As your startup begins to gain traction, you’ll need to hire more staff to handle the increased workload or expansion of services. This has a dramatic effect on small businesses: Going from, say, a staff of 10 to a staff of 30 may sound incremental, but you’ll quickly find that the processes you’ve used up until that point may not work as well. More decision makers and more chains of command mean more chances for confusion.
The change in culture can carry an additional cost: loss of long-time employees. It’s easy for someone to feel uneasy with big changes, especially if they’re no longer sure of their place in the company.
To help you keep your staff as you scale up your company, we asked 14 members from YEC for their best advice on retaining employees.
1. Conduct Surveys
We love surveys. In fact, we just recently surveyed our employees about their benefits and which ones they appreciate the most. This helps us know which benefits should be restructured and which ones we should keep offering because everyone loves them. It definitely makes the team feel involved, cared for and like they truly have a say in what benefits are offered to them.
2. Keep Employees Informed
To help retention, make your employees feel like they have a stake in the company. Keep them up to date on company updates, initiatives and successes, as you would with fellow C-suite members. Consider holding a monthly or quarterly business review online to make sure all employees understand the status of the organization, as well as the “bigger picture” projects and goals.
3. Have an Open Door Policy
One way to retain more employees in the workplace is to create an atmosphere that promotes expression. We have an open door policy where anyone, at any time, can come and get things off of their chest. By removing a lack of communication, you’ll better understand what’s really happening within your company and help keep your employees happy.
4. Prepare for the Development of Your High Performers
Continuously write down a list of your high performers and think through professional development opportunities, exposure to different lines of business and “stretch” creative assignments that are unrelated to their core tasks. All these things keep employees interested in what they’re doing. For those that push back on new opportunities or challenges, they might not be a good fit.
5. Promote Internal Bonding
Promoting and encouraging spontaneous conversations between coworkers about random (usually non-work-related) topics is beneficial to improving employee retention. Conversations like these can help synchronize your team, defuse messages and ideas across the organization, and can even jumpstart productive discussions. Not only that, but they also help build relationships within your team.
6. Ensure All Feedback Is Addressed
We provide a variety of avenues (surveys, one-on-ones, discussions, etc.) to encourage all team members to provide their input on areas for improvement and, perhaps most importantly, we make a concerted effort to ensure that all feedback is addressed whether we agree with it or not. It is of paramount importance for employees to know that their input is indeed heard; if not, they will stop offering it.
7. Formalize Perks
Add perks that you can now offer because you have a larger group, such as greater benefits, group activities and group discounts, as well as social events that bring everyone together. You can formalize this with a quarterly plan and accommodate it in the budget.
8. Focus on Building a Team
Focus on building your team, rather than finding employees. My co-founder and I make time to interview every potential employee to make sure they will fit with our company culture. If you build a team of people who enjoy working together, they are more likely to want to stay. It is easier to teach an employee skills than it is to make a talented employee fit into your culture.
9. Offer Them the Chance to Guide Their Own Growth
I hired my people to do things I couldn’t, so it only stands to reason that they would understand some things better about their roles than I do. I retain my better people by giving them flexibility as they continue at the company. They get a say in their direction, so it’s hard for a competitor to make them a better offer on interesting work.
10. Create an Ownership Culture
Use open-book management and empower employees to become an integral part of company success. Let them make decisions that directly contribute to a company’s business goals and incentivize them likewise.
11. Reward Long-Time Employees
Employees like to be valued, so I think it’s important to implement rewards for long-time employees, such as consistent pay raises, more vacation time or perks that new employees don’t get right off the bat.
12. Talk About Change Before It Happens
Both early and recent employees can often become misaligned with the company when they feel taken aback by change. It should be clearly communicated to everyone in advance that as the company grows, not everything will be the same as when they started. This understanding will keep people open-minded and even result in great suggestions on how to change in a way that doesn’t alienate your team.
13. Spend Time Talking With Employees
The bigger your company grows, the less time you will have to speak with your employees individually. Make more time to build relationships with your employees and you will reduce turnover. People like to be cared for and if they see that the boss actually takes the time to speak with them, they will take notice. Not a lot of companies show interest in spending that time and people will value it.
14. Build an Organizational Structure
After a few unexpected employee departures last year, our leadership team focused on building an organizational structure. This included outlining our core values, creating monthly goals for each employee and understanding who is accountable for every critical function. In the end, it’s helped every member understand who we are and the direction we’re headed in.
