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  • 5 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Business Look Like a Large Corporation

    Small businesses are often considered to be the backbone of our economy. But while there is no higher honor than being a small business owner, it can be a struggle for small businesses to compete in any market. For this reason, many small business owners want to make their companies look larger than they actually are. Some want a competitive advantage. For others, it is more prestigious to be the CEO of a large company than it is to run a small business. Whatever the reason is, there are many easy ways for small businesses to make themselves look more like a large company and standout within their market. This article will give you five easy ways to help you make your small business appear larger than life! According to Chron, one of the best advantages for large businesses is that they are more established and have greater access to funding. Small business on the other hand, will need to rely on the virtue of time, word-of-mouth and a strong desire to shift their natural position in the market. But if you want to take your small business from looking like a Mom and Pop shop, to looking like an established company almost overnight, follow these five tips: Stop using free email addresses If you want your company to be taken seriously, then you’ll need a professional email address. But if you don’t want to pay for monthly email hosting, find a domain provider with free email forwarding and consider having emails redirect to an existing service that offers free email accounts (like Gmail, Yahoo!, or Outlook). Having an email like xyzcorporation@gmail.com might come across as amateur to some. Instead, opt for email addresses like info@xyzcorporation.com. These email addresses give the impression that you are a professional business and not just some guy in his basement. Create a website that stands out A company’s website is its home on the internet. Make sure yours stands out from the crowd. Design, design, design — a key focus of your site should be the look and feel. The fonts, the colors, and what you highlight all have a significant impact on how your site is perceived by visitors. A well-designed website is one of the hallmarks of a large company. If you need inspiration, you can check out award-winning websites at Awwwards and CSS Design Awards. Both of these web design awards are given to websites from all industries that stand as being the best-of-the-best in design, creativity and overall user experience. If you have the technical skill set, you can take inspiration from these sites and create your own. But if you do opt for doing it yourself, avoid using basic free website builders with high reliance on templates. They just don’t have the ability to produce the high quality of work seen in modern web design, and they don’t showcase your brand as well as you think they do. Instead, opt for website builders that provide high levels of customization and rich feature lists. Some popular go-tos are WordPress, Wix or Squarespace. All three have their own benefits and setbacks, but in general, they all allow users to create a website that wows. Don’t have the technical skillset? Hire someone to do it for you. You can find a pro web designer on platforms like UpWork or Bark. Show them some of your favorite Awwwards and CSS Design-winning sites for inspiration. Get a prime corporate address Rather than use your residential address, you may want to consider a prime corporate address. You can get this by renting office space at a business incubator or co-working space in your area that is designed for small businesses (like WeWork). Alternatively, many commercial buildings, workspaces, and even some hotels also offer “virtual offices” where they will provide you with a work area as well as mail forwarding services for a low monthly fee. Get a toll-free business phone number One of the best ways to make your small business look serious is by having a toll-free number. For starters, it’s pretty affordable and looks more professional than just using your personal cell phone line. There are many providers of toll-free numbers out there. Some of them cost less than $30 per month. People are more likely to trust an 800 number for businesses, especially if they don’t know the company. Why? Because these numbers showcase a national presence and have been made popular within our culture thanks to infomercials and catchy company names and marketing jingles (think 1-8000-Flowers, or 800-588-2300 Empire Today). Plus it’s pretty affordable and looks more professional than just using your personal cell phone line. Using a toll-free number also broadens your market. If your company decided to expand to a new location, your toll-free number can easily be used there also. You can even step things up a notch and have your toll-free number say “Thank you for calling XYZ Corporation. Please dial the extension of the person or department you would like to speak with.” Or consider having your line open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week by outsourcing your telephone answering. Which, by the way, can be done for less than $500 per month. Deliver quality and professionalism — always If you are looking to give your small business the appearance of a larger company without spending much money, these tips can help. You don’t need expensive strategies, impeccable office space or a large team in order to make clients think that you have more resources than what they see. But the most important thing needed to elevate your company is to show that you are committed to providing excellence. That means quality products and services matched with professional service. When customers want the best – it will be easy for them to find themselves choosing you over competitors. Want more tips and inspiration for how you can take your small business from a upstart into a company with serious potential? Check out The Marketing Fallacy: How Any Small Business Can Look Like A Large Corporation, Without The Large Costs This post was originally published in Business 2 Community on July 26, 2021.

