edmiston

SCALING YOUR BUSINESS

scaling-your-businessAre you ready to scale your business but don’t know how to bring on the right team? Don’t base decisions on where you are – base them on what you want to become. One of the first things to determine is what type of company do you want to become.

Most of us can remember a time where our parents questioned our friends as we grew up. While it was an annoyance, it taught us the important lesson of making sure that we surround ourselves with the right people. By selecting a strong group of friends, you create a circle of people that are there to support you, cheer your big accomplishments and help to pull you up when you fall. That same mindset of surrounding yourself with the “right” people is extremely important as a business owner.

Trusted business partnerships can be an important part of small business growth. Recruiting might not always be the answer. Often it can be better to outsource tasks and functions to ensure the best outcomes. Also, realize when you need to delegate responsibility. Perhaps you can outsource particular functions to a fractional CFO, Marketing Director or HR professional. You can build a virtual management team that can offer focused services and strategy for company growth.

When your business starts to scale up growth, it is hard, and things can begin to creak. Weaknesses can be exposed, and you can’t always fix them quickly once the journey is started. You could be held back by your IT system, processes, cash flow, team or all of the above.

Do you know the difference between management and leadership? While managers plan, organize and coordinate, leaders have a vision; they persuade, inspire and motivate others. Think now about how you can build your leadership capacity to grow your company.

Create the right culture and an environment where people want to be and want to excel – then get out of the way and let them get on with it. All team members must be properly engaged, valued, motivated, recognized and rewarded. Everyone must pull in the same direction.

Small business is a fast-paced environment. With the onslaught of social media and other changes in technology, it’s a never-ending quest to stay abreast of new trends. Hiring the wrong person or a non-team player may take your already overwhelming workload and increase it, causing more pain than relief.

  • References. It is amazing how many companies ask for references and never even look into them. References are an important part of finding out who the person is that you are looking to hire. It’s also important to check out the person’s social media platforms. Find out who they are outside of the workplace. This will help to determine if they are right for your company’s culture.
  • Proper interview. As you interview your prospective employees, take the time to find out who they are. Questions like: What are you passionate about? What is your greatest accomplishment? How do you handle conflict or challenge? Why should I hire you over someone else?
  • Trust your gut. While the prospective employee may seem “nice”, what does your gut tell you? As a business owner, you have followed your gut on many occasions and it has led you to this point in your business career, so don’t stop listening to it now.
  • Multiple rounds of interviews. Be sure to have more than one interview with the person. Include other people in the interviews such as other employees, partners, or mentors. This will help you to get a better perspective on the person being interviewed. Remember that your employees are the ones who will be working with the recruit every day and valuing their opinion can help to make a more cohesive workplace.

While being a business owner is a rewarding experience, surrounding yourself with the right people, can help you take your business to new heights. Take the time to properly vet consultants and prospective employees. Building a strong team and leading with a vision to inspire your team can help make your business a success.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Content-MarketingWe create original articles for a number of our clients to help them keep their name in front of potential referral sources, current customers and potential customers. Working in tandem with business development staff, we have helped businesses systematically grow their email lists in given market segments.

Content marketing with a targeted message can help you stand out, but are you solving a problem or pushing your own agenda?

Are you asking the right questions to identify the problem and offer a solution? If you are not listening to your customer, then how can you identify what they need? Here are some things to think about.

Are you original? There is certainly a place for stock photography, but customers want to know the person behind the business. When we share staff birthday photos or photos of the owner’s children – it puts human elements into the business. Many of our construction clients share job photos that depict their work. Show what you do and be proud of your work. Share reviews others leave. There is nothing better than a third-party telling others how great of a job you’ve done.

What Do You Know? Sharing knowledge helps to set you apart as an expert. Sure you may share tips that others could use, but how often will people go to the extent of replicating your process when you’ve already figured it out. The exposure of this process and your expertise will help grow your business.

