Routines are great if they lead to more productivity and quality of work-life, but routines can also detract from your goals if they reduce efficiency or needlessly interrupt your time. Here are ten things that you can do at home to be more productive at work.

Be All That You Can Be – 10 Ways to Be More Productive at Work

Nine of out ten people admit that they have wasted time at work in one way or another, according to an infographic published by YAST (included below). While time spent on social networks and excessive socializing are among the culprits, nearly half of workers indicated that the biggest time waster in their workday was the need to attend too many meetings.

While human beings are not machines, and it would be impossible to make productive use out of every minute of every workday, there are things you can do to ensure that you get more out of your workplace. Whether you want to demonstrate your value in pursuit of a promotion or you simply need to make your business more profitable, understanding the flow of your work day can help you identify tasks that are eating into productivity or interrupting your focus – and preventing you from getting the most important things done.

If you are losing your first hour of the day to email, or finding that social media, socializing or scheduling tasks are keeping you from being the superstar you want to be on the job, try doing one or more of these ten things from home so you can get more done at work.

10 Ways Doing More at Home Makes You More Productive at Work

Evaluate your email

Scroll through email before going in to work. Respond to anything that is critical or acknowledge emails that will be responded to later. Make a short list of those items that need to be dealt with as soon as you arrive at the office. Knowing that your email has already been evaluated, hold off on checking your inbox until later in the morning (or even after lunch), focusing instead on working productively to complete mission-critical projects.

Find your First Five

List the first five things that you will do after getting to work, then discipline yourself to do nothing else before those five things have been completed. Obviously emergencies or unexpected problems may derail your plans, but knowing how you will hit the ground running instead of trying to piece a plan together after you get to work will help you get more out of your first few hours on the job.

Plan for Physical Needs

Reclaim the minutes – or hours – spent wondering what’s for lunch by preparing healthy, energy-improving snacks and a lunch ahead of time. If you do plan to order out, try creating a week-long menu you can follow instead of spending time each day trying to figure out what sounds good.

Summarize a Successful Day

As you think about the work day to come, determine what one (two or three, etc.) most impactful things you can do that would make the day successful in your eyes, regardless of what else gets done.

Track the Day’s Traffic

A few seconds spent checking the day’s traffic could mean minutes – or even hours – that you don’t spend on the road. Make checking your route to work online a habit before you walk out the door each morning, and predetermine a few alternative routes that you can take if your first choice is jammed up.

Plan for Personal Needs

To be more productive, you need to eliminate distractions. Is it time for an oil change? Do you need to pick up kids, dry cleaning or groceries after work? Before you leave for work in the morning, list out the personal tasks that you also need to accomplish and decide when you will get those done in light of your work day needs.

Scan the News Sites

Phone alerts and social media status updates about industry happenings, current events, celebrities and other items of interest can all create interruptions. Before you go to work, hit up a few news sites online so that there will be fewer surprises during the day.

Screen Social Network Feeds

Social networks can be valuable tools in helping to build business, but they can also become a black hole when it comes to lost productivity. Just as with email, scroll through your social media feeds before leaving for the office and avoid visiting these sites again until later in the day.

Add to Your Energy and Enthusiasm

From a first cup of coffee or protein-packed breakfast to an hour of exercise, coming into the day with more energy will help you be more productive on the job and feel happier, too.

Schedule reminders

Perhaps even more so than a to-do list, setting up reminders and alerts that pop up during the day can help to keep you on track when it comes to regaining your focus or finishing time-sensitive tasks.

Infographic: Biggest Work Place Time Wasters via Yast

Biggest time wasters at work infographic

Here are ten contingency planning ideas to cope and compensate the next time business emergencies affect to your organization.

Contingency planning for business is crucial because things happen. Phone systems go down. Staff responsible to open up don’t show up. Storms hit. Servers crash. Popes and potentates visit. The truth is, there are any number of reasons why customer service could get interrupted on any given day.

Emergencies, Contingency Planning and How to Pass the Time When the Phone System Goes Down

contingency planning ideasDo a Google search for lost business productivity and you’ll find a slew of articles on the cost to business in lost productivity due to insomnia, social media, surfing and even the demands of managing one’s fantasy football team. It will make you wonder how American workers ever get anything done at all (ha ha).

While you might be able to address and reduce productivity and sales lost to causes like those, you may not be able to do anything to remedy things when your phone system goes down, your server crashes, or outside causes make it impossible for you to do business as usual.

On days like this, you can wait it out, or you can take action and make the best of things. With the latter in mind, here are ten things you can do when your phones go down to recoup your losses and retain your sanity!

Contingency Planning – 10 Things to Do When the Phones Go Down

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Send notifications out by email, social media and smoke signal – if necessary — to let your customers know that a temporary problem has occurred and you’re working to sort it out. Let them know of any contingency planning options they have for doing business with you. Let them know when they can expect things to be back online, and let them know when they are.

