Tips on Managing Your Workforce Remotely

So many people are now working from home (WFH) 100% of the time. Hopefully if this is the case for you, you can maintain productivity and stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While a lot of us are used to living the entrepreneur life from a home office, it’s still a big adjustment to have to self-isolate and stop all face-to-face interactions with coworkers and clients.

I encourage you to use this time to take a closer look at your overall business goals, focus on your health (both physical and mental) and self-care, and enjoy some family time at home.

I think many small business owners are having to pivot their marketing strategy, and what they do when the coronavirus passes could look quite different from what they did before.

I wanted to share some useful tech tools that can make your day-to-day WFH life much easier.

Team Communication Tools

This is probably the biggest WFH product decision you’ll have to make. Your team needs a reliable and easy-to-use tool that lets them instantly message coworkers. The right one for you depends on your business needs and challenges, team size and budget.

1. You may have heard of Slack. This tool gives you the ability to create channels around multiple topics and invite users. From marketing content ideas to social media tactics to office dog photos, your team can create relevant channels for easy chat and collaboration.

It also integrates with many useful tools, including Outlook Calendar, Twitter, HubSpot and Salesforce, so you can see what’s going on at all times right in the Slack app (no need to click in and out of your daily calendar or Twitter feed, for example). There are SO MANY fun and creative emojis you can use too, making remote messaging in a challenging time like this a little more lighthearted.

2. Another popular platform is Discord. Popular with gamers, this voice, video and text tool isn’t just for talking to coworkers, but for finding like-minded communities and new friends. You can create “servers” and “channels” for specific topics, similarly like you do for Slack channels. While Slack has more business integrations, Discord has voice channels, so you can easily chat with team members. Discord also lets you set user roles and permissions.

3. Flock is a cloud-based team communication tool with video and audio calling, screen sharing, text chat, integration with other business applications and more. You can tag colleagues in comments and to-do lists, upload documents, images and videos and set reminders and due dates. Polls, code snippet sharing and group discussions are available, and it integrates with other apps such as Trello, Github, Google Drive and Asana.

Team Collaboration Tools

Your employees need to be able to share their work, whether they’re creating on a marketing strategy or editing a press release. Here are a few that might fit your small business needs.

1. G Suite is a Google product that’s made up of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products. In one suite of tools, it offers email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation decks, shared calendars, cloud storage, and more.

You can comment and make suggestions on specific documents through Google Sheets and Docs, edit documents online simultaneously and collaborate on projects and documents. It’s easy to give users permission to specific files.

2. Evernote: This is more than a note-taking app. Evernote helps you capture, prioritize and share ideas, track projects and to-do lists. I find it super helpful for note-taking, obviously, but also as a sort of “digital filing cabinet” that simplifies organization. There’s a free, basic and business package available.

CRM Tools

CRM stands for “customer relationship management,” and CRM tools help you with things like inbound lead management, sales tracking, social tracking and eNewsletter delivery. Here are three to consider:

1. MailChimp is an all-in-one marketing platform with tools to create everything from emails to postcards. They have a great selection of templates to choose from that can then be further modified to suit your brand. Their intuitive interface and thorough reporting are great, but things can get expensive as your subscriber list or number of emails increase. You can compare their different plans on their website.

2. Constant Contact has always been a big rival with MailChimp to be the brand name in email marketing. It’s a huge company and a great option if Facebook is a big part of your online marketing strategy. Constant Contact has an email option that is designed so users can easily share your newsletter on Facebook.

This option can be considered the most social media-friendly and has all the major features of the others noted. If your online marketing involves Hootsuite (you can integrate this into Hootsuite) and you focus your efforts on gaining traction on social media then this is a great newsletter tool for you.

3. AWeber is an extremely popular option and recommended by many professional marketing companies. It gives you five plans to choose from and a long list of features such as unlimited email marketing campaigns, follow-ups, lists and Auto Responders.

Many people believe their Auto Responder platform is superior to other companies, allowing businesses to automate the process of delivering personalized emails to customers on a schedule.

Project Management Tools

A collaborative task management tool lets everyone track and manage all of their projects. Think of it as an online scheduler, taskmaster, and collaboration tool to manage your team’s workflows.

1. Asana is one of the leading tools and gets a lot of positive feedback. It allows everyone on your team to follow the whole workflow of a project in an easy visual tool. You’ll always know where your team is at and who’s responsible for what and when.

From daily reminders on a task that’s due, to the ability to easily add collaborators or assign teammates a sub-task of a project, Asana makes it simple to see what everyone’s day, week and month looks like (but you can easily move things around if plans change).

