Here’s What You Need After You’ve Been Hired

habits of successful entrepreneurs

Searching for a job can be stressful. When you finally find that perfect job, you feel a giant sense of relief. A new job is a new opportunity to make a new life. Once you’ve been hired, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. You’ll probably be asked to fill out lots of paperwork. You’ll also want to figure out how to make a good impression on your new boss and co-workers. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right clothing as well as knowing how to get to work on time and ready to start your duties.

The Forms You Need

One of the first things you’ll need to do is fill out lots of forms. For example, you will be asked to fill out a w4. This is a very important document that deserves your full attention. This form will influence many things including your take home pay and how much you might owe in taxes. You’ll find seven separate sections. Keep a close eye on each one. You’re going to need your social security number, your legal name and the number of deductions you want to claim. If you’re confused about any part of the process, ask for help. The form can be confusing. A human resources specialist can make sure the form is filled out correctly from the first.

Before Your First Day

Before the first day of work, it’s a good idea to take a practice run at the commute. Get up exactly the same time you would expect to get to work. Look at Google maps. They can help suggest a routine that will get you there faster if you are commuting by car. If you are walking, look for hazards that might be in your way such as a busy street. Employees who are choosing public transportation options should get hold of a public transit schedule. Note the route as well as where you can catch the bus or train. Find out the traveling costs and if you have to pay in advance, buy tickets on the bus or can pay by app when on your way. Travel during rush hour. This will help you see what traffic might be in your way. It will also help you see if there’s a seat on board during this time or you might have to stand.

The Dress Code

Most companies have a dress code. If you’re not sure, contact the company before you show up. You might have to purchase a uniform or wear clothing in certain colors. You might also have to wear certain footwear and other items such as protective clothing before you arrive. The goal is to be properly prepared with the right dress before you start. You’ll also want to find out which lunch options are available during your work day and examine the area where the business is located in great detail. Even if you live in the area, you might discover a great place to dine. If you choose to bring a bat lunch, find out if there’s a place to store it before lunch begins. It’s also best to know what beverage options you have onsite so you can stay hydrated during your work day.

Should You Quit Your Job and Become a Teacher?

Should You Quit Your Job and Become a Teacher?

You have spent yet another day crunching numbers in a windowless cubicle, in between attending meetings that seem to be for the sole purpose of planning other meetings. You definitely aren’t happy in your career – and you long to do something that will actually be meaningful and make a difference in the world. At one point, you thought maybe you wanted to be a teacher and still think that you would be a great one, but all the headlines about low pay, dismal working conditions and other frustrations have you wondering if making a move to the classroom would be a good choice.

If you have thought about leaving your corporate career behind and pursuing a career as a teacher, you aren’t alone. According to one survey, nearly 40 percent of K-12 teachers are career changers – and 36 percent of those teachers came from a business background. Many teachers who leave corporate America behind to teach do so because they are looking for a change of pace, and on the whole, most are happy with the decision that they made; in fact, 93 percent of the teachers surveyed reported being satisfied with their choice.

So, should you opt to make the leap? It’s a personal decision, but there are some things to consider before you hand in your notice and trade your cubicle for a classroom.

Signs Teaching Is Right for You

Most career experts agree that there are specific signs that it’s time for one to look for a new career. Feeling underpaid, unappreciated and overworked are some of the most common; if you ignore these feelings, it could lead to burnout, and that’s not great for your mental or physical health. However, these feelings also tend to be employer-dependent – that is, it’s likely that a new job in the same industry could alleviate these feelings, and a full career change isn’t necessary. If you feel this way along with no longer feeling challenged or even interested in seeking new challenges and growing within your field, that’s a sign that it could be time to move on.

The most obvious sign that you should change careers, though, is that you feel called to do something else. Perhaps you read about children with autism, for example, and feel compelled to get your autism certification, so you can work with them. Whether it’s a compulsion to move into an educational field or something completely different, like learning to work with dolphins or becoming a sustainable farmer, if you feel called to do something else, it’s best to act on that impulse.

become teacher

At the same time, just because you feel called to teach doesn’t necessarily make it the right career for you. Ask yourself some important questions before you start looking into your options, including:

  • How do you handle challenges? Are you up for the challenges of working with a variety of students and overcoming obstacles to meeting goals?
  • Are you patient, flexible and compassionate?
  • Are you creative? Can you come up with new and interesting ways to present material and concepts so that your students are engaged and understand?
  • Can you manage input from multiple stakeholders, including students, parents, administrators and others without becoming overwhelmed or unable to stay true to your convictions?
  • Are you passionate? Do you have an innate curiosity about what you want to teach and know why you are teaching it?
  • Are you committed? Teaching isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s not something to “try for a while” to see if you are good at it. It requires commitment and the intestinal fortitude to give students what they need.