Circle the Wagons

Lock things down and ensure the safety and security of your employees, premises, data, etc. A small problem like a phone system outage is an ideal time to practice your emergency preparedness plan and see how well the plan will work in case of an even worse disaster. Take what you learn to improve your plan for the next time.

Shop Around

A system failure might indicate a problem with the platform or your own infrastructure. When you find out what went wrong, make sure you can make it right or consider replacing critical infrastructure with a more reliable system.

Commiserate with the Community

Do you have products that could help out other business owners or community members who have been affected by the same problem that took your phones down? This is a great opportunity for your business to make its presence felt in the community by helping out where you can.

Come Together

Rather than leave employees to their own devices while they wait for things to come back online, take advantage of their downtime to engage in team building activities or deliver brand and product knowledge training.

Brainstorm

While staff are on hand and standing by, hold a brainstorming session to find ways to resolve or respond to the crisis on hand. If resolution is out of your control, use the time to brainstorm ideas for improving customer care, tapping new markets, improving efficiency, or for some other facet of your organization.

Order In

Let employees know you care and make waiting more enjoyable by bringing in food, beverages, or other supplies that can help them weather the storm or wait out the outage.

Divert to Cells

A company phone system outage does not have to mean lost orders. Let customers know that account executives can be reached by cell phone so that customers can place orders, make payments, check on the status of their shipments and so on for the duration of the outage, or purchase prepaid cell phones for use as part of your emergency preparedness plan.

Ask for Help

In times of emergency, even competitors can become trusted partners and friends. Reach out for help or (better yet) establish relationships ahead of time which can be tapped for assistance when inside or outside forces take your business offline.

Throw in the Towel

No business owner likes the thought of closing up shop for the day but sometimes throwing in the towel, regrouping and getting the rest needed to fight another day is the right thing ‐ and the best thing – to do. Decide ahead of time how long employees will be required to wait around before being sent home and how employees will be notified that they should not come in to work on days when opening is not a viable option.

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Financial Contingency Planning 

Our cash advance financing might be the ideal solution when you need working capital to recover after an equipment failure. Likewise, if your point of sale or merchant services infrastructure let you down, now might be the right time to find a new credit card processing company or replace your POS equipment and software.

Request information about our solutions using the form below.

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Strengthen your brand, focus on what is most profitable and shed inefficiencies. Five ways to turn business ideas into reality and make your business a better place for customers and staff.

5 Strategies That Can Turn New Business Ideas into Reality

No matter what type of business you own or how long your doors have been open, there is always something that can be improved. As new business ideas emerge it can be challenging to implement even the best of them when it means challenging the status quo and overcoming internal resistance to change.

1. Create a formal system for evaluating business ideas.

“It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.” Anatole France

Entrepreneurs and business owners usually don’t have a shortage of ideas. Without a formal system where ideas can be evaluated, plans of action can be developed, responsibilities can be assigned and measurements can be defined and tracked over time, most ideas – even the best of ideas – might never see the light of the work day.

2. Involve everyone.

“Ideas are like pizza dough; made to be tossed around.” Anna Quindlen

There’s a saying that goes, “too many cooks spoil the brew.”  This might be true in the kitchen, but in organizations that want to grow and change, the more people that weigh in, contribute, buy-in and become personally invested in change initiatives, the better. When your staff feel listened to and ideas are refined to reflect their feedback and concerns, they are much more likely to buy in and get behind transformative business ideas.

3. Embrace real change.

“The difficultly lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” John Maynard Keynes

It’s human nature to resist change and fall back on what is familiar, especially if new behaviors don’t bring instant gratification. Remember you will not be able to achieve new goals with old ways of thinking and old ways of doing. The pace of change in today’s competitive marketplace alone dictates that you need change ambassadors in your organization if you want to grow. Empower and rely on people on your staff who aren’t afraid to take on big challenges and learn new things!

4. Proselytize.

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of connections is the key to quality.” Charles Eames

If you want to achieve big things, you can’t afford to have staff that don’t believe in the vision. Everyone in your organization, everyone, ultimately has the power to contribute toward or against your business goals. Make sure they are all on board.

5. Invest adequate resources.

“Money is a wonderful thing because it enables you… to invest in ideas that don’t have a short-term payback.” Steve Jobs

Your willingness to fund and allocate staff, time and other corporate resources to a given initiative is a direct reflection of your commitment to achieving the goal. No matter how sound or exciting your business ideas are, without allocation of adequate resources – including money – turning them into reality will be difficult.

Our business finance tools could be ideal options if your business lacks the working capital needed to execute ideas that will help your business grow in the New Year. A merchant cash advance can provide your organization with a lump sum of working capital that can be used for many different business purposes.

