Productivity Problems are Your Business’s Worst Enemies, Here Are 5 Ways to Defeat Them

Productivity Problems are Your Business’s Worst Enemies, Here Are 5 Ways to Defeat Them

5 Solutions to Productivity Problems

Improving the productivity of your business — and your employees — is undoubtedly one of every small business owner’s biggest goals. But did you know that your workplace itself might actually be undermining your staff’s productivity? Here are five ways your office could be keeping your employees from doing their best work.

Solutions to Productivity Problems

1. There are too many distractions. If you have an open-plan office, it can be a big contributor to distractions — but it’s not the only one. In the most recent Staples Workplace Survey, 38 percent of those working in an open office say the layout causes distractions; however, 28 percent of those who work in traditional offices say the same thing.

According to one expert who studies the needs of high-performance employees, it can take up to 25 minutes to recover focus after a single distraction. Clearly, if your office is full of distractions, it’s damaging productivity.

Noise is the number-one distraction for employees in the Staples survey. There are plenty of ways to reduce interruptions from noise — if an open plan office is dear to your heart, consider getting employees noise-canceling headphones. You can also set up “quiet zones” where employees can go to do more focused work, or “noise zones” where employees can congregate to chat, make phone calls or hold meetings. Use carpeting and wall coverings to muffle noise from office machinery or equipment.

2. There are too many meetings. The average small business is far less meeting-prone than the average corporation — but as your business grows, the number of meetings you hold are likely to grow, as well. Perhaps employees want to call meetings to announce their importance or you have customers who insist on meeting in person to discuss every little thing. Try limiting meetings only to those that are absolutely necessary; holding meetings on one day of the week; or holding longer, less frequent meetings.

3. Your office layout is poorly designed. Whether you’re dealing with a funky grouping of rooms or you simply aren’t using your space to its best advantage, you could be sabotaging your employees’ productivity. For example, are the employees whose jobs involve frequent printing seated on the other side of the building from your printer? Is the person whose job requires lots of focus seated in a high-traffic area where she’s constantly interrupted? Look at your layout with a fresh eye and think about what you could move, remove or add to streamline employees’ workdays. (One former employee of mine was much more productive — and happier — after we moved her desk from its original location a few feet from the men’s restroom.)

4. Your office equipment and technology are outdated or poorly maintained. The copier that constantly jams, the computers that regularly flash the blue screen of death — equipment that’s not in good working order eat up valuable time and also frustrate your employees. Think of upgrading and maintaining your technology as an investment in greater productivity; it’s one that will pay off quickly.

5. There are personal issues. Working near someone who’s upset or angry is one of the most common distractions employees in the Staples survey mentioned. Whether employees are fighting with each other or struggling with personal or family problems, intense emotions definitely distract them from getting work done. Be sensitive to your employees’ moods and interactions. If two teammates aren’t getting along, work with them to help resolve the disagreement. Problems between co-workers can affect more than just those directly involved.

By being aware of these common office problems and taking steps to remedy them, you’ll go a long way toward boosting your employees’ productivity.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Productivity Problems are Your Business’s Worst Enemies, Here Are 5 Ways to Defeat Them” was first published on Small Business Trends

Is Your Brand on Mute?

Many ads are played without sound. How do you get customers to listen?

Aziz Ansari Celebrates Golden Globes Victory with In-I-Out

Aziz Ansari&#one hundred sixty;did not accept profitable a Golden Globe, he instantly adopted that up with one other trophy — a recent bag of In-I-Out! The “Master of None” star …

The post Aziz Ansari Celebrates Golden Globes Victory with In-I-Out appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]

How to Build Daily Habits that Support Your Goals

Last month, I wrote about how a goal-oriented approach to using technology can help you become more focused and productive. Using that guidance, I’ve now broken negative habits and built new ones that support my goals. Want to know how I changed my relationship with screens in ways I used to only dream about? Before
Read More…

The post How to Build Daily Habits that Support Your Goals appeared first on Copyblogger.

6 Smart Tips That Make You a Better Leader

The biggest pitfall that can impede a business leader’s success is to fall into the rut of routine operations management. A bit of savviness is all you need to keep improving yourself and strengthen your brand as a business leader. Here are six smart strategies.

1. Ramp up your communication tactics.

You’re already communicating with stakeholders every day. None are as important, though, as your employees. Communication is the biggest differentiator between good and great leaders. You can never stop improving your communication. Here are some suggestions to improve your skills:

  • Employees can smell baseless talk from a mile away. Keep things real.
  • Use credible sources in your motivational talks.
  • When giving goals to your people, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound).
  • Continually innovate with communication channels. Use email, telephone, video calling, and instant messaging, depending on what best serves your communication needs.

Remember, communication is a two-way process. Invest in communication-enhancement training for your employees.

