Trust is a vital element to business. Potential customers need to feel they can trust the company they are doing business with, and this factor gives companies the edge over their peers. When researching a service provider, a company may trawl through ten or twenty businesses online who all essentially offer the same service or product.
If your company can convey the impression of a trustworthy brand, it is statistically more likely to be chosen. It is said that if a customer has a bad experience with a company they will tell 10 people about it. If they have a good experience they are likely to tell one. Due to this, making your company stand out as a trustworthy brand can avoid negative feedback and a bad customer perception.
Here are 8 things you can do to make your online business look legit and trustworthy:
1. Don’t use generic templates for your website
It is important to keep a unique edge to your brand in order to stand out. When meeting a person, we make a judgement on them within three seconds. Imagine this is the same philosophy when someone views your website. It needs to stand out, for all the right reasons.
If you use a generic template, it shows a lack of imagination and effort. Developing a unique style that is memorable is a useful way to keep your name in the forefront of a customer’s mind. This doesn’t mean a site full of plug-ins and gimmicks, but one that gives concise and helpful information to a customer in a unique and user friendly way.
2. Provide social proof via testimonials
People believe people. They may distrust your business by default as there are professions that people are unfairly prejudiced against. If you can provide authentic customer reviews which convey the trustworthiness of your brand, as well as excellent product provision, it will give reassurance and confidence to the potential customer.
3. Create a helpful, rich and value-based content resource
You want people to buy your products or services. That is essentially why you have a website, as a shop window to your business. You also need to give a deep insight into what you are offering the customer, and this does not just mean the product or service. This means selling your online brand not just as a product, but as a brand.
It is your job to draw the customer in and give them a reason to believe you are a trustworthy brand. Fill them with confidence that you provide an excellent service, are customer focused and that they matter to you.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
4. Make it easy for customers/prospects to reach you
When a customer decides to commit to your brand, they need to be able to reach you in the format they choose. Contact information needs to be displayed clearly and offer a variety of media of contact. You need to offer phone, skype, email, social media and business address. In addition to this, make sure there is a realistic timeframe given on your site as to when the customer will hear back from you. Have phones diverted to mobiles if you are on the move. If there is an online contact form on your site, give a clear impression of when a customer may expect to hear back from you.
You will lose business if customers have the impression that their business is not important enough to them to return a phone call. They will assume that this is your attitude in business as well and this does nothing to building the impression of a trustworthy brand.
5. Regularly update your website
Keeping your website regularly updated is vital as a staid, old fashioned site gives the impression of a staid, old fashioned online brand. Keep the website full of new information. For example, if your industry has big stories in the news, add links or reviews of these stories on a blog. If you have introduced a new product, add it to the site as soon as possible.
Keep an eye on the styling of your website. Create an online brand that is modern, sleek and has the same feeling as your business. Make sure there is no out of date information and remove anything that is no longer relevant.
If a customer can see that you have not updated the site for a while, it does not create a dynamic impression. Creating a trustworthy brand involves making the customer feel that you care about their business, so you will care about them.
6. Stay active on social media platforms
Social media is a massive marketing tool in today’s business world. Get active on as many platforms as you can. Make sure these are regularly updated as well as your site. It will help your online branding if a customer feels you are a presence on social media. Many people use social media many times a day, and you need to fit into the way your customer thinks and works.
If you are in a business that targets 18-30 year-olds for example, you may get most of your business as a result of being seen on Facebook or Twitter. Do not dismiss social media as an add-on, make it a focal point of building your online brand.
7. Show reviews and encourage your customers to post reviews
Make sure you show your customers what you have done and that you have satisfied customers. However, it’s easy for people to assume the reviews might be fake. It’s advisable you offer a way for your customers to submit their feedback/testimony about their experience with your product or service. This reassures your prospects about the authenticity of the reviews and testimonials submitted on your website.
Posting real reviews, with names and locations, pictures constitutes to an effective trust element. Let them read case studies of work in your industry or work you have done and encourage them to give feedback. Make them feel their views are important to the business.
8. Put your audience in the center of the stories you tell
Customers want to feel important. They want to feel that you really care about them and their job as individuals. You need to remember that the customer is at the heart of your business. No customer, no business, no revenue.
“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos
In summary, there are simple yet effective ways of establishing a trustworthy online brand. Follow these suggestions, take your focus off the product and how wonderful it is, and put it on your customer. That is the essence of creating a trustworthy online brand.
What do you think is the most critical aspect of a business in today’s world? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
How to Work Without Working: 3 Lessons From Three Successful Entrepreneurs
We want to build business empires, amass a huge amount of wealth, and become a worldwide sensation. Yet, we hate to work hard and show up every day to grind. We simply dread working, but we love the results that our work produces.
What if there’s a formula for working without getting bored with doing the work? In other words, you’re working but you’re not feeling the brunt of the process. Drawing from the experience and expertise of three successful entrepreneurs, below, I give you the three tips for working without actually feeling the stress of working.
1. Mark Zuckerberg: Get moving with the easiest tasks
For the average person, working is something huge—like running a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. Most amateur entrepreneurs and career people often spend weeks preparing for a simple task. And when it’s time to do that task, they’ll end up accomplishing only 30 percent of the work. The other 70 percent is buried in “preparation” or procrastination.
But it shouldn’t have to be so. Work should be fun. Mark Zuckerberg never spends 24 hours preparing for work. The young, smart founder of Facebook developed a simple formula for accomplishing any type of work without feeling its impact.
He always begins with the easiest tasks, as opposed to the difficult ones. “I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.” That’s a smart philosophy for a Silicon Valley superstar.
If you start with that simple project, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. You motivate yourself to get going. You won’t feel the burden of the work.
2. Sean Lourdes: Be generous
Making more money appears to be the first goal of most career and business people. But it shouldn’t be. That’s because “If you’re too much obsessed with amassing wealth, making more profit, selling all your inventories, that will make your entrepreneurial career boring, burdensome, and tedious”, Sean Lourdes, founder of The Lourdes Foundation, observes.
The better way to make your entrepreneurial career fun and exciting is to give more. Struggle to work hard and make more money, but don’t make the money as your end goal. You’re meant to serve your customers. That should be your end goal. And being generous will help you serve them better and, in turn, helps you make more money along the way.
Just begin to give more than you take—whether it’s delivering more value to your customers, giving more discounts than the buyer asks, or simply donating your personal wealth to charity organizations—and notice how you’ll find meaning in your work, career, and life in general.
3. Robin Sharma: See your work as a craft
It amazes me when I visit a hotel and the person at the front desk barely raises their head to look at me. I always ask myself: Why would anyone be in the hospitality industry when it’s obvious that they hate people?
If you’re not fit in an industry but insist on working in it, you’ll not only find peace in your work-life, but you’ll also be at war with your employer’s customers. Unfortunately, most people work at jobs they hate. In other words, they see their work as work, not as a craft—which they’ll passionately harness to satisfy their clients. The productivity guru Robin Sharma argues that “a job is only a job if you see it as a job.”
And if you see your job as a job, you can’t find value and meaning and passion in what you do. If you see your job as a job, you can’t provide that impeccable value to your clients. If you see your job as a job, you can’t deliver top-notch quality service to your customers. You have to shift your thinking.
“See your work as another opportunity to practice your craft,” Robin Sharma says. “That will push you to love your craft and release magical products.”
8 Challenges That Come From Being Married to an Entrepreneur
A life of an entrepreneur’s wife or husband can be a lonely one. This doesn’t mean it will be, but there are certainly plenty of hurdles to overcome before finding that perfect balance between being a passionate worker and a passionate partner.
As many married entrepreneurs know, many times the business will come before all else. This can lead to an upheaval in the household. Bringing stress home, putting the family through consistent financial worry, and giving more time to the business than to their romantic partner are just some of the “joys” of being married to an entrepreneur.
Being married to an entrepreneur isn’t always fun and it isn’t always easy. Here are 8 reasons why it’s hard to be married to someone who works for themselves:
1. Money Becomes an Issue Fast
One of the worst parts about growing up is having to pay the bills. And when one spouse is an entrepreneur, paying the bills every month isn’t always a given. Money is a tricky issue in any relationship. One study published by an investing app, found that 68% of couples polled admitted they would rather reveal how much they weigh than talk about money with each other.
The study went on to reveal that 42% of those couples reported feeling depressed and anxious regarding their financial future. Being married to an entrepreneur can leave the other partner feeling drained and fraught with financial worry. It takes a lot of money to start a business as an entrepreneur especially if they choose to not rely on investors. This can make money a sore subject around the house.
2. Often Feels Like Living Alone
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t allow for a conventional 9-5 schedule. An entrepreneur may allow themselves to be on call at all times. This can lead to many consistent distractions. With the simple buzz of a cellphone, family time suddenly turns back into work. Partners may be left feeling frustrated with the amount of help they are getting in raising children or providing financially for the household.
3. Taking Risks Stops Being Charming
As previously mentioned, supporting a spouse as they take a dive into the terrifying world of entrepreneurship can be a challenge – to say the least! Being stripped of a regular, reliable paycheck can take away a certain level of security (and sanity) from the relationship.
What at first seemed like a spouse’s brave venture into the unknown has stopped seeming like a charming adventure. Instead, it starts to feel more like an anxious knot in the stomach that just won’t go away.
“Spouses should spend at least one full hour each day talking together about subjects that have nothing to do with their work or business. Children need at least ten minutes of face-to-face contact with their parents each day.” – Brian Tracy
4. Sharing Worries
Just because someone becomes an entrepreneur doesn’t mean they will become a successful entrepreneur. The worry of whether or not the business will fail can creep into an otherwise happy marriage.
On top of the non-entrepreneur’s everyday worries of raising children, working, and maintaining close relationships, the anxiety of their partner’s business can be overwhelming. Worrying about whether the business will take off and how the family will be affected until it does can send stress levels through the roof.
5. Putting Business Before Family
This is one area of married entrepreneurship that hurts the most. When married to an entrepreneur, one may often feel neglected or alone. It may feel like the entrepreneur is so enamored with starting their business that there is little time left for family or socializing with friends. And date night? Forget about it.
A spouse may understand why their partner devotes so much time and energy into building their business. However, it can be painful to realize their spouse may prioritize a business meeting or answering emails over anniversary dinners or their child’s school events.
6. Constant Arguments
In a study on why couples get divorces, conflict and arguing was one of the biggest reasons, right alongside extramarital affairs and growing apart. When one spouse is working an 80-hour work week and the other is feeling like they’re going it alone, it can lead to some intense arguments.
The more drained a partner is, the more irritable they become. One spouse believes they are doing all this work for their marriage, while the other believes the other is looking after their own interests.
Communication, they say, is the key to happiness in marriage. However, those who are married to an entrepreneur know that it can be difficult to communicate with someone who is always busy.
One of the biggest challenges for couples in a relationship with an entrepreneur is to have frequent and honest conversations about how the marriage is going. Couples need to be completely open with one another about what they need in order for the marriage to survive.
“The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends.” – B. R. Ambedkar
8. When True Colors Come Out to Play
Being married to an entrepreneur is the time when couples will see each other’s true colors. They will see each other at their best and worst, and one may often outshine the other. Anxiety, sexual frustrations, lack of emotional intimacy, money woes, and overall entrepreneur-related terror can truly test a couple’s comfort zone.
Studies show that partners who have sex regularly experience a surge of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This hormone is shown to relieve stress that can be common in entrepreneur relationships. It also acts as a mood elevator and bonds couples closer together.
If a marriage can survive married entrepreneurship, (and it can!) partners must learn to be patient with one another. They must spend time strengthening their emotional and physical connection on a weekly basis.
Being married to an entrepreneur comes with rich blessings and a host of potential problems. Mixing business with pleasure is no easy path for any married entrepreneurs to take. Money becomes a point of contention and work distractions may make one partner feel ignored. Having patience will strengthen a marriage during these trying times.
What is the best piece of advice you have for a married couple to continuously love one another? Share your thoughts below!
The 5 Best Cities in the USA for Startups and Entrepreneurs
You’re an entrepreneur? That’s awesome! Want to start a new business? That’s great. Want to know where to start it? That’s a bit of a tall order for an answer in just a few words. Choosing the right city can be just as important for entrepreneurs as choosing the right business model.
Some cities are so expensive that they become unaffordable for a fledgling business. Others may not be as expensive but may lack the resources you need to work your magic. Some cities don’t have enough capital to spare to invest in your business. Others lack the skilled human resources you need to succeed. Still others, like Silicone Valley and the East Coast, are saturated with businesses. So how does one pick the right city to do business in? The answer is simple. You make a list and go with the option that suits you.
Top Cities in the U.S. for Entrepreneurs
There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to the best cities to start businesses in. Some of the factors considered when compiling such lists include information on:
- Living costs
- Projected job growth
- Entrepreneurial resources
- The Kauffman Index
These factors, along with some number crunching, help narrow down your list of options. We have selected 5 of the best cities in this respect. They are:
- San Diego, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Dallas, Texas
- Miami, Florida
- Austin, Texas
Let’s have a closer look at each city and what makes it ideal for business.
1. San Diego, California
This city has a higher per-capita density of entrepreneurs than even San Francisco and San Jose. There are also a ton of business-based events and resources you can take advantage of. A good example is StartUp San Diego. The service provides support to new businesses and connects business owners with peers. It also hosts a week-long entrepreneurship event in June.
StartUp San Diego isn’t the only support you get in the city. Others like Seed San Diego connect businesses with local venture capitalists. San Diego is by no means a cheap city, but it is still one of the least expensive in California. There is also a concentration of diverse talent in the city. From biotech to the military to school, the talent you’re looking for is likely just around the corner.
2. Los Angeles, California
L.A. may be known for the Hollywood lifestyle, but it’s also one of the most populous cities in America. It has one of the highest numbers of business owners per capita in the country. The “Silicon Beach” crowd makes L.A. a great city for startups and business owners. Silicon Beach is technically just Westside but the term is used loosely.
It generally refers to the startup culture currently growing in L.A. Plus the fast-paced, energetic L.A. lifestyle attracts tons of skilled talent from across the country. If nothing else, you’ll be catching glimpses of celebrities more often than anywhere else.
3. Dallas, Texas
Dallas stays true to traditional Texan hospitality, especially towards businesses and business owners. Dallas does not have as many businesses as other cities in Texas, but it goes out of its way to be friendly to them. It’s also much more supportive of its entrepreneurial citizens. The Dallas Entrepreneurship Center is one of the biggest attractions for business owners in the city.
It offers support to new businesses and even provides co-shared spaces for you to work. There are also a number of accelerators that can really help your business take off. Tech Wildcatters is one of the most well-known accelerators in the city and is popular with local fledging businesses.
4. Miami, Florida
Miami has come a long way from being a tourist attraction and a place for people to retire comfortably. You’d be surprised to know that Miami is actually one of the best cities in America to start your business. The city has a very impressive startup density. Around 107 out of every 1,000 businesses are a new business.
That’s more than a whopping 10% of all businesses in the locality. It also has the most number of business owners per capita on this list. Miami is swimming in skilled talent that can help propel your business to success. And when you’re looking for a break from the office, there’s always the beach and great food to distract you.
5. Austin, Texas
Austin or “Silicone Hills” is the number one city to start a new business in, according to experts. The startup density is second only to Miami, standing at around 104 new businesses for every 1,000 businesses. There’s also a huge entrepreneurial population. 1 out of every 200 people you meet there is a business owner. In terms of living costs, Austin is much more inexpensive than other cities in the USA. It’s even currently the best city in the US for Millennials to buy their first homes.
Entrepreneurship is not without its glamor and allure. But people tend to ignore the grit, determination, and hard work that get successful entrepreneurs to where they are. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
You’re not just responsible for yourself, but also for your employees as well. People depend on your decisions to make a living. So make sure you put thought into your choices, including the city you decide to start your business in.
8 Business Challenges and Solutions for the New Age Entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur isn’t just about hiring a team or giving orders to them. Every business comes with its unique challenges and addressing them appropriately is what contributes to the learning curve of any entrepreneur. A very big challenge for most entrepreneurs is to find out what these painful problems are and then to solve them using the best resources available.
Being the founder of your business goes a long way if you identify and solve your employees, customers, partners and companies problems. A successful entrepreneur solves problems in a unique way and that is what separates him from the rest.
Below are 8 challenges you can come across during your entrepreneurship journey with solutions that can help you overcome these problems tactfully:
The Challenge: Self-Doubt personates itself in other forms and negatively impacts business growth. Below are some questions that likely pop up in your mind as a result of self-doubt:
- What if the idea fails?
- Is it the right decision to leave the comfort of the monthly paycheck?
- What if I don’t get the right team?
The Solution: You will feel like giving up initially but look towards your goal list and keep moving on. Know that working on daily tasks will contribute towards your lifetime goals and every day you’ll be one more step closer to them.
2. Time Management
The Challenge: The biggest challenge that an entrepreneur faces is time management. While working on a new venture, there are a number of things that need to be completed in a limited time period. Managing the time properly is an invaluable skill and can be rewarding in the long haul.
The Solution: Be smart when allocating your time to different tasks. It’s essential for you to know what is worth your time and what isn’t. Make goal lists that can further be deconstructed into monthly and weekly goals. If there are tasks that don’t require your attention, make sure you either delegate or eliminate them.
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. Gathering Capital
The Challenge: If you’re a freshly minted entrepreneur, lenders will hesitate in providing you the required funds as you may lack collateral to secure the loan and also you don’t have an established business. Without a reasonable probability of return, no one will take a risk by investing in your idea.
The Solution: There are government operated banks that are specifically designed for entrepreneurs. You can pitch your business idea and if feasible, they will provide you the required capital. Some NGOs also help new entrepreneurs in guiding them to reliable sources of capital generation.
4. Hiring Staff for the First Time
The Challenge: Hiring and keeping good employees is one of the most difficult tasks of an entrepreneur. If the business is small, each person becomes more critical. Remember, as you have just started the business, your company is in its most volatile position.
The Solution: When interviewing potential candidates, make sure to ask them questions related to their experience, long-term goals and expectations. Make candidates feel that your company seeks a partner to grow business with rather than a minion who takes orders from superiors.
For any candidates that you select, make sure you seek genuine references that can vouch for their work ethic and potential. Hire people that fit your criteria and be sure to clear everything before appointing an employee so as to maintain a healthy working relationship in the future.
5. Choosing What to Sell
The Challenge: Choosing what product to sell is the most difficult decision you will need to make while starting a business. Of course, the choices are limitless, but finalizing something is complex as your business success is totally depended on it.
The Solution: Market research can help you find the right product to invest in. Once you’ve shortlisted a few products, it’s good to analyze profit margins, strengths, weaknesses and threats that come along with each product. This will not only save your time and effort but will save your business at some point.
6. Choosing An Appropriate Marketing Strategy
The Challenge: As a new entrepreneur, you probably don’t know the best way/medium/channel to reach the target audience. It won’t matter how beneficial your product is, if your customers aren’t aware of it.
The Solution: If you want to maximize your ROI, then be sure to invest in target marketing as that will definitely lead you in the right direction. If you haven’t hired marketers to work with you then it’s best to outsource a team that can strategize a great marketing plan for you. Be precise with your budget and marketing goals so that they can craft a plan that works like magic for you.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
7. Cash Flow
The Challenge: Sufficient cash flow is essential to keep the business suspended as you have to bear all your business related expenses such as employee’s salary, infrastructural cost, and so forth. Temporary cash infusions don’t solve the problem, you need to make changes in the supply chain to get some positive gains.
The Solution: Planning for a budget in advance can help you work around cash flow problems. In addition to this, you can also request your clients to clear the invoice payments quickly. You can also convince your vendors to send you the bill after 40-45 days, which gives you enough time to receive your payments.
The Challenge: From financial management to keeping up with the market, growing businesses face multiple challenges. What worked a year ago might not be the right approach now.
The Solution: It’s very important for an entrepreneur to know the strengths of his teams and employees. This can help you distribute tasks to employees who can handle them most effectively while giving you a window to get out of production and management issues. This way you can focus on growing your business.
There are volumes written on how entrepreneurs can overcome business challenges, use them to their advantage, and ensure that you’re putting your customers first. On the other hand, it’s okay to feel that you’re going off track because only then can you drive yourself to overcome obstacles and do better.
How do you handle business challenges? Share your advice with everyone below!
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