How to Make and Keep New Business Goals

An Outbound Engine survey found that less than half of small businesses have a plan for growth. But many business ideas need a marketing or operational plan in order to succeed. As you implement new ideas make sure they are tied to plans that include specific goals and measures. Psychologytoday.com offers up several tips for setting and sticking to goals, and we’ve adapted their list for business owners here:

  • Don’t try to do too much at once, limit to one or two goals that are most important
  • Set realistic goals with specific, measurable benchmarks and a finish line
  • Don’t wait until New Year’s Day – make goal setting part of your organization’s process on an on-going, systematic basis
  • Be accountable and assign goals and tactics to specific people with dates set for measures, reports, and contingency plans
  • Be accountable to your accountability plan – where does the buck stop?
  • Communicate and celebrate incremental successes
  • Embrace change; you can’t achieve new goals with old thinking and the same tactics
  • Each day ask the question: what can I do today to move toward the goal?
  • Make sure that your company is “healthy;” fix what goes wrong internally so that employees can focus on reaching the goal
  • Have some fun along the way!

With a little creativity, the same retail marketing ideas big chains use at the point of sale during the checkout process can be applied by boutique retailers as well.

3 Point of Sale Marketing Lessons Boutique Retailers Can Steal from Big Competitors

Coming up with fresh marketing ideas to draw consumer attention away from the ads of large retail store competitors can be a challenge for small retailers. These scaled-down retail marketing ideas come straight from the marketing playbooks of the big players in retail, and can help your local small business compete better.

Practical Ecommerce reported on the checkout process of ten leading online retailers. With a little creativity, studying the way large retail chains increase revenues at the point of sale can be applied by boutique retailers as well.

These three retail marketing ideas that can help local, independent retail stores grow their business by encouraging shoppers to spend more at each visit, registering and following up with customers and by facilitating deeper, more loyal relationships between consumers and independent retail stores.

3 Big Chain Retail Marketing Ideas Scaled for Small Boutiques

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #1: Keep People Shopping

Retail e-commerce sites often give shoppers multiple opportunities to resume shopping rather than check out (when they place an item in the cart, when they view their cart, before finalizing checkout, etc.) Boutique retail merchants can help keep people shopping, longer, by:

  • Making sure they have a larger bag or cart than they need
  • Relieving shoppers of items they are hand-carrying by offering to hold them at the checkout area (which may also reinforce the inclination to buy the item, rather than thinking about it or putting it back)
  • Placing items which shoppers need to try on into a dressing room so they can find additional items to try
  • Offering to store other bags while they shop (shopping bags, heavy coats, umbrellas or other encumbrances they may have arrived with)

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #2: Register Customers and Follow Up

Try to collect at least one piece of customer contact information at the point of sale with every transaction, beginning with email address and mobile phone number. Let customers know at the point of sale that if they provide you with an email address and/or mobile phone number, you will follow up by sending them a special offer, a special thank you reward, an invitation to future sale events or to join your loyalty program – and then DO IT!

Boutique Retail Marketing Idea #3: Talk Rewards

Some e-commerce sites not only add shopper’s item to their cart, they also tell them how far away in purchases they are from earning additional rewards (like free shipping).

As a boutique retail merchant, you have the ability to create a truly unique loyalty and referral reward program for your customers. Your plan could include points, dollars or other measures by which they reach the next level of rewards, and you could also get creative and partner with other local retailers for cross-promotional rewards and offers – something big retail rivals wouldn’t take the time to do.

Use text and email marketing to send a monthly update to all customers who participate in your rewards program about their status and suggest ways that they could move to the next level. Hold loyalty rewards member-only events once or twice a year as a “thank you” and the means to introduce new items or blow through old inventory.

For customers who have registered with you for updates but are not members of your rewards program, send email and text message marketing highlighting the benefits of joining your program and what rewards they might have already earned – but missed out on – based on past shopping at your boutique.

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Got loyalty? If your point of sale solution isn’t helping bring customers back, it might be time to upgrade. We have credit card processing solutions and POS equipment that can help facilitate point of sale loyalty marketing with each and every transaction. Reach out for a free, no-obligation quote to find out more:

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Recruiting and hiring decisions often hinge on hard skills and real life experience that indicate a candidate’s prowess in performing certain tasks, operating machinery and equipment, leveraging technology and so on. Soft skills are harder to measure, but may be even more beneficial to your professional success and the growth of your business.

3 Soft Skills that Strengthen Teams

Growing a business usually means adding people to the team that have experience and education that is directly related to the tasks and responsibilities they will be completing on the job, or which is indirectly related but considered transferable; that is, their knowledge and work history shows that they can adapt and learn what a new employer needs them to do. Based on a candidate’s resume and interview it’s usually fairly easy determine whether they have the direct or transferable skills you are looking for. It’s more difficult to determine whether the soft skills that they bring to the table are the ones that will make your team better, but you can discover them if you know what to look for.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are personal attributes that enable and improve an individual’s ability to interact effectively with other people. Soft skills are probably being utilized all around you, every day. They are in use when sales people are negotiating, when co-workers are sharing problems and sympathizing with one another, when customer service pros are interpreting and resolving customer complaints, when team members are brainstorming, weighing options and dividing up responsibilities, and so on.

