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Small Business

Small Business Checklist: Top 5 Areas to Address First

By Marketing, Small Business No Comments

Whether you’re looking to run a side hustle or a full-on business endeavor, starting a small business takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and planning. You’ve probably thought through your ideas and are wondering where to begin. It can be daunting to figure out what to tackle first when starting your business and a Google search may lead you down too many rabbit holes.

If you’re looking for a short overview of the first things to address on your small business checklist then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a few suggestions of the top 5 areas you need to address first when starting your small business. From registering your business, to creating an attractive brand and website with powerful tools, we’ll fill you in on what you need to have prepared in order to ensure success and growth in the coming year. 

 

1. Register Your Business 

Registering your business is an important first step for any business. By doing so, you add your name and business name to your state’s business registry, making things truly official and allowing you to form a legal entity in your state. You may have started out as a sole proprietorship, which is the simplest way to start your business but also invites risk as you grow. As a sole proprietorship, the law sees no difference between your personal assets and your business assets, meaning that if an accident occurs you are fully liable. When you incorporate, your business takes on that liability and not you personally. 

Take the guesswork out of incorporating with the help of Incorporate.com. With Incorporate, you’ll be able to form a corporation by simply submitting an application. Just send in your information and Incorporate does the rest. You don’t have to worry about filling out additional paperwork when their agents are standing by ready to do it for you. And, after incorporating through them, you get the support you need whenever you need it. Check your state’s guidelines for incorporation to be sure you’re following the right protocol. You can find out more here. 

 

2. Open Business Bank Accounts

After you’ve created your business entity, you want to be sure you have the necessary bank accounts open to run your business. Keeping your business expenses separate from your personal ones is important and will help you maintain records of what you’ve spent and earned as a business, making for a smoother tax season next year. 

If you’re not sure where to go to open business accounts, you can always try your personal banking institution first. They might be able to offer you more options or better benefits when opening a new account through them. A few other banking institutions that you could also consider are Wells Fargo, Chase, or Capital One

Aside from offering different options for business checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards they also offer different merchant services, SBA lending programs, and payroll services. However, we recommend utilizing the Small Business Administration’s guidelines of criteria to consider when choosing a financial institution for your small business.  

 

3. Set Up Payroll Services 

You might not think that having a payroll service could be of much help when running a small business. After all, it might just be you and a few employees at the beginning, or just you. Even if it’s just you and a few others, having a payroll service can greatly benefit the way you manage your business by increasing efficiency and reducing the time you spend on it, allowing you to focus on other important activities to grow your business. 

Payroll services, such as Helpside, make it easy for you to pay your employees, manage any benefits, and address risk management. Helpside specializes in serving small businesses as they strive to be more efficient, more focused, and more productive. Helpside will work with you to find the best combination of solutions for you and your employees. Check out Helpside’s payroll plans and find out more about how they could benefit your small business here.

 

4. Protect Your Business With Insurance 

Every business owner will face risks that could cost you down the road. These risks vary greatly depending on the type of business you have, the number of employees, the products or services you sell, and more. As a small business owner, you will want to consider insurance coverages like  General Liability Insurance, Product Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, and others. 

General Liability is one of the most common coverages and insures you against third-party bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury claims. For example, if a customer slipped and fell in your business resulting in an injury then General Liability policy could cover a claim like this. Product Liability is designed to cover claims arising out of the use of your products that cause bodily harm or property damage. For example, if you sold soap and a consumer had an allergic reaction to it then this type of policy could cover costs associated with that type of claim. 

You face many risks when running a small business and you need to put up proper safeguards to protect it. Just like you wouldn’t drive your car with the right insurance, you shouldn’t want to operate your business without the needed coverage. 

For your insurance needs, check out a small business insurance marketplace like Insurance Canopy for a variety of insurance coverages based on industry and specific needs. Insurance Canopy offers A + rated insurance from the best carriers in the nation. Their application is completely online and their agents can get you quoted in as little as 48 hours. Premiums depend on the kind of business you run, your annual revenue, number of employees, and a few other factors. Visit Insurance Canopy to get the right insurance coverage for your business.   

 

5. Utilize Marketing and Branding Tools

Marketing and branding your company may seem like an overwhelming task. A simple web search to find the best business-building practices and tools provides you with a daunting amount of information to sift through. To ease your burden, the professionally trained marketing and branding team at Big Red Jelly comes in to save the day.

Big Red Jelly helps you navigate the digital landscape by providing you with the necessary services to develop your brand further, set up the right digital tools, and grow with our support. Our team is dedicated to helping businesses succeed and will support you every step of the way by helping you manage your digital platforms. Check out some of the other services we offer to see if they could help you grow too. 

Big Red Jelly can help get you found through their strategic marketing and branding services:

  • Brand Research
  • Brand Development
  • Web Design
  • Web Development
  • Digital Tool Integration
  • Hosting/Web Services
  • Digital Strategy & Support
  • Marketing Automation
  • & More 

To get started with Big Red Jelly, sign up for a free consultation today!

