Is Investing in Gold a Good Idea in 2018?

Since the dawn of time, people have kept their assets in precious metals. Sure, gold and silver were also a currency, yet, even when this was not the case, the appeal of gold was widely accepted. Nowadays, with so many other investment options (foreign currencies, stocks and cryptocurrencies), it may seem as if investing in gold may not be such a good idea. This notion is further supported by the fact that gold is currently on a slight decline. However, where some see a negative trend to stay away from, others see an opportunity to buy cheap. With this in mind and without further ado, here’s why investing in gold might still be a good idea in 2018.

Diversifying your portfolio

One of the things that a lot of people know is the fact that the price of gold skyrockets in the state of crisis. Because of this, investing in gold might be a perfect way to diversify your portfolio. According to some estimates, it is recommended to keep at least 20 to 30 percent of your assets in gold and silver, while 10 percent is considered to be the bare minimum. The way in which this works is quite simple. Even in the moments of financial crisis, some people have a surplus of capital that they intend to invest.

Seeing as how the value of most stocks seems quite volatile in those moments, they are more likely to invest in gold. After all, it is only natural for people in these situations to show more faith in commodity than in currency, especially due to the fact that most global currencies are no longer backed by gold. As the demand for gold increases, its price skyrockets. Nevertheless, this is something you need to think about in time, which is why it is usually smart to buy when the price is on a decline.

Savings, wealth or investment

Another thing you need to understand is that gold is not only efficient as an investment but also as a way of saving your assets or wealth. While some may find this trend outdated, buying gold coins allows you to place them in your own safe, without having to rely on a third-party. In an era of cryptocurrencies and stocks, where all your assets are in digital form, you can go to bed one day as a wealthy man and wake up the next as a pauper.

Even in the worst-case scenario, where the gold that you’ve invested in loses all its value, you still have it in physical form. This means that all you have to do is sit on top of it for a while and wait for its value to bounce back. Unlike companies whose stocks you buy, gold is not here for years and decades but for millennia. During this period of time, it managed to maintain hard value, which makes it into one of the most consistent wealth trends in the history.

The issue of jewelry demand

One of the things that affect the price of gold the most is the global jewelry market. In fact, one of the reasons for this decline in price is the fact that the jewelry demand is currently down in China. China and India together make up 60 percent of the global jewelry demand, however, with the impending trade war between the U.S. and China, a lot of things got a bit more complex.

Namely, one of the direct results was the loss of Chinese consumer confidence. To make matters even worse, last year, there was a cash crisis in India, where the government prohibited the use of large-denomination bills. Needless to say, jewelry was one of the commodities that were hit by this the most. Nevertheless, it isn’t unrealistic to expect that the jewelry market will recover from this in the nearest future.

Lawsuit proof

Another thing you need to understand is the fact that most lawsuit rulings and settlement offers work on a basis of your overall assets worth. The great thing about gold is the fact that no one can really know how much gold you actually have. Sure, someone determined can look for your previous purchases but most (if not all) gold retailers keep this information confidential. Aside from this, you can leave your gold in a bank vault, lock it in your bedroom safe, bury it in your backyard or display it in the living room. You can even do all of these things at the same time, which makes it virtually impossible for anyone else to know just how much gold you have.

Incredibly portable

One more thing you need to keep in mind is the issue of practicality and portability. In the past, we stated that gold can be left for safekeeping in a vault or on a shelf. However, a lot of people have no idea just how much space gold takes up. This is hard to precisely pinpoint, yet a bullion that is a size of a VHS tape can be as expensive as $200,000. This means that you could literally take all your assets in a briefcase to another country. Sure, one may argue that it’s easier to do this in a bank, yet, this way, it’s much harder to get your hands on the same amount of cash. In the ideal-case scenario, you would have to give your bank a 72-hour notice, which doesn’t sound that bad, unless it’s a situation in which every minute counts.

A legacy

In one of the previous sections, we mentioned that the price of gold is bound to bounce back, however, there’s no guarantee that that will happen in the next year or even next several years (while it is quite likely). On the other hand, for those who bought gold to protect their assets, this shouldn’t pose a significant problem. All in all, you can pass on all your gold to your children and your children’s children (which is something that a lot of people do). Sure, this same amount of gold might be worth more or less but its sheer quantity will remain unchanged.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, from this standpoint, it seems inevitable that 2018 and 2019 will be much better for gold investors than 2017, however, even if this wasn’t the case, buying gold still wouldn’t be a missed investment. All in all, this is a trend that is definitely worth your consideration.