How can you uncover soft skills during the hiring process?

The things a candidate has done in school and on the job reveal their hard skills; the outcomes they have achieved, the route they took to get there, and even the words they use to describe situations about their interactions with colleagues and customers can help you uncover their soft skills.

3 Soft Skills and the Teams that Need Them

Empathy

Having the ability to accurately determine what a person is feeling and considering a situation from their point of view can be a serious advantage for sales, customer service and human resources. While we often associate it as a key skill for the two latter teams, it’s not uncommon to find a sales team filled with less-than-empathetic individuals bent on getting to “yes” with a client, sometimes by any means possible. Sales teams might actually get to “yes” faster when they employ empathy to uncover a prospects real objections and concerns, which often go unstated.

In truth, there aren’t many roles in a business where empathy will not be an asset and so is desirable in most candidates. While it might be a plus for any candidate, it should be a must for managers.

Intuition

Academic research brought to bear on the impact of having women on teams revealed an impressive truth; teams with women perform better because women score higher on the metric of average social sensitivity. What this translates to – in essence – is the equivalent of mind-reading in business. Social sensitivity makes women more able to pick up on and decipher non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone, etc.

With intuition, employees can get to the real issues more quickly, but they can also better understand the motivation, mindset and outcomes that can help in negotiations and resolving conflicts. Intuition is the soft skill that leads to win-win situations, and it’s a soft skill that can propel sales, customer service, human resources, and teams responsible for product development and innovation farther, faster.

Balance

While this is not a treatise on the benefits of having women on your team, a University of Massachusetts Amherst study of 120 undergrad engineering students found that teams made up mostly of women or which had equal numbers of men and women performed better. In teams that did not have this balance, first-year female students were reluctant to contribute ideas and experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety. In teams where women were dominant or represented in roughly equal numbers to male counterparts, there was less stress, less anxiety and higher levels of contribution.

Most business owners understand why creating an environment where contributions – from any employee – are welcome can lead to business improvements, cost savings and innovations that help with growing a business more quickly. However, it’s not all that common to find a business where that atmosphere is present and maintained over time. If balance can be achieved merely by ensuring that both men and women are represented on a team, it seems like a no-brainer! Sales teams, product development teams, management teams and even department-to-department, bringing balance to the workforce could help you grow your business more quickly.

With the industry revenues projected to increase, restaurateurs will have many opportunities for growing a restaurant if properly prepped for growth. 

Growing a restaurant a real possibility, as half say restaurant sales will rise over the next 6 months.

52 percent of restaurateurs reported an increase in sales in January, down from 60 percent who said the same in December. Despite the drop in numbers, half of the respondents said they believe sales will rise over the next six months. However, not all restaurants are in the best position to grow. Here are nine key ways you can position and equip your restaurant to grow this year.

9 Tips for Growing a Restaurant Faster than Your Competitors

  •  Reassess Standards

From standards of service to the style and ambiance you want for your restaurant, now is a great time to reassess in order to identify areas where your restaurant can improve.

  •  Put the Right People in Place and Equip them for Success

Reassessing standards may reveal areas where staff lack in skills or fall short when it comes to the mindset and attitude you want to characterize in your organizational culture. To position your restaurant for growth, you will need everyone pulling together; this may involve reorganizing your staffing structure, providing training or re-training in needed skills, team building or strategic hires and layoffs.

  •  Identify New Target Markets

If your customer base is not large enough or your target market is a fairly small portion of local demographics, you need to identify new target markets and determine how you will reach out to them. Likewise, if in your reassessment you made significant changes to what your restaurant will be like in the future, you will need to plan how you will help to transition your current customers into the new format and/or how you will reach out to the buyer types most likely to respond favorably to the organizational changes you’ve made.

  •  Line Up Financing

Making repairs, renovating, redecorating – whether planning to make major or only minor changes, you still may need to line up financing in order to be prepared to capitalize on growth during your busiest months, seasons or holidays.

A restaurant cash advance could provide your restaurant with a quick infusion of working capital, based on its own sales trends, which can be used to make repairs, replace equipment, for remodeling or redecorating or even expansion. Since a restaurant cash advance is not a loan, approval doesn’t come down to a credit score or collateral, and it doesn’t affect personal or business credit.

  •  Build or Revise Your Website

Today, growing a restaurant requires an online presence. Without a restaurant website optimized for local search, chances are your restaurant is already losing out when it comes to attracting new customers. Studies show that restaurants are the most-searched-for industry on mobile. What’s more, when people do search for a restaurant, 64 percent convert immediately or within 1 hour.