2. Focus on what you do best and delegate the rest.

Your time comes at a premium. Though delegation is not exactly a secret of operations management, as a leader, it’s important to delegate. Here’s how the pros do it:

  • Hire virtual assistants to handle your menial and tedious tasks.
  • Use cloud-based apps to organize and manage your work on the move.
  • Use the Ivy Lee productivity hack; it marries the best elements of prioritization and focused work.
  • Trust project management tools and communication-management apps to usher in process-level efficiencies.

3. Keep upgrading yourself.

No one wants to work for a leader whose knowledge is so dated that it ceases to deliver any practical advantage to the team or business. It could be a revelation for a manager to realize that their trusted methods and formulas no longer work.

Here are some tips to stay up to date while assessing your effectiveness as a leader:

  • Subscribe to one of the cutting-edge podcasts in your business niche and listen to it during your commute time.
  • Look for quick reads, such as book summaries, to quickly catch up on the latest news and ideas from your market.
  • Don’t be an island. Seek out a mentor who can help broaden your horizons.
  • Ask yourself these questions daily:
    • What did I learn today?
    • What mistakes did I make? What lessons did they teach me?
    • Did I empower someone to do better and win the day today?
    • What do I need to let go of?
    • What legacy do I want to leave behind? What did I do today to ensure this day wasn’t an outlier?

4. Cultivate a culture of innovation.

Great business leaders drive their teams to step out of the confines of routine and achieve the extraordinary. Building teamwork and rewarding collaboration are key to achieving your goals.

Cultivating a culture that values innovation is one of the most difficult responsibilities a business leader has. Here’s how the best nurture innovation in their companies:

  • Proactively introduce mechanisms that naturally boost creative and innovative thinking.
  • Make incremental improvements in the workplace to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Use tools to measure how employees spend their time.
  • Encourage practical shuffling of duties and departments to help employees gain a wider perspective of the organization’s work.
  • Show employees how they can use time-tested methods of creative idea generation (brainstorming, mind mapping, story boarding, etc.) by organizing and participating in sessions.

5. Don’t waste time in meetings anymore.

Any guesses on how much time top business managers spend in meetings? It’s roughly 50 percent of their work time!

Imagine the improvements you can make each workday by eliminating the need for meetings by 30 to 40 percent. Meetings have slowly become the most common platform for interaction for leaders and their employees. Rather than relying on meetings, use these smart tricks:

  • See where you can use video calling so that meetings don’t become your only way of interacting with employees.
  • Send a clear agenda with your meeting invites; this sends a clear “no slacking” message.
  • Be very clear with action points and their assignees (avoid multiple assignees unless the task needs more than one person).
  • Motivate the art of lightning-quick updates. Never stretch meetings, and thank an employee when he or she saves the team vital minutes with an update or input that reflects thorough preparation.

6. Strive for perfection but also understand that no one is perfect.

As a business leader, you should always strive for perfection in your work. At the same time, it is essential to understand that no one is perfect.

A leader should not scare away employees; instead, an employee should feel secure in the presence of the leader. Here are some ways you can lead effectively while working toward perfection:

  • Identify the potential of each employee and delegate tasks to them based on their work persona.
  • Do not scold employees when they do something wrong. Help and guide them when they need you the most.
  • Continuously groom the skills of your employees and motivate them so they feel greatness is achievable.
  • Cultivate a culture of working smartly so employees achieve more in less time.
  • Don’t let your quest for perfectionism turn into an obsession.

Your evolution as a business leader should never stop. Try the six methods suggested above to take control today.

Retain More Customers with Effective Customer Service

More than half of your customers might switch to your competitors if you make one specific mistake. Do you have any idea what that one mistake could be?

You got it – customer service.

With so many individual customers in the balance, it’s important to understand how customer service affects your business and why it’s so important to retain your current customers.

Customer service in B2C companies

According to research by Parature, 65 percent of consumers have cut their ties to a particular brand after just one poor customer service experience.

B2B companies may have some slack because of their more complex relationships with clients. But as a direct-to-consumer business, customer service must be a top priority – it will set you apart from other brands.

Losing customers is expensive

If 65 percent of consumers only need one bad experience to stop buying from you, then it’s essential for you to maintain very high customer service standards. It may be costing you more than you think to disregard customer loss.

Bain and Company discovered that a tiny increase in customer retention of 5 percent could increase your company’s profits by 25 to 95 percent. It’s time to plug the leaks and stop giving customers a reason to leave.   

Some customer turnover is expected in every business. Generally speaking, you can’t keep every customer forever. The problem comes when you give up entirely and focus more on constantly seeking out new customers without attempting to keep your existing ones.

Depending on your industry, finding and converting a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Failing to retain customers is expensive. Don’t let poor customer service be the reason they leave! 

How customer service affects retention

In today’s marketplace, there is a lot of competition.

Even if you’re starting a new business that no one else is doing yet, there’s a good chance someone else will compete with you in a few short years. Barriers to entry are generally low, especially in ecommerce businesses, and more products and services are becoming alike.

The way to differentiate yourself is to provide excellent customer service.