 

Checking Off The Boxes

There’s a lot that goes into running a small business and maintaining your efforts. You need access to the right tools that will enhance your business and keep you on top of your game. By utilizing Big Red Jelly’s branding and marketing skills and Helpside’s payroll services early on, you’ll set yourself up for success and avoid some of the more common mishaps business owners run into when they start out. We hope you’ve found some quality advice and put it to use. 

Advice For Young Entrepreneurs: 4 Tips To Start Off Strong

By Leadership, People, Small Business No Comments

You have a great idea, you’re passionate that you can solve unique problems, and you’ve started your own business. However, it feels intimidating for someone like you, who is young and inexperienced, to know how to move forward. Maybe you haven’t yet found a mentor or have heard the startling startling false myth that 90% of startups fail. You don’t need to worry because there is a plethora of advice for young entrepreneurs. You can ride on the backs of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs to build that booming business that you’re dreaming of. 

Here is advice from 4 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs to help you do exactly that: 

1. Henry Ford 

“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” 

Henry Ford, who not only is the founder of the Ford Motor Company but also invented the assembly line, completely revolutionized the way businesses operate. Take his advice in your entrepreneurial project, being successful is all about time management. Being successful as an entrepreneur is not only about being diligent and working hard but also about working wisely. Read Big Red Jelly’s in-depth exploration of this here

2. Oprah Winfrey

“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”

Oprah Winfrey is the epitome of the rags to riches story and embodies this advice.  She grew up in a rural town in Mississippi and experienced sexual abuse as a child. She valued who she was and what she offered, eventually founded the Oprah Winfrey Show which ran for 25 seasons, her own production company Harpo Productions, and later Oxygen Media and O Magazine. As young entrepreneurs, it can be easy to sell yourself and your product short but success comes when you unwaveringly insist on the value that you bring to potential clients and customers.

3. Bill Gates

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Follow this great advice from the co-founder of Microsoft. As a young entrepreneur, it’s important to celebrate your successes but it’s also important to recognize that more often than not, you’re going to fail. This happened to Gates himself when he founded his first company, Traf-O-Data which later went out of business. Gates and his business partners realized from this venture that they needed more market research to be successful. They learned from their failure and eventually founded a wildly successful company. Gates net worth is now more than $129 billion.

4. Melanie Perkins

“Solve customer problems and make sure that the customer is representative of a large market and then you will have a pretty good formula.”

At only 32 years old, Canva founder Melanie Perkins has discovered the key to entrepreneurial success. She follows her own advice. Between 2006-2007 while teaching students to use design tools such as Photoshop and Indesign, she noticed that it was difficult for students to master these tools. That’s where her idea for Canva, a design tool so easy that anyone can use it, came from. This is vital advice for young entrepreneurs. Make sure your idea is solving customers’ problems and make sure you understand your target market. 

Follow this advice and you’ll find success as an entrepreneur whether you are young or old. Big Red Jelly is proud to support entrepreneurs. Schedule a free consultation with us to know how we can make sure you’re starting off on the right foot with all things digital here.

Big Red Jelly’s Devotion to Uplifting Its Customers’ Vision

By Marketing, People, Small Business No Comments

According to Hubspot, 93% of people leave a website for not correctly displaying on their devices. In the fast-paced environment — not to mention the lifestyle — that many people are exposed to, it isn’t surprising that users are always eager to get to the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible.

As a business, it’s your job to do your best in reaching out to customers. The technology we have today allows us to connect with people wherever they are. The most common way to do this is through your website.

Your website serves as a hub where all the information about your business can be found. That said, the harsh truth is that visitors will likely not care about your business if you don’t have something to offer. This is where your value proposition comes in. To turn your visitors into frequent customers, it’s crucial that you emphasize what your business can do for them — the problems that you can solve. More importantly, you need to let them know right away the solutions that you can offer on your website.

Our team at Big Red Jelly is dedicated to helping our clients highlight their strengths and turn their weaknesses into opportunities. Being a modern digital branding agency, we are equipped with the knowledge that will propel your business in the online world. Thus, we focus on your vision and turn them into something better through research and creativity.

Not long ago, one of our clients generously left us some feedback on Clutch. If you’re not familiar with it, Clutch is a B2B ratings and reviews firm based in Washington, DC. Its team of independent analysts is committed to helping businesses identify and connect with the service providers they need to achieve their goals.

Here’s what a review on Clutch would look like:

For this project, we were tasked with the development of Yogi Zen’s e-commerce website. The challenge that we needed to solve was to improve upon the client’s existing Wix website since it didn’t function as intended. We sat down with the owner and talked about the specific areas of focus. Afterwards, we went ahead and did what we set out to do — craft an amazing ecommerce store that will gain our client more customer traction. Within seven days, we delivered a website the checks all the boxes for our partner.

“They always make sure that their finished product is something that we will be proud to have out there. Moreover, they really care about the people they’re working for. I like that the people we’ve worked with have been super informative and knowledgeable about designing the page and the store.” — Todd Roberts, Owner, Yogi Zen

To learn more about this review, along with our older reviews, don’t hesitate to check out our Clutch profile. You can also visit The Manifest, Clutch’s sister site, where you can find lists of top companies to aid you in your business goals. We’re currently featured as a top developer in Salt Lake City, so don’t miss out on that one.