  • Why We Need to Rethink Social Interaction in the Workplace

    Social interaction, just as the name suggests, relates to the relationships created between two or more people. It involves the interactions, communications, connections and propinquity between the people within an organization. It also involves how people act with others, as well as their reaction to how other people are acting. These interactions form the basis of social structure, but social interaction in many workplaces is unstructured and given limited importance by many top managers. Whether we like to admit it or not, far too many companies regard employees as people who should follow orders and not question. Companies forget that we all are humans with a degree of emotions and can only truly deliver on motivation and a feeling of acceptance. Why We Need to Rethink Social Interaction in the Workplace Social interactions in institutions build social structures and cultures. By interacting with one another, people ineluctably design the rules and systems they seek to abide by. There are different types of social interaction in an organization. Including exchange, competition, cooperation and conflict. Exchange The exchange involves the interaction between parties as to what they expect from each other. This element is all about freely communicating one’s ideas. It also constitutes exchange between parties; it can be the exchange of goods or services. Competition Competition is when two or more people attempt to achieve a goal that only one can attain. It can also cause differences or a lack of cooperation in social groups. Competition is often a fight to control resources. It can be from the interior or exterior forces of an organization. Conflicts Conflict is a struggle between two or more people fighting for common interests that one can only achieve. Conflicts also arise when different parties have different opinions on something. Conflicts occur when the parties involved oppose each other in social interaction. Cooperation Are you all working towards the same goals? Cooperation is the process in which people work together to achieve shared goals. It is a social process that gets things done. No group can perform its tasks or goals without cooperation from the members in it. All these types of social interactions have some significance in an institution. It’s through conflicts that people find suitable solutions, and it is through cooperation that things get done with ease. Firms should thus welcome interactions among their subordinates to come up with ideas quickly. The traditional social interaction model sees management as the sole originator of change ideas while employees as mere implementers. With employees stationed to fear raising concerns, there is less development in organizations. Every human has a unique capability. Failure to give everyone a chance of expression deprives the organization at large of the opportunity to grow and us. Regarding the staff’s working conditions, it is necessary to provide a favorable one to allow creativity and productivity. With the types of social interaction stated above, it is clear that social interaction is of great significance in the workplace. Here is why. Increased Engagement and Loyalty When employers and management regard employees’ opinions, the staff feels a sense of belonging and thus is motivated to give the best efforts. This sense of belonging allows them to share a firm’s goals with the management easily and therefore work towards achieving them. It is also easier for them to identify missteps and report to their supervisors for their betterment. They can also easily contribute innovative ideas to improve the firm. According to Forbes, employees with social connections at work tend to be more engaged and loyal. Quality work relationships help build a strong company culture that emphasizes respect, loyalty, and trust. It provides a sense of cohesion essential for cultivating creativity, teamwork, and collaboration. Creates Happiness What could be more enticing than a lively working environment? Interactions among stakeholders allow people to freely express themselves not only in a formal manner but also on personal issues. It provides support and guidance in all aspects of life. When one is content with everything revolving around their lives, being able to share life with their colleagues, then they will be happy for most of their time. A happy mood encourages healthy living and, thus, productivity. When clients walk in a comfortable environment, they will be compelled to conduct transactions with your organization. Healthier Life Social solid connections result in happiness and content among employees. It is no doubt that when one is happy, it boosts psychological well-being. According to Mayo Clinic, adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index. Also, older adults with a rich social life and quality relationships are likely to live a longer life than those with fewer social connections. Healthy employees have higher levels of work performance. Research by South University shows that having a more robust support network or stronger community bonds fosters emotional and physical health, an essential component of adult life. Knowledge and Productivity Spillover With social connections, the trained and more experienced employees can pass knowledge to the untrained and the less experienced personnel. With this attitude and cultivated culture, there is no doubt that there will be high productivity in the workplace. This structure could work out well when working in groups where seniors would nurture juniors. Employees will tend to grow fast, too, in such a setup. Also, peer relationships between co-workers with no formal authority over one another act as an essential source of information and emotional support. Everyone can be on the same page with such interactions. Efficiency and Effectiveness The above four benefits fuel efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency in an organization is the ability to utilize minimum resources to achieve organizational goals. When employees are happy, and when they feel motivated to work harder, business owners will have to cut the costs of machines, freelancers and hiring more employees. At the same time, the organization will be productive. You will have cut down costs and yield ample profits. Effectiveness means quality output; to accomplish something adequately, producing the intended or expected results. When employees are motivated, there is no doubt they will do anything within their capabilities to create or to deliver sufficiently. It is essential to create a workplace culture that encourages social interaction and helps employees connect. Culture will help employees establish relationships without feeling as if they are overstepping boundaries. A firm bound by traditional leadership methods needs to rethink its ways and encourage social interactions. You can influence social connections by: Creating a Social Spot Colleagues could agree on a social spot off work, during breaks, or sometime during the weekday to engage. Celebrations It would help if the management organized celebrations to mark a stride or for work well done. It is during such occasions that we get to interact with our colleagues easily. These celebrations could be anniversaries, celebrating an innovation, or award ceremonies. Inspire Positivity The human resource management team could again influence positivity among employees often. Co-workers could also do the same, inspiring each other. Encouraging each other is a method of social connection. Encourage Team Building Team building is where a company engages its workforce in outdoor activities. The significance of these outdoor activities is to allow a change of environment, to take time off work off the pressure to boost productivity. It also helps many re-strategize and gather energy to get back to work. It may also influence creativity. Connect departments Specialization is excellent, and it undoubtedly boosts productivity in individual parts of an organization. It is, however, helpful for the top management to consider connecting departments to allow social interaction. Social interactions, in turn, influence idea-sharing and interconnecting tasks to boost the output. This post was originally published in ReadWrite on September 28, 2021