Since we know that customers are willing to leave after one bad customer service experience, the focus should be on improving your standards and giving customers the best experience possible.

In cases where customers have an issue, 82 percent say that quick resolution is the most important thing. The key here is remembering that the issue should be completely solved, not partially.

If your line of business is notorious for providing poor customer service, you have the advantage of standing out all the more if your reps are easy to reach and are kind, informed and helpful. Large companies with their infamous automated answering systems and long wait times generate a lot of complaints (and ire) among consumers. 

Your front-end customer service makes a huge difference. When consumers are treated well to begin with, they are more likely to perceive your company as one that offers more value than that of your competitors. The bottom line is always the perception of value, which is not necessarily tied to price.

This sense of value is what keeps people coming back again and again to good businesses. You can’t hope to create that kind of positive reputation without first valuing your customers and practicing effective customer service.

A simple step towards excellent customer service might lead to a disproportionately large rise in your profits.

Best New Tech 2017 — Top 7 Gadgets You Need to Know About from CES 2017

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYy5vrXD0wI&w=640&h=360]

Building Critical Thinking Skills to Solve Problems at Work

One of the leading challenges that companies face in the coming decade is the use of critical thinking skills in the workplace. The ability to use information from a broader and more impartial perspective offers your employees a way to make more informed decisions and also see a comprehensive view of any situation. The U.S. Department of Labor has recently identified critical thinking as a raw material for some vital workplace skills, including problem-solving and decision-making.

Companies have recognized the need for integrating this soft skill into the workplace to help build the success of their organizations. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, an analysis by Indeed.com found that mentions for critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009. This review is supported by the American Management Association Critical Skills Survey, which found that over 70 percent of participating managers identified critical thinking as a crucial element of employee development.

Critical thinking helps individuals look at situations from multiple sides, and then imagine several different ways to respond. This open process of thinking introduces ideas and solutions that expand the opportunities for success. One of the main reasons businesses don’t embrace critical thinking as an essential part of their organization is that they feel they are just too busy. The focus on day-to-day operations and profit growth takes priority over implementing this soft skill. But companies that develop this skill can see an increase in teamwork and productivity, and a reduction in conflict. These long-term benefits outweigh the time invested in fostering the skill. You can incorporate activities into the workday that integrate critical thinking without using external training programs.

Here is a problem-solving process for team building that expands the use of critical thinking for your employees.

1. Name the situation.

When you name the situation, you present a single discussion point that everyone in the discussion can identify. This statement can be written on a whiteboard as a visual prompt so that everyone in the team keeps the focus on the point, redirecting the discussion to the focal point when the topic shifts. Critical thinking involves keeping an open mind about situations. You help participants remember the goal of the group by naming the situation.

2. List all possible solutions.

Brainstorming takes place during this part of the process. There is nothing outside the realm of possibilities at this point in the discussion. When you open the conversation to unlimited options, you expand thinking beyond one person. The ability to expand your thinking offers the conversation many possible solutions that you may not have considered without the expression of thoughts and opinions. Make sure that all potential solutions discussed during this time stay on task for the situation that has been named in step one. Critical thinking includes the ability to keep an open mind to other considerations and viewpoints without losing track of the end goal. You expand the discussion to see new options and also stay on task by identifying multiple opportunities.

3. Narrow your solutions to three options.

Everyone in the team needs to agree with at least one of the three options. Individuals who can find a compromise and create solutions from many perspectives are better able to bring a team together. Print each solution at the top of a whiteboard and write below each one a list of its advantages and disadvantages using a rational argument. Critical thinking skills offer the ability to look at situations rationally without judgments of good and bad or wrong and right. You help keep a rational discussion in place when you bring consensus to a few intentionally chosen solutions.

4. Choose one option from the three choices.

Make a final choice that offers the best chance of success based on the rational discussion about the situation. Review this choice in relation to how well it solves the designated problem. Critical thinking skills help individuals use a more systematic way to come to conclusions. This reduces the chance of making decisions based on incorrect inferences arising from emotional conclusions.

5. Put a plan in place to implement the chosen solution.

Your chosen solution should have timelines and a list that identifies which participants are responsible for what parts of the final plan. Critical thinking skills include the ability to commit to the chosen solution. You increase attention to detail and interest from the participants in implementing the solution when they are an integral part of the process.

6. Complete the plan.

Some employees find this part of the process the most difficult. Think of the number of times a great plan floundered because there was no follow-up. Make sure each person from the team has a part to play in the process that emphasizes their areas of expertise and interest. Complete regular reviews of people and timelines for project management. Critical thinking involves the ability to see the value of the overall plan. At this point in the process, individuals should be able to see the value of the solution and have buy-in since they were part of the process.

This problem-solving process creates an environment where critical thinking becomes a working part of finding a solution. For individuals who struggle with this method, you may want to consider some training in critical thinking. Overall, though, this process promotes critical thinking in your employees. You can also integrate this activity for making plans and creating a mission. The value added to your organization includes improved engagement, insight and productivity from your team.