Unlock your business’s untapped potential. Get your free assessment by clicking here.

3 Tactics to Employ to Be More Productive

By Leadership, Small Business No Comments

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, at Big Red Jelly we believe that 2021 is going to be the comeback year for small and local businesses. How do you make sure your business is going to be one of the ones that make a comeback? Here are 3 tactics small business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, and anyone who helps run businesses across the globe and the United States can employ to be more productive.  Employing these three tactics helped me significantly improve the amount of stuff that I get done every week and not just stuff, but important action items and projects that actually move our business forward.

1. Make Your Calendar Your Friend

The first tactic that I employ that helps me get more done and be more productive is to make your calendar your friend. I love that phrase. It’s a little bit of a cliche so maybe you hear that every now and then. However, I cannot express this enough to those of you who either don’t use your calendar as much as you should, or your calendar is more just a place where it has your meetings for the next day. It can be so much more than that. Let me explain exactly what it can be. 

Set Times to Check Your Email

First of all, I’ve learned various parts of the day where I feel like I’m more productive. One of the really bad habits that I used to have was I would have my email tab almost always pulled up while I was at work. As soon as I came into work until the minute I left, I have my email tab pulled up and you can even see that number in the parentheses up there. Every time it would go up a notch, I  had that impulse to go click it and see who emailed me. When I was doing that, my entire day felt reactive. I was reacting to every possible incoming email and at the end of the day I felt like I didn’t really move the ball forward in any significant way. I felt like I answered a lot of requests,  I answered a lot of questions, I was able to kind of put out a lot of fires. However, it did not feel like a productive day. Instead, I’ve made my calendar work for me where I closed that email tab and instead I have two, maybe three short email blocks. 

As soon as I come into the office, I do like to check my email first which might be different for other people. I’ve actually heard some people say they do not recommend opening their email first thing, work on a project first. It really comes down to your personal preference. In my opinion. I’m the type of guy where when I come in, I do have to open that inbox. I will not open it at home. I will not wake up and open it up on my phone. I just think that’s a bad idea because I’m not realistically going to be able to solve any issues while I’m at home and on my phone or going through my morning routine. There is no point in putting that anxiety upon yourself when you can’t handle it effectively anyway. However, once I get to the office and I open up my laptop, I’m situated, I’m ready. Then I can dive into my email and I usually spend thirty to forty-five minutes just going through those immediate emails. I respond to the ones that are urgent. I schedule a time for other ones that are not as urgent but are important, etc. Then what I do is I have a small block of time, maybe in the late afternoon, kind of that lull period where I don’t have a lot of calls anyway. Finally,  I’ll have one more block of emails before I go home for the night just to clear my inbox. That might be too much for some people. I do like to reply to all emails within 24 hours, but that really helped me.

Schedule the Big and Little Things

One thing I have learned is that for the most part, as human beings, we’re usually overly optimistic with our to-do lists. In other words, we will think we can get 20 things done tomorrow and we’ll really only get 10 things done because there are so many unforeseen things that always pop up. I’ve always learned as well to block off some time in my calendar for just those unforeseen things. Trust me, it always fills up. I never block back to back meetings the next day and think I’ll have a great workday. Emergency situations always might come up and you need to give yourself that flexibility. I’ve kind of found that balance for me where I know exactly how many calls, client calls, reviews I want to be on in a day. I also know my email blocks and I know my flexible time for unforeseen circumstances. The rest of my time is major projects that I’m focusing on and I know I want to get done. It’s much more effective for me to just pick my top two or three biggest projects or action items for that day and just make sure I get those done instead of 20 smaller things. One practice I’ve been using recently is I will write down the top 20 things I have to get done tomorrow, circle the top three or four and and and delegate the rest or really rethink about even doing those things. If you are just looking for things to do to be busy, you might not be productive. 

Have Calls When You’re Productive

Something I’ve done that’s really effective for me is I will not have calls probably the first two or three hours of Monday morning and the last two or three hours of Friday. You might think this is probably just because I want a long weekend. However, the real reason I do this is so I have time to assess major projects and have extra time for unforeseen circumstances that happen over the weekend. On Friday I use that extra time to review my week. This includes reviewing my team’s action items, doing important updates and note-taking, and just taking into account my entire week. My weeks feel chaotic and my weekends are not nearly as enjoyable when I have calls all the way up until five or six p.m. on Friday. I have seen a stark difference even in my weekend enjoyment. It is the same thing with Monday. Don’t put that pressure on yourself where it’s Sunday night and you’re just dreading that call that you’ve got at 9:00 a.m. the next day on Monday. You don’t want to start your week that way. You can easily solve this problem by not having 9:00 am on Mondays as an availability. 

If you make your calendar your friend, you will be more productive. There are many easy ways to make your calendar your friend such as the ones I have described above. Find out what works for you and then do it. You’ll find you’re able to be more productive in the time you have. 

2.  Ignore Convention and Find What Works For You

Many people think they need to follow the traditional American Work Week which runs Monday through Friday from 9:00-5:00. In the entrepreneurial world this can differ with people coming into work much earlier and leaving at who knows how late into the evening. I have found in the past that I was always trying to match what was typical. I thought in order to really be grinding I had to be in the office at certain times doing certain things. I thought I had to be on calls first thing in the morning and no matter what accommodate our clients. However, I’ve learned how my body works. I’ve learned that, because I’m not a morning person, coming in before 9 helps me get into the groove. I try to be here at 8:00 for one particular reason. I like to be ahead of the nine a.m. influx of messages and emails and requests even from our own team. Even a small difference between coming in at 8:45 and 9 makes a big difference in my day. Everyone is different, to be your most productive you need to listen to your body and you may do something that is different than convention. 

In the early days of Big Red Jelly, I would fall into this convention where I would go home and I would have dinner and try to get some type of exercise and I’d come back to the office during those really startup years, which are necessary for many people. I would come back to the office and I had this second surge of energy, which I’m sure some of you have felt. I’m much more of a night owl. I felt more creative, I felt energetic. After doing a little bit more research and talking to some people  I think that my cortisol levels would even increase during that time. I felt that kind of second wind. There’s a lot of terms for it. But I found that if I could power through my afternoon slump, which was much later than most people. For me, between five and seven p.m. is when I get that wall of fatigue and I have an immediate decision to make, either go lay down on the couch and inevitably end up watching hours of NBA highlights and never get back to the office or I eat dinner as soon as I get back and I just immediately get changed and do some type of exercise, go to the gym. When I followed the second pattern I would bypass that kind of tired window. By 8:00, I’m back to that kind of creative level. I like to have what I like to call kind of my second work session where it’s purely just creative thinking, long-term thinking, goal setting, etc. I don’t condone that for everyone. I think it’s important to turn off, but I like to have that second window. 

The ultimate thing to remember here is that you need to remember what works best for you. Move certain tasks that are more autopilot like following up with the team on certain things, adjusting my notes, adjusting my calendar, preparing my calendar, things that I could really just plug and chug. Move those things to the time of day where you’re not performing the best and creatively right. Don’t force yourself into certain areas of the day just because conventionally that’s what’s done. Find what works best for you and you’ll be more productive.

In the next couple of decades, I believe that we’ll see many changes in the workweek. In the past there were certain things that were typical in the workspace, it was always nine to five you go to the office. You work here, you sit here, you clock in here, you clock out there. I think that’s going to look very different in the next few years. Covid-19 has kind of opened a lot of people’s eyes to that, especially working virtually. It’s also opened many eyes to the fact that people have different schedules. People’s bodies are different. There is a reason that some people are classified as early birds and night owls and we can’t just keep ignoring that. Listen to your body, experiment, try different things, and see what works best for you. When are you the most creative? When are you not? Adjust your calendar accordingly.

3. Follow the Pareto Principle

The third tactic to employ to be more productive is to live by the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of a vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity. 

The Pareto Principle was created by Wilfredo de Parado was an Italian sociologist and an economist who realized that in general, 80% of a nation’s income was in the hands of only 20% of the population. He realized this could be applied in many situations. For example, 20% of criminals can commit 80% of crimes, 20% of drivers cause 80% of all traffic accidents, 80% of the pollution originates from 20% of all

factories, 20% of companies products represent 80% of sales, 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the results, 20% of students have grades 80% or higher. 

There are many ways this can apply to your work life. It goes back to that to-do list. When I write down my ten things, let’s say 20 % of the things on my list are going to move the ball forward 80% more than the others. Basically, 20% of those to do things are going to result in 80% of the production of Big Red Jelly or my time. In order to accomplish the most, you need to focus more on that 20%. This needs to be applied to your calendar; your to-dos for the next day; your meetings; your priorities for the week, month, and year. Try and find that 20% that ultimately is going to lead to 80% of your growth. 

It’s always interesting to do this mental exercise. Stop right now where you are and look back on the last year, two years, three years of your business or your startup and think about which two or three major decisions, major changes, services, pricing changes, campaigns, think about the top two or three things that moved your business forward the fastest or that helped it take the biggest step. I’ve done this practice many times and I really can start to write down a short list of things that we did at Big Red Jelly that seemed to make 80% of the difference.  Doing this exercise more frequently helps us remember what the next 20% is. 

After we recognize what made 80% of the difference, then we can focus on what we can do now? We will know what we should focus on. Doing this moving forward, helps you refine and delegate focus as a decision-maker and the business owner to what is most important and what’s going to help your company move forward.

So let’s review. To be more productive follow these three tips: make your calendar your friend; ignore the conventional and listen to your body or what works best for you, your energy levels, your focus, etc.; and remember the Pareto Principle. By following these three tips you will find that you get more done in less time. 

To hear more tips to help run your small business check out Big Red Jelly’s Youtube channel here.  

Will 2021 be the Comeback Year for Small and Local Businesses? 4 Tactics to Employ to Compete with the “Big Guys”

By Small Business, Technology No Comments

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get the point across that there are many big companies out there, big corporations that seem to have taken over certain sectors. There’s Amazon, Netflix, Disney, Biomax, NBC, Hulu, Wal-Mart. When it comes to retail and other big-box corporations, it’s so easy to shop with these people. 

 

Covid-19 made that even more true. We’re seeing huge growth with DoorDash, Postmus, Ubereats, and the fast-food chains, many of which have actually seen the best numbers they’ve ever seen through this Covid-19 pandemic. So who’s been suffering the most? It is the small local businesses, the mom and pop shops, the brick and mortar places.  I mean, specifically within the food and nightlife industry and those places that have a physical store that are restricted to their local area. That is very, very unfortunate. 

 

Will 20201 be the comeback year for small local businesses? Personally, I think so. I’m optimistic and I also am hopeful that generally, our population is going to swing back and put more focus on local shops, buying local, local farmers markets, etc.  There are certainly pros and cons, but I am a believer that the pros far outweigh the cons? That customer service, the personal touch, the local expertise outweighs that extra margin that you’re probably paying for something that’s more local, instead of going straight to Amazon.

 

There are more than a few reasons I’m confident that 2021 will be the year that small businesses come back and I have statistics to prove it. Did you know that small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every one hundred dollars spent with them? In case you’re wondering, that’s a very high return. That means that over 9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy if every U.S. family spent just ten dollars a month at a local business. That’s a lot of money. 

 

Did you also know that businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.7% of all U.S. employers? Small businesses are the backbone of America. 

 

Did you know 108 million shoppers spent 12.9 billion on small business Saturday? That’s optimistic. I love that fact.

 

Small businesses also donate 250% more than large businesses to community causes, employ 58.9 million people, and generate 70 % more local economic activity per square foot than big-box retail. Those are some very interesting statistics that should make you optimistic for the future of local and small businesses. 

 

Big Red Jelly is very passionate about working with small and mid-sized businesses and helping them leverage technology and effective branding, effective web design and digital build to compete with the “big guys”. Here are four simple tactics you can implement to make sure your small business makes a strong comeback. 

 

Take Control of Your Brand

The first thing that will help your small business make a comeback is to take control of your brand. You would think it would be easier for small businesses, but for some reason, we see that it’s harder for small businesses to develop a strong brand. There are a few aspects of your brand that you need to define: your visual identity, establishing yourself as an expert, and figuring out how to be a superhero for your customer. 

Get Visual With Your Brand

If you are a small business owner reading this right now, ask yourself these questions. What is your business name? Is that related to your website domain name? Do you have a website domain name? Are your social media handles or at least the page titles for your Facebook and your LinkedIn and your Instagram? Are they the same? Does your email signature have the same company name? Do you have the same logo across all these platforms? Are you using the same colors? Are using the same fonts, are using the same general short description? Do you have a cohesive message across platforms? The answer is probably, maybe or not as much as I would like. 

 

I continue to be shocked at very small businesses that have maybe a dozen people working there, but they’ve got an umbrella brand with a branch that does this and another logo that does that. There are universal global brands out there that are more simple, streamline, and that flow better than what you’ve got going on here with your 12 people. You’ve got to take control of your brand. What colors are you using? Is your logo consistent throughout? Have you updated all of your social media, your website, your email signature, things that are quick and easy? When you focus on having a simple, clear visual brand identity for your business customers are able to find and recognize you easier.

Establish Yourself As an Expert

Part of taking control of your brand is establishing yourself as an expert.  If there are Facebook groups, communities, networking events related to what you do, you should be involved and you should be solidifying and positioning yourself as someone with expertise. You should be saying for example, “hey, I am the barber and I know how to cut hair.”  I am in these groups. I always offer advice. I’m involved in the community. 

Be A Superhero For Your Customer

Finally, you need to take control of your brand by building a reputation of being a superhero for your customer. When someone comes to you to do business, what are you doing to be a superhero for that customer? What are you doing so that when they leave they say, “I’m glad I picked this restaurant over McDonald’s. Wow. That customer service was amazing.” It’s the little things that matter like that chocolate on the pillow at the hotel. It’s remembering their name. It’s putting that better packaging, that custom-written thank you note.  If you are an e-commerce store, it’s things like that that take it to a whole other level. That’s why people love shopping locally. Be the superhero for a customer and customers will start remembering your brand. 

 

2. Use Google My Business

 

The second thing small businesses can do to make a comeback in 2021 is to use Google My Business. This one is a very practical tool. What is Google My Business? It is your Google listings. When you type in “best Chinese near me”, there’s a bunch of restaurants that pop up on your phone when you use the internet, Apple Maps, Google Maps, or some other maps. Whatever is popping up there most likely is Google my business or it’s dictated by Google my business. 

 

If you are a brick and mortar local business, you have a story of a physical location. If you are a restaurant, a chiropractor, a dentist, an attorney, a barber, a salon owner, a spa owner, you need to go and set up your Google My Business. It’s a free tool. It’s the place where you manage Google reviews, it’s where you put your phone number directions, your address. It’s where you can post deals, promotions, special offers, photos of your office, photos of outside your office, photos of your storefront, photos of your team. You can describe your services, hours of operation when you’re open, and when you’re closed. It really is your website before your website. The vast majority of people who encounter your brand or business for the first time are going to see that. They’re never even going to visit your website which is why your Google My Business needs to be on point.  If it’s missing information or the address is incorrect or the picture that you see there is like an old parking lot that I see all the time, it’s got to be updated. 

 

I really kind of hit my head against the wall when I bump into small business owners who say they’ve never even heard of Google My Business or that it’s just where they can respond to their Google reviews. Often people will think it’s just Google who makes those listings. The listing for your business might already exist because Google is going through and kind of creating these listings based on customer feedback so you may need to claim ownership of your business. 

 

 Google My Business also has a mobile app so you can respond to reviews on the go. The best part of all this is that it’s free. It’s free! You can take control of your Google My Business and see real results. I challenge you to be active there at least once per week just by posting something.. In fact, we did a little exercise regularly quite a while ago where we would post just a photo of our office and a team member update on our Google My Business profile. We saw an 11.9% increase in our website visitors directly from Google By Business to our website after just over a month. So think about that. Was it worth taking five seconds to upload that photo? Absolutely. Using Google My Business can help your small business make a comeback in 2021.

 

3. Focus on Strategic Partnerships

The third thing small businesses can do in 2021 to make a comeback is to focus on strategic partnerships. In order to survive and to succeed, I think local businesses have to be better at partnering strategically. If I am a burger joint, I might want to partner with the local barbershop. I might want to partner with the pool or the pool next door. I might want to partner with the four-wheel rental next door and do cool promos or combined activities or co-branded events. For example, I may say, “Hey, come get a burger and test drive a four-wheeler or every time you rent a four-wheeler you get 50% off a burger.” We have to start getting strategic with partnerships.

 

Big businesses are doing it all the time. They’re just doing it behind the scenes. I’m sure there are a lot of moving parts there. If local businesses can be more strategic, it’s a win-win for everyone. Find someone that can benefit you. If you’re a chiropractor you should definitely have strategic partners in the insurance space. If you’re an insurance agent, you should definitely have your go-to chiropractors that you can refer people to. That way you build your network. 

 

If done correctly, it ends up being mutually beneficial. My challenge to you is to sit down and draw a Venn diagram. Think to yourself, “ If I am a burger joint, what are related businesses to me?” You might decide you want to find an ice cream place because I don’t do desserts but people always come to me and ask me about that. You might also want to find an event planner or someone who does catering but doesn’t actually do the food themselves. You might want to find someone who’s a foodie blogger. You might want to find someone who does merch and I can give them free burgers in exchange for some free merch. There are endless possibilities. But most importantly, have that strategic partner list. You’ll be surprised how much you use it. 

4. Get online and make technology your friend through automation.

The fourth thing small businesses should do to make a comeback in 2021 is to get online and make technology your friend through automation. Check out Big Red Jelly’s videos to learn more about this. 

 

In a small business, you wear a lot of hats. You might be representing 80 percent of your business as the chef and the cashier and the server all the same time. You might have felt overwhelmed at first, but with technology and automation, you can feel like a team of twelve. On any given day, you have to make technology your friend. There are certain things that you should be working toward including automating invoices, automatic reminders for your invoices, automatic text or email follow-ups to confirm appointments, online scheduling, online ordering, online booking, online chat. These all make your life easier. You have all these tools, these little robots that are working for you. 

 

Often people don’t know where to start and it can feel scary to implement new technology. One important thing to remember is that there is a lot of free stuff out there. I’m happy to chat with you about how you can make technology your friend. You can schedule a time to talk about digital tools with me here. Don’t be scared. It’s intimidating at first, but it will ultimately help you scale your business. 

 

So will 2021 be the year of the comeback for small and local businesses? I think so. By following these four steps you can do more than you’ve ever done before. Take control of your brand. Use Google my business. Focus on strategic partnerships. Make technology your friend. 

For more tips and tricks for small businesses and big businesses alike check out our weekly Facebook live here.

Attention: Agencies and Businesses Looking to Hire Agencies

By Leadership, Small Business

Agencies are the backbone of the digital marketing world. Everyone knows that outsourcing your digital marketing to an agency saves businesses time, money, and frustration. How will agencies continue to adapt in an increasingly digital world? Here are my predictions for 2021 and beyond. I will dive specifically into what this upcoming year will look like for agencies and the digital space, as well as the continued relationship between agencies and businesses. 

If you’re a business owner who works with agencies, these are things to look for in an agency or things to follow up or address with your current agencies. If you’re an agency owner, maybe these are things you’ve thought about when it comes to the future of digital, when it comes to the future of marketing, advertising, branding, etc. These are my predictions for 2021 and beyond. This is what we’re going to see more of and the changes we’re going to see going forward. 

Changes in the agency realm

What changes can we expect to see in the agency realm? Data will be the biggest change in the agency realm. This is no longer a debatable topic. Data is the new valuable commodity, maybe the most valuable commodity. Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research, who once said, “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” I think that data and information, going forward, if not already, will become the most valuable commodity. What does that ultimately mean for agencies and businesses working with agencies going forward? Data and analytics will take center stage when it comes to strategy and implementing marketing campaigns and advertising campaigns. Agencies must prove that they are experienced and comfortable around data analytics information. But more importantly, what the data and information mean for a client. I want to dive into a short little snippet here by Information Week. This is data shared by Gartner Research, and these are some of their predictions we’re trying to any one as it relates to data and information. 

Decline of the Dashboard

Gartner Research emphasized, what they titled, the “Decline of the Dashboard”. And this really caught my attention because a lot of agencies do this, right? They’ll say, “Well, we have a dashboard. Look at all these cool KPIs we share. You will get it once a week, once a month, every other quarter. We can edit it according to what you look for.” That’s not going to be good enough, I think, going forward. Let me read this paragraph again. 

From Information Week, “Data stories, not dashboards, will become the most widespread way of consuming analytics by 2025 and 75% of these stories will be automatically generated using augmented analytic techniques, AI, and machine learning. AIs and machine learning techniques are making their way into business intelligence platforms and dashboards. Users currently have to do a lot of manual work to dive into further insights, but these data stories provide the insights without requiring the user to perform their own analysis.” (Watch my previous video or read last week’s article which dove into AIs and machine learning specifically!) 

That’s huge. Leveraging the power of AI as it becomes exponentially better will be important for agencies and businesses to capitalize on. We have seen major growth and progress in the AI/machine learning sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 you’re going to see softwares and tools leveraging A.I. and machine learning in these dashboards, data, and analytics to create data stories. 

Data is Valuable + Must be Protected

So, OK, we’ve got this data. We’ve got these analytics. We’ve got a data story. So what are we going to do about it? What does it mean? The first step is recognition of how valuable this data and information is. It’s going to become increasingly more important for these agencies to treat it with respect and know how to use it. Businesses are going to become more cognizant of how the end user views their data. You’re seeing a lot of these movements toward data and user privacy. For example, all the new browsers that are coming out that protect people’s data. Apple leverages user data privacy as one of their big marketing approaches. This will pay off big as people become more aware of their personal information data and how valuable it is. Agencies understanding that data is a valuable commodity, knowing how to use it, being comfortable around it, and then knowing how to treat it with respect and be transparent and not abuse this knowledge. This is a power that businesses are going to appreciate, because at the end of the day, the end user is going to appreciate it. 

Online Advertising Will Be More Commoditized

Online marketing and advertising platforms, channels, and tools are going to become more and more commoditized. Look at Facebook ads, for example, when those first came out in the late 2000s. Look at Google, PPC. For those who were in those platforms in the early days, you will be the first to acknowledge how much those have changed between then and now. SEO, for example, building a website. These tools were almost impossible for anyone without very specialized background and expertise in those areas. Now, and you can feel free to debate me on this topic, they’re becoming so much easier to manage, optimize, and improve.

I bump into a lot of small business owners, mom and pop shops, who are, in my opinion, running pretty phenomenal online ad campaigns. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things that small business owners are able to create on PPC – Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram ads, you name it. This is a result of these platforms becoming more user friendly on the back end. The platforms themselves have made it easier, therefore opening up their reach.

As younger audiences are moving into leadership roles and opening their own businesses, of course, they’re familiar with these platforms and tools. They grew up on social media and digital marketing. Naturally there is a little bit of a learning curve, but these tools will become more commoditized as a result. 

Agencies Need to Emphasize and Hire for Creativity and Strategy

What does this mean for agencies and companies working with agencies? There’s going to be added emphasis in value on two things. Number one, creativity. Number two, strategy. I think those are the two elements that will probably be the last, if ever, to be commoditized. That’s the human element. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s what I cannot duplicate. It’s hard to create a SaaS product that replicates human creativity and strategy. We have the tools to automatically harvest data and create stories or dashboards displaying the data, but what do we do with this dashboard? What is the strategy behind the numbers? We know how to create and run online ads, but  how do we decide which ad to run? And when? How do we position ourselves on those ads? What colors and designs attract certain demographics? What phrases are specific to buyers in this geographic region?

If you’re working with an agency or you are an agency, there should be extra emphasis on creativity and strategy. Even if you’re an agency who works specifically in Asia or Facebook Ads, and that’s all you do, think about highlighting the benefit of your creative spin on those Facebook ads or the nicheness of your Asian market. Creativity is hard to teach, and it’s hard to duplicate. 

Online and Offline Data

Agencies would be wise to start to position themselves around connecting online and offline data. Digital marketers and digital agencies have long boasted about the ability to track a lot of what they do because it’s digital. Connecting  online and offline data is going to be huge. This is a great quote from Tech Native IO, “When you take a closer look at the gap, it leaves in a digital marketing operation, it’s pretty huge. After all, most customer activity still happens offline. In fact, 90% of retail sales take place offline. So if they haven’t connected the data living in their CRM email and point of sale systems to online, then marketers are making important decisions with incomplete, imperfect data and they’re missing out on a huge chunk of the action.”