Who Are Your Customers? Know who your ideal customer is. I challenge you to write down your top 3 customers and then list why they are your best customer. Once you know your ideal customer ask them what keeps them up at night. Offer a solution to their nighttime worries and don’t be afraid to give away some of your secret sauce. Some of the most successful business consultancies in the world give their entire process away in book form or an e-book.

Is your Content Meaningful and Engaging? By allowing your potential clients and referral sources to know you as a person and your company’s brand, it makes you reachable. Keep your audience engaged, curious and wanting to learn more.

How Are Your Providing Value? Content strategy is important in providing value to the consumer. Are you communicating in a clear and concise manner without utilizing terminology that your audience may not understand? Does your message offer insight into what, why and how? Does it represent your brand message?

Not only is content important, but the importance of regularly touching an audience with valuable information keeps you and your business top of mind. By housing your blogs on your website, it also prevents your website from becoming a static site and when done correctly is beneficial for SEO.

Regular content, relevant information offering solutions to what keeps your BEST customer up at night is key to an effective content marketing program. Need help developing a strategy, give us a call 724-612-0755.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING – PREPARING FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Business-Continuity-Plan

Benefits of Business Continuity Planning

Are you preparing for the future? Is a Business Continuity Plan a part of your company’s growth? If your business had a disaster, could you be up and running within hours, days, weeks, months, or never recover?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a proactive plan to avoid and mitigate risks associated with a disruption of operations. It details steps to be taken before, during and after an event to maintain the financial viability of an organization. Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a reactive plan for responding after an event. This plan should provide guidelines for emergency responses, extended back-up operations, and post-disaster recovery.

There are many components to a BCP to be considered and here are some key pieces to the plan.

Personnel is your company’s greatest asset and one of the first things to consider. If disaster has struck – has there been loss of life? Has a key member of your management staff had a crisis? Did you have an active shooter situation at your place of business? How are the staff coming together following a crisis? Do they have the proper training to know what to do in the event of a disaster? As a leader having a plan is critical. Your staff looks to you for guidance on what happens next. They can remain calm and execute a plan if a plan exists and they are properly trained.

Communication – how will staff, vendors and the company as a whole communicate if all phone lines are down? What is your plan if you have no email access? Do you have a phone chain or text message chain established?

Technology – is your information in the cloud or is there a secondary data center outside of your building? How will staff access email and critical information to keep your company running? This includes A/R and A/P, proposals, proprietary information, etc. Who can access what information?

Facilities – have you made arrangements for housing of key personnel and employees if necessary? Taking care of your employees and their families will help them remain calm, committed to business recovery and ultimately create loyalty to you as the business owner. If your building was destroyed – do you have a backup location in mind or will staff be able to work remotely?

Have you set up electronic payment systems to continue to send and receive payments? Will you need to resort to manual operations? If so – what might that look like?

Different than a BCP, a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a documented process or set of procedures to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure and other operations necessary to run your business in the event of a disaster. Such a plan, ordinarily documented in written form, specifies procedures an organization is to follow in the event of a disaster.

The City of Baltimore has made national news recently regarding their vulnerability in regard to a cyber-attack, but businesses and government should also consider other types of risk such as fires and flooding that could affect their day to day operations.

As we have recently seen of the floods and hurricanes in various parts of the country, in Western Pennsylvania we think we are safe from disaster. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every day there are new stories of flooding, burst pipes, fires, landslides, hacking, tech outages, downtime, and data loss – even at the best of companies. Are you prepared to do business if today you walked into work and there had been an electrical surge that fried all your computers?

No matter what the cause of the disaster, the organizations that manage them most effectively, and with the least amount of collateral damage, are those with a strategic Business Continuity Plan and a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, and regularly tested Disaster Recovery Plan.

No one wants to think gloom and doom, but I hope these questions will offer food for thought as you look to put together a program for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery testing. Execution of a best thought out plan will ensure your business can remain “Open for Business” should disaster strike.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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