 

TaxAct Launches Solution for the Self-Employed

TaxAct for Freelancers Designed for the Self-Employed

The new tax-filing solution from TaxAct gives freelancers and the self-employed new tools to better manage their taxes and maximize deductions.

TaxAct for Freelancers

The custom-built e-filing solution has been improved to optimize and simplify the process of filing taxes for freelancers, the self-employed and independent contractors. It includes a new Deduction Maximizer, Self-Employment Tax Calculator and other updates.

Freelancers, the self-employed and independent contractors are increasingly making up a larger percentage of the workforce.  According to a report jointly commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union, by 2027 most workers in the US will be freelancers. And for most of these small businesses, dealing with the complicated tax system year round is not their strong suit.

Jenna Ivanoski, Gig Economy Product Manager for TaxAct, said the goal of the new updates is to make it easier for this group to manage their finances. In a press release, Ivanoski explained, “We want to help freelancers and other members of the gig economy every step of the way to ensure they can file their taxes quickly, cost-effectively and without confusion.

The New Tools

The Deduction Maximizer looks at how freelancers work and helps them find deductions that are relevant to their particular industry. Writers, bloggers, graphic designers, actors, sales representatives, marketing or business consultants all have different tools of the trade. If you don’t know what to deduct, you are missing on opportunities to lower your tax bill at the end of the year.

The Self-Employment Tax Calculator helps workers in the gig economy understand the tax-related impact of working for themselves. There is also a step-by-step interview for taxpayers receiving Form 1099-MISC, who may also need to file Schedule C and/or Schedule E.

Additionally, TaxAct is offering resources to educate its customers on tax tips, the tax-filing process and more with videos and blogs.

You can get TaxAct for Freelancers for $39, with an additional $37 for specific resources from your state.

A TaxAct Premium service is also available for $51 including help filling out even the more complicated retuns.

Taxes and Freelancers

When you set out to work for yourself, the tax system may seem a bit daunting. But with the right tools and technology, you will be able to make the most of your working situation. As Ivanoski explains, TaxAct will help you, “With the information, they need to maximize their deductions and improve their overall financial situation, not just at tax time, but all year long.”

Image: TaxAct

This article, “TaxAct Launches Solution for the Self-Employed” was first published on Small Business Trends

Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing

Using Humor in Social Media MarketingHumor ranked as one of the highest-engagement content types when video genres were researched by BuzzSumo recently. And Edison Research found in its own independent research that audiences between 12 and 24 prefer Instagram (73 percent), Snapchat (79 percent) and Musical.ly (11 percent) — all platforms serving as potential places to post video content.

When research confirms what you knew, it could be smart to weigh the possibilities. Of the videos you’re creating to promote your business, how many are funny?

Using Humor in Social Media Marketing

In social media, funny videos have a strong chance of being reshared. Brian G. Peters, digital marketing strategist at Buffer, says, “Trouble is, it’s hard to create funny videos, but if you’re a funny person, you’re in luck because it’s a high-engagement video type.” Could comedy have ranked number one in BuzzSumo’s study if humor wasn’t so hard to create? And how much tougher is live comedy? Live or not, planned or not, comedy has always been one of the hardest nuts to crack.

Small Business Trends reached out to professional entertainer and social media personality Billy Mann to discuss the serious business of using humor in social media marketing.

Using Humor in Social Media Marketing
Billy Mann is an actor, singer, voiceover talent, dancer, writer and all around entertainer. Add his background as a professional competitive half pipe skier and a degree in mechanical engineering, he claims his main goal with this versatile skill set is to positively impact the world by helping everyone smile. Acting in viral commercials and working with YouTube filmmakers, Mann has a broad reach (combined views and combined followers) and a deep understanding of the industry and how to interact with his audience. He says his “cheesy but charming” charisma on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly, etc. is part of his influencer business mindset.

* * * * *

Small Business Trends: I can only guess the business of comedy is actually more complex than meets the eye. What are the creative briefs like? What things have you learned during your time working with brands?

Billy Mann: Well put; the end result of a comedy story for a brand looks like sunshine and high fives, but it is sometimes a very complex process. The most important things I’ve learned while working with brands is to make sure the story is not just silly for the sake of silliness, but also tells a cohesive tale. Also you want to be sure that whatever you pitch, you make the brand the hero of the story. Whether they want explosive brand mentions, or more subtle pitches that don’t feel anything like ads or partnerships, companies love when they are made the victors of the creative. Also learning to collaborate on idea notes with clients so that we both get what we want has been a great learning curve. As often as possible, you want to be sure to keep your own voice and artistic integrity while meeting the requirements of the brand. That way everyone wins.

Small Business Trends: What’s an issue in your field that isn’t getting enough attention?