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6 Must-Consider Courses for Small Business Owners

Nobody said that college education does not help in the business world, but even without an academic background, an entrepreneur can learn the ropes and build a profitable organization. Examples of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg have shown that college dropouts can easily enter the global business pantheon.

Still, there is little doubt that lack of knowledge and expertise quickly spells doom for small businesses. Even with enough money to hire experts, it pays to be in the know when it comes to things that impact and shape your company. Besides, there is a wide range of valuable courses available these days. Thus, do not miss this opportunity to grow personally, professionally, and propel your organization towards success.

Marketing

All entrepreneurs are engaged in marketing one way or another. Like it or not, this is the only way to break out in the market and get products and services in front of people. A solid marketing course should provide deeper insights into conducting market research and identifying the target audience.

Moreover, it is designed to help you select proper channels and tools for the delivery of your messages. Upon completion, entrepreneurs are able to develop digital and traditional campaigns, engage the customers, allocate resources better, and achieve a good ROI. All in all, they are better prepared to elevate your company above the competition.

Financial planning

The financial side of running a business can be daunting for unseasoned founders. Yet, it is precisely the ability to master financial planning and management that goes a long way towards improving your bottom line. So, seek credible financial planning courses as well as those on general finances and accounting.

You will figure out the optimal capital structure, recognize growth opportunities, balance the budget, use balance sheets properly, manage the inventory, maintain a firm grip on cash flow, keep track of transactions, and make sound financial projections. So, it is time to get on top of the numbers game and monitor the financial health of the organization.

Business management

To be a proper leader, an entrepreneur has to be on the ball at all times, successfully handling daily management tasks. Therefore, a management class is one of the essential steps towards climbing up the career ladder. You have a chance to hone your soft skills and learn to lead by setting a good example.

Furthermore, courses in this department emphasize the value of business communication, proactive employee motivation, company-wide collaboration, task delegation, supervision, performance assessment, etc. Ultimately, you should be able to better inspire the troops and let them march towards business greatness.

Building a startup

If you are yet to launch your small business, you must ponder courses on building a startup. They help you familiarize yourself with validation of business ideas and the creation of killer business models. You become aware of strategies used to secure a market share and set up the foundations for sustainable growth.

Certainly, you will not be in a conundrum when figuring out the best model of incorporation and all the requirements associated with it. Therefore, you should have a nice head start in a long business race, instead of stumbling at the first hurdle.

Developing innovative ideas

Ideation is a name of the business game. It drives innovation and enables small businesses to get ahead of the curve. Courses that cover the process of idea generation teach you how to think creatively, overcome practical obstacles and realize the potential and value in novelty concepts.

Armed with such knowledge, your every idea will be more than a wild guess and become a calculated risk at worst.  Most resources also give you an understanding of how to properly communicate, pitch, and present your ideas, via presentations, visual media, meetings with investors, etc.

Legal issues

Constantly evaluating and optimizing your business from a legal standpoint is paramount. In case you have trouble even thinking of that, do not fret. Take on a course in law in entrepreneurship. These courses empower businessmen to fine-tune their business plans, select a business name, and protect intellectual property.

Also, legal courses better equip business people to steer away from business-sinking scenarios, such as trademark infringement. Finally, along the way, participants are in taught to recognize the value of forming strong relationships with business attorneys and other legal experts.  

On a steady course

Having a college degree is not a prerequisite for running and managing a business, but possessing the know-how is. Courses are an invaluable asset to you and to your company and they are becoming a standard across industry sectors. You have more tools than ever before.

So, step up your game and tap into great and affordable online sources of knowledge. You will save a lot of money and headaches down the road. Move forward with confidence, whether you are facing number crunching, strategic planning, day-to-day management or some other vital task. Be as independent and resourceful as you can.

5 Tips for Startups for Achieving Global Reach

Sometimes, your product or service will be such that there’s no practical reason to restrict your operations to your local region. In this situation, it might be more lucrative to aim for global reach. Sure, you don’t have to appeal to the whole world at the same time, however, sometimes it’s enough just to make your product universally available. In order to get the most out of it from the very start, you need to learn how to achieve a global reach with your startup in the simplest, most cost-effective way. Here are five tips that might help you out.

Build a highly graphic brand

One of the first lessons that every startup should take is one made by one of the world’s largest brands Coca-Cola. During their Ramadan campaign, they removed all the labels from their cans, yet all the world was still able to clearly recognize their products. The color of the cans, as well as the iconic curved white line in the middle, is as clear of an indicator for the brand as its logo, however, unlike the logo, it is completely language-independent. Of course, the chance of a startup reaching the same level of brand recognition isn’t that high, however, what you can do is set your mindset in this direction. For instance, you can try to tell your story in images rather than verbalize it and in this way breach the language barrier.