  •  Add Mobile Apps and Compatibility

A significant portion of all web traffic now occurs on mobile devices; and for restaurants, even more. Often a local consumer is using their Smartphone or tablet while in the car, out shopping, after attending an event or on the road for some other reason to find nearby dining options.

If you don’t have a website with responsive design, chances are your website doesn’t provide a good user experience (if it gets found in online search at all). However, there are mobile apps which can instantly create a mobile version of your existing website. You should be able to customize the app to match your brand for just a few dollars each month and mobile restaurant apps abound to help you attract and convert new customers online. Even better? Ditch that lackluster obsolete website for a bright shiny new WordPress website, instead. Choose a template that features responsive design and gives you the ability to customize the site to align with your restaurant’s brand. There are thousands of free and inexpensive WordPress themes and plugins available, giving you the ability to put forward a professional digital brand image in a website that generates foot traffic, as well as web traffic.

  •  Review Your Layout

Growing a restaurant may require that you add more square feet or rework your restaurant’s design. Expanding to a new location or adding more square feet to your restaurant is one way to increase your restaurant capacity; however, it’s not the only way. You may be able to increase capacity by redesigning your restaurant’s physical layout. You may already have ideas on how this can be done, or it may be well-worth hiring an efficiency expert to assist. If cash reserves are standing in your way, restaurant equipment financing can provide the working capital needed for repairs or replacing aging equipment.

  •  Remodel and Redecorate

Over the years, colors, artwork, furnishings, tableware and other décor that was once en vogue may now be out of style. Likewise, the years take their toll in wear and tear. Now could be a great time to redecorate your restaurant in order to reflect the ambiance you want it to have, the attitude you want to project or the target markets you want to attract.

  •  Master Social Skills

Mastering social skills today means something different than it did before. Today, mastering social skills requires that you identify, acquire and adapt your restaurant’s social presence online, on the social networks where your target markets are most likely to find you. While most social networks are free to use, you may also consider some strategically paid placements or boosted posts in order to keep your brand in front of local consumers, grow your networks and attract customers.

When something’s on fire, the smoke might be the most visible but the flames are the ones getting work done. These twelve productive quotes for business leaders are a motivational reminder that results matter, and hard work always pays off.

Smoke vs Fire – 12 Productive Quotes About Getting the Work Done for Today’s Business Leaders

Productivity is defined as:

  • the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services (dictionary.com)
  • A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs (businessdictionary.com)

Other definitions include phrases like “fertility,” “output per unit,” “effectiveness,” and so on. It’s not about being busy, it’s about getting done what matters. In the workplace, the person who looks the busiest is not always the power behind the progress being made by the organization. As managers, it’s your responsibility to identify and cultivate those employees who demonstrate their value by getting work done. 

12 Quotes About Productivity for the Workplace

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

“Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.” — Linus Torvalds

“Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.” — Linus Torvalds

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing - but mentors, that's where the real work gets done.” — Junot Diaz

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” — Junot Diaz

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” — Harold S. Geneen

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” — Harold S. Geneen

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” — Mary Kay Ash

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” — Mary Kay Ash

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” — Steve Jobs

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” — Steve Jobs

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned for it to do, doesn’t mean it was useless.” — Thomas A. Edison

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned for it to do, doesn’t mean it was useless.” — Thomas A. Edison

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman - not the attitude of the prospect.” — W. Clement Stone

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.” — W. Clement Stone

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffett

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffett

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." — Mark Twain

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” — Mark Twain

 

Study says more than 6 in ten employers find it hard to fill open positions. Find out more about the study and get four tips for selling company culture to potential new hires, to make landing top talent easier.

Why Are Employers Having Difficulty Filling Positions?

A new Express Employment Professionals survey conducted in December 2015 found that more than 6 out of ten employers – 65 percent – said they found it somewhat or very difficult to successfully attract the right candidates in order to fill open positions. With a low unemployment rate and increased competition for highly skilled, experienced employees, HR and staffing agencies that want to win the war for talent are going to have to do more than post a position opening or job description.

Selling Company Culture Helps Land Top Talent and Fill Hard-to-Fill Jobs

Staffing Industry Analysts quotes Express’ CEO Bob Funk as saying that while there are still plenty of people who want jobs and some who have stopped looking altogether, that “part of the difficulty has been that the people who want to work may not have the skills that employers need.” For some employers, the answer when it becomes difficult to fill open positions may even be to take a risk on unskilled-but-potentially-capable workers and invest in developing employees on the job.

However, hiring for potential and training the skills needed is not always a viable option for employers. HR and staffing agencies faced with the challenge of finding candidates to fill hard-to-fill position openings can win the war for talent if they understand what candidates are looking for. Selling company culture to new hires can help sway decisions one way or another.