Billy Mann: One issue that I see in my field is a lack of fiscal respect. With this being said, I completely understand the notion of ROI and building a portfolio that would be worth a company investing any money into. However, far too often companies these days will expect a large amount of creative work — work that requires pre-planning and sometimes difficult execution — for little to no payment. Hopefully over time, brands will realize that if they go to a specific person for a certain stylization of story or creativity, that the time put into creating such a story is worth more than just a tag in a description. Exposure and compensation are two different things.

Small Business Trends: Are you asked to do live video or mostly the Stories format?

Billy Mann: More often than not, I have been asked to make either short or long storylines, because audiences love my quirky comedy with crazy situations and sound effects that cannot always be replicated via livestream. However, with my recent growth on live platforms, I’m sure the inclusion of livestreaming will become part of the package deal.

Small Business Trends: So you also travel internationally to work. Do clients brief you on what overseas cultures consider funny and not funny?

Billy Mann: That’s actually a great question. No, they never needed to brief me on a new country’s culture because my creative pitch for each country job would be pre-approved before I flew to do the partnership. I have also been keeping tabs on my reach on Snapchat and Instagram by asking each new commenter where they are from and keeping notes in my phone, so currently around 85 different countries enjoy my style of comedy. That means my creative pitches sometimes only need slight tweaking because the appeal of the comedy stylings is universally understood and appreciated.

Small Business Trends: Tell us something about yourself you don’t normally mention.

Billy Mann: In my spare time, I used to make jewelry for fun. Like earrings and bracelets and stuff out of colored metals rings that I would arrange into patterns.

Small Business Trends: Were you always funny? What’s your back story?

Billy Mann: I don’t know if I have always been funny, but I have definitely always been high energy. I grew up just north of Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California, where I started skiing when I was two years old. That became my profession, and I traveled as a competitive halfpipe skier.

I competed in World Cups until I unfortunately tore my knee at the Olympic Qualifiers in New Zealand in 2013. I was balancing skiing with a college education, so after surgery I went back to school full time to finish my degree in mechanical engineering. It was during this loss of competitive skiing that I had an existential crisis: ‘Without my skiing, what am I now!?’ Around this time, my brother had gotten his first job in the industry as a storyboard artist for a TV show on Nickelodeon, and it was then that I realized what I would do. I would work my butt off to help people smile, to help positively impact the world through entertainment and acting.

My brother gave me great advice: “Find what you want to do in life, and learn more about it than anyone.” That’s exactly what I started doing. I did standup comedy, took acting/singing/dancing lessons, learned anything I thought was inclusive in the ‘entertainment industry’. I then randomly met a famous YouTube filmmaker from Utah and we hit it off. I moved to Utah to work with him and other filmmakers in that area. Best decision of my life! I have been working hard to build my resume ever since so that I may better and better fulfill my dream of helping the world smile.

Small Business Trends: How should people get a hold of you?

Billy Mann: The great thing about social media and technology is that this question has so many answers! Anyone interested in getting in touch can email mannbilly@hotmail.com or text me at 5302632880 or send a snap or DM to my Snapchat or Instagram at mannbilly — that’s the name of my brand.

Images: Billy Mann

This article, “Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

30 Creative Examples of Ambient Advertising by Denver Water Guerrilla Marketing …

30 Creative Examples of Ambient Advertising by Denver Water Guerrilla Marketing Photo Source by chinbetty03 Sponsor AdsIMSC Rapid Mailer – Fast Track Training Create Cool Apps Corporate (Business) Create Cool …

The post 30 Creative Examples of Ambient Advertising by Denver Water Guerrilla Marketing … appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How To Make Passive Income Online 2018 | 5 Ways That Work

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8mjr5XWGs4&w=640&h=360]

Message vos connexions pour leur souhaiter bien et reprendre contact….

Message vos connexions pour leur souhaiter bien et reprendre contact. Source by diaramahalpoula Sponsor AdsSocial Interest Freak Standard Desktop Software Fully Compatible for PC and Mac that uses the latest …

The post Message vos connexions pour leur souhaiter bien et reprendre contact…. appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]

Should You make $300,000 with E commerce or Affiliate Marketing Info Product 🔑🔑

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

6 Smart Tips That Make You a Better Leader

The biggest pitfall that can impede a business leader’s success is to fall into the rut of routine operations management. A bit of savviness is all you need to keep improving yourself and strengthen your brand as a business leader. Here are six smart strategies.

1. Ramp up your communication tactics.

You’re already communicating with stakeholders every day. None are as important, though, as your employees. Communication is the biggest differentiator between good and great leaders. You can never stop improving your communication. Here are some suggestions to improve your skills:

  • Employees can smell baseless talk from a mile away. Keep things real.
  • Use credible sources in your motivational talks.
  • When giving goals to your people, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound).
  • Continually innovate with communication channels. Use email, telephone, video calling, and instant messaging, depending on what best serves your communication needs.

Remember, communication is a two-way process. Invest in communication-enhancement training for your employees.

2. Focus on what you do best and delegate the rest.

Your time comes at a premium. Though delegation is not exactly a secret of operations management, as a leader, it’s important to delegate. Here’s how the pros do it:

  • Hire virtual assistants to handle your menial and tedious tasks.
  • Use cloud-based apps to organize and manage your work on the move.
  • Use the Ivy Lee productivity hack; it marries the best elements of prioritization and focused work.
  • Trust project management tools and communication-management apps to usher in process-level efficiencies.

3. Keep upgrading yourself.

No one wants to work for a leader whose knowledge is so dated that it ceases to deliver any practical advantage to the team or business. It could be a revelation for a manager to realize that their trusted methods and formulas no longer work.

Here are some tips to stay up to date while assessing your effectiveness as a leader:

  • Subscribe to one of the cutting-edge podcasts in your business niche and listen to it during your commute time.
  • Look for quick reads, such as book summaries, to quickly catch up on the latest news and ideas from your market.
  • Don’t be an island. Seek out a mentor who can help broaden your horizons.
  • Ask yourself these questions daily:
    • What did I learn today?
    • What mistakes did I make? What lessons did they teach me?
    • Did I empower someone to do better and win the day today?
    • What do I need to let go of?
    • What legacy do I want to leave behind? What did I do today to ensure this day wasn’t an outlier?

4. Cultivate a culture of innovation.

Great business leaders drive their teams to step out of the confines of routine and achieve the extraordinary. Building teamwork and rewarding collaboration are key to achieving your goals.

Cultivating a culture that values innovation is one of the most difficult responsibilities a business leader has. Here’s how the best nurture innovation in their companies:

  • Proactively introduce mechanisms that naturally boost creative and innovative thinking.
  • Make incremental improvements in the workplace to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Use tools to measure how employees spend their time.
  • Encourage practical shuffling of duties and departments to help employees gain a wider perspective of the organization’s work.
  • Show employees how they can use time-tested methods of creative idea generation (brainstorming, mind mapping, story boarding, etc.) by organizing and participating in sessions.

5. Don’t waste time in meetings anymore.

Any guesses on how much time top business managers spend in meetings? It’s roughly 50 percent of their work time!

Imagine the improvements you can make each workday by eliminating the need for meetings by 30 to 40 percent. Meetings have slowly become the most common platform for interaction for leaders and their employees. Rather than relying on meetings, use these smart tricks:

  • See where you can use video calling so that meetings don’t become your only way of interacting with employees.
  • Send a clear agenda with your meeting invites; this sends a clear “no slacking” message.
  • Be very clear with action points and their assignees (avoid multiple assignees unless the task needs more than one person).
  • Motivate the art of lightning-quick updates. Never stretch meetings, and thank an employee when he or she saves the team vital minutes with an update or input that reflects thorough preparation.

6. Strive for perfection but also understand that no one is perfect.

As a business leader, you should always strive for perfection in your work. At the same time, it is essential to understand that no one is perfect.

A leader should not scare away employees; instead, an employee should feel secure in the presence of the leader. Here are some ways you can lead effectively while working toward perfection:

  • Identify the potential of each employee and delegate tasks to them based on their work persona.
  • Do not scold employees when they do something wrong. Help and guide them when they need you the most.
  • Continuously groom the skills of your employees and motivate them so they feel greatness is achievable.
  • Cultivate a culture of working smartly so employees achieve more in less time.
  • Don’t let your quest for perfectionism turn into an obsession.

Your evolution as a business leader should never stop. Try the six methods suggested above to take control today.

Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing

Using Humor in Social Media MarketingHumor ranked as one of the highest-engagement content types when video genres were researched by BuzzSumo recently. And Edison Research found in its own independent research that audiences between 12 and 24 prefer Instagram (73 percent), Snapchat (79 percent) and Musical.ly (11 percent) — all platforms serving as potential places to post video content.

When research confirms what you knew, it could be smart to weigh the possibilities. Of the videos you’re creating to promote your business, how many are funny?

Using Humor in Social Media Marketing

In social media, funny videos have a strong chance of being reshared. Brian G. Peters, digital marketing strategist at Buffer, says, “Trouble is, it’s hard to create funny videos, but if you’re a funny person, you’re in luck because it’s a high-engagement video type.” Could comedy have ranked number one in BuzzSumo’s study if humor wasn’t so hard to create? And how much tougher is live comedy? Live or not, planned or not, comedy has always been one of the hardest nuts to crack.

Small Business Trends reached out to professional entertainer and social media personality Billy Mann to discuss the serious business of using humor in social media marketing.

Using Humor in Social Media Marketing
Billy Mann is an actor, singer, voiceover talent, dancer, writer and all around entertainer. Add his background as a professional competitive half pipe skier and a degree in mechanical engineering, he claims his main goal with this versatile skill set is to positively impact the world by helping everyone smile. Acting in viral commercials and working with YouTube filmmakers, Mann has a broad reach (combined views and combined followers) and a deep understanding of the industry and how to interact with his audience. He says his “cheesy but charming” charisma on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly, etc. is part of his influencer business mindset.