2. Monday.com is a pretty simple, intuitive visual team management tool (it’s really a project management platform). It runs processes, workflows, and projects in one digital workspace. Visually, it looks the same as a collection of very customized spreadsheets, in which every team member can log their tasks and update them with status reports and other relevant information.

That means that every person can see all active tasks and keep count on their progress. Team members can work on multiple projects without getting lost by using Monday’s weekly overview. The workflow can be customized just about any way you want it to communicate priority, what’s done, not done and so on. The colourful designs and big buttons don’t hurt either!

Social Media Management Tools

Many small businesses will already have a social media management tool set up. A social media management tool allows you to manage all of your accounts from one dashboard, which saves you both time and frustration. These tools share your content at the best possible times throughout the day, so your followers and fans see your updates more often. It’s a smarter and more efficient way to schedule and share your social media posts.

The best part about these tools is the built-in analytics system, which will give you a glimpse into what’s performing well, and when your social media posts are making the most impact.

Here are two social media management tools I personally use:

1. Buffer shows your scheduled posts and analytics (how in-depth those analytics get depends on the plan you choose). Many small business owners choose Buffer because of its sleek, clean interface that’s easy for beginners to get the hang of.

2. I find that while Buffer is great for less demanding social media needs, Hootsuite is where it’s at if you want to see your timelines, replies, and more across all your social networks.

Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer free and paid plans, so you can always try them out and see which one feels like a better fit for your small business.

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And while it’s not a tool your entire workforce might use, I’m liking MoneyMinderOnline during these uncertain times. It not only gives you a place to track your spending, but you also get insights into your spending habits, and you can look ahead to improve your cash flow, clear your debt, and start saving for your big goals.

I hope I’ve given you an overview of some tools that will help boost your team’s productivity and morale while you’re all working from home. You may also benefit from our article on boosting business efficiency on our website.

5 Incredibly Useful Handmade Men’s Jewelry Tips for Small Business

Setting up a small business is fraught with risks because the incubation period is long and survival is difficult in a market that is competitive in the extreme. One can invest a lot and get very little in return when one ventures into business or even end up losing everything.

Choose the right product:

If one takes a look at the fashion world, there are low-value accessories produced in bulk and sold at throwaway prices. Then there are handcrafted products that command premium prices and always draw a select clientele. Choosing the right such handcrafted product with a unique appeal is the starting point for a small business. It should cost less but must have million dollar looks. One such product in the handmade men’s jewelry category is metal bracelets made of niobium, silver, copper and gold wires, twisted together and hammered into shapes that appeal to man’s intrinsic macho nature. Tie up with a maker of handcrafted men’s accessories and you have a source.

Brand it:

Launch your range of branded handcrafted jewelry for men online and create a website as well as list products on popular portals. It is important to give a nice sounding brand name and think up some unique properties that will set it apart and make it look desirable for men who wish to stand out from the crowd. Handcrafted men’s bracelets made of niobium, gold, silver and copper wires twisted and hammered into shape, each one unique, are ideal for high-value branding.

Price it right:

One advice people usually get is to price a product low so it can be competitive. It works differently in the world of handcrafted fashion accessories for men such as handcrafted jewelry where the value goes up in proportion to the perceived uniqueness of the product, its rarity and that it is chosen by a few. It is a logical thought that if a product is priced high there must be something special about it. Support it by creating hype about the product.

Sell it:

It is worthwhile exploring all possible avenues to sell handcrafted jewelry for men and this means offline as well as online.

Create a buzz:

Leverage the power of social media to create a buzz about personalized jewelry for men and it is sure to get results. People become promoters when you use strategies such as offering freebies should someone’s efforts result in a sale. For instance, one can get someone to wear the jewelry and leave a feedback on the impression it created and the change it made in his life.

Selling niche products can be exciting and challenging. It can also be rewarding. Instead of selling in bulk at low margins, one sells low quantities but makes a good profit. The only thing to keep in mind is to source the right handcrafted jewelry for men and use one’s ingenuity to promote it as one’s own creation.

Top 4 Tips to Increase Your Social Shares

Social signals have been in the spotlight since 2010, when Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan first blogged about them. Shortly thereafter, Steve Cutts confirmed in a video that Google does consider these signals.

This should come as no surprise. Social signals, like backlinks, provide an objective vote of confidence for a specific page or resource. It’s unlikely that social signals have surpassed backlinks in importance, but one thing is clear: it’s no longer safe to ignore them.

There a few social signals in particular that you should monitor: Facebook likes to your pages and groups, Twitter followers associated with your brand, tweets that mention your brand, Google+ Circles, and +1s.

These will change over time as social networks come and go, but as a general rule of thumb, you want a strong presence on all of the major social sites.