So You Want to Go For It

If you answered yes to these questions, then moving into teaching is likely to be a great decision. Before you make the jump, be sure you know the realities of teaching. The days are long (just as long as your corporate days, even longer sometimes) and the idea of summers “off” is just a myth for most teachers. Your first priority is your classroom, but you will have to deal with politics, competing interests, budget issues and other problems that shouldn’t be unfamiliar to anyone with a corporate background.

You will have real-world experience to bring to your students and a passion and purpose that you may have been lacking before. Teaching isn’t for everyone, but if you feel called to the classroom, it’s very likely to be for you.

SEO 101: The Ecommerce Sales Funnel

SEO 101: The Ecommerce Sales Funnel

For the uninitiated, search engine optimization (SEO) can seem like a foreign language. It’s not necessarily intuitive. Plus, the algorithmic rankings employed by Google and other search engines are constantly in flux. They do this on purpose to make sure the most relevant content makes it to the top of results. So, how can your ecommerce store compete in the world of SEO and online marketing? You need to understand a few basics. Here’s some key information about SEO and the ecommerce sales funnel.

Foster Brand Awareness

Building a brand is arguably the most important aspect of boosting your sales through SEO. Google is now featuring snippets on its search result pages. These can provide consumers with a preview of exactly what they’re looking for in a search query. This is great for brands that are able to exactly meet search terms. However, doing this requires you build a strong presence first.

Additionally, having a strong brand will create customer loyalty for your store. Retaining your customers is essential in the world of online sales. But before you can do so, you need to get them. Over 60 percent of marketers believe getting new customers is the top aim of advertising. There are a few ways ecommerce vendors can go about this.

Use Marketing Tools and KPIs

Data is critical to business success in today’s world. You need to learn a few key performance indicators (KPIs) if you want to stay ahead of the game. Here are a few to consider when running your online store:

  • Sales over a period of time
  • Conversion rate
  • Average margin on individual items and whole inventory
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • Site traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Affiliate and influencer success rate
  • Customer acquisition cost

You should consider how to capture data on these KPIs before you decide on a cloud ecommerce platform. The best ones have built-in analytics to help you summarize these numbers.

Target a Niche

Narrowing down your pool of potential customers might not seem like a great idea. However, this can actually benefit SEO, which in turn will help you draw better-qualified customers. Think of it this way: How likely is it that a random group of people is going to want to purchase a highly specific item—say an obscure baking utensil? Sure, you’ll reach a few people who are legitimately interested. But your conversion rate will likely be quite low. On the other hand, people who are disproportionately interested in baking will probably at least want to investigate your inventory of odds and ends. Narrowing your target audience will help you reach the people who are actually interested in your products.

This can be accomplished through your SEO and advertising strategies such as employing long-tail keywords in your content. These are searchable phrases that are specific to your goods or services. You will be more likely to rise to the top of search results with more fine-tuned search terms. Also, people looking up long-tail search terms will be much more likely to engage with your content than the average person. Do some keyword research to determine the best options for your ecommerce store.

Don’t Be Afraid of Email

A lot of people tend to think email is outdated in the age of social media. This is a misconception when running an ecommerce store. A study by the Direct Marketing Association found email marketing produces ROI in the ballpark of 4300 percent. The low cost and high reward of email makes it an extremely valuable marketing asset. Always ask for email addresses when people visit your website—or check out.

It can be difficult to get a hold on SEO and marketing for people who have no experience in the field. Considering these SEO 101: Ecommerce Sales Funnel tips before you delve into building your own SEO strategy will improve your odds of success.

How to Get the Computer Skills Your Business Needs

How to Get the Computer Skills Your Business Needs

If you own a business, you may already be feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of computer skills you need to make it work. Staying in business today requires business owners to do more than just send emails and update online bookkeeping software occasionally. These days, you need to be able to develop your business’s website, build mobile apps, promote your brand on social media and maintain a solid online presence, collect and analyze data, optimize your pages for search, optimize your online conversion rate, and more. All of this means that, increasingly, today’s entrepreneurs need to know how to code – and more than that, they need to be computer scientists.

You see, learning how to code, in and of itself, isn’t that hard. But being a good developer requires much more than simply knowing how to code. You need to understand the foundational theories and systems on which the code is built. You need insight, experience, skill, and discipline – but there’s good news. Thanks to online learning, you can develop the computer skills you need to get ahead, while still having time to focus on the day-to-day demands of running your business.

Tech Skills Give Entrepreneurs an Advantage

If you’re running a tech startup, chances are you already understand the value of good developers. But even if you’re running a business outside of the tech sphere, solid computer skills can give you a strong advantage over the competition.

That’s because your computer is one of your most important business tools, and you need to fully understand its capabilities, so you can make the most of it. As a small business owner, you probably won’t have a dedicated IT department, so it’s up to you to know your computer’s basic functions, how to troubleshoot problems, and how to make the most of its capabilities by hacking it to make it do what you need it to do.

But, the entrepreneurial advantages of studying computer science extend far beyond simply knowing how your computer works. You’ll learn to use SQL queries to analyze data in Microsoft Excel and Access; you’ll learn how to set up and run higher-level analytics software and what to do with the data it produces. You’ll learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript coding, so you can build and maintain your own website and make it mobile-responsive. You’ll even have the chance to learn Ruby, Java, or Python so you can build your own apps, which can be hugely beneficial from a customer-service perspective – wouldn’t it be nice to let customers collect and track loyalty rewards points, monitor their personal accounts and spending, or even place orders through a custom app?

You’ll also learn more than you may have thought possible about applications you may already use, like email. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand features like filtering, labeling, auto-forwarding, auto-responding, and inbox keyboard shortcuts so that you can zip through your inbox instead of spending all morning on it?

Even if you end up hiring developers, your background in computer science will make it easier for you to work with them. You’ll understand important concepts like wireframing. You’ll speak their jargon. They’ll appreciate that you can interact with them on their level, and projects will go more smoothly for it.

But, perhaps most importantly, a background in computer science will teach you how to learn new technology. You’ll never again have to worry about not understanding a new piece of technology, because your background will have given you the mental models and conceptual framework to grapple with it.

online education business skills

Develop Computer Skills Through Online Learning

As a business owner, it can be impossible to find the time to drop everything and go back to school to learn computer science. It can even be hard to find the time for a programming boot camp. But, by enrolling in a computer science bachelor’s degree online, you can build the skills you need without sacrificing your business.

Online degree programs are designed with busy, working adult professionals in mind. Professors and administrators understand that students in these programs have jobs or businesses, families, homes to maintain, mortgages to pay, and other responsibilities. That’s why online courses are designed with flexibility in mind. Students can go through coursework on their own schedule, at their own pace. And you can do it from anywhere – there’s no need to move closer to campus or commute to classes.

Computer skills, or your lack of them, can make or break your business. If you’re a business owner looking for a way to beef up your computer skills, an online degree in computer science may be for you. With online learning, you can learn the skills you need – while still finding time to keep your doors open during business hours.

When Mobile App Marketers Go Fishing

When Mobile App Marketers Go Fishing

Two app marketers are sitting in a fishing dinghy, which coincidentally has an open office floor plan. They are both trying to catch the greater quantity of fish, which, believe it or not, are strikingly similar to people on their smartphones. The two marketers have radically different approaches to fishing. One of them uses a huge net, and casts it out over a large radius. The other only uses a spear—attempting to harpoon the best fish that pass under the boat.

While this doesn’t sound like something you typically do during your workday, it’s actually a highly valid analogy for individuals in mobile app marketing. There’s a dichotomy in the marketing world. One approach is to cast a wide net, so to speak. The other revolves around taking intentional aim at highly specified target. With millions of apps now available for download, it’s essential that marketers find ways to penetrate the psyches of consumers. Whoever can do this most effectively will bring home a fish worthy of the trophy wall.

New School versus Old School

In the past, mass marketing was forced to take a somewhat general approach. This can be equated to the fisherman with the large net. Media outlets such as TV and radio forced marketers to create someone generic messages. It’s impossible to afford enough air time to create highly targeted messages for specific groups of people. However, the digital age has shown this to be an extremely effective form of marketing.

App marketing is the perfect outlet for this “new school” of advertising. This is largely due to technological advancements and the nature of smartphones. In the past, collecting data was an extremely laborious process. It involved painstaking hours of collection and synthesis. And in the end, it might not even yield any worthwhile results. Modernity has alleviated this struggle through analytics. Now, marketers can easily access real-time and recorded data collected directly from user engagement. While this information isn’t necessarily useful on its own, it’s what marketers can use to fashion their spear. The best app advertising is highly appealing to a well-defined niche.

Downloads Don’t Always Equal Income

The relevance of these two approaches can vary based on the type of app, and how it makes money. One of the most common ways marketers quantify success is through cost per download. This is apparently a simple way to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. This is certainly a method of analytics used by the wide net fisherman. There’s just one problem with putting too much stock in this metric: It doesn’t really tell you anything about revenue.

A lot of people barely engage with apps after they install them. In fact, 25 percent of people give up on an app after using it only one time. This makes the download itself essentially useless, unless the money is made directly from the install. Here’s where targeted app marketing comes into play. If you can create a holistic picture of your true customers—people who will not only download, but consistently use your app—you will be better able to monetize your product.

It makes much more sense for marketers to take stock of costs for purchases, shares, and, of course, subscriptions. These are the things that are ultimately going to drive revenue. High download statistics are a nice thing to brag about to your boss. But at the end of the day, an app marketing strategy needs to have a net positive impact on income. Targeted marketing is the stronger approach to achieve these results.


When mobile app marketers go fishing, they bring different tools and mindsets with them. Don’t be satisfied with the simpler wide-net approach. Narrowing your focus will yield stronger results in the long run.

Image Credit: FirmBee 

10 Factors Separating Great Healthcare Organizations from the Pack

10 Factors Separating Great Healthcare Organizations from the Pack

In a perfect world, every hospital or clinic would be equipped to provide world-class care. In the real world, however, there are significant differences between organizations. This is true of everything, from patient care and customer service to profitability and potential for growth. And it’s true on a scale that puts a vast gap between the best and worst organizations.

There is a robust debate regarding how organizations are evaluated and how failing organizations can improve. But this piece will focus exclusively on what makes the best organizations the best.

In some cases, it’s true that these organizations simply have more money than their peers. But in most cases, organizations simply have better approaches to communication, management, and environment. That means greatness is something within reach of any healthcare provider.

What Defines Great Healthcare Organizations?

There is no universal answer to this question. The definition of greatness varies widely depending on why you ask and what their agenda is. But for want of a reliable indicator it helps to look at the five-start ratings applied by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to many hospitals in the US.

The ratings are based on an average of scores taken from responses to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. The full-survey is quite extensive but aims to measure patient satisfaction in the following areas:

  1. Nurse Communication
  2. Doctor Communication
  3. Responsiveness of Hospital Staff
  4. Pain Management
  5. Communication about Medicine
  6. Discharge Information
  7. Cleanliness of Hospital Environment
  8. Quietness of Hospital Environment
  9. Overall Rating of Hospital
  10. Willingness to Recommend Hospital

Stronger scores in each individual category lead to higher composite scores and better ratings from the CMS.

It’s fair to say that the healthcare organizations that excel in the categories above (while also having stellar scores for outcomes like mortality rates) deserve to be distinguished as great healthcare organizations.

How to Improve Each of the Ten Factors

It’s not enough for an organization to improve in just one or even several of the factors. Since ratings are based on averaged scores hospitals must be able to make across-the-board improvements. That is difficult in any environment, but especially in one as complicated, consequential, and costly as healthcare.

The bad news is that organizations are ill-equipped to make these changes on its own. The good news is that with the right tools it’s possible to make changes that are as impactful as they are cost effective.

Data analytics healthcare is an emerging technology that empowers organizations to study themselves both broadly and deeply. They gain a top-down perspective over operations as well as a microscopic focus on individual processes. More importantly, they are able to analyze what does and does not work objectively, instead of having to guess or project.

Take hospital cleanliness, for example. Trying to improve every one of the variables that affects property maintenance is overwhelming. By applying analytics it’s possible to identify the problem areas, suggest actionable opportunities for improvement, and focus resources where they are needed most. As a result, every change brings with it a dramatic improvement.

Analytics is not a panacea, but it is a foundation for change. Once healthcare organizations begin making data-driven decisions they begin making more effective decisions. And when problems need to be addressed, solutions are immediately apparent. There is still hard work left to do, but analytics provides the certainty that it’s work worth doing.

Whether you’re striving for a five-star rating, high patient satisfaction rates, or just a bigger bottom line, the answer exists in the data. Analytics is the map for finding it.

Image Credit: raw pixel

Get Ahead in Business With an Online MBA

Get Ahead in Business With an Online MBA

Have you been looking for a way to get ahead in your career? Maybe you’ve been thinking about going back to school for your MBA, but you have concerns. Like most working adults, you probably have bills to pay and a family to support, and you may be wondering how you can manage to find time for a master’s degree. How will you pay for it, and how will you keep food on the table and a roof over your head while you do? Not to mention, who’s going to help the kids with their homework, drive them to soccer practice, and clean the house?

If you’ve been debating getting your MBA, but you’re worried about the cost, the time commitment, and the years out of the work force, an online program might be for you. Online MBA programs are geared toward adult learners with jobs and families, so they’re more flexible than traditional programs, and can be easier to get into, because they tend to have larger enrollment caps. Here’s what you need to know about earning your MBA online.

What an Online MBA Can Offer You

One of the biggest reasons why many working adults don’t pursue a traditional MBA is the required commitment. Going back to graduate school the old-fashioned way means leaving the workforce for a year or two to hemorrhage money, rather than earning it. If you have a family, a mortgage, and other bills, missing those years of work, and paying upwards of $80,000 for tuition could mean leaving your spouse and kids in the lurch. Plus, enrolling in a traditional program means you’ll most likely have to relocate to the city where your new school is located, pay rent on an apartment, buy books, and fork over other associated costs like fees and transportation. Altogether, the degree could cost you upwards of $140,000 or more. Ouch!

But tuition for an online MBA program could cost you significantly less – as little as $5,000 per semester for some programs. You won’t have to relocate, or even drive to class, and because course materials will all be available online, you’ll be able to master them on your own schedule. That means you’ll be able to stay in your job, continue living in the same town, keep the kids in their schools – the whole nine yards. But you’ll still get to network with classmates at all stages of their careers, learn from the best professors in the field, and even take advantage of international immersion and residency opportunities.
Get Ahead in Business With an Online MBA

How to Get In

Make no mistake – MBA admissions are competitive, no matter what the program. But if you’ve been out of school for a while and you’re looking at getting an MBA to further your career, an online program may represent your best chance of admission. That’s because online MBA programs tend to look for adult learners who are a little further along in their careers. When considering applicants, admissions committees for online MBA programs worry less about whether an applicant will be able to find a job after completing the program – most already have one – and more about whether the degree will help the applicant move up in his or her company. They’re on the same page as you are.

Besides, online MBA programs understand that there are better ways to assess the strengths of applicants who’ve been out of school for a number of years than standardized tests and transcripts. That’s why most online MBA programs look harder at your professional experience; you don’t even necessarily need a bachelor’s degree in a business field. Online MBA no GMAT programs are also common, because committees know that test scores aren’t a strong indicator of ability for more experienced applicants.

How to Succeed

Once you get into an online MBA program, you’ll need to work hard to succeed – and you might need to get creative. A strict schedule will help you make time for work and school, but don’t forget to include some time to spend with family and friends. Many students find time for online courses by getting up early, or staying up late, to work while the kids are in bed. Others find extra time for schoolwork during lunch and work breaks or commutes. Take the opportunity to learn time management and prioritization skills, and be ready to sacrifice much of your free time, at least until graduation.

MBAs have long been touted as the best way to get ahead in business. If life circumstances are keeping you from going the traditional route – or you just want to earn the MBA but skip the crippling debt – an online program could be right for you. With hard work and perseverance, you can make your business dreams come true.

5 Questions to Test Your Security

5 Questions to Test Your Security

Is your network secure? Are your employees maintaining strong, safe security practices? Is your small business a tempting target for cybercriminals?

Through recent years, the digital threat to small businesses has increased exponentially. Likely, if you aren’t proactive about protecting your digital assets and tools – including your business’s connected devices, networks, software, websites, and more – you are at-risk for a data breach, and soon. Fortunately, there is a way to test your security: by understanding more about security hygiene.

Security hygiene, which is also called cyber hygiene, is an individual’s daily responsibility to uphold cybersecurity. While an organization should build security into the network architecture and maintain common defenses, individuals retain significant power to support or topple that security. Poor security hygiene is marked by insecure habits, such as using weak passwords, sharing login information, disabling encryption, interacting with dubious links, attachments, or webpages. Such behavior easily compromises even the strongest cyber security practices.

If you are spending a fortune on cybersecurity but are still suffering from malware and data breaches, it might be time to question your employees about cyber hygiene. The following five issues are common culprits for insecurity, and the questions associated with them should help guide you toward better, more secure practices.

1. Endpoints

How many endpoints are on your network? How many are managed, and how many are unmanaged?

You can’t secure what you don’t know. It’s possible that your employees are adding endpoints, or computers and other devices, to your network without your knowledge. These devices probably lack sufficient protection, such as anti-malware programs, firewalls, and even passwords. Every endpoint on your network should be managed, which means they should adhere to specific requirements before they are permitted network access. You should search for unmanaged endpoints on your network and institute rules regarding endpoint management.

2. Software

What software is installed on your network? How much is authorized, and how much is unauthorized?

Once again, if you don’t know about software on your network, you can’t be certain it is secure. Unauthorized versions of software are less likely to be up-to-date on patches and proper configurations, which means they probably contain vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit. Vulnerability management programs can detect authorized and unauthorized software on a network – to include active content and browser extensions – so you can more adequately protect your network from attacks.

5 Questions to Test Your Security

3. Compliance

Are the endpoints and software on your network compliant with industry baselines and standards?

In most industries, compliance is an expensive, stressful, and never-ending endeavor. However, compliance also serves to keep your business safe from all sorts of attacks which could cost you and your customers even more than you are spending to be compliant. Worse, most industries punish organizations that are not compliant, which means by allowing endpoints and software to fly above the rules, you are asking for fees and fines. You can perform your own thorough compliance audit to identify sources of insecurity before you are subject to penalties.

4. Vulnerabilities

How are you assessing and correcting vulnerabilities? Is it a continuous process?

Unmanaged endpoints and unauthorized software are the primary sources of vulnerabilities on your network, so identifying them and addressing them should eliminate much of your risk. However, it isn’t enough to scan your network once, resolve any issues, and move on. Not only are endpoints and software no the only weak spots cyber criminals can use to infiltrate your network, but employees can easily add more endpoints and software in the future. You need to install vulnerability scanning software to continuously look for chinks in your cyber-armor, and you should institute policies regarding appropriate security hygiene.

5. Administration

Who has administrative privileges on your network? Are there controls on administrators?

Network administrators have more power to affect your organization’s cybersecurity, so the fewer employees who have administrative privileges, the better. In truth, there are only a few good reasons that an employee should have administrative privileges, including installing software and updates or altering system settings and utilities, and both of these actions can be handled by an IT team or service provider. Even if you restrict administrative access, you should have proper auditing and change control in place to view who makes changes – and most importantly, you should have the ability to roll changes back if necessary.

4 Features of a Good Web Hosting Package

4 Features of a Good Web Hosting Package

Signing up for a web hosting packages is one of the most important steps associated with launching a website. The host company is the one that actually hosts your site and makes it available to those searching for it. A good package from the right company can include some other features too that let you accept and send emails from an account attached to your site and space for all the things you want to add to your site. Before signing up for ecommerce web hosting services, look for these 4 top features.

1. Storage Space

One of the first things to look for when choosing a web hosting company is the amount of storage space that you get. Having more storage space gives you room for sharing videos and photos with your readers or customers. The more space you have, the less the chance is that your site will run out of room as you add new products too. You should also look at the amount of space you get in relation to your email accounts. If you do not have enough space for your email account, you may miss out on important messages from customers.

2. Malware Protection

Security breaches are one of the more serious problems hitting website owners today. Even major companies like Amazon and Target suffered problems in the past that led to customers having their identities and credit card information stolen. A good web hosting company will provide you with all the protection that you need from viruses and other dangers that can cause security breaches. Some even come with built-in support on the email side to keep you from opening potentially dangerous messages that might have a virus attached.

3. Email Access

Having an email account linked to your site makes your business look more professional. If you need to use a generic email to respond to questions from prospective customers, they might see that email address and decide to order from someone else or use a more reputable website. Web hosting companies can create an email address based off the domain name you chose that lets you respond to customers and contact other companies. You may have the option of creating multiple accounts too that you can use for your customer service department and any other departments that you have.

4. Quick Load Time

An important feature to look for in a web hosting company that many forget about or ignore is the average load time. This applies to both the load time you experience as well as the load time that your customers experience. This refers to the total length of time it takes for the page to load. If you have a slower load time, working on your site becomes frustrating. When customers experience a slower load time, they might leave before the page even loads and order from another site. Paying extra for a faster load time makes your site more appealing.

The Bottom Line

While there are hundreds of web hosting companies in the world today, you need to know how to find the right one. This often requires looking at how quickly your page will load and whether you get any protection against malware and viruses. Top companies offer lots of storage space and email access too.

Image Credit: Thomas Morris 

How to Harness the Power of the Internet for Branding

How to Harness the Power of the Internet for Branding

Branding is essential to keep a sustainable business operation but very few business owners have the time to work on branding efforts. With clients to meet, calls to follow-up with, and deliverables to actually work on, business owners are spread too thin to promote themselves following their own branding guidelines. Harnessing the power of the Internet, you can improve your branding and allow your potential customers to find you more easily.

Take a look at the top ten from list of top 500 sites from Alexa and you will find that search engines, including Google (#1), Baidu (#4), Yahoo (#6), and Google India (#7), and social media sites, including YouTube (#2), Facebook (#3), Reddit (#8), and Twitter (#12), dominate this list most of the time around the world. By spending time in branding efforts that make your business more visible on the web, your business becomes available to a broader audience.

Self-promotion on the Internet is 90% preparation and 10% execution.

Business owners are like teenage boys: they are desperate to talk to girls (customers), but when they finally get a chance, they don’t know what to say. The first step in self-promotion can be found in the book Branding Yourself by Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy. You need to be ready to deliver your message according to the format of the situation. Therefore, you need to establish your personal brand bio in 3 stages: 1) the one sentence (100 word or less pitch), 2) the short paragraph (250 word pitch), and 3) the two-paragraph story (two paragraphs that provide your full story). Once you have developed a consistent story, you are ready to take your message online. Regardless whether it has to be in under 140 characters or in 500-word blog post, you’ll be ready to know how to keep your brand consistent.

Establish a central online presence that will become your main online portal.

This can be either a blog or a website, depending on your tech skills, available budget, and available time to work on it. Here you can present the full two-paragraph story and make sure that people looking for financial advisors in your area can find you. If you choose for a blog format, make sure to write at least once a week and to keep posts between the 350 – 450 word range. As your main portal, you need to start including the URL of your site into your business cards, your email signature, and any presentation material that potential clients will be exposed to.

According to Promo University, it’s important to select promotional products that are consistent with your online branding efforts. Promo products are great for making new connections at tradeshows, showing appreciation to your established customers, and generally building awareness of your company’s brand.

Focus on the social media channels that make sense for you and represent your self-brand consistently.

Even though every day an estimated 166 million individuals use Snapchat, 1,284 million use Facebook, and 100 million use Twitter, it doesn’t mean that you need to be present in every single social media outlet. Depending on your industry you may opt for a more formal social media channel, such as LinkedIn or Instagram, or a more informal one, such as Snapchat or Twitter.

Still, you should spend some time prospecting on LinkedIn. Out of all social media outlets Linkedin stands as the most professional one and appropriate one for spending your time connecting with people online. The key to LinkedIn is to spend time providing answers to questions from other users in your field of expertise. This way you can build your online stock as a reputable advisor and drive people to your main portal. Other two great social media sites for providing answers to queries from potential customers are Quora and Reddit. Through your online dialogue with potential clients, and when appropriate, you can start using your one sentence or one paragraph brand statement.

Through smart use of the Internet you can validate your brand, and create more potential client leads.

 Image Credit: EdgeThreeSixty