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Why Small Businesses Still Need to Network in the Local Community

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Deborah Sweeney – Enjoy!

Why Small Businesses Still Need to Network in the Local CommunityDespite the rise of social networking and the perceived crumbling of face-to-face interaction it has caused, community is not dead. I have always been very passionate about local small business, but when I talk about real life networking within my community, I often get a few raised eyebrows. After all, I run an internet-based business – it isn’t like we get a lot of walk-in traffic! But establishing roots in your local community, regardless of what type of a business you run, is absolutely vital to your continued success. These relationships can help lead to partnerships and, though the internet has made it easier to market, word of mouth in the flesh is still invaluable to brand recognition.

Local recognition is priceless

A few years ago, American Express sponsored a ‘Small Business Consumer Pulse Survey’ to gauge how the average person felt about local small business. According to that survey, 9 out 10 Americans believe it is important to support local small businesses, and 73% of respondents said that they make a conscious effort to shop at local businesses. If your business is known as a local company, a solid majority of the nearby population is going to try to frequent your storefront as much as possible. However, if you hide behind a computer screen and refuse to connect with anyone within your community, they may very well pass you over. And even if you don’t run the type of business that does a lot of walk-in sales, that local recognition is still invaluable. Whether it is through hosting an open house at your office, offering a scholarship, or even sponsoring a banner ad at a local baseball game, making your name known to your community is a precious marketing asset. People who live in the city you do business in will go out of their way to look you up online if they know you are active in their community.

Small businesses that support each other do better

Are you active in your local chamber of commerce? Well you should be! Studies show that by simply involving yourself with your Chamber of Commerce, you increase customer favorability by 44%, and increase the likelihood of future patronage by 64%. The Chamber of Commerce is also a goldmine of information about local economic trends and policies. Business owners swap ideas, and studies are sponsored to help give chamber members a competitive edge. If you are skipping out on your Chamber of Commerce, you are really missing out on some great opportunities to network and mingle with area leaders.

Trust me, it is inspiring

While I love the fact that both my business and my work as its CEO is bettered by becoming involved in the local community, it really is inspiring to be included in a network of small businesses and entrepreneurs. I often try and give talks at local schools and colleges about becoming an entrepreneur because I want that network to grow. According to the SBA, small businesses have generated 64% of all new private-sector jobs over the past twelve years. Taken by itself, the lone small business may not seem like it impacts much at all. But when we work together to build and foster a network of small businesses, we make our community, and our company, better all around.

Marketing is all about increasing brand recognition and bringing in new customers. And while traditional marketing through television, radio, and the internet definitely works, you are missing out on a real opportunity if you aren’t involved in your local network of businesses. Your company should be recognized as the pillar of the local community that it is, and that only happens when you become involved with your town. So when you’re planning out your marketing strategy, remember to include your local community. Not only will your involvement help you to do more business, it will also help make you a better businessperson.

deborah sweeney headshotDeborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Why Your Sales Pitch Isn’t Converting

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Jordyn Rickard – Enjoy!

EmolectualWith call after call made to numerous businesses or advertisement after advertisement placed for potential customers and no results, you may be on the verge of a mental and emotional breakdown. It’s time to sit down and ask yourself a serious question… Why isn’t your sales pitch converting?

If you’re stumped and think that you’ve tried everything, it’s time to think again. Chances are, you simply are not making the right type of connection with your target consumer or client. Worse yet, there’s a chance you aren’t making any sort of connection. Without forming a connection that resonates deep within the consumer, your sales pitch and product stand very little chance of going to the places you ultimately want them to be.

Read on below for a solid solution to shaping your sales pitch using three easy strategies your ideal customer won’t get enough of.

A Fine Balance and Identifying The Connection Model

An ideal marketing sales pitch will make a connection that appeals to both an intellectual and emotional side. Falling too far on one side or the other eliminates the need and validation required for prospective customers to convert into customers. This scientific connection is dubbed an “emolectual connection.” Think about your pitch and why clients would emotionally want to be involved. Will it make better lives for their families? Make memories? Fill voids that they consistently face? Then turn your pitch around to its intellectual side. Why does this make sense financially? Why are YOU the best solution versus the other guys?