Keep Employees Longer with a Better Business Model
Now that you’ve learned some of the best ways to keep your employees happy and continuing to work with your company, it’s also important to think about how you can grow and scale your business in the long run. Most employees will want to work with a company that is not only rewarding for them and a fun place to be, but also one that is growing in size and profitability in the process.
Logo Design Tips for Digital Marketers, Businesses, and Brands
Pepsi made headlines in 2008 when it decided to spend over $1 million redesigning its logo. This was a fresh reminder to businesses all over the world just how important a good logo really is.
Strangely, many online businesses don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Many digital marketers don’t have any logo at all. Others hacked something together that doesn’t communicate the core essence of their brand.
Your logo plays a very important role in your brand positioning. It is also one of the most visible parts of your website and other web properties. UX experiments show that 36% of website visitors will click the company logo to visit the homepage, because is the most prominent part of the site.
Why is a logo important for your online business?
Here are some things that you need to understand about logos and digital marketing.
Every online business needs a logo
Yes, every single business needs a logo. Too many online businesses think they are the exception.
Bloggers and affiliate marketers are particularly likely to think that they don’t need a logo. Since they aren’t actively selling their own products and services, they believe that they can get by without it. This is a big mistake.
When you have any type of online business model, your reputation is going to make or break your success. You may not be selling your own products as an affiliate marketer, but you still need to earn the trust of your website visitors before you can convert them by promoting another brand’s. Having a professional logo helps establish trust by showing that you are a serious entrepreneur that intends to stick around for the long term.
When hiring an outside logo design agency, it’s important to make sure you know what type of logo and design work you want to have done. Not only should you have a concept and idea in mind, you should also be aware of the services out there, and the associated costs with each. DesignBro.com recommends the following, and actually provides all of these services and design requirements within each logo job they take on:
- Up to 10 suggested designs from professional logo designers. Only see the best designs – forget about clutter.
- A closed competition: Designers cannot see the other designs. This stimulates more unique & creative content while avoiding simple variations and blatant copies.
- Own your design with full legal copyright.
- Receive files in relevant formats; suitable for online & print purposes (.ai, pdf, jpg, and png)
No matter if your business or brand is completely online or offline, you should have your logo and design files available in all formats and sizes. You never know when you might want to print out business brochures, business cards, or place your new logo design on your site or within social media.
A strong logo helps create a more seamless marketing funnel
Have you ever clicked an online ad on Facebook, Google or another site, only to be disappointed with the landing page that you saw? The problem is often that the advertiser didn’t provide a consistent funnel. The initial ad needs to set the expectations for visitors before they see your landing page. If you are getting users to subscribe to an email list, your ad and landing page need to make sure that your subscribers know what to expect when they start receiving emails from you.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the ad placements above. While the logos aren’t actually shown on Google, they will be displayed on the landing pages after the ads are clicked. Having a well-known and recognized brand identity only further improves the chances of higher conversions and gaining the trust of your audience. You can see more examples of how this can be done across multiple platforms and social media, in this article.
Keeping your message is consistent is essential. However, explicit, written statements aren’t the only part of the message that you need to pay attention to. Other visual cues can subconsciously convey messages that you may not even be aware of. It is important to make sure that these visual elements are as consistent as possible between every stage of your funnel. Using your logo in your ads, landing pages and email newsletters helps establish that consistency.
A good logo will convey the emotions that you want your brand to resonate
Every brand is unique. Every brand wants to build a different type of emotional connection with its customers. Creating a logo that matches the emotions you want your customers to feel is important part of the process.
Don’t settle on a logo just because it looks nice or would work well for another brand. It must match the connection you want your customers to have with your company.
Developing the perfect logo for your digital brand
As a digital marketer, you can’t afford to use a poor logo for your website, social media profiles or marketing creatives. Offline businesses can often make up for having a poor logo with their charismatic personality, community involvement and recommendations from trusted colleagues. That is a luxury that online marketers simply do not have.
Unfortunately, many potential customers are not going to give you a second chance if you don’t make a good first impression. Many website visitors will click the back button and never return.