Outsource

In the present-day business world, achieving a global reach is nearly impossible without outsourcing. This is due to the fact that you simply can’t reach that quality of service with your in-house team without some major investments. Subsequently, if you reach a certain level of expertise in your own field of specialty, you will start outsourcing certain features, and in this way more than justifies this deficit. As for the quality of services, outsourcing significantly expands your talent pool. For instance, you get to work with a renowned Hong Kong SEO company, collaborate with customer service experts from India and manufacture products in China. In other words, you get a much higher department cost- efficiency on every level possible.

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Remote workers

Aside from working with remote agencies, you can resort to hiring individuals in the same manner, as well. With remote workers, you get to increase your talent pool, which can help you get the most efficient experts on your team, without going through too much trouble. However, aside from this transparent efficiency in productivity, you also get to diversify your operations. In other words, you get to further diversify your company, which may give you a greater insight into a greater number of regions. All in all, in a situation where you decide to include another market to the list, you get the privilege of knowing at least one local professional that you can rely on, even if it’s just an advice you need.

Competition

One of the greatest misconceptions about the competition is the idea that this is somehow an exclusively bad thing. In reality, this is only true if you have nothing fresh to offer. Competitors that come before you can prepare the market for your arrival and even make a contrast in favor of your superior offer. Upon your arrival, the local customer base will compare you to your competitors and, if you have a superior offer, you will be regarded more highly than if they had no point of reference whatsoever. Moreover, a healthy competition indicates a well-developed market, which often turns out to be much more lucrative.

Providing customer support in more languages

Finally, there’s no better way to show the local market just how highly you value them as customers than to address them in their local language. While creating a local version of your website (with a local extension) is a great idea it is even more important to include a customer support in their language. This is due to the fact that such a thing provides a direct value to your customers, which is something that they are bound to appreciate. In the era of chatbots, this can be pulled off even without having to hire local customer support representatives or outsourcing to a local customer support agency.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each region has its own rules of the game and that sometimes startups have a hard time penetrating their local market, let alone becoming an international trend. Sure, starting a campaign for every single region is certainly more efficient but it isn’t necessarily worth your while. For the time being, establishing a global presence through the above-listed five methods might be your safest bet.

5 Ideas to Give Your Startup a Tech Boost

When faced with a productivity problem, instead of having to expand your workforce, try to come up with a less-risky solution. After all, a workload increase might be just a fluke, which means that hiring more people might not work out for you in the long run. Furthermore, you might be surprised just how many aspects of your business could use a bit of improvement. That being said, here are five ideas you can turn to in order to give your startup an immediate tech boost.

Automated finances

The first thing you can do to introduce your business into the 21st century is automating your financial processes. Namely, you can start by paying your bills online. An average business spends about $12 on paying a single bill, whereas, if done electronically, this can be reduced to as little as $1,5. Apart from saving you a small fortune over the course of years, automating your finances like this will also save you a lot of time.

Apart from this, you might want to automate your payment collecting system which will make it much easier for you (or your accountant) to make financial estimates and projections. A lot of people downplay the importance of doing this in digital form. However, it gives you a greater overview of your company’s incomes and outcomes. In other words, if there is any foul-play in your company or an irregularity of any kind, it will be much easier to notice it. That is to say that, as long as everything is running smoothly, handling your finances will take a lot less effort.

Digital marketing

The next aspect of your business that is in desperate need of digitalization is your marketing. First of all, digitizing your marketing is nowhere near as difficult as you might have assumed. Sure, SEO, PPC marketing and Facebook advertising may require a bit more finesse and expertise, but you can easily establish your social media presence, reach out to influencers and start blogging on your own. In fact, businesses on a budget have so many free tools and resources available, that it becomes plain reckless not to use them to your benefit.

The greatest advantage, however, lies in the availability of reliable learning materials. Never before was it so easy to acquire a skill, whether through independent internet research or by taking an online course. All in all, improving your digital marketing is definitely a tech boost that your company needs and stands to benefit from greatly.

Proper office hardware

In previous two sections, we went to lengths to discuss the way in which your company can benefit from various tech trends. However, the way in which these platforms run and perform greatly depends on your hardware. While renting out office hardware may seem like a growing trend, it is still more reliable to simply purchase your own equipment.

Keep in mind that different laptops have different keyboard sensitivity, screen size and other similar properties, which is why you want to appease the majority by getting their preferred brand. For instance, you can get Lenovo X1 laptop for those staff members who need high-end machines.  