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Small Business Trends: I can only guess the business of comedy is actually more complex than meets the eye. What are the creative briefs like? What things have you learned during your time working with brands?

Billy Mann: Well put; the end result of a comedy story for a brand looks like sunshine and high fives, but it is sometimes a very complex process. The most important things I’ve learned while working with brands is to make sure the story is not just silly for the sake of silliness, but also tells a cohesive tale. Also you want to be sure that whatever you pitch, you make the brand the hero of the story. Whether they want explosive brand mentions, or more subtle pitches that don’t feel anything like ads or partnerships, companies love when they are made the victors of the creative. Also learning to collaborate on idea notes with clients so that we both get what we want has been a great learning curve. As often as possible, you want to be sure to keep your own voice and artistic integrity while meeting the requirements of the brand. That way everyone wins.

Small Business Trends: What’s an issue in your field that isn’t getting enough attention?

Billy Mann: One issue that I see in my field is a lack of fiscal respect. With this being said, I completely understand the notion of ROI and building a portfolio that would be worth a company investing any money into. However, far too often companies these days will expect a large amount of creative work — work that requires pre-planning and sometimes difficult execution — for little to no payment. Hopefully over time, brands will realize that if they go to a specific person for a certain stylization of story or creativity, that the time put into creating such a story is worth more than just a tag in a description. Exposure and compensation are two different things.

Small Business Trends: Are you asked to do live video or mostly the Stories format?

Billy Mann: More often than not, I have been asked to make either short or long storylines, because audiences love my quirky comedy with crazy situations and sound effects that cannot always be replicated via livestream. However, with my recent growth on live platforms, I’m sure the inclusion of livestreaming will become part of the package deal.

Small Business Trends: So you also travel internationally to work. Do clients brief you on what overseas cultures consider funny and not funny?

Billy Mann: That’s actually a great question. No, they never needed to brief me on a new country’s culture because my creative pitch for each country job would be pre-approved before I flew to do the partnership. I have also been keeping tabs on my reach on Snapchat and Instagram by asking each new commenter where they are from and keeping notes in my phone, so currently around 85 different countries enjoy my style of comedy. That means my creative pitches sometimes only need slight tweaking because the appeal of the comedy stylings is universally understood and appreciated.

Small Business Trends: Tell us something about yourself you don’t normally mention.

Billy Mann: In my spare time, I used to make jewelry for fun. Like earrings and bracelets and stuff out of colored metals rings that I would arrange into patterns.

Small Business Trends: Were you always funny? What’s your back story?

Billy Mann: I don’t know if I have always been funny, but I have definitely always been high energy. I grew up just north of Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California, where I started skiing when I was two years old. That became my profession, and I traveled as a competitive halfpipe skier.

I competed in World Cups until I unfortunately tore my knee at the Olympic Qualifiers in New Zealand in 2013. I was balancing skiing with a college education, so after surgery I went back to school full time to finish my degree in mechanical engineering. It was during this loss of competitive skiing that I had an existential crisis: ‘Without my skiing, what am I now!?’ Around this time, my brother had gotten his first job in the industry as a storyboard artist for a TV show on Nickelodeon, and it was then that I realized what I would do. I would work my butt off to help people smile, to help positively impact the world through entertainment and acting.

My brother gave me great advice: “Find what you want to do in life, and learn more about it than anyone.” That’s exactly what I started doing. I did standup comedy, took acting/singing/dancing lessons, learned anything I thought was inclusive in the ‘entertainment industry’. I then randomly met a famous YouTube filmmaker from Utah and we hit it off. I moved to Utah to work with him and other filmmakers in that area. Best decision of my life! I have been working hard to build my resume ever since so that I may better and better fulfill my dream of helping the world smile.

Small Business Trends: How should people get a hold of you?

Billy Mann: The great thing about social media and technology is that this question has so many answers! Anyone interested in getting in touch can email mannbilly@hotmail.com or text me at 5302632880 or send a snap or DM to my Snapchat or Instagram at mannbilly — that’s the name of my brand.

Images: Billy Mann

This article, “Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

Consider These 3 Things Before Investing in Video Marketing

When it comes to distributing your brand’s message, video is an invaluable tool. Video tells a more captivating story about your business, drawing customers in with an engaging and highly informative experience. According to Wyzowl, 97 percent of businesses found that an explainer video increased user comprehension.

A report from Cisco predicts that 82 percent of all internet traffic will be video by 2021. The number of businesses using it to promote their products or services is increasing, but seamlessly incorporating the medium into an overall marketing strategy is not without some hurdles.

Overspending on a lackluster video, missing your target audience and losing sight of what is best for your company while chasing the elusive viral video are scenarios we see business owners run into on a daily basis.

