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How to Create the Organizational Structure of Your Growing Small Business

How to Create the Organizational Structure of Your Growing Small BusinessThere can be no progress in business without structure and order. As a small business having only you and, maybe, a partner at its helm, it made no difference how you titled yourself. But when the time comes to start hiring employees and expanding your operations, things are very different.

You need to create an organizational structure from the moment when you take the first employee onboard. There are several reasons for it: first of all, there is the issue of the job description and the duties the employee will perform. Without a clear definition of their role, you will never be able to put these duties in writing. Then there is the issue of authority and chain of command: who is answerable to whom, how much authority does a specific job position have in decision making, and so on.

The key to a successful organizational structure is to find a simple, but flexible model which can be adapted easily as your business grows. It should also fit the needs of your specific line of business: a law firm will have a different organizational chart from an advertising agency and from a furniture company.

There are various models of organizational structures which can be adapted to your business model, and these are:

1. The Functional Structure
This is a classic business organizational chart which details the various departments existing in a business and how they relate to each other. The CEO or administrator is at the top level and oversees the activity of managers from the other departments. These departments focus on the key functions of any company:
⦁ Product development
⦁ Marketing and sales
⦁ Financial and taxation
⦁ Legal

As a small company, you will probably have only one employee for each key role, but this role should be clearly defined and included in the business structure, allowing you to allocate further job positions and manage your personnel efficiently. This type of structure is ideal for companies operating in traditional industries, such as manufacturing and consumer products.

2. The Product-Centric Structure
When your business focuses on specialized and proprietary products, it makes sense to organize your company structures in departments which deal with various aspects of creating, testing, marketing and further developing your products.

Such companies will start with a Research and Development department, a Customer Accounts department and a Sales and Marketing Department. The core structure of a product-centric company is also influenced by the way you are selling your product or service: one-time sale or subscription-based model. In the first instance, the Sales department has a stronger role and in the second, the Customer Accounts department.

3. The Divisional Structure
Some companies plan to expand by entering new territories in order to find new customer bases. These companies need to be careful about expanding in the right places and at the right pace.

If you plan to grow your business out of your city, or even out of your state, each new division needs to have a separate department in your organizational structure. These departments must monitor the state of the market, competition, and revenues and expenses, while the central structure receives their reports and compares their performances.

4. The Customer-Centric Structure
This type of business structure is adequate if you are selling services or evergreen digital products. The product development is not the key focus of this type of company (since there are few variations foreseen in the future), but rather how to attract customers and keep them loyal.

Such a company will focus on the Marketing department, the Customer Loyalty Programs department, the Customer Care department and any other department which you consider relevant to keep your customers happy in your specific niche.

5. The Matrix Structure
This type of structure is often seen in software and video game development companies. These companies have one key product (or line of products) and the activity is organized in departments which have an equal input into creating and promoting the product. Basically, except from the top CEO who oversees everyone else, there are no other relations of subordination among departments. On the contrary, they are required to collaborate together and complement each other’s work. Nobody can say that the graphic design team is more important than the programmers’ team, for example.

This is an organic company structure, adapted for modern businesses which focus on digital products and services.

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5 Ways to Boost Sales after a Slow Summer

5 Ways to Boost Sales after a Slow SummerSummer is officially over. As you start to look over the sales of the last three months, things are not looking great. Indeed, except for companies selling summer-related products, most businesses deal with a slow sale season. It’s time to rev up the engines and prepare for a prosperous fall.

Getting a cash boost during the first half of fall will certainly compensate for your declining sales during the summer. But it is not an easy job: people spent a lot of money on holidays and now start tightening up their budgets to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. On the other hand, they may have neglected to replenish or replace various items, so this is a good moment to remind them of your products and services.

Here are a few smart ways to get a boost in sales after the summer holiday season:

1. Partner Up with Bloggers
It is important to get a lot of traction on your promotions so you need all the help you can get. Bloggers are some of the best sources you have for spreading news about your products, special offers, etc.

Usually, you should offer bloggers a product to test and write a review about it. Bloggers are very influential among their readership. In many cases, readers will buy a product OK’d by the blogger. Another way to capitalize on bloggers’ popularity is to promote contests, giveaways, etc. through their blog.

2. Revamp Your Blog
As people return from their holidays, they start reconnecting with brands, checking out what is new and worth reading on their websites and blogs. A new look, fresh graphics (eventually adapted to a fall color palette) and sleek new fonts will definitely catch their attention and make them look more in depth on your website.

A site redesign once every few years is usually recommended, as well as cleaning up the code to speed it up. It is a smart move to synchronize this redesign with the beginning of the fall, when you want to recapture your customers’ attention.

3. Send Offer Reminders
Most likely, you received lots of replies just before and during the summer that the promotion is great, but the moment is wrong. Most of the prospects and customers had their minds on summer vacations – but right now they may just take advantage of your offer.

This is your last chance to reap some benefits from your promotions before you go straight to the holiday triad: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4. Do Not Offer Discounts, But More Benefits
At the start of fall, and after a slow summer, it is not the right moment to cut down your profit margins for the sake of sales. Instead, bundle up more benefits, accessories to your main products, and so on. People are in the “stocking up” mood at the beginning of fall – either a back-to-school or winter-is-coming state of mind.

Therefore, think of creative ways to offer more perceived values (such as extended guarantee, or a coupon for the next purchase) but make your sales at the full catalog price.

5. Identify Off-Calendar Holidays and Celebrate Them
If you look at the calendar, you will see plenty of quirky and lesser-known events celebrated all month long. We had International Cat Day, then recently Worldwide Dog Day… The holiday may not be related to your products or your niche, but it is definitely related somehow to your customers, their private lives and hobbies.

And since it is a non-standard holiday, you will probably have little to zero competition for your customers’ attention. You can create social media events and promote the celebration through email newsletters, and the sheer novelty of what you are doing will attract people’s attention.

Last but not least, we hope you had a great summer vacation and wish you good luck in your entrepreneurial activities for the rest of the year!

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5 Smart Tips to Run Your Business While Travelling

5 Smart Tips to Run Your Business While TravellingOne of the key benefits of being your own boss is that you are free to move around the country and – why not – the globe as you please. Many entrepreneurs and lifestyle business owners are highly mobile and enjoy the freedom they afford to the maximum. And while they travel and explore new places and cultures, they also continue to run their businesses.

Modern technology makes it very easy to work from anywhere around the world. These days, entrepreneurs can host video conferences, manage their daily schedule, and create and send email documents using their smartphone. Various other apps help you automate your online marketing and social media activities, manage your time, keep track of payments from clients and communicate with anyone from any corner of the world at affordable prices.

At a glance, it seems that it is no big deal to manage a business on the go. However, it takes lots of planning and discipline to keep yourself focused on your work, when there are so many temptations and exciting things to do along your travel. Here are some helpful tips for you:

1. Set Specific Days Just for Work
Whether you explore a city or a country, you will have full days when you visit tourist attractions, museums or go on nature trails. However, you should fit at least two full work days per week in which you will stay in your leased apartment or hotel room and focus entirely on work.

These distraction-free days must be a staple in your schedule, no matter how long the journey may be. During these days, you will have the time to catch up with business issues, respond to emails, have video conferences with clients, and cover any other topics which require time and full attention.

2. Keep Track of the Time Zones
It may be 1 p.m. in Athens, Greece, but it is only 6 a.m. in New York, USA – not a great time to make a business phone call. In order to avoid unpleasant and embarrassing situations, always keep track of time zones and set your smartphone and laptop to display the time in your locations of interest, apart for the current time in your location.

3. Always Buy Local SIM Cards
If you use your US-based mobile phone, you will incur huge roaming fees, both on the voice and data plans. The simple and smart solution is to buy a prepaid SIM card from every country you are visiting and recharge it according to your needs. If you are a frequent visitor to certain countries, it may be worthwhile considering a subscription-based mobile plan.

4. Learn about Different Local Business Practices and Customs
Each culture has its particularities even when it comes to conducting business affairs. You will certainly get to do some business with local customers and other businesses (this is the whole point of traveling and doing business after all). For example, in Japan it is considered rude to say “no” directly during negotiations, you should seek a milder formula of rejection. In South American countries it is customary to open the discussion by talking about non-business issues, such as weather, sports, current events, etc.

5. Use Cloud Storage Facilities
Your computer or smartphone should not be the only storage solution for important documents. They could malfunction or be stolen from you, and you would lose lots and lots of valuable data. Cloud storage is the best way of keeping documents secure and always available to you wherever you may be located.

Last but not least, do not forget to input in your accounting software the location from each place where you are doing business. This is very important for the calculation of the taxes you owe, because you can take advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaties signed by the USA with various countries.

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