demand

Now that many people work from home, they want to make sure the environment is conducive for productivity. Since they’re spending more time at home, they start to notice things that could affect work from home lifestyle. 

For example, pests. 

If the home is infested with pests such as cockroaches, ants, flies, and mosquitos it makes working from home very difficult. Of course, disinfection remains a top priority. If you frequently receive guests, you want to be sure your home is COVID-19 free when they leave. 

For these reasons, the pest control and disinfection industry have been booming since the lockdowns. More homes – and offices – are having their areas disinfected and sanitized by professional service providers. 

Delivery services will continue to thrive over the next few years as people remain wary of their safety. Expect more food retailers and supermarkets to invest heavily in arranging for home delivery services.

Conclusion – How To Approach Business Planning For 2021

Our fearless forecast for 2021 didn’t just give you a snapshot of what we believe are business trends this year. We presented business ideas where there might be opportunities for you to start an enterprise. 

The global pandemic changed life and work as we know it. To survive, you have to acknowledge that despite the promise of a vaccine, the future still remains uncertain. To thrive, you have to change your perspective about uncertainty. 

Instead of viewing uncertainty as risky, view it as an opportunity. After all, there’s no such business that carries no risk. 

How should you approach business planning for 2021?

  • Conduct Research. In addition to our inputs, conduct research and try to uncover other trends that are developing at the time of the new normal.
  • Learn To Work Past Your Comfort Zone. If the idea of running an online or Internet-based business makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. But you have to work past your comfort zone because digital is the current reality. Build up your knowledge about technology and test a number of apps that you can use for your business.
  • Measure Risk and Reward. Truthfully, there’s no difference between business planning for an online model and a brick-and-mortar model. You still have to measure the risks and the rewards to come up with courses of action and entry/exit strategies. 
  • Be Open to Outsourcing. As your business grows, you’ll have to scale up in order to accommodate increasing demand. The best option for online businesses is to outsource work to remote employees such as freelancers and virtual assistants. For sure, you’ll save more money but you have to take time when it comes to selecting and hiring remote talent. 

Let’s move past calling the time we live in as the “new normal” and just accept it as the normal. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. Having a fresh perspective on the present will help you build a successful future. 

WebsiteStandOut

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. 

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

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!

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

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.

computer graphic - curious about the website services we offer

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!

learn more about website design with laptop

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. 

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

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.

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in yellow

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.

web design - learn more here

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