  • Food Delivery Addiction Is Real — and It Is Likely Costing You Thousands

    When it comes to food, we all need it, but can be lazy to prepare it. Hence the reason food delivery is pretty darn popular. Millions of us have the UberEats, DoorDash or Postmates app — and a few of us have all of them — installed on our smartphones. But just how many of us are addicted? Cooking is time consuming and requires skill. Ordering from an app is fast, convenient and gives access to loads of great dining options within a few miles of home. And this convenience is why food delivery addictions are now thriving. Addiction is a heavy term. It’s a complex disorder, and you’ll likely not find “food delivery addiction” in any psychology journals or textbooks — but that sure doesn’t make it any less real. What you will find in those journals and textbooks however is a categorization called “behavioral addictions.” These refer to addictions that involve behaviors which are repeatedly carried out despite offering no tangible benefit (in fact, they might just be causing harm). While food delivery apps are indeed convenient, the tradeoff for that convenience could just be a behavioral addiction with overspending as the characteristic harm. Here’s a statistic that validates our devotion for food delivery apps: Statista and McKinsey’s most recent data show that in 2015, annual food delivery app revenues were at $8.7 million. Fast forward five years: it’s the end of 2020 and that amount has catapulted to over $26 billion. Undeniably, we’ve got the pandemic to thank for helping to propel the industry forward, but that’s not to say the pandemic is to be fully credited here. Before the pandemic, in 2018, the industry had doubled to over $16 billion in revenue. It’s now 2021 and the industry is expected to keep growing. With our world slowly reopening, a large part of this future food delivery app growth will not be fueled by lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, but instead our own ostensible addictions to these apps. Fiscal projections by Research & Markets as well as the IMARC Group estimate that food delivery app revenues will hit well over $40 billion in the next four years. According to David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, when it comes to internet-related addictions, necessity is not the mother of invention. But instead, convenience is. And in this case, that convenience comes at a pricey premium. How much exactly? Up to 91% more in total. This is thanks to the baffling web of markups and additional charges that saturate these services. From delivery fees, taxes, tips and services. For illustration, a New York Times report showed that a $39 Panda Express family meal when ordered through a food delivery app could cost $58 on GrubHub and as much as $63 on the UberEats app (both figures are before tips). It is uncomplicated to see how that uncontainable yearning for a quick and tasty dinner within a few tabs can quickly create a drain in the bank account. Last year, one Redditt user, who joined the budgeting app YNAB, shared details on their food delivery addiction. The user disclosed that their YNAB account revealed a total of 18 food delivery app transactions in one month. But most alarming — and perhaps proof of the struggles associated with breaking any addiction — are their admission on the difficulties of stopping. Their recovery plan has included everything from learning to cook, setting a budget and uninstalling the apps. All have failed. While this one Reddit user willingly and openly categorizes their high monthly transactions as an indicator of their food delivery addiction, your personal transaction history might differ and should not be the sole factor used to establish your own potential addiction. In accordance with experts, the questions you should ask are “Is it impacting my ability to live a quality life in other ways?” or “Am I spending money I don't have?” Based on your answers to those questions, you can determine if you do indeed have a food delivery addiction — as well as how deep you might be in. So, what does all this really mean? As the mammoth food delivery industry becomes a juggernaut in the upcoming years, you’ll need to be more mindful that a food delivery addiction can be an expensive one to have, and a difficult one to break. This will mean being less susceptible to that shimmering convenience factor and more aware of its true cost. With a healthy dose of awareness and self-control, your bank account and midriff will be exceedingly appreciative.