The Emotional Aspect

Convey your passion in your pitch. Tell your audience what makes you get up in the morning and what makes you thrive from day to day. Once they understand where you are coming from, you can turn the tables and connect with them on an emotional level. Part of being a great salesperson is identifying what makes your client thrive on a day to day basis. Showing clients how your product or service can impact their lives for the better will have them wrapped around your finger. Alternatively, a connection that doesn’t also include an intellectual bond will leave you with a wishy-washy client who may or may not drop in a short period of time. An emotional connection compels a person to stick with you over leaving for the other guy.

The Intellectual Aspect

All business minded individuals and consumers operate from a standpoint of validation. Everything they do has to make sense – from a financial standpoint to a moral standpoint. Take this opportunity to tell them why they need you. Why your product is the end all solution to fill the void. Talk finances and keep the end goal focused on them being happier and in a better place with your product in sight. People don’t want to be sold, but people do want to buy. Give them a reason that makes sense and you’re golden.

Most pitches already possess the intellectual aspect of an emolectual connection. By tying the two together to form an emolectual connection, you’ll find your sales pitch not only converts, but resonates deep within a consumer. Business experts and businesses themselves know that an angry customer is more likely to speak up and tell a friend or leave a review than a satisfied customer. But a passionate customer is just as likely to leave a review and speak up. Go for beyond happy customers, strive for a well-rounded connection and benefit significantly!

Jordyn RickardJordyn Rickard is a young marketing professional with over 5 years of experience in marketing and strategy for small and medium sized businesses. With an education in finance and an extensive freelancing background, she’s had the privilege of developing solutions that work for small businesses. Currently, Rickard proudly works as a Success Coordinator for Synduit, a marketing and consulting firm for small businesses. Reach out to Rickard on Twitter @jordynatsynduit .

Taming the Print Zombie: How to Use a Once “Dead” Medium to Market Your Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Pamela Wilson – Enjoy!

print-marketing-zombieTwenty years ago it was one of the most important means we had to market our businesses. Its death has been announced more than once in the past ten years. And today, using it can be a radical move that helps your business stand out from the crowd.

I am speaking, of course, about printed marketing materials.

The postcards, brochures, flyers, and newsletters that papered our world just a couple of decades ago have all but disappeared now. And that’s exactly why it might be time to reconsider them.

Because while all your competitors are reaching out and touching their prospects’ inboxes, what would happen if you arrived in their mailboxes?

If this sounds intriguing, read on for money-saving ideas and tips so you can explore the possibilities of print collateral to market your business.

Ideas for Print Materials

Stationery

Well-designed letterhead, envelopes, and business cards make your company look polished and professional. You’ll be motivated to send out estimates, proposals and follow up letters when you know they’ll reflect favorably on your business.

Postcards

Postcards are inexpensive to print, and less expensive to mail than an envelope. Think about them as an opportunity to send content marketing to your prospects and customers: checklists, buying guides, how-tos, etc.

They’re also the perfect place to make a special offer, which you can send them to your website to pick up (more on that later).

Consider using oversized postcards to stand out in people’s mailboxes, and be sure to explore variable printing, which allows you to personalize and customize elements of the piece depending on who you’re sending it to.

Presentation folders

A beautifully-designed pocket folder has a multitude of uses.

You can rely on it to help your business stand out when you’re making a sales proposal or presenting a report. If you keep it simple and remove your address and phone number (these can be on the paperwork inside) you can use your presentation folders for many years.

This is a “print once, use for years” investment you won’t regret.

Note cards

Simple pre-printed note cards and envelopes that feature your logo will motivate you to send thank you notes, words of encouragement, and follow up notes to people you meet at networking events.

Saving Money with Print

Standard offset printing works best when you’re printing large quantities. To print smaller runs, consider digital printing.

Digital printing happens on machines that are large, sophisticated versions of the color laser printer you may have on your desktop. The quality is similar to traditional offset printing, but the cost is reduced.

Consider using online printers for some of your print materials. Online printers “gang up” their print jobs: your artwork is placed next to other customers’ art on a large sheet, which saves everyone money.

Integrating Print with Your Web Marketing

Finally, if you’re going to use print, make sure you integrate it with all your other marketing efforts.

Start with the obvious: add your website address to all print materials.

For promotional items like postcards, consider creating a custom landing page that’s visually similar to the piece you’re sending, and include the URL on your postcard so you can track visitors.

Coupon codes which are exclusive to your postcard offer are another way to track who received your mailing and see who takes you up on your offer. With variable printing you can even use a different code on each card so you can track clicks to users.

Dip Your Toes in Print Marketing

Print marketing materials are different than web marketing because they’re permanent — once it’s in print, you can’t modify it like you can a web page.

This means taking extra care to proof your information carefully, and working with a graphic designer and printer who can help you bring your vision to reality.

Precisely because print takes extra effort — and not as many marketers make this effort today — tangible print materials can help you stand out.

Start small. If you don’t have a business card, work on that first. Once you’ve created those, consider a simple note card.

Dip your toes in print marketing — because sometimes the most radical way to stand out is to create a tangible object people can see, touch, and hold onto.

Pamela-Wilson-150px-sqPamela Wilson helps small business owners combine strategic marketing and great design to grow their businesses at Big Brand System. Thousands of small business owners have used her free Design 101 series to polish up their marketing. Want it? Just sign up for her free Marketing Toolkit here, and you’ll get the first lesson today.

What’s Best for Your Marketing Right Now?

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Kilbourn – Enjoy!

New Year New Plan

Photo credit: Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock

It’s the best and worst time to be a marketer.

It’s the best, because marketers are empowered with infinite resources — data, robust tools, and high-yield customer acquisition channels.

But it’s also the worst, because the marketing landscape is more cutthroat than ever — never before has the competition for audience attention been so fierce.

In 2011, AOL and Nielsen estimated that 27M pieces of content were being shared each day.

Imagine what that number looks like today.

Virtually every marketing team has committed to investing more in content production, social media marketing, and inbound marketing this year. That’s because leaders finally have the tools that they need to prove the ROI of their spends.

As media budgets increase, however, there will be much more pressure on marketers to stand out. We’re all after the same audience eyeballs — and these consumers are tired of seeing the same messages over and over and over.

2014 is the year that you need to stand out — and you’re going to need to put up a strong fight.  Forge your own path. Outsmart the crowd. Test creative and innovative ideas.

It’s time to reinvent the wheel. Here are some ideas to get started:

1. Create World-Class Content

Content

Photo Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock

Everyone is blogging.

Let me repeat that: everyone is blogging. If you’re just launching your content marketing plan, you’re still behind the crowd.

But this position actually works to your competitive advantage.

A fully fleshed out content engine is expensive to maintain. The investment yields significant rewards, but think about it — when you’re already big, it’s impossible to reinvent your strategy.  If you’re just starting out, you have infinite potential to try something new.

Have an idea? Run with it.

Neil Patel exemplifies this concept. He’s gone where no marketer has gone before and routinely spends $20K-$30K to create in-depth guides like The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing. These are 30,000+ words and over 200 pages in length.

Beginners guide

His goal wasn’t to copy anyone else but to set the bar high and truly be exceptional.

If you have an amazing idea and are able to quantify an ROI, do it. You can always start with a test, measure response, shift angles, and scale. With so much momentum in the content space, now is the best time to do it.

2. Build Relationships with 800-Pound Gorillas

500 lb gorilla

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The beauty of online marketing is that it’s collaborative. Our industry is one where peer support is high. We want to partner up and help fellow companies succeed. We are constantly looking to exchange value and help one another grow.

When you’re just starting out as a marketer (or are finding your stride), it will help to align your company and team with now-big companies that have been exactly where you are now.

800-pound gorillas have the advantage of an audience, customer base, and reputable product. As a small company, there are plenty of ways that you can help that 800-pound gorilla, while also growing your own company. Offer to provide content to blogs like HubSpot’s – they get your awesome content, and you get exposure for your company. You can also look to form strategic partnerships through software integrations. Take a look at the Unbounce partner marketplace for inspiration.

Unbounce

Even as a small business, you can add value to an 800-pound gorilla. Give more than you expect to get, and you’ll see value in return.

3.  Find New Communities

kites

Photo Credit: jannoon028/Shutterstock

In terms of community-building, social media platforms are only the first step. Find communities where your customers are hanging out. Join conversations with fellow marketers on websites like Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com.

GrowthHackers

In addition to finding opportunities to promote your company, look for new skills to learn (and people to learn from). Listen more than you speak, add great questions, and add value. Care about your community, and you’ll be surprised whose attention you’ll get.

Your Thoughts

You pick #4. What are your marketing goals for 2014? What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned last year? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’re excited to learn from you and keep the conversation going.

Chris KilbournChris Kilbourn is the VP of Strategy at Fit Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rockstar (seriously), and he built and sold two successful companies from the ground up. You can request a consultation with Chris and his team at Fit Marketing here.

 

10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Metherell – Enjoy!

10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating_DTM

Photo credit: Krasimira Nevenova

If you’re running a business, there’s no doubt that you have a lot of marketing tasks on your plate.  Yes, there are some things that only you can do, but there are also many marketing tasks you can delegate to an assistant. Yes, you really can!

Here are 10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating

1.     Blog Management

Have you ever wanted to start guest blogging to get your name/site out there but don’t have the time to implement it? Have someone else do it.  Someone else can easily do things like research blog topics, find images for your posts, find contributors for your blog, or even write posts if you are finding yourself short on time or really don’t like writing.

Do you find it a hassle to manage your editorial calendar? Don’t even have an editorial calendar?  Have someone create one for you and then manage it.

2.     Social Media

Is there a Twitter party you think would be good to participate in but don’t have the time?  Let your assistant do it.  He or she can also create a social media strategy and track and report on the progress.

An assistant can easily post and engage with your audience on any and all social media outlets on your behalf.

3.     Event Coordination

Do you have an idea for a live or online event but no time to make it happen?  Delegate it!  An assistant can secure venues, food, speakers, sponsors, and all the logistics that come with live events such as securing sponsors, bloggers, and prizes for online events.  An assistant can also handle the marketing for that event as well as reporting after the event.

4.     Prospecting

An assistant can easily make calls to qualified leads to weed out anyone who isn’t really going to make a purchase.  This way, you only spend time talking to true leads that are more likely to lead to a sale.  An assistant can schedule those interested prospects on your calendar so all you have to do is make the calls.

5.     Market Research

An assistant can create surveys, send them out, and organize the results into usable data.  He/she can also create and manage focus groups and conduct research about your competitors and your target market.

6.     Follow Up Calls

Follow up calls can mean the difference between accomplishing a sale or not, which means they’re really important but they also take time.  Why not have an assistant do this?  He or she can remind the lead of your initial call and feel out whether it’s worth pursuing.

7.     Newsletters

Communication is core in building up a business relationship and newsletters help with this.  An assistant can create, edit, and send email newsletters for you.  Just provide an example or your ideas and let the assistant take over.  No need to spend hours of your own time on this task.

8.     Send Thank You Notes

Handwritten thank you notes tell your customers that you really care.  Have your assistant organize thank you notes to each new customer and any customers who have referred others to you.  Your customers will appreciate the thought.

9.     Email List Management

You know that huge email list you have?  It’s great that you have it, but what do you really do with it?  Have an assistant manage the list (remove bad emails, etc.) so it’s always in top shape.  He/she can also create auto-responders so you’re always in touch with your subscribers, and track and report the statistics of these campaigns.

10.    Networking

Networking is about making connections that lead to mutually beneficial relationships.  Yes, some networking you really do have to do yourself, but not all of it.  Your assistant can comment blog posts, monitor and comment on your social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc.   An assistant can also research online communities for you to join as well as networking conferences to attend.

Now you know 10 marketing tasks you can delegate, so why not try it out?  Try delegating 1 task and see how it goes.  All you have to lose is that huge to-do list!

AmyMetherell_BioPhotoAmy is a Virtual Assistant who started in early 2013 by attempting to get one client on the side of her full time job just to see if she could.  She got three at once and didn’t know whether to cry or do a happy dance.  She did the dance and “stumbled” on several more clients after that and her business has been growing steadily ever since.  Her alter ego is the ringleader of a circus (otherwise known as her family) consisting of a husband who DJs weddings, 2 rowdy kids, and a little dog, too.

Using Visual Media to Boost Your Marketing

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Clayton Wood – Enjoy!

Mark Anderson cartoonVisual media is emerging as a very important and powerful tool in online marketing. A survey released recently shows the presence of images as one of the deciding factors for clicking on search results. According to the survey done by Search Engine Land and SurveyMonkey, it is the fourth most important deciding factor, coming in after brand name, promos and discounts offered, and free delivery. This, along with the growing popularity of image and video-sharing social networks among users, presents a ripe opportunity for marketing in a way that entices multiple senses of your target audience.

Integrating Visual Media into SEO

A content-centric SEO strategy will naturally include visual media in the mix of content types to publish and share. Integrate photos, videos, infographics, and other types of visual media into your current content plan. Start with the following:

  • Don’t publish text-only blogs – as much as possible, include at least one image about your chosen topic.
  • Pay attention to the visual media you use on your website. The colors, the fonts, the images, and the videos all trigger reactions from your visitors. Combining knowledge of the psychology of colors and design and an understanding of your market’s interests will help you design a website that appeals to your market.
  • Brainstorm regularly to determine what images work for your brand and what trends you can turn into visual media. Creating a calendar for Hangout sessions, webinars, new video tutorials, infographics and other downloadable images organizes your visual marketing efforts.

Use visual media for your online content wherever appropriate, and brainstorm what types of media will work for your campaign.

Choosing a Visual Media Platform

With so many visual media platforms to choose from, how do you know which ones to use in your campaign? The answer will vary depending on your needs.

Pinterest is quickly becoming a popular and powerful visual media platform for many brands because of its improving features. It allows you to share different types of media, provides easy social media integration (by way of Facebook and Twitter), and allows for easy integration in websites (through the “Pin It” buttons, which are equally easy to install on your website pages). Its other features, like turning on location for pins, testing Promoted Pins, and creating an API that allows you to show your most popular pins, are all geared towards online marketing. If you’re not yet on Pinterest, or if you have a profile but you don’t use it often, it’s time to revisit your visual marketing strategy and include Pinterest.

Other platforms are beginning to show similar functionalities geared towards marketing. Many video microblogging platforms like Vine and Viddy also feature social media sharing functionalities that make it easier to integrate videos from their platform to your social networking profiles. The important things to consider when choosing what visual media platforms to use and determining how you will use them are:

  • Your target audience – How big a presence do they have in your chosen platform(s)?
  • Ease of Access – Check how user-friendly the platform is
  • SEO-friendly platform – How do these videos appear on the SERPs? It may not seem like a big deal now, but video is predicted to become the main medium for online marketing in 2014, and its appearance on the SERPs will become more important as video grows in popularity
  • Integration – How does the platform let you integrate its features with other social media sites?

Transitioning from Old to New Media

One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is to transition traditional media to digital formats. More traditional audiences still respond to the older media forms, while those who embrace new media get a sense of nostalgia from print and old school graphics. Transitioning from old to new media can happen in different ways:

  • Old school graphics and fonts are already available in digital formats. You can easily download these to your computer and use it when designing your content.
  • When designing your visual content, whether it is for your website, videos, ads, infographics, or other featured content, try using elements that are familiar with your audience. (Check out the image of the ad SEO Reseller used before for an example)
  • One of the easiest ways to transition old to new media is to take a high-res photo of old media and post this as your update. Something as simple as a note scribbled on a note pad gives off that old school feel some of your audiences respond to more eagerly.

SeoresellerFor one of our old re-targeting ads, we decided to use a design that contains elements of the flags of our three largest markets: the US, the UK, and Australia.

Encouraging Audience Participation

The great thing about the platforms that support visual media is that they also support user interaction. This allows you to include your audience in the content production process, increasing your engagement by encouraging audience participation in activities and programs you prepare for them online.

Get your audience to share their original visual content through different promotions. Facebook is a good example of a platform that makes it easier for you to include your audience in different visual content marketing activities. It wasn’t too long ago that they made the creation of contests, especially photo contests, easier for brands, and made joining easier for individual Facebook users. Their latest move to make visual content marketing easier is testing a new way of displaying video ads that encourages more user interaction. Combining these features with your social media strategy encourages more engagement and interaction from your audience.

Conclusion

The trick to using visual media for marketing is very clear in the points discussed earlier – it’s less about you and more about your audience. Finding your audience, knowing what they want to see (whether it’s a short video, an image-on-demand, or an infographic about your topic of expertise), and communicating with them using visual media is the core process to delivering more targeted and powerful visual content. Use this with your online marketing strategy and you’ll see more positive responses from your audience in no time.

ClaytonClayton Wood is passionate about communicating the impact that technology has in online marketing, and how inbound marketing helps small and large businesses achieve their goals for themselves, their families and their communities. Working with SEOReseller.com, he helps bring brand equity to many seo agencies.

How to Make Your Plan Their Plan: 7 Tips for Motivating Your Employees

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Daniels – Enjoy!

motivation-postThe most effective managers recognize the importance of motivating their employees. As you head into what will hopefully be your most successful year yet, consider the following advice to get your employees truly on board with your plans.

1. Treat motivation as a complex topic.

Don’t fall into the trap of assigning a predetermined motivation to your employees. If your newest member to the team seems to focus on financial stability, don’t label him as an individual motivated by money. Dig deeper than that. Perhaps he wants to provide a better life for his kids than his parents did for him, or maybe he wants to get out of his comfort zone and travel to new countries. No article can predict what really brings out the ambition in your people. Treat motivation as a complex topic with deep roots, and take the time to slowly unravel what gets your employees into gear.

2. Encourage working smarter, not harder.

You have the ability to impart invaluable experience on your employees. If you find yourself regularly uttering something along the lines of, “Let’s work harder,” you may need to re-evaluate your strategy. Give your employees an environment with resources, support, and stimulating challenges – all while emphasizing community and purpose along the way.

3. Hire wisely.

Surely you already scrutinize for a motivated individual during the interview process. If you really want to get a feel for your potential hire’s outlook, try shifting away from the typical job interview questions. Job candidates are getting better at rehearsing the perfect things to say. You may find a benefit in asking questions like, “What personal accomplishments have you achieved in the past year?” Or you could try, “Describe how you dealt with one of the most difficult times of your life.”

4. Take care of your people.

While I won’t tell you that incentives are always the best way to go, it’s important to remember that employees can lose motivation if basic needs are neglected. Pay your people well, listen to their concerns, ask them to evaluate you, let them know they have a certain level of job security, and treat them kindly. See the potential in them and nurture it until they begin to see it for themselves.

5. Become a genuine friend.

Of course, you may not relate to your employees the same way you’d interact with your buddies on the weekends. But when you make a sincere effort to understand your employees and treat them like more than a dispensable resource, they’ll begin to take ownership as a valuable asset. You can’t make every second of the job a thrill ride for your employees, but you can and should challenge them, explain your thought process, learn about their personalities, make yourself available, and ask them questions beyond the small talk you save for awkward social gatherings.

6. Introduce – rather than enforce – your plans.

January is all about planning and organizational development at Duct Tape Marketing. As you draft out your quarterly goals and analyze where your strategies could use tweaking, try letting your employees be a part of the process. Recognize their creativity and intelligence and allow their input to morph your original agenda. You won’t always be able to follow this process. If the topic isn’t something that they can alter, present it in a way that encourages thorough questions and feedback.

7. Push yourself to become a better boss.

If you showcase your own motivated approach to work, your employees will likely follow suit. Recognize that somebody saw something in you that landed you the opportunity to manage others. It’s important not to lose sight of those qualities within yourself. Take the honor seriously and remember that the purpose of your management role, according to Glenn Llopis of Forbes, is to “protect your team and get them recognized in new ways.”

Ultimately, look for opportunities to improve a day in the life of your employees. Keep their aspirations at the forefront of your mind and consistently watch for ways to strengthen their skills.

Amy Daniels DTMAmy Daniels is the content writing manager at web marketing company StorageAhead. She oversees a team that creates and amplifies compelling online content. She will do almost anything to shy away from a boring workday and believes that her team deserves the same challenge.

5 Operational Tips Every Startup CEO Should Know and Follow

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Morgan Sims – Enjoy!

Op Tips_MSimsStarting a company from nothing is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. From a staff of 5 founders to 500 employees, there are several things startup CEOs should know and practice while growing their companies. Hiring and keeping the right people and developing the right company culture are two of the most important things for the CEO of a startup.

To operate your startup successfully, consider the following.

Hire the Right People

At the beginning stages of your company, you won’t be able to hire very many people. So take time to consider which positions you need to fill first and hire people who can do a lot of things on their own, since your small staff will have to deal with situations big companies have entire departments for. Your employees need to be innovative and self-starters because you won’t have time to walk them through every step of their jobs.

Consider whether you can first hire people on a freelance basis, so you don’t have to think about benefits and salaries right off the bat. Your colleagues and new employees are great resources for finding more people who would fit well with your new company, so use them.

Be A Good Communicator

Communication is key for keeping a startup going and retaining the best employees. Keep them updated on how the company is doing, especially when you’re in the launch stages and the staff is very small. Continuing this practice as the company grows is in your best interests. Continue to demonstrate passion about the company and your vision for the future, even when things seem rough. Remember, too, that communication goes both ways. Leave channels open for people to communicate with you as well, making sure they stay open with surveys and meetings as you take on more employees.

Be Flexible

As a startup CEO, you’re going to have to be flexible about everything. You’ll need the ability to learn quickly on your feet because things are going to wrong, ventures are going to fail, and projects will fall apart. Learn to adapt to these situations and continue to push your company to grow. You may have to change directions based on data or stop a money-sucking project right in the middle.

A startup probably won’t have enough money to employ specialists like lawyers or analysts off the bat, so you’ll have to get creative to solve some of these problems yourself. You also need to be flexible with employees. Offering telecommuting or nontraditional hours will help you attract and keep great people.

Give Your Employees Tools They Need

No matter how great your employees are, they won’t be able to accomplish much if they don’t have the necessary tools to do their jobs. It might be expensive to get good equipment and programs, but the money spent will be worth it in the long run. Imagine your internet failing in the middle of a big project. Learn more here about the importance of stable Internet connections.

Don’t just think connections and hardware, either. Consider apps and social media tools that’ll help you expand without spending a lot of money. The right software will give your employees the edge they need to help the company grow.

Cultivate Your Company’s Culture

The culture of your company needs to continue to appeal to employees as the company grows. Culture changes as you hire more people, expand into departments, and a bigger hierarchy develops. Your company’s values need to be clear to employees and potential employees. Let people know what working for your company is like and what your current employees enjoy about it.

Making money, attracting customers, and growing the business can’t happen without great employees. A solid business plan and great tech will only get you so far. The right people will be able to support the company, find opportunities for growth, and add even more valuable members to the team. From culture to flexibility to communication, following these tips will help you develop your startup’s best asset: its employees.

MSimsMorgan Sims is a writer and recent graduate who loves all things tech and social media. When she’s not trying out new gadgets or reading she spends most of her time with her dog, cooking and staying active. Follow her @MorganSims00.