This means that you need to use a great logo from the very beginning. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1 – Know who your customers actually are
Digital marketers don’t have the same face-to-face connection with their customers that local businesses do. This means that they don’t know as much about them. They may even make erroneous assumptions about their demographics.
Don’t make uninformed assumptions about your target demographic. Do your research and make sure your logo conforms to their standards.
2 – Don’t use low quality logo design services
I can’t stress this enough – you do not want to hire a low-quality expert to come up with a logo for you. They will usually hack something together that doesn’t look very professional. They may even plagiarize another brand’s logo, which is going to be even worse.
If you don’t have a large budget, you may want to look into using a free browser-based logo creator, which in many cases are free to play around and will give you a good idea on how you might want to map out your professional logo design. You will need to be a little more involved in the design process, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
3 – Consider using a focus group to look at your final logo design
You may fall in love with your new logo. That doesn’t mean that your customers are going to like it though.
It is a good idea to have people that match your target demographic take a look at it. You may even want to organize a focus group for them to give their input.
4 – Don’t make your logo too fancy
A lot of marketers try making the fanciest logo they possibly can. They cram as many contours and colors into it as they can. Their goal is to impress their customers, which is usually counterproductive.
Instead, you should try to make your logo as simple as possible. Your goal is to make sure customers remember it easily and understand your core message. Having a slick logo with few design elements is usually the best way to do this.
Your online business begins with your logo
Take a look at each of the logo designs above. What do they have in common?
Besides being well-known and recognized by almost everyone… they also don’t have any words or names on their logos. This is something every brand in the world wishes they could accomplish!
While your brand on business might never reach this level, your logo is the centerpiece of your brand. It quickly communicates the central message behind your entire company. Dedicate the time and resources to develop a logo that aligns with your branding goals. It will be one of the best investments that you ever make.
When looking to create a logo design or identity for your brand, be sure to consider all of the points we mentioned in this article.
Must-Have Business Tools and Resources to Grow Your Startup Online
Have a business of your own, or currently working towards starting one of your own? Great work!
Whether you’ve already started or just in the pre-planning process, you will likely have noticed that the world of online and offline business has changed a lot over the years. Not only is it now easier to get started with a business of your own, it’s also more saturated and flooded than ever before — which also mean more competition, headaches, day to day tasks, and overall management of your business to get that upper edge.
In short, if you want to survive and compete against the best, you will need a little help from some of the top tools, services, solutions, and guides on the internet today. To help with this process, today we are going to take a look at some of my favorite tools and resources that I use and recommend for every business owner.
Web Hosting and Site Development
I first started created websites back in the mid-90s, and everything was straight HTML back then. I even had one site that was made up of more than 10,000+ pages of HTML — all done by hand (no programming at all, and also powered by 16 dedicated Dell servers). This would all seem like a nightmare today, as WordPress and shared hosting has made the process of creating a website or blog extremely easy and affordable. There are NO technical skills required to start a website these days — all it takes is a click of a button and walking through a few simple steps. Best of all, WordPress makes it possible to have a great looking site without ever needing to touch a line of code or be a graphic designer.
When it comes to web hosting, you have more than enough to choose from. In short, if you want to go live with your first website or blog and need to grab a domain name, it’s best to go with a shared hosting plan — usually under $5 to $10 per month. I personally recommend Bluehost, as they are one of the largest and most trusted hosting brands in the world today. They are also the #1 hosting solution, as recommended by WordPress.
As a reader of ZacJohnson.com, all new sign-ups to Bluehost through this blog will receive a free domain name, 60% off hosting plans and also have SSL and WordPress set up on their new site for free.
Email Lead Generation, Mailing and Call to Actions
No matter what type of business or brand you are running, email and content marketing are key. If you have a website or blog, it’s crucial to have a website loaded with great content, but also call to actions to get your audience to take action and engage.
At the same time, you also need to make sure your content is working for you 24/ — specifically bu getting new subscribers to your mailing list daily. Here are two of (my favorite and) best ways to implement these strategies into your business right now.
- OptinMonster – You’ve likely seen popup subscribe and call to action forms online. They’re also likely to have been created and running through the power of OptinMonster (created by Syed Balkhi). This tool not only provides the best popup and newsletter subscription forms online, they also have full integration with WordPress to create call to actions and split testing throughout all different areas of your site.