  • Startups Should Start Saying Goodbye to .com, .net and .org Domain Extensions

    Domain names — the focal point of the internet. There is no doubt the existence of a big-three-domains consisting of the .com, .org and .net. These three reign supreme. For over 30 years, these domain extensions have been used to house some of the internet’s most recognized websites. But with each passing year, these three popular domains come closer and closer to their digital transience. This is thanks to the ever-increasing unavailability of these domains as well as the rise of more creative, contemporary and vastly flexible alternatives. In the early days of the Internet, like the 90s and 2000s, you could only choose from these three “dot” domain extensions. This small selection pool made the choices highly sought-after by default and tolerably iconic in their own right. But like every icon of the 90s and 2000s, their relevance fades with each passing year. Yet despite this fact, these domains – the .com in particular – are still a go-to for many entrepreneurs who are on the cusp of launching their next venture. And you can’t blame them. When we picture successful websites, they almost all seem to use one of these three domains as their home on the web – think Amazon.com, Wikipedia.org and SpeedTest.net. “Sorry… that domain is not available.” Most entrepreneurs have spent hours, days, or weeks brainstorming new business names. Then they enter their ideas into GoDaddy only to be met with a message saying, “Sorry… that domain is not available.” The immense popularity of the big-three domain extensions has resulted in fewer and fewer web addresses, with those extensions being available. As a result, these domain extensions can no longer do what they once did so effortlessly: establish a memorable address on the web. It’s a lot like real estate; the folks who are early to the game get the best picking. With the domain registrar VeriSign reporting over 360 million domain registrations by the end of the first quarter of last year alone, there is no question that the internet real estate market is saturated. Having an entire market saturated presents an inimitable challenge. However, business is a field overflowing with challenges that are met with triumphs by way of solutions. Herein comes new domain extensions. New Domain Extensions vs. Traditional Domain Extensions During the last few years, we have ushered in a new era of internet real estate. The failing availability of the .coms, .orgs and .nets has given birth to some catchy new domain extensions, including everything from .earth to .agency. The list truly is endless. New domains now bequeath creative power to young companies and extend their branding possibilities. For example, a new fictitious accounting group called Billiton Accountants would likely opt for the domain names, billiton.com or billitonaccountants.com, but both are, of course, taken. In that case, a solid substitute would be billiton.accountants. It’s short, memorable, and most importantly — it’s still available (at least as of this writing). The sales pitch encouraging the choosing of new domain extensions as opposed to a traditional extension is centered around these points: Availability These new domain extensions are still just that, new. Thanks to this novelty, a vast majority of unique and distinctive name combinations remain untouched. This creates a coveted opportunity for more businesses to get a domain name they actually want. Memorability Uniqueness is at times tantamount to memorability. Nothing makes something more memorable than being unique. Owners of new domain extensions will tell you how intrigued clients and prospects have been when presented with a business card festooned with a new domain extension — especially if an awesome wordplay is involved. For example: thebillionairesclub.com could just be thebillionaires.club. Protectability New domain extensions are the future, and large corporations like Google know that. So for case, rather than go the traditional route, Google opted for the domain abc.xyz for its holding company Alphabet. This allowed Google to secure a piece of coveted internet real estate and create a level of protection surrounding their sister brand. And many other top corporations are grabbing these names in an effort to protect their brand. A Prime Time to Protect Your Brand In building on the point of protecting ones’ brand, another new wave of domain extensions known as Brand TLDs (top-level domains) are just around the corner. A Brand TLD allows a company to use its brand as its domain. Over 600 companies have applied for brand TLDs, and some companies are already using them. For instance, Google already has domains like ai.google, and British broadcaster Sky has already set up a redirect for the q.sky domain. Despite their rise in popularity, many wonder if using a new domain extension rather than a traditional one could affect their website’s performance in search engines. The answer, according to Google themselves, is no. Using a new domain extension will not hurt your website search performance. Not utterly surprising given the companies own endorsement of these new domains. Moving Forward Although the .com, .org, and .net domains will still be around for many more years, they will likely be used less and less with each passing year. Founders in the business naming phase can stop worrying about whether their .com is already taken (just accept that it most likely is) and start thinking of all the creative web addresses they can create using new domain extensions. The internet is a vast space with an infinite amount of potential. And while the big-three domain extensions are still alive and well, they’re getting closer to their digital transience. As such, it might be time for you to consider more creative alternatives that can help your website reach its full potential in this era of change. This is indeed a prime time to make a solid impression and bid farewell to the .com, .net and .org domain extensions. What interesting domain names will you create? This post was originally published in ReadWrite on July 26, 2021