Customer service

When it comes to the general user experience (UX), there’s nothing more important than customer service. This, however, is a double-edged sword. Sure, showing professionalism can do wonders for the overall brand loyalty and help your audience pay more attention to you as a business. Apart from this, it can also make a massive improvement in your damage-control efforts (a sizeable PR boost). However, its absence can harm your brand in more ways than you can imagine.

There are two tech-savvy solutions to this problem. The first one, that is much more popular, is the idea of outsourcing your customer service to countries such as India that particularly specialize in this area. The second, more cost-effective option, is to look into chatbots. Throughout the years, these chatbots have grown much more reliable and sophisticated. Moreover, they respond instantly, which is always a huge plus.

Collaboration

At the end of the day, by properly utilizing the trend of telecommuting, you can expand your talent pool and run a more frugal business. First of all, you won’t have to pay for travel expenses (which also reduces the carbon footprint of your company). Second, you won’t have to lease a bigger office, seeing as how a significant part of your workforce will be operating from their own homes. All in all, hiring remote workers and freelancers is much easier if done through specialized platforms. Also, collaboration tools will help you coordinate these teams when working on massive projects.

Conclusion

One of the first things that you might have noticed is the fact that there is a tech solution for virtually any potential problem your company might be faced with. However, whether or not you manage to embrace and enforce it in your office depends exclusively on your own managerial skills, as well as how tech savvy you are. Nevertheless, even if you don’t intend to use most of these trends, just knowing they’re available can be quite reassuring.

Marketing Technology: How to Modernize Your Advertising

Things to Consider Before Taking Your Business Global

Once upon a time, it seemed like a notion light-years away from becoming a reality, but your small business is finally ready to make its first step outside your national borders. You are about to take on the challenge of building your own Roman Empire, if you will. And for that, you need resolve, patience and exceptional business expertise, in order to succeed in the ever-growing competitive atmosphere of the world.

Before you make your transition official, you should take into consideration several essential aspects of your business that will determine whether you will be able to meet the global market’s needs and stay relevant on what will soon become a borderless scale.

Think locally, act globally

You might be used to focusing on expanding your business one city at a time, but when it comes to moving beyond your cultural comfort zone, you need to retain the same frame of mind in order to access the essence of global. Every single country and territory is made up of unique and authentic characteristics, and their peoples have different preferences, so going global in a way means that you will go local one country at a time until you actually gain a worldwide presence.

Each society has its norms, their customs, traditions, language and core values may be entirely different from what you are used to seeing in your own home country, and your brand needs to be ready for the culture shock you’re about to experience. Every solid international strategy needs in-depth research conducted beforehand, to identify and incorporate the most important cultural differences that will make or break your endeavor.

Adapt your language

A major segment of your globalization efforts will revolve around fine-tuning your language for a wider audience, and preferably, in their own native tongues. This is where your understanding of a country comes into play, since no decent brand copy, including your product presentation, online or offline, can be created without considering the language finesses of each territory.

As true as it may be that English has become the go-to global language for all companies, you should remember that it’s one thing to vaguely understand the basic concepts of what your company does, and a completely different problem to not get lost in translation and achieve the same emotional connection through the local community’s native language. Words make for a wonderful vessel for people to relate to your brand, and you cannot afford not to use it wisely.

Learn the legal ropes

Whether you plan to import your product, make it locally, or sell your services through agents dispersed all across the globe, your business has to comply with all the laws and regulations of each country in which you operate. Before you even begin the transition, learn what it takes, from paperwork to adapting your legal language and tone, to become a recognized legal entity in each country.

Your licenses, documentation and all paperwork should be in perfect order before you move your business overseas, and to do that, it would be wise to consult a professional legal counsel to stay a few steps ahead of the global game.

Employee incentives

What is a company without its loyal employees, who are at the same time your brand’s most important ambassadors? They will be the pillars of your success, because no international endeavor can survive without a strong local foundation willing to put its heart, soul and expertise into the venture. And it’s your duty to create the drive and enthusiasm that will fuel your business and create that strong basis for expansion.

Depending on your business and available options, you can create the right company culture – from offering your employees share option plans and providing them with educational opportunities, cash incentives and more vacation time, to more flexible work hours, you have an endless list of choices to make this enormous effort worth their while.

Prep your budget

If you thought that funding and building a business from scratch was a hassle, think again. Branching out onto the world’s map means that you will need significant investments, which you will in all likelihood, underestimate to begin with. To prevent being flooded by costs you cannot cope with, you will need to define and continuously redefine your budget for this endeavor.