- AfterOffers – If you are looking for a solution to increase your mailing list, while not having to sign a long-term contract, AfterOffers is probably a great option for you. This platform has a network of hand-selected sites that promote your newsletter list to their audience and provide only 100% opt-in subscribers delivered in realtime right to your list. Check out their site and see how you can start building your mailing list immediately.
- Constant Contact – Every business will need to have the ability to manage their email lists, send out to subscribers, and also have the necessary tracking features and tools to scale in the process. That is exactly what you will find with Constant Contact. You can sign up for a free trial at their site and see what email marketing and list management opportunities they have for your business.
Once you have the power of email marketing working for your business, you can scale it virtually forever. For this to work best, you will need to have solid call to actions through your site, a sales funnel, an autoresponder series, and also putting in the time and effort to set up new email campaigns and traffic sources.
Everyday Business Tools and Email Usage
Of all the tools and resources that business owners use daily, email is probably the most common. A lot of people like to spend hours per day on social media, but if you were to track my time, I think I spend most of it within Gmail — and making all of the new business connections and deals happen!
Gmail out of the box is great in itself, but there are many great tools and applications that can be added in as well. For example, I get a TON of emails daily about advertising and guest blogging on various sites. Thanks to the use of ‘Canned Responses‘, I only need to write a response email once, then click a couple of buttons to have that same template email sent in response to each request.
I’m also a huge fan of using custom email signatures. Right now I’m using Wisestamp, which instantly adds my profile photo, contact info, social profiles and site information to all of the emails I send out daily. This easily adds up to thousands of new people getting a better first impression of myself monthly through email, versus just seeing an email with the signature of “Zac Johnson”.
Lastly, Gmail and Google are great for all of the “suite” tools they have to offer such as Google Docs and Sheets. I use both of these applications daily, and best of all, not only are they free, they are also all stored in the cloud and accessible right within your account.
All in One Maintenance Software
As an entrepreneur or site owner, you are likely running many different aspects of your business. Whether it’s emails, invoicing, revenue reports or tracking your latest ad campaign, you likely have a lot of files all over the place and not many ways to connect each of them together. This might not seem like a huge problem now, but over the course of a year it could add up to hundreds of hours of wasted time.
Instead of having to open and create individual files within Excel and Word, sending out emails through Gmail, and then managing and tracking progress through phone calls and writing notes down on paper… it can actually all be done and tracked seamlessly through the power of CMMS. The ultimate dream of bloggers, affiliate marketers, and business owners is to be able to run their business and day to day operations from anywhere. Having access to an application that brings all of your daily tools and applications together is one of the best ways to move towards that goal
With more people using their mobile devices to run their business and check for updates, a mobile-powered CMMS can help anyone get more work done.
The Treasure Chest of an Entrepreneur is Always Growing!
As you can imagine, every entrepreneur and site/business owner likely has their own preferred set of tools and methods for running their own business. Today I’ve listed just a few of my favorite tools and methods for improving your day to day operations. While I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ll keep updating this article and resource as I find more time.
Why Online and Offline Real Estate are Always Great Investments
No matter what profession you’ve chosen to go into, investing in real estate (both online and offline) is one of the best ways to safeguard your future financial security. You may be thinking, but I don’t know anything about investing. The good news is you don’t have to be a hotshot Wall Street professional to get started. Just like pretty much any type of investing or necessary further education requirements, you can learn all of the basics online.
The great thing about investing in real estate is that even making small investments can later provide big returns. While offline real estate and properties will likely cost thousands of dollars to start investing in, online properties (in the form of domain names) can cost as little as $10 to get started. In either case, there is plenty of time, work, and research required for each. Yes, people are making good money, but it would also be a huge mistake to think it’s easy.
To help with the thought process behind investing in offline and online properties, let’s take a look at some of the different investment options out there, and why it continues to be one of the best ROI business models out there.
It’s Reliable, and Property is Always in Demand
Since the dawn of the Great American Dream, real estate has been considered one of smartest long-term investments available. It’s also one of the biggest reasons young couples have long been advised to purchase a small starter home at the beginning of their marriage with the promise that after a few years they could sell at a profit and pad those retirement accounts. So while you may have never felt compelled to have that front yard and white picket fence, you might want to reconsider. Also be sure to consider your home locations, as you never know when the unexpected might happen!