From the benefits offered to leader communication styles, every aspect of company culture can be transformed into an internal marketing tool that makes it easier for a business to attract and retain valuable employees.  Now, let’s look closer at four specific aspects of company culture that can be used to make it easier for hiring and staffing managers to successfully fill some of those hard-to-fill position openings.

4 Ideas for Selling Company Culture to Recruits

1. What Job Titles Say About Company Culture

Job titles are important and most have specific connotations and expectations when it comes to a candidate’s perspective. For instance:

A head of department job titled “manager” instead of “director” moves its salary range into a lower level, implies more oversight and less autonomy in decision-making than for true director roles. Likewise, a department “specialist” might actually have the same responsibilities as a department manager, especially in companies with one-man departments, but would have a lower salary range; however, specialist roles like these are often great opportunities for candidates who do not quite have enough experience or training to step into a bona fide managerial role.

In both cases, the company may be communicating that they want to pay less for the same work, may limit a candidate’s ability to propose and enact change, and may have little room for advancement. Conversely, the lower job requirements may make it possible for highly competent but under-experienced candidates to prove themselves on the job and build their own career path.

Use of traditional job titles may lead candidates to believe that the organization has a traditional hierarchy and organizational chart.

Use of non-traditional job titles may lead candidates to believe that the company has a more modern organizational structure, such as a holacracy. However, use of non-traditional job titles can also create doubt in the mind of candidates relative to where the title “fits” in the organizational structure.

Candidates expect companies in creative work or innovative industries to have creative job titles that speak to the position’s practical function or the type of individual they want to fill it. Failure to deliver on this expectation could cause candidates to worry that the corporate culture is not creative-friendly.

2. What a List of Job Duties Communicates to Candidates

If a few words found in a job title can convey that much to potential new hires, what can a whole job description do? Words mean things, and the words chosen to describe a position’s role within the organization may be the only tools the HR or staffing recruiter has to win the talent war: Make them count!

The job duties or position description used in recruiting ads should tell candidates what the employer expects, how they can succeed and what will happen when they do. As with job titles, choosing to use language that is creative, traditional, formal, casual, enthusiastic, vague, specific, boring, etc., tells the prospective new hire just as much about the corporate culture as it does the position opening.

‘Type of work’ is listed as the number one factor U.S. workers consider when making career decisions, so getting the job description to successfully persuade candidates that your organization has the type of work they are looking for is critical.

Instead of following a formula, try writing job descriptions in the voice of a “real person,” describing what needs to be done in the role on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly basis. Use what you know about building buyer personas for marketing to build “candidate personas” that describe what your ideal employee type is and describe that person in your job description’s “successful candidate will be” section.

3. Are Opportunities for Advancement on the Horizon?

For U.S. workers in every generation, the opportunities for advancement available within an organization is a top consideration in deciding where to work. Large companies may have no difficulty communicating these types of opportunities to potential new hires; however, they may not be as readily apparent in smaller companies.

Take your “candidate personas” to the next step. Tell candidates what they need to succeed in the role they take, and what will happen if they do. Opportunities for advancement aren’t just about promotions. They can also be reflected in salaries, job titles, autonomy, decision-making, educational and leadership opportunities, succession planning, and more.

4. Why Would Anyone Want to Spend 8 Hours a Day (or More) on Site?

At the end of the day you want your best employees to want to come back again! The intangibles that make your company culture special are the selling points that can be used to help paint a picture for potential new hires about what a day – week – month – or year at the company will look like.

Other employees can be a great resource when you are looking for ways to describe “why” someone should want to work at your company day in and day out. Get testimonials and consider making short videos to use on sites like YouTube and LinkedIn to help get the attention of candidates and sell them on your company culture before they’ve even sent in their resume.

It may be a tale as old as time but for a chick whose story is several centuries old, Cinderella sure seems to be a role model for women business owners today. Here’s why.

Women business owners looking for a success story need look no further than memories from their own childhood to find a role model worth considering: Cinderella.

Could Cinderella Be the Ideal Mentor for Women Business Owners Today?

While a case could be made for revisiting any of the versions from the somewhat disturbing origin stories from which the modern day version is derived, (“Cendrillon” from Tales of Mother Goose, 1697 by Charles Perrault or the Grimm Brothers’ Aschenputtel, 1812), many of the lessons will be the same as those which can be discovered in its most recent depiction, Disney’s Cinderella released in 2015, directed by industry icon Kenneth Branagh starring Lily James in the title role and the incomparable Kate Blanchett as the “evil stepmother.”

Cinderella’s 7 Leadership Lessons for Women Business Owners

1. Have Courage and Be Kind

There have been entire leadership books written that failed to say what this little gem of leadership advice says so simply: Have courage and be kind. As a recipe for good leadership, it works. Courage is needed to take risks, face challenges and pursue business vision at nearly every point in the life cycle of a business.