Much has been made of the fact that social media sites use the “nofollow” attribute, but Google still counts these when it comes to tracking social status. In other words, a social share is still an endorsement even if it does not directly affect SEO.

Think of it this way: a brand with lots of social media shares is likely to have strong brand loyalty. This is something of a “chicken and the egg” scenario in which a brand with mediocre SEO but with a strong social following can still rank.

The reasoning behind this is that a brand with a large following will have good conversion rates, repeat customers, positive reviews and referrals. These factors indicate that the brand’s SEO will improve over time, and so Google may give them the benefit of the doubt for a while.

There are things you can do right now to cultivate social signals.

Start a Company Blog

A company blog is essential to your success. A blog provides you a great reason to create regular, unique content, and it allows you to interact with your fans on a day-to-day basis.

Additionally, a company blog gives you a space from which you can tell your own story. This is essential in the event that you’re hit with a negative SEO or smear campaign. Naturally, it’s also great for SEO in its own right.

You can use Facebook’s comments API to connect your blog directly so that comments on your blog will appear on the social network as well. This is a cinch to set up if you use WordPress.

Create Social Media Pages

As mentioned, you should have social media pages on all of the major sites, but you should also create pages on specialized sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

These more niche sites will help increase your Web surface area, so to speak, and they will build brand credibility. If your budget allows for it, you may want to hire a social media manager to administer these accounts for you.

Integrate

You should strive to share data from one network to another as much as possible. For instance, don’t just share images on Pinterest; share them on Facebook as well. Twitter is great for sharing information, but don’t hold back from your LinkedIn groups either.

Interact with Influencers

Finally, one of the most important things you can do right now is to find out who the influencers are in your niche. Contact them on Twitter and begin a relationship.

Don’t blatantly market your articles to them. Introduce yourself, and let them know why your content is unique and valuable, but leave it at that. Don’t be afraid to share their content; they may return the favor.

Staying current on the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success. If you’d like to have access to even more powerful marketing tips, as well as a way to generate conversion-ready Internet marketing prospects each month, click here to learn about my done-for-you system.

Engage Your Online Readers: Have You Checked These 5 Important Tips?

Engaging your readers is critical to your online business and brand promotion.

You could be writing many blogs/articles on a daily basis and posting them on various sites hoping, to have bigger business footprints.

But, if your prospects and readers are not spending time on your pages and checking them thoroughly, you won’t be able to achieve your goals.

As per a report, in 2016, while content marketing was up 300%, engagement was up just 5%.

What does it mean?

It means the common visitors aren’t spending much time and leaving your pages speedily.

What’s more disheartening is that even those who are spending some time checking the pages aren’t spending more than 37-odd seconds.

Perhaps, the huge volume of content available nowadays is motivating them to leave your pages to check other sources. Maybe, their exposure to other media tools simultaneously is also behind the high bounce rate.

Whatever could be the reason, it’s important to understand your prospects and readers well and engage them.

But how to do it? How to write engaging content?

Well, follow these 4 tips for improved engagement and better business.

1. Know our prospects & readers: Find out what they want and what their likes and dislikes are. Study their behavioral patterns. A good source of information on your prospects and readers could be the different social media sites that they could be using.

2. Have relevant supporting images: Images– besides being good text breakers–also have the ability to convey your message in a more powerful manner. Relevant images carry your story forward and engage your readers and prospects in a nearly guaranteed way. Your brain process images faster than it processes the words. So, have supporting images on your pages for better connections with your prospects & readers.

3. Have the right supporting videos: Videos could be a powerful tool to attract and engage the viewers. Having them on your pages–especially when you are planning to do instructional blog posts–could do wonders. And, hook your prospects and lead to better engagement. It will be a great idea, if, instead of having infographics, you use videos to convey your message and reach your target viewers. The good news: now with smartphones, you have a handy and inexpensive tool to shoot decent videos for your pages.

4. Use appropriate quotes by well-known personalities: Quotes are wonderful text breakers. They also lend credibility to your story, and carry it forward. People trust you when you support your content with a relevant quote, by a famous & respected figure. So, use appropriate quotes that support what you are saying. Using them in italics will help. It will make your text more professional and engaging.

5. Highlight tips: People generally visit sites to get help and relief from a problem they could be suffering from. So, share useful tips–in bullet form–to better engage them and inspire them to consume your content–right from beginning to end. It will naturally result in them spending more time on your pages, and resultantly, doing what you may want them to do.

Wrapping-up, it pays to engage your readers and prospects. Have supporting and relevant images and videos to engage them in a better manner. Also, use quotes and highlight useful tips so that while the bounce rate of your web pages drops, readers’ engagement balloons.