Economic tides will continue to ebb and flow, but property values tend to almost always increase over time, regardless of the market. Why? Because people will always need shelter, so why not kill two birds with one stone? Shelter wrapped up in an investment is pretty much a win-win. Additionally, while new companies and brands come and go, housing will always remain a necessity, even if there are slight dips in the market.
Taking all of these perspectives and focusing them towards online real estate and domain names, you have even more limitations and value in what you may own. Think of .com, .net, and .org domains as the premium houses of the world. When you get a generic one-word domain, think of it as the most expensive and valuable house in the state! Some domain names will go on to sell for millions of dollars, but it’s extremely rare and unlikely.
You Don’t Need Trade Floor Skills
It’s true that understanding stock market investments can take years of knowledge and practice, but real estate isn’t nearly as complex. Yes, it will require some research, and you’ll have to do a considerable amount of evaluation, but there’s not nearly as much guesswork and volatility with property compared to investing in the latest and greatest trends, like cryptocurrency. Really, it all boils down to figuring out what the real estate market looks like in your area as well as what’s available and it’s quality. Start by visiting open houses and auctions. Connect with others who’ve made property investments and read as much as you can on the topic.
When buying or selling a home, you can go through a realtor. The same holds true for buying and selling domain names online — except it’s often done through a domain broker. Just like realtors, a domain broker is going to do most of the work for you, as they likely have many connections and potential buyers or sellers in place. At the same time, you will also have to pay a percentage (usually 10-30%) for their efforts and success rates.
Go Big, or Go Small — All Options are Available
If you’re interested in buying a home, considering buying a rental property instead. And don’t worry, if do decide to invest in a rental it doesn’t mean you have to actually manage the property yourself. You may decide to hire a property management company to oversee the daily operations. A manager can screen tenants, collect rent payments and show the property to interested parties. Or you may decide to manage the property yourself and function as a landlord. However, if the latter is the case and you don’t have any property management experience, you may want to seek out some advice and tips for new landlords.
This same concept is happening daily in the world of domain names as well. With domain brokers like GreatDomains, NameJet, Pool, and others, sometimes domain names can sell for five, six, or even seven figures. In most cases, these domains will be purchased outright and paid in advance. However, there are times when it makes sense to sell domains at a faster rate and offer a payment plan, which allows for more buyers to take action.
The Internet is Your Ally
Another reason there’s no better time to invest in real estate is the sole factor of technology. Whether it’s the topic of buying, selling or managing real estate the sheer amount of resources you have at your disposal is mind-blowing. With just the click of a button, you can research and make an appointment with experts, realtors, property management companies, and home inspectors (a must before making any purchases). There are also hundreds if not thousands of threads on what you should know before investing, not to mention the added benefit of social media. Gone are the days of taking out a newspaper ad. So if you’re looking to strategically buy and sell to see returns, platforms such as Facebook, and even Craigslist, can provide additional marketing support to get your real estate listings seen.
When it comes to buying and selling domain names, the internet is your bread and butter — in fact, it’s kind of your only option! The good news is that there is a whole world of resources out there, domain expiration services, auction marketplaces to buy and sell domains, and much more. Take advantage of everything the internet has to offer in reference to learning more about buying and selling domain names or site properties, then get ready to make your first move!
It Can Be Tax Deductible
While tax codes allow for a range of deductions, including everything from the interest on your mortgage and money spent on renovation to a range of upkeep and maintenance costs, they do vary by state. You’ll want to investigate, or even consult with an accountant in your area, but in general, most rental property expenses can be written off as business expenses.
If you currently have an online business and are investing in domain names, this would definitely fall under the realm of a write-off (investment/cost) for the business. Of course, if you were to sell the domain name for big money, that would also funnel back into the business and eventually be taxed the same as any other incoming revenue.
Investing in the Offline and Online World of Property and Real Estate
No matter what type of property you are looking to invest in, always be sure to put in the time and effort to completely understand what you are getting into. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Finding that killer domain name on a GoDaddy or NameCheap search and getting it for $10!… Yea, that’s probably a perfect example of ‘too good to be true‘.
At the same time, you may feel hesitant about shelling out the dollars, but if you do your research and select carefully, the financial benefits can be great. The more comfortable you get with the idea of planning out your investments and taking action, the more likely you are to find success in the long run.
However, like most great investments it’ll take dedication and work on your end so don’t hesitate to seek support and get your questions answered!
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