Take into account all the different tax laws, customs, legal expenses, import and export costs, hiring local people or sticking to a local operation that ships globally, etc. While you definitely need to brace yourself for losing money in the early stages of your growth, there’s no need to waste money if you can prevent unneeded expenses from day one.

Is your product ready?

Upon completing your research and analysis phase, and adapting your brand image and language to the local cultures, start implementing the results to your product or service. However, if you are already a business of many facets and have a wide selection of products to choose from, it’s not wise to go all out and immediately present your entire offer to the world.

Instead, adjust one product that you are certain will fill a market gap and be a good fit for a given territory, and launch it to test the waters. Once you see the initial reaction and how much trust your brand is establishing with the new audience, you can move on to expanding your product list to become available to the rest of the world.

How to Expand Your Business: 5 Tips for Success?

The way companies grow often confuses first-time entrepreneurs who assume that their business expansion will only concern the workload and manpower. In other words, they assume that the greatest difference between a small and a medium business is the fact that the first one has 10 people in the sales department while the second one has 100 salespeople. In truth, the change that occurs during this transition is infrastructural in nature. As your company grows, you will have to start adding services you never before even considered using. With this in mind and without further ado, here are five things you need to learn about expansion.

Start by networking

By mingling with people from the business world, you will get in touch with agencies to outsource to, potential investors and future business partners. Moreover, you will meet HR experts, IT security moguls and professional recruiters you can come to cooperate with later on. Nevertheless, networking has its own set of rules you would do well to obey. For instance, when the meeting is scheduled, you need to avoid arriving late. Then, you need to avoid talking about what you need as soon as you sit at the table. Finally, give your full focus to the person you’re conversing with. As Robert Breault once said, ”Charisma is not just saying hello. It’s dropping what you’re doing to say hello.”

Tend to your cash flow

The fact that your company is on a tight budget is natural for a young enterprise, yet, it might pose a certain problem in the long run. You see, a tight budget often means that there are not enough funds for innovation. In fact, even if some of your standard equipment breaks down, you can barely afford to fix or replace it. Then, while you’re never late on salaries, bonuses are out of question, which directly impacts the motivation of your staff. In other words, in order for your business to grow, you need to burn some cash but, in order for this to be possible in the first place, you need to tend to your cash flow.

Taking a business loan would be the most logical first step, however, this is often quite difficult for a sole proprietorship (which is a category that most of the small businesses belong to). Therefore, it might be simpler and more effort-efficient to look for personal loans instead. Apart from this, as your company grows, you might feel the need to share this burden with someone, therefore, you might want to look for someone willing to buy equity in your company. In this way, you get both financial and administrative relief at the same time.

Groom your company’s future leaders

As a one-person startup, you don’t have to worry about hierarchy. The same goes when you’re running a small group of employees; however, what happens when you get several teams within your organization or when the number of people in your employ exceeds 20? You can’t expect to still be able to micromanage everything, neither should you. This is where you need someone else to step in.

Here, you have two options to choose from. You can either hire a manager or groom someone from your company to assume this responsibility. The latter is a clearly superior choice, seeing as how it is more frugal and more efficient (no need to get accustomed to a new situation). Nonetheless, this requires a no small amount of foresight.

Talent retention is key

In the previous sections, we mentioned the issue of bonuses and other employee benefits; well, things are even more serious than you might have assumed. If certain requirements or expectations aren’t met, you can expect your employees to start leaving in droves. The greatest problem here is the fact that your best, most capable and most productive employees will be the first ones to leave, seeing as how they have the most options available. Due to the fact that in most companies a small fraction of competent employees does all the work, this could spell a disaster for your company. To avoid this, focus on talent retention as much as you can.

Focus on return customers

At the end of the day, if you really, really want to grow, you need to keep in mind that persuading people to buy from you isn’t enough. You need to make them come back over and over again. For most companies, 8 percent of customers are able to generate 40 percent of the profit, however, with the right strategy, you might even be able to increase this percentage even higher. Furthermore, if the previous customer experience was a positive one, you have a much easier job of persuading them to return. Don’t be too shy to go with a post-sale follow-up. This can range from sending a thank-you email to starting a loyalty program.

Conclusion

As you can see, growing your business is much more than simply expanding its capacities, it’s mostly being able to add new dimensions to your infrastructure when you deem such a thing necessary. In time, merging and outsourcing might also become viable options, nevertheless, this is a story for another time.

How to Build a Stellar Brand and Rock the Social Media Ecosystem

In a vast and diverse online landscape, there are many channels and tools to explore. In the midst of all the digital hustle and bustle, major social platforms stand as real giants. From their shoulders, brands can extend their reach and make their messages resonate with a global audience.

Indeed, many businesses have managed to work miracles with their social media accounts. They became globally recognizable and have enhanced their bottom line in the process. But, make no mistake that this is a huge endeavor. Namely, one has to find a way to form a killer strategy and execute it in order to stand out among cohorts of competitive brands.

A tumultuous social age

Social media platforms are a next big business frontier. Consumers flock there to casually share and comment, but also interact with brands and get to know their human face. This creates immense opportunities to engage and delight. Of course, making it happen is much easier said than done. It requires a rock-solid strategy and a long-term commitment.

One of the first things to figure out is which network to pick as a distribution channel. You might want to use more than one but bear in mind that spreading yourself too thin is not the best idea, especially if you’re working with limited resources. The basic rule is simple: You have to be present on hubs that your target audience frequents.

An angle of approach

A thorough research is the cornerstone of your branding strategy. It allows you to tell in advance, with relative certainty, whether your campaigns will hit the mark or not. Just be aware that adults aged 18-34 are the most likely to follow a brand via social media (96%). So, if you cater to the older population, you might want to think twice before investing in branding there.

In general, networks with the largest user base (like Facebook and Twitter) offer an unparalleled reach and should be considered first. Then again, there are some niche platforms that could make sense in terms of what you do and industry sector you operate in. Likewise, image-heavy networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are a great marketing landscape to dispense your product photos and other visual assets.

Name of the social game

In any event, once you weigh all the pros and cons and identify the best channel, come up with a game plan on how to engage the audience there. To get inspired, you can take lessons from some of the best thought-out campaigns out there. They all have something in common: a deep understanding that modern businesses must add value to the lives of the customers.

Moreover, established brands are well aware that social media profiles pose powerful customer service tools. They provide around-the-clock support and display impressive responsiveness. Also, they keep up to date with prominent trends such as the surge in mobile usage. There were 2.56 billion of global social media users who accessed those networks via mobile devices in 2017. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the experience to their wants and needs.

Coming on top

There are some other trends that enable your brand to get into the limelight. Visual content reigns supreme: it is 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content. So, ramp up your image and video production capacities. Quality content is an integral part of all good campaigns. Just make sure to produce a regular stream of it in accordance with your content calendar.

Furthermore, note that, although people discuss brands quite a lot, 96% of users does not actually follow brand-owned accounts. This is to say that businesses have to get creative and navigate around the distrust or weariness that users tend to exhibit towards businesses. The trick is to look beyond your corporate channels and launch campaigns that deviate from the traditional advertising logic.

Stay vigilant

Next, let us address one thing that often gets overlooked: keeping track of key performance indicators is vital. In other words, implement a robust social media monitoring strategy. Monitor non-branded conversations for brand mentions. Evaluate your engagement rates and how many social signals you generate. Actively manage brand health at all times. Stay flexible and adjust your strategy should it fail to bear fruit.

This may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured that social media branding pays rich dividends in the long run.

Around 71% of customers who have had a positive experience with a brand recommends it to others. Hence, you have a chance to make the most of word-of-mouth promotion and spread awareness far and wide.  Finally, remember that social signals, although not an official ranking factor, do affect your position in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Polishing the competitive edge

Social media networks are major public arenas for brand-building. Before diving in, you need to test the digital waters and use acquired insights to create targeted campaigns.

Create a branded environment where customers feel appreciated and valued. Keep an eye on trends to stay on top of the game. Learn how to tell an engaging story and social media user people in. This should enable you to build lasting foundations of trust with your existing customers and win new people over at the same time.

Carry out branding with the maximum marketing impact: Get the word out there and cut through the marketing noise like a knife through hot butter.

How Can Good SEO Help Potential Customers Find Your Startup?

SEO might not be fast or easy, but it’s still necessary in today’s business world. And if you’re just starting your business, it’s definitely worth your time.

It will allow you to generate new leads, attract new customers and ultimately, increase sales by boosting your visibility in search engines. But let’s start from the beginning.

What exactly is SEO?

In short, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and many people consider it the main digital tactic companies use to attract new customers online.

The first thing you need to know about SEO is that it isn’t a short-term tactic. It’s better described as a “collection of tactics” that you can use to improve your presence on the Internet.

Search engines – we’ll mostly be taking about Google, since it holds more than 90% of search market share – rank sites based on their relevance and quality.

You can use SEO to improve your rankings by optimizing your site and using certain tactics that Google deems useful for users. Now let’s take a look at how SEO can help small businesses attract new audiences.

SEO for small-to-mid-size businesses

If you opt for SEO, your main goal should be to use a number of different tactics to improve your rankings. Search engine visibility is crucial for your success, since most customers research their purchases on the Internet before they make a decision.

As we said, SEO is a collection of strategies and techniques that work together as a part of your overall marketing strategy. Its main aim is to improve your position in organic search results – not paid results, that’s a completely different thing – and some of the most important SEO strategies include:

  • UX and site architecture
  • Content creating and marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Analytics and keyword research
  • Link building and outreach

Before we start talking about these tactics in more detail, let’s see why this is so important for your business and what results you can expect from a successful SEO strategy.

Why is SEO important for your site?

In this day and age, a small business lives and dies by its marketing efforts and as we established before, SEO is an important part of online marketing efforts.

Look at it like this, if a potential customer can’t find your site on Google, you practically don’t exist to that customer. And if you think SEO is only important at the moment, you’re terribly wrong.

The practice has been around for more than two decades at this point and according to Market Dive research, more than 80% of marketers see SEO as becoming even more effective in the future.

How to create a successful SEO strategy

The main goal of any SEO strategy is to generate more leads and increase your customer base in the process, not just increase your rank in Google. If you want to do things properly, it would be smart to hire an SEO consultant company. Preferably a reputable one, like this New York based SEO company.

If not, you can actually try do everything on your own. However, you have to be prepared for a ton of work and mistakes along the way.

  • On-site SEO tactics:  Every piece of content on your website, from blog posts to images, needs to be properly optimized for Google, or any other search engine you plan on focusing on.
  • Off-site SEO tactics: Link building is one of the main aspects of off-page SEO and it includes reaching out to various sites and influencers who might find your site and content useful.
  • Mobile-friendliness: A vast majority of people today browse the Internet on their mobile devices. That’s why you need to optimize your site for mobile and make sure that everything works perfectly on all devices.  

Of course, tracking your SEO campaigns is always time-consuming and at times, it can be quite stressful. So, if you want to track the performance of your SEO activities, you should try using a professional digital marketing dashboard that will give you a view of how all your marketing activities are performing.

Conclusion

In the end, you’re probably wondering how much all of this will cost you. This is a tricky question, because the line between digital marketing and SEO is pretty thin. Some companies out there are even combing their marketing budgets with their SEO budgets.

In order to determine how much you should spend on search engine optimization, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:

  • How much do you expect to make this year?
  • What’s your chosen industry?
  • How many competitors do you really have?

If you’re able to set aside around five percent of your overall revenue for long-term SEO efforts, you’ll definitely be able to see an increase in sales during the first year of your business venture.

5 Challenges of Doing Business Globally

A lot of people are eager to start an international business, without actually realizing all the challenges that this course of action entails. All they focus on are the positive sides like expanding to new markets, an access to a greater talent pool and prospects of future, even greater, expansion. Still, things are not nearly as easy as they may appear at first and here are a couple of downsides you might encounter.

The issue with company structure

In most English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, businesses are classified as a sole entrepreneurship, a partnership or a limited liability corporation. Needless to say, this affects how the company is registered but even more importantly, how it pays taxes. The problem with this issue lies in the fact that the target market you are attempting to approach may not have the same standard structures, which might cause a lot of problems.

Aside from this, your company needs to prepare its international structure. This entails making decisions on whether you run your company from a single headquarters or do you have autonomous offices and representatives all over the place. Needless to say, this also depends on how much autonomy you are willing to hand over to these overseas branches.

Cultural differences

Another thing you need to take into consideration is how cultural differences will affect your brand. For instance, opening a Hooters Bar and Grill branch in Saudi Arabia is definitely not a good idea. Still, not every such consideration is as straightforward as this comparison. Sometimes, these differences will be much subtler, yet this doesn’t make them any less devastating for your brand. For this reason alone, it might be a much better idea to use a platform such as 2 Easy in order to get some invaluable local contacts at your target location. These B2B connections might help you out establish your international office with much greater efficiency.

Local laws and regulations

Next, you should look out for local laws and regulations and the ways in which they match or differ from those from your country of origin. Sometimes, your business structure or model will be tailored to fit the needs of a local market, which could make your transition to an offshore location slightly more difficult. Sure, dealing with two separate locations can be hard but things will only escalate once you start taking more and more countries into your calculation. This is definitely something you have to think about in due time.

International pricing

One of the most controversial issues surrounding the global market is the fact that the price of the same product/service may differ depending on the target location. Now, different parts of the world have different average purchasing power, which means that stamping a single universal price on your product may restrict you in more ways than you can imagine. On the one hand, it could make your product too expensive for the local market or it could significantly lower the bar for your expected profit. The method of guiding your pricing strategy is probably going by the Big Mac Index when comparing the purchasing powers of different regions.

Issues surrounding marketing

Finally, due to the above-mentioned cultural differences, you might have a hard time using your marketing campaign all over the globe. Seeing as how the situation in the world is quite sensitive from the cultural standpoint, even some of the most innocent trends might appear quite offensive in some regions. Because of this, it is usually far better to come up with different variations for one and the same campaign than to try going with a one-size-fits-all solution. On the other hand, this might considerably increase your expenses.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, starting a global brand is far from easy, seeing as how the number of variables you have to keep an eye on drastically increases. Instead of having to worry about the legal issues of your home region, you now have to do this several times over. Furthermore, any reform you decide to enact suddenly gets layers and layers of potential complications. Nonetheless, for all those who don’t fear the challenge of overcoming these international barriers, potential rewards are always more than worth it.

Why Should Small Businesses Focus on Liquidity Management?

Making a profit is certainly the main objective of every business out there, but one of the more important factors people tend to forget about is liquidity.

Lack of profits can kill your business in just a few months. However, lack of liquidity, can destroy your whole organization basically in a heartbeat.

Actually, according to the best-selling author and business adviser, David Mellor, lack of liquidity is the second biggest reason why small businesses fail in the United States.

What is liquidity actually?

If you’re new to all of this “business lingo” you’re probably wondering what liquidity even is. In essence, it’s a term used to describe an asset categorized by how fast you can trade it on the open market, without affecting its value.

For instance, cash is a liquid asset. You can trade it for other goods on the market without its price being changed in the process. When you want to buy something – a car, a new home or office supplies – cash will certainly do the trick.

Cash aside, even if you have something valuable, like vintage furniture, jewelry, etc. you technically still have liquidity. However, since the price of those assets varies – some people lower the price to sell their assets quicker, for example – they are relatively liquid.

When it comes to your company, the most important thing is that you have enough assets to pay your debts on time. In most cases, this depends on how much cash you have available, in comparison to the liabilities of your company.

Why is it so important?

As we indicated before, on the surface level, it’s all about the profit. But your enormous profit margin doesn’t actually mean too much if you’re not able to pay off your current debts and use the rest of your funds to invest in your business and keep it afloat.

Having cash at your disposal gives you the freedom to make an investment and expand your business, when the right opportunity comes up. And no matter how unlikely it seems, you never know when a financial crisis may occur, so having some cash stashed away is almost a type of insurance.

In order to keep up with your liquidity, you need to track your liquidity ratio. Here are three most commonly tracked ratios among small business owners:

  • Current ratio

More commonly known as “working capital ratio” this ratio measures your liquidity by comparing assets to liabilities. If your company has a current ratio of 2:1, most financial experts would agree that you have a “financially healthy” company on your hands.  

  • Quick ratio

This ratio is used to evaluate your organization’s capacity to fulfill its promises. Some companies track quick ratio on a monthly basis, in order to identify negative trends and make some adjustments that will help them satisfy debt requirements in the future.

  • Operating cash flow ratio

If you want to measure operating cash flow ratio, you just need to add up all the cash taken from your operations and divide that value by your current liabilities. This ratio is used to assess whether your current cash flow is sufficient to cover your debts.

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How to increase your liquidity?

  • Finance through factoring

In this case, a “factor” is actually a financing firm that offers to pay out your accounts for a price. Essentially, these companies pay up front what your customer is due and take a percentage. If you have to pay a few invoices and you need the cash right away, this is a rather convenient option.

  • Taking a personal loan

This is perhaps the simplest way of increasing cash flow through your company. Of course, you have to be careful with loans and wait for the right moment to take it. In most cases, taking personal cash loans is the smartest option if you want to correct the liquidity of your business instantly.

  • Minimizing liabilities

If you don’t want to increase your cash flow, you can take the other route, and reduce the amount of money coming out of your organization. Some people simply have too much inventory lying around the office, and this can decrease your liquidity drastically. Therefore, you need to have a good strategy to make sure that your inventory is always ready to be sent out and sold.

Don’t get too comfy if your profits go up

When you’re dealing with liquidity, you have to be calm and calculated at all times. Simply put, you can’t let yourself get distracted by other, less important aspects of running a business.

Moreover, we should also point out that you can’t get too comfortable when your profits start going up. On the contrary, you always have to be aware of how much money you and your company earned is at your disposal.

Without knowing that, your business venture might fail without any particular warning signs when you and your partners expect it the least.