  • Lessons Every Entrepreneur can Learn from Drake

    Hip-Hop has long been a genre that has been dominated by the East Coast and West Coast. Jay Z, Nas, Dr. Dre, Tupac and Biggie were all from New York or California. Drake is one of the first rappers to break through on the other side of America: Canada. The man is an Anomaly who has managed to do what no one before him has done. Drake inspired Toronto to mint its own brand of hip-hop. Drake single handedly helped to put the music scene in his city on the map. But what's most interesting about Drake's success in hip-hop is how he has managed to transition from rapper to business mogul. Drake is a different kind of artist, one who pushes past his appreciation for the genre and has expanded outside of rap into other areas — clothing lines, a record label, a popular internet radio station — that have made him one of the most wealthy musicians on earth. Drake is worth an estimated $180 million and has made it into ranks of the top 10 richest rappers. But in honesty, many fail to understand how Drake made it all the way from a unknown Canadian rapper to who he is today. After researching and studying his career for years now, I've come up with an answer. And that answer is simply this: Drake's business strategies have been utterly impressive. He has mastered the networking effect for starters. During the infancy of his career, Drake collaborated with big stars like Lil Wayne and Kanye West. He borrowed their platforms and built himself up to the top of the rap scene, moving from an up-and-comer and into a formidable artist who was paving his own path within the entertainment powerhouse that is America. But his marketing strategies are more than just collaborating with other big stars. Drake understands his industry. He knows that music is a young person's sport and in order to stay relevant he'll need to connect with those coming up after him. For this reason, Drake will frequently collaborate with younger artists on the indie scene. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, he gets the recognition from a younger (and possibly newer) fanbase and they get to work with one of the best in the game. He has also mastered the art of branding, and he's created an image for himself that is not only appealing but also a highly marketable entity. From the cleverly deigned OVO owl logo to his praying hands symbol. These images have become synonymous with Drake himself, and have been plastered all over his project work. Reportedly, when designing iconic owl, Drake considered the significance of owls and how they're typically symbolic for wisdom. Is Drake implying that he has a deeper meaning behind his music? Most likely. Drake has managed to create a story brand by associating his brand imagery with deep meanings. Drake also understands the value of perception. He knows that the way he is seen by his fans has a direct correlation with how people will buy his music. So Drake strategically creates an image of himself as someone who cares, constantly employing vulnerability and honesty in his music. For example, Drake used the video of his 2018 "God's Plan" single to showcase his philanthropic side. The rapper was issued a total production budget of over $996K, but rather than go wild with it, he donated the money. It was a genius move and captured attention far more than if Drake had just spent that $996K on himself. This puts drake in a league by myself because if we are being truthful, most rappers would not have given a penny to charity. Instead, a flashy video that pulls out all the stops would have been produced. But that's not to say he does know how to show or that he doesn't understand the value of image and rolling style. In early in 2019, Drake showcased a stylish $220M Private Boeing 767 Jet, but the gesture was not all it appeared to be. The private condo-style plane is not Drake's, but he gets to use it whenever he wants. Word is the Cargojet, a Canadian scheduled cargo company, owns the jet and uses it to transport freights along with precious cargo Drake. This is not something that is known by most people. The new articles, blog post and Drake himself, only focused on "his brand new new jet" and not how it was attained. So the majority of people still think Drake owns a massive 767 and pays for fueling, pilots, maintenance and airport fees. Drake stands as an example for many entrepreneurs to follow, whether they are in the entertainment industry or not. Sure, his journey to the top has not been an easy one, but Drake is testament to the importance of executing strategies well in order to achieve success. There are already others who have also made successful transitions from rapper to business billionaire mogul, such as Jay-Z and P Diddy. To date, Drake's trajectory has been similar to theirs, so it would not be surprising to see Toronto's King of Rap on their same level with another decade or two.