Likewise, kindness is a strategy that is vital to the growth of a business, to a healthy organizational culture, to winning over prospects and retaining clients. To have courage and be kind is to take a long term view of nearly any situation, which is nearly always going to be the best approach to take.

2. Never Mind What They Call Me

Shortly after being demoted from “family” status to that of a servant, a bedraggled Ella is mockingly renamed “Cinderella” by her mean stepsisters. When she meets the handsome prince for the first time in the forest and he asks her name, she replies, “Never mind what they call me.”

Her response calls to mind a quote attributed to W.C. Fields that says, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Cinderella refuses to accept that she is limited to being what anyone else says she is or what anyone else calls her. Women business owners will face many situations where self-doubt about their abilities can creep in or where people even call their qualifications into question. In those moments, this could be an invaluable leadership lesson to keep in mind.

3. Honor the Past Without Jeopardizing the Future

In the 2015 release of Cinderella, our heroine modifies her mother’s old dress to wear to the ball. Even when her fairy Godmother offers to make her a completely new dress, she requests that the old dress be modified instead. In choosing to honor the past, she honors those who paved the way before her. However, she does not hold onto the past in such a way that it holds her back in the future.

Sometimes the right thing to do is to start over or go in an entirely new direction; however, it’s not always necessary and completely abandoning the past can leave employees, customers and other stakeholders confused. As change within an organization occurs, honoring the past and retaining elements that made a brand or strategy strong might be highly preferable to crafting a completely new solution. Conversely, many organizations become enslaved by the past. When “the way we’ve always done things” means that an organization cannot grow or evolve, it might be time to let it go!

4. Trust Your Own Judgment

Cinderella’s decision to go to the ball flew in the face of her stepmother’s command that she not attend. Sometimes women business owners will be called upon to defy conventional judgment and trust their own, instead. A successful leader’s defining moment often occurs as a results of their willingness to make decisions, take risks, defend their rationale and stand by the results of their actions.

5. Don’t Confuse a Low Position with Low Potential

Cinderella doesn’t allow her name, position or responsibilities to define her. She is faithful in doing the little things that need to be done for the good of everyone in the household, even when they go unnoticed and unappreciated. Her demotion from family member to servant notwithstanding, she does not hesitate when the time comes to take on the responsibilities of helping to run the whole kingdom.

Modeling servant-leadership and taking care of the little things doesn’t stop when you open a business or get promoted to an executive role; in fact, if anything, your responsibility for ensuring that the little things get done – even when no one notices or appreciates it – is that much greater. Women business owners who lead by example are the ones whose organizational culture is infused with these values.

6. Forgive but Don’t Forget to Move Forward

We live in a society where forgiveness is often equated with excusing the behavior of someone else. Cinderella sets a wise example in that she forgives her mother and stepsisters for the abusive way they treated her, but she does not excuse their behavior, nor does she give them the opportunity to continue causing damage in the future.

In some businesses there are employees who are allowed to cause damage in their role as employees, and sometimes even as managers. It’s important to understand that firing this type of employee could be in the best interest not only of other employees and the organization as a whole, but sometimes even for the fired employee themselves. No matter how talented or well-connected, an employee who is damaging your organization from the inside out is going to limit its potential and cause others to leave.

7. Wear the Right Shoes

Marilyn Monroe once said, “With the right shoes, a woman can conquer the world.” Certainly few characters in literature or history are as well-known as Cinderella is for the shoes they wore.

The shoes women business owners have to wear have to get them all the way to the ball and home again. They have to help them land the role of their dreams. These shoes might be crafted in the education she received, advice given to her from mentors, the experience she has gained along the way – or all of the above; and with the right shoes, she just might conquer the world!

If you’ve been asked to plan a company event and don’t know where to start; keep calm and master these six basics of business event planning  written especially for first-timers.

Six Basics First-Timers Should Know About Business Event Planning

Virtual events and digital marketing channels haven’t replaced in-person events in the business marketer’s playbook, only enhanced them. According to 35 Statistics Every Event Marketing Should Know (EventFarm.com):

  • Tradeshows and events are the second most effective tactic in a marketer’s mix, after their company website (Forrester)
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the event industry will grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020
  • 79% of U.S. marketers say they generate sales using event marketing (Statista)
  • 87% of consumers say they purchased a brands products or services after (and as a result of) becoming aware of it at an event (eventmarketing.com)
  • 76% of marketers say their event and experiential marketing initiatives are integrated with their other marketing campaigns. (EventTrack)

With statistics like these, small wonder that the vast majority of marketers say they plan to increase their event budget this year. It’s estimated that brands spend 20-25% of the marketing budget on events and related expenses.

If you’re adding events to the marketing mix for the first time, one thing you will quickly learn is that there are many variables and details that need to be worked out if your event is going to be a success. Here are six musts for business event planning that can help you keep calm and plan events that will deliver a marketing ROI (return on investment).