Learn from others’ mistakes, not your own

Going over budget is one of the most common mistakes companies make. It’s great to exercise your imagination when devising a plan for your video, but elaborate concepts can overshadow your brand’s message and put your cash flow in the red zone for months.

Insisting on a thorough outline is a great way to ensure you know what you’re paying for, and it allows you to keep an eye on how the budget is being allocated throughout the campaign. The quality of a video generally comes down to the relationship between time, experience and budget. Time especially can be leveraged to keep costs down. Before you hire a production team, let them know if you’re not in a rush. If time is of the essence, be ready to pay extra for a quick turnaround time.

Because you’re making a substantial investment in your video, you want to ensure it’s reaching the right audience. Consider who your target customers are and work backward – determine what they’re looking to hear and then deliver that message in a clear, concise way.

Brevity and clarity are critical to ensuring your video accomplishes your goals. To build a strong foundation, start by summarizing your entire brand in a few words. If you can’t do it, you risk losing viewers’ attention with a long and complicated brand story. Imagine you only have three seconds of your customers’ time – if your video still delivers value, then you’re on the right track.

Google’s commercial for its Pixel 2 phone does an excellent job of speaking directly to a potential target audience for the entirety of the ad. Instead of wasting time talking about the company’s history, it focuses on key features that users will love, with informational acting and visuals interchanging at an exciting, compelling pace. Even if viewers catch a short glimpse of the video, they come away with a certain knowledge of the product.

How to ensure a quality video production

When it comes to video production and marketing, ensuring quality can be hard to grasp without fundamentally understanding certain technical aspects. Video production tools and concepts can be highly technical, and it takes years to wrap your head around how it all fits together. Combine that with trying to determine marketing return on investment, and it can leave you feeling like you are exploring a mysteriously intangible world.

Similar to physically navigating unfamiliar geographic territory, you want a local expert to guide you who is truly aligned with your goals. Find a friend, hire a consultant or partner with someone in your company who understands the video marketing terrain and can warn you about potential hazards. Then create a detailed map of the steps required to ensure quality and consult with your team.

Fortunately, a great video doesn’t require a Google-sized budget. Aside from doing your research and finding experts to work with, remember these tips to create a video that will communicate your brand’s message most effectively.

1. Look out for No. 1.

That’s you. Do what is best for your business first. Don’t get sold on someone else’s grand plans. Always consider what your main goal is for the outcome of your video marketing campaign. Before everyone gets carried away by concepts of filming at exotic locations or hiring the latest celebrity to be the face of your campaign, consider the simple version of the story you are trying to tell.

What is the minimum you need to effectively tell your brand’s story? Next, consider adding more elaborate elements, like featuring the host standing in the Hawaiian islands.

Take time on the front end to outline exactly what you want to accomplish. Find 10 examples of videos you like that are all a little different and see what makes them effective – don’t get sold on one idea. Be open-minded and explore your own creativity to come up with unique ways to communicate your message as directly as possible so your audience can easily understand it.

2. A longer video isn’t necessarily better.

Research has established that 15-second ads are about 75 percent as effective as 30-second ads. The kicker is, 15-second ads could be half the cost, which is why they’re very common, while 60-second ads are rare.

Yet, time and again we see people try to incorporate multiple aspects of their business in a single video — their history, team, their innovative products, their plans for the future and so on. Instead of trying to tell your brand’s entire story, outline key aspects that are the most important to get across with your video marketing campaign. Producing a long video not only costs far more than creating a shorter one, but it runs the risk of losing your audience’s attention.

You know the most about your business, so you’ll likely want to include a lot about the brand. Hold yourself back and write down your three key features and only talk about them. Also, get feedback from your current customers: What features do they like the most? Why do they use your services? Focus on those.

3. A video is only effective when people see it.

Distribution is critical. The most obvious place to put your video is on your brand’s website, but many business owners make the mistake of stopping there.

You should search for every outlet, every way to show the world your video and tell your story. A great video is like having a pitchman ready to give more information to anyone willing to listen. Your video will not get tired; it does not need sleep; it can play 24/7. Use this duplicating power to your full advantage.

Host your video, repost your video, and create shorter versions of your video for social media. Do not think of the marketing as a passive step in the equation. Too often brands view the completion of the video as the finish line when in reality, that’s when the race really starts.

Simply commissioning a brand video without doing your due diligence is a great way to end up with a finished product that fails to reach its full potential. Before you sign a contract, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for. Outline your target audience, figure out where they spend most of their time online, and research the specs of those outlets so you know the technical details of the video you’re making. (For example, how long is the video? What’s the best format: square or 16 by nine?)

Optimize your video for these platforms and make sure it meets all of the above criteria. Your completed video is just the beginning. Leverage your new asset in a variety of ways, and you’ll get the best return on this valuable investment.

Ads tend to come forward with their products as some kind of magic. "Purcha…

Ads tend to come forward with their products as some kind of magic. "Purchasing these sneakers would be just as great as flying" Source by ekoruk Sponsor AdsHydravid Syndicate Yearly …

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