cloud server

Having the most suitable IT support for your business is essential. It’ll keep your business up and running, and sort out any issues you have. When running a business, having problems is inevitable.

If you’re looking for the right IT support service for you, read on…

A Fast Response Time.

When you’re looking for the most suitable IT support business for your business, you want a place that responds fast to queries. You don’t want to have to wait around for anything to go back up and running, especially if you’re experiencing an emergency. It can be stressful enough as it is! Always look for an IT support crew with a fast response time. You should get a good idea when you first reach out to them!

A Business That Asks You The Right Questions.

The best IT support business will ask you questions about your business. In order for them to do the best job for you, they’ll need to know a few things about you. If they don’t ask you questions, this could be a warning sign that they just won’t do what you need them to. They should know about the businesses they are working with.

A Series Of Great Reviews.

Always look for great reviews before you decide who you’re going to recruit as your IT support team. The guys at gradientdata.com say that this is really important. Having majority great reviews is a good sign and means you should be getting the level of service you expect. You can usually find reviews on their business websites, but try to find reviews on impartial sites for the most accurate picture of who is right for you.

A Company In A Nearby Location.

There may be times when you have something happen that means your IT support people need to come into your business to look at your system and machines personally. This means you should ideally look for an IT support company in close proximity to you. This should help you to get any issues you experience smoothed out as soon as possible.

A Support Agreement You Understand.

Some companies have agreements and contracts that you just can’t understand, but people end up signing them anyway. You should look for a support agreement that you understand. If you don’t understand it, ask for clarity and make sure you really understand it before signing up to anything. This will protect you and your business.

Look for these things in your IT support business and you should minimize problems and have issues sorted out as soon as you can. You can’t stop things from happening in your business, but you can do your best to ensure they are taken care of as fast as possible. It’s basically customer service, as when your system goes down, your customers are affected too. You should know how important customer service is. If you want to keep your customers happy and your business thriving, choosing the right IT support company is crucial. Good luck!

SlideShares have become an extremely popular form of content for businesses. They’re visual, informative, and fun to make. If you can believe it, SlideShare even gets 5 times more traffic from business owners than Twitter or Facebook!

That means that if you’re trying to make content for your business, you’ll probably want to give SlideShare a try. You can use SlideShare presentations to introduce customers to your business, your product or service, core values of your business, exciting promotions, industry tips and tricks, team members–anything anyone would want to know, really.

The problem is, there are a lot of presentation and only a handful get featured on the front page of SlideShare. The ones that do get featured get a lot of traffic but the ones that don’t get featured…not so much. So unless your presentation is on the first page, the odds of someone stumbling across your presentation on their own is quite low.

So how do you get featured on the front page of SlideShare? There are several strategies you can use to improve your chances. Marketing experts will have different opinions for how you should approach promoting content on SlideShare, but some of the most popular tips are:

Design a presentation that addresses a specific audience.

Think about who your target audience is for the presentation. Your customers? And if so, who are your customers? Students? Parents? Other business owners? Rather than creating a presentation with general information about your business or industry, create a presentation that addresses questions your target audience might ask. Do your best to answer those questions in the most straight-forward and useful way.

Structure your presentation like an article.

A good presentation will have a solid beginning, middle and end. Begin with an attention-grabbing title and intro slide. Keep text on your slides minimal and your points concise. End on a call to action or a reflective question.

Use a simple design.

Nothing is more distracting than a slide full of too many design elements, extra text, and glaring color choices. Stick to 2 – 3 colors at most. Use a white or neutral background. Use a simple font. Don’t overcomplicate the design.

Use pictures as the focus of your slides.

SlideShare presentations are highly visual, so take advantage of that and use beautiful, good quality pictures. You can find beautiful stock images for free on sites like Pexels or Unsplash.

Post your SlideShare presentation early in the morning.

Early morning is when the SlideShare team sets their clock for the day’s Featured presentations. Even if you post at midnight Pacific time, this will improve your chances of being featured.

This infographic offers 13 tips from marketing experts for how to get featured on the front page of SlideShare.

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Via Venngage infographics.

As a speaker, I give different presentations to different groups—but one of the topics I’m most passionate about is transformational leadership. True to its name, I believe that transformational leadership has the power to transform your team, your company, and your own approach to leadership. I’ve seen it happen at a lot of companies, and I’ve even witnessed it in my own life and work.

Defining Transformational Leadership

But maybe this is your first time hearing about transformational leadership—and maybe you’re wondering what I’m even talking about. Let me give you the one-sentence, Rick Goodman definition: Transformational leaders are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity.

This may sound a little highfalutin, but let me tell you: Transformational leadership, with its emphasis on vision, employee empowerment, and challenging the traditional leadership paradigm, has become a well-liked model among today’s more progressive companies. And it’s not hard to see why: The benefits of transformational leadership are several.

  • Higher levels of productivity.
  • Increased employee satisfaction.
  • Increased retention.
  • Stronger relationships, based on trust.

Transformational vs. Transactional Leadership

Another good way to understand transformational leadership is to cast it in light of its opposite—transactional leadership, which has been the more common leadership paradigm for some time now.

Here’s how I would break things down:

  • Transformational leaders look to satisfy the greater need of the individual.
  • Transactional leaders try to make a lot of deals with those being led.
  • Transactional leadership is based on rewards versus punishment.
  • Transactional leadership is based on quid pro quo, or this for that!

Are You a Transformational Leader?

I’m speaking big-picture here, and I know it’s a lot to take in—but let me leave you with this question: Do you consider yourself to be a transformational leader? If you have a clear vision, with goals and expectations clearly outlined; if you are passionate and energized in the workplace; and if you are focused on helping everyone to succeed, then you just might fit the bill!

If you want to learn more about transformational leadership, I encourage you to reach out to me. I’d love to come speak about it at your company.

Illustration of a tree with people as branches

Like most agencies, you probably juggle shrinking marketing budgets and rising expectations. And to manage costs, you probably hire a freelancer when you need specialized talent or extra help on projects. Although it makes sense, you still need a strategy. Because hiring freelancers without a strategy often creates challenges that could raise project costs.

But when you hire freelancers correctly, they can produce consistently superb work quality and help improve your profit margins.

Freelancers help agencies survive and thrive

In the old days, agencies hid freelancers behind the curtain as they quietly pumped out work. Today, success requires you view them as strategic assets.

The content agency Column Five engages freelancers with specialized skill sets and to gain new perspectives on a project. “Freelancers allow us to make measured and sustainable growth. They allow us to test our appetite for a new type of work before we commit to developing that format type as a regular service offering or revenue stream,” says Jeremy Fetters, director of client services.

When hiring freelancers, Fetters suggests you “think of the freelancers in your network as a way to help you solve challenges where you might not have in-house expertise.” Instead of just seeing freelancers as a way to increase bandwidth, Column Five thoroughly vets freelancers to build a creative network that provides fresh ideas and proactive solutions to design challenges.

Mobile app development agency Minibit Technologies incorporates freelancers as part of their growth strategy. Agency founder Usama Riaz says, “Freelancers enable us to be more agile than traditional agencies and win bigger projects. We can be selective about the projects we choose, and only work on things that are a perfect fit for our agency.” An added bonus: Freelancers help Riaz control overhead costs—a savings he passes onto clients.

Providing higher-quality output and lower costs to clients is why the content development firm Big Fork Content is geared towards operating via freelance talent. Managing partner Brian Chappell says, “Many projects need a team of experts and clients realize no single agency can have them all on staff. And the best talent for the project may not be available locally.”

Chappell works with Upwork Pro to source a reliable bench of highly skilled talent worldwide. He encourages their loyalty by engaging them for repeat projects, paying