6 Basics of Business Event Planning for First Timers

1. What do you want to accomplish?

Understanding the objective for the event will play a part in determining nearly every other facet of your event; including:

  • Where to hold the event – the location (hotel conference or meeting room, convention center, co-working space, restaurant, etc.) that will be conducive to creating the feel or environment you want attendees to have (team structured learning, formal dinners, access to beaches, close to city for dinning or attractions, outdoor team events, etc.).
  • How many people to invite or how many you want (or need) to attend for an event to be successful
  • When to hold the event – your event’s timing should validate your agenda and coincide with the environment you are trying to convey and you should keep in mind that it may also affect event costs. Events held during tourist season may be considerably more expensive; however, the benefit of increased attendance could offset the additional costs.

2. How much do you want to spend?

Setting a budget is important for many reasons. Absence of a budget may result in costs getting out of hand or exceeding benefits. Without a budget you may also run the risk of finding you can’t pay for the event you need to help you grow your business.

Smartsheet.com is a great resource where you can find various templates, including event registration forms, planners and budget templates that can help you with event planning. Whether you use a template or not, as you work toward your event and analyze it afterward, your final budget report should have two columns for each line item that reflect estimated costs and actual costs.

Tracking your budget at every step can help you stay on track in terms of resources consumed and will also help you with forecasting for future events. As you’re creating the budget add a line for very detail that is associated with a dollar amount. You can always go back and delete a line item later if it’s not needed. As well with all events, nothing goes according to plan; therefore it’s important to add a line item “emergency fund” which is 10% of the total budget. This will allow you to make a last minute purchase and not be stressed about where the funds are coming from.

3. How will you pay for the event?

Our business cash advances could be an ideal solution for financing marketing events that will help you grow your business more quickly. Ask us for a free, no-obligation event or marketing financing proposal by applying online .

If you planned ahead, you may have money in the budget already designated for your event. In some cases, registration fees will cover or even produce a profit when offset against event expenses, although it is likely that you will have to be prepared to pay most vendors and venues before all registration fees have been collected.

4. What will be on the agenda?

As it relates to business event planning, an agenda is the timeline that says what should be happening at any given time throughout the event. Having two versions of your timeline, a detailed version and an overview will be helpful; some of the people involved in planning and executing the event will need a detailed schedule while the overview schedule will be sufficient for others who are less involved (or who are merely attendees).

The detailed timeline will include: location, dates, and will account for every minute broken down per segment, name of participants within each segment, audio visual needs, audience participation pieces, food, staging, and so on. An overview timeline will still account for all of the event time but will be more general in nature, perhaps including items such as location, dates, segment titles and presenter names, meals, breaks, etc.

Inevitably, during the planning phases of your event, you will go through multiple drafts of both version, right up until the event begins. That’s okay; just make sure all parties involved have access to the most recent or final agendas.

5. Who will have a role to play?

It’s common to have multiple vendors and speakers involved in an event. Having a way to keep track of each group, their emergency contact information, copies of order details and contracts all in one place will make it easier to locate when reviewing information. Given today’s digital capabilities, everyone on your team who needs this level of detail could have access via smartphone or tablet throughout the event. setting up electronic folders per vendor plus a hard copy in a binder with dividers will allow for greater organization and help to eliminate any confusion. It’s crucial to highlight all due dates and payment on all documents within your folders, as well within your budget program or spreadsheet as you are viewing this particular document on a regular basis.

6. How will you get the word out?

When business event planning, ensuring sufficient time to execute the marketing needed to reach your desired target audience effectively is a must. As you work backwards to plan your event timeline, plan your marketing strategy by working backward from the actual event date using a 12 months, 6 months, 90 day, 30 day, 14-day, 7-day and pre-event week communication plan.

You might be able to use your credit card processing software to add event information to customer receipts and invoices. Likewise, you may be able to generated automated email marketing invitations to your event using your point-of-sale credit card processing solution. Seamless merchant services products like these make it easy to store customer contacts and reach out to them with event invitations, special offers, discounts and other brand communications.

Online programs like Eventbrite make it easy to set up a web-based event registration form in conjunction with business events. In addition to online registration, you will also want to decide whether you need to send email alerts, post cards or formal invitations to boost RSVPs and attendance – and each of these marketing tactics will need to be scheduled strategically as part of your overall event marketing and communication plan.

Once an attendee is registered, your communication plan should account for email confirmations, links to hotel or travel resources and you should plan to send a copy of the tentative agenda to registered guests shortly before the actual event. The more you stay in communication with those who register to attend, the less likely you are to have attendees drop out for no reason. Plus, keeping in communication just before the event can be a great way to get attendees to tweet out updates with your event or brand hashtag, manage expectations, create a sense of anticipation and set the stage for what you want to happen during the event.

Ready for more fascinating marketing and event stats that can help with business event planning? Check out this great slideshare from Hubspot: