Monday, December 28, 2015

Six Tips to Help You Hire the Right Employees

A recent survey found that poor hiring costs small business owners roughly $10,000 per wrong hire.  We also learn that just under half of all new hires fail within their first 18 months of the job.  This happens so frequently because flaws are often overlooked during the hiring process.  Wondering how hiring managers can identify the qualities that make happy and driven employees in order to avoid hiring mistakes? These six tips are key to hire the right employee:

Assess the work ethic.

Ask your candidates to elaborate on their work experience.  Listen for details and keep your ears open for signs of excitement and motivation.  If you’re interviewing recent graduates who may lack in the experience department, see what extra curricular activities they took
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part in. 

“Listen” to their resume.

Resumes are simply a story about their author.  Check for jobs and activities that coincide – an indication of a strong work ethic and the ability to commit multiple activities simultaneously.  Look for patterns in previous positions such as length of employment or job structures they gravitate towards.  Make a note of gaps between jobs and have the candidate tell you about them.

Determine integrity.

Ask the candidate about his or her biggest failure or disappointment.  Have them tell you more and it and pay close attention to see if they took the right level of responsibility for it.  Were there moral conflicts in their decision-making process?  If so, how was it handled?

Evaluate maturity.

Have the candidate share where he or she hopes to be in five or ten years to get an idea of their career drive.  Also have them share one of their biggest regrets.  As they reflect on their regret, listen for maturity about it instead of bitterness and whining.

Throw them for a loop.

Instead of shaking hands and sending your candidate off at the end of the interview, invite them to join you on a tour of the building or in the cafeteria.  Watch how they act and converse in a more casual setting.  The new setting will really illuminate his or her personality traits and give you idea who they really are.

Heed your gut.

Candidates need to have strong examples of how they handle situations.  If they give weak answers, make sure to ask targeted questions during their next interview.  If you have any doubts, don’t ignore them.  If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, listen.  You don’t want to hire someone who gives lots of  “right” answers if you simply don’t feel they’ll be a good hire.

Hiring the right employee is a challenging process.  Hiring the wrong one is costly and time consuming.  Take the time to find a candidate who will mesh well with your team and you’ll reap the benefits of a positive impact on your total work environment.
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Questions to Ask a Writer or Writing Company Before Hiring

You have a business and need a writer, but aren’t sure where to begin?  As when hiring any employee, be sure to get all of the facts straight. Here are six questions to ask a writer before you hire:

How will you communicate and deliver completed assignments?

When you hire a writer, you will likely have a primarily virtual relationship.  Today, more writers work via email.  You may never work with the writer face to face throughout your relationship.  Make sure to find out which ways your writer will communicate and how you will receive completed work. Effective communication is key to company success.

What is your turnaround time?

Deadlines must be must – no matter what.  If writers don’t have assignments over in time, that isn’t a good
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thing.  Your projects deserve to be handled with care so make sure to hire a writer who can commit to meeting deadlines.

What is included in the quote?

Find out what quotes from your writer include.  Revisions, and if so, how many? Does the writer expect time for travel, if applicable? Does he or she charge for in-person meetings? These are all important things to know prior to hiring him.

What industries can you write about?

Usually freelancers can writer about a variety of topics.  It’s great to find out where your writer excels, and which areas he or she does not feel comfortable with.  A good freelancer identifies his or her weaknesses and sets limitations.  During an interview, request samples of the writers work to see if his or her claims hold true.

What are your freelance work hours?

Find out if your writer is a full-time writer or if he will be writing around several other commitments.  Depending on your needs, the answer to this question may be a deal-breaker.  If you have short deadlines or the need to reach your writer immediately, and he or she has a full time job, this writer may not be the best choice for you.  However, even writers with other commitments can still work out well.

Do you know how to optimize content for search engines?

In today’s world, experienced writers are proficient at optimizing blog content – and it’s considered part of the process of writing an assignment.  Make sure your writer knows how to optimize a title and blog content and write a compelling meta description that makes readers click.

Before you hire a writer, ask some key questions to help you get to know the writer a little better.  By doing so, you can hire someone who is hardworking and dependable and forge a long lasting relationship.

What questions do you ask a writer prior to hiring him or her?

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Smart Online Marketing Goals for 2016

Marketers, the New Year is right around the corner so it’s time to think about online marketing goals for 2016.  A lot of things have changed this year, so it’s important to take some time to analyze the tools and trends that have emerged as you sit down and devise your online marketing goals for the upcoming year.  Focus on goals that will help lead your business to greater success, that are achievable and that will help make you a happier, less stressed small-business owner.  Here are three that should top your list:

Refine your online marketing strategy.

The online world of marketing evolves constantly.  For a year or two, the same campaign may work -- but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it a continuous point to re-evaluate your marketing strategy in efforts to incorporate new strategies.  Spend time researching new software, tools or breakthroughs as they relate to SEO, social media, PPC and analytics.  Once you grasp what is happening in the industry, figure out which processes are valuable to your business and strive to incorporate them into your workflow.  Try to delve into new technology with your eyes wide open and adopt the new changes with an open mind – cutting-edge technology is advantageous for businesses.

Monitor your website’s performance.

SEO requirements change very quickly, which means it is essential to monitor your website’s performance.  An analytics service is good, but your involvement needs extend beyond that.  Monitoring your website’s performance doesn’t mean simply logging in weekly to see if you have more traffic than weeks past.  You need to check for traffic indicators, Google penalty threats, inbound link reports and more.  Once you understand how Google updates affect you and your website, you can modify your online marketing strategy accordingly to better your performance.


Jump on the Attribution Modeling bandwagon.

Attribution modeling is much less complicated than the term implies. It’s a simple concept that essentially means reading website analytics data and focus on how users get to your website, navigate your website and why they leave your website.  The focal point is user experience and how your visitors interface with the design of your website.  Oftentimes, small businesses obsess over simply the volume of traffic alone – and while volume is important, so is a positive user experience.

Get a jump-start on these marketing goals before 2014 is here and your small business will gain a head start on its online marketing strategy.  Remember not to get stuck in marketing ruts and to always research new, better technology that can reinforce your online brand presence, strengthen website performance and boost online sales.

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Seasonal Business: Make the Most of Your Slower Months

Photo via myproverbs31life.com

Seasonal businesses don’t have to be viewed as a business that only operates during a few short months – there are ways to help boost business all year long, and make the most of those slower months.  Even after your presumed key season has passed, you can use your resourcefulness to learn more about the needs of your customers and try out new ideas.  Here are some specific ways to maximize the months when you have a little down time:

Have a blog and maintain it.

To build page rank, focus on your blog during the slower months. While it’s important to treat your blog like a queen all year long, it’s crucial not to neglect it when your business is slow.  Write posts that are full of great content and are relevant to your target audience.  Your page rank will increase – just remember it doesn’t happen in a day.

Extend your season.

Sell something specific to cold weather?  Instead of the typical November through March sales months, try to extend your season by one to two months both before and after that time frame. If you offer your products or services for a slightly lower cost your customers will take note and business will likely boom.  Your season is probably longer than you think.

Seek niche markets.

If you bake cookies, pies and muffins that sell like crazy around the holidays, find a way to increase revenue during the other months too.  Consider adapting your products to a niche market.  Contemplate developing gluten or sugar-free products that a smaller audience will adore. There's a lot of reasons why you should serve a niche market.

Hold an event or cross-promote.

As you work hard to stay afloat during the less-than-prime months, remember you are not alone.  Team up with a complementary business and co-market an event or promotion with them.  Think outside of the box -- a photography business could cross-promote with business that sells photo props or headbands for children.  A bed-and-breakfast could cross-promotes with a nearby restaurant or offer deals to a play or movie.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to other businesses – you just may form a successful partnership ally.

Seek customer reviews and feedback.

During your slower time, concentrate on how to earn new, or repeat business during your next busy season.  Customer reviews are priceless.  Ask for testimonials and success stores from past sales seasons and feature those in your e-newsletter, your blog or social media websites.  Not only will this speak volumes about your business, but your customers will also enjoy the recognition.

While your business may have months that are significantly more profitable than others, don’t write off the other months of the year.  The slower times can be a great way to build clout around your business, try new products and seek feedback from your customers.  Your customers’ needs are different all year long – so do your best to serve those needs in ways your current business allows.

How do you maximize the slower months of the year to help your seasonal business?
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Tips to Help You Start, Maintain and Grow a Business Blog

Blogging has literally exploded over the last few years.  In fact, even back in 2005, BusinessWeek proclaimed that Blogs Will Change Your Business – and the publication was right.  If you’ve been holding off with the belief that blogs are a fad, it’s time to realize they’re here to stay and your business needs one.

Why are blogs important for business growth?

Blogs reach and engage large audiences in a way that traditional one-way information doesn’t have the capability to do.  At the same time, blogs put a face to your business name while highlighting your expertise and passion for your industry.  Another bonus: blogs are collaborative and they encourage interactions.  Soliciting comments from readers is a great way to engage with customers.

Here are some tips to help you start, maintain and grow a small business blog:

Identify a goal and blog intention

While you want to promote your business, don’t make the plugs too obvious in your content strategy.  Decide what your purpose is and allow it to drive your content.  Most blogs are centered on sharing information that their readers find useful.  Define your goal, and adhere to it.

Start your blog with the right software

Once you decide you want a business blog, consider your hosting software options.  Free blogging software can be a simple and cost-effective solution for small businesses.  If your blog takes off, you may consider integrations with existing business Wed domains (and remember to communicate to your readers of the host changes).  Remember to make sure your blog is simple for users to navigate.

Dedicate yourself to regular and relevant blogging

Two signs a blog has lost its way are when there are no active posts for more than two weeks, and
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when blog content is off topic from previous posts.  Blog inactivity and irrelevant posts give an unfavorable impression of your business.  Keep your posts consistent with the use of a calendar and research current issues so your blog is compelling and relevant.

Develop a traffic-generating plan

Last, but far from least, is finding a way to move visitors to your business blog.  There are a number of ways to generate traffic to your blog, both non-traditional and traditional in nature.  Add built in RSS feeds and remember that your email signature and main business Website and great places to link your blog.

Your blog is worth the time and effort it takes to start and sustain. By sharing content via your blog with your visitors, you’ll establish a strong reputation for your business within your industry.  Happy blogging!

What has helped you maintain and grow your blog following?

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis.  She is mom to two young children and enjoys spending time watching them grow.  Lori enjoys shopping, spending time with her husband and kids, reading, and traveling.
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