Marketers are getting really good at connecting some of these points, and that’s another article we can dive into, but I think agencies that are comfortable with the connection or making predictions between online and offline data are very powerful and well-positioned going forward. As our lives become more integrated with the Internet, or just digital, the data that used to be considered offline will become more measurable. One of the things that I think is going to bridge that gap is what’s called the “Internet of Things”. What is the “Internet of Things”? Let me give you a few examples: 

  • Connected appliances, think Smart Fridges
  • Smart home security systems 
  • Wearable health monitors 
  • Wireless inventory trackers 
  • Ultra high speed wireless Internet 
  • Cyber security scanners
  • Logistics and shipping container tracking

These are digital tools, online Internet connected tools, that are integrated and embedded with real world things that we use each and every day.

If you are an agency or a business working with an agency going into 2021, these are things both groups should start to explore and become more comfortable with because they’re going to become very important in 2021 and beyond. 

Let’s continue this conversation on our social media channels! Check out our weekly industry videos on our Facebook or Instagram accounts at 1:30PM (MST) every Thursday.

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!

Case Analysis: 3 Ways Zach is Bringing Success to 2 Big Red Jelly Clients

By Leadership, People, Small Business, Website No Comments

Zach Webber has been with Big Red Jelly from the beginning. He was there when Big Red Jelly was just 3 brothers in a pool house creating websites and has been with Big Red Jelly every step of the way to become the established digital agency it is today. These days, he is the Director of Web Design and Development and leads the web team in creating websites that bring the business success our clients are looking for. Here are just a few ways that Zach is driving that success for two of Big Red Jelly’s clients: Summit Pizza Co and Yara Yoga.  

Focus Web Sites on Strategic Messaging 

Something unique that Zach brings to the table is that he originally studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University. This means that in addition to knowing all the in and outs of the backend of websites and understanding the tech side of web design, he also has been trained to create websites that reflect strategic messaging. He says, “a lot of what PR is in my opinion, is understanding your audience. That applies to me as a designer because I have to understand my client’s audience and what they want in a website.  Understanding your audience really is the first step to anything.” He knows how to create a website that not only looks good but also is strategically developed to resonate with your customers. 

 

Summit Pizza Co saw the benefit of this focus on strategic messaging in their recent website project where they worked with Zach. They came to Big Red Jelly because they were in the process of re-branding their website and changing their logo colors. Summit Pizza Co. was originally started 31 years ago by a man who was working at a big corporate Pizza Place and got tired of corporate life and started his own business focused on home-style pizza. It now has 3 different locations and has grown exponentially since then. Zach helped Summit Pizza Co refine and create a website that reflected the new Summit Pizza Co. 

 

The new website is focused on connecting with Summit Pizza Co’s target audience and reflects the brand story of how pizza is really all about connecting experiences with family and friends after they go hiking or at a family reunion or just anytime people want to be together. The website also reflects Summit Pizza Co’s mission to have top-notch ingredients such as cheese without fillers. Zach was able to create a website that not only looks good but is focused on telling a story of good food and good experiences. 

Understand The Business Goals of the Client 

One of the most important things that Zach does in his work is to make sure that the website the team is building is going to help the client meet their larger business goals. This all starts at the very beginning of the Big Red Jelly web design process when the web team conducts an analysis of the existing website and business as a whole before getting to work creating a digital presence that is going to follow a larger strategy. This emphasis continues throughout the web design process as the web team continually checks in to be sure that the website they are creating is holding to those key business objectives. 

 

This is something that Yara Yoga has seen in its recent website project with Big Red Jelly. Yara Yoga is a Yoga studio focused on empowering people to live well. Before Big Red Jelly got involved, all Yara Yoga’s sales were coming from word of mouth and they had essentially no digital presence. Zach was able to take its business goals and create a website that was strategically designed to help them meet them. Yara Yoga wanted to create a way to drive traffic to their YouTube channel, connect their social media, and display a calendar of their classes. Zach took that information and built a website that didn’t have fluff in it but was focused directly on those business goals. 

Focus on Problem Solving With Design 

Web design at Big Red Jelly is focused on being both artistic and professional. Zach describes how one of his favorite parts about his job at Big Red Jelly being restricted by the challenges and requirements of various clients. This helps him problem-solve with their website. He says, “I like that challenge in terms of how do I visually make something that is expressive creatively, but also very professional. That same idea applies in terms of problem-solving what people want to achieve with their website people. Sometimes that’s phone calls or emails and that’s easy enough but some people want solutions that are a little bit more complex and so finding tools or solutions that work for all those people is a lot of fun. That’s what I enjoy.” Zach knows how to take a website and find creative solutions that center around design. 

 

Design helped Summit Pizza Co problem-solve with design on their website. The success here came from the simplicity of the website. It was important that customers could find the information and order as fast as possible and Zach was able to design a website that allowed customers to do this. The simplicity of the design allows Summit Pizza Co to enjoy more business. 

How Can Zach and the Web Team Help Your Business? 

If you’re looking to establish the digital presence of your business then Big Red Jelly is the place for you to go. Zach and the Web Team can help you design or edit your website to be messaged strategically to your customers, that will meet your larger business objectives, and that solves problems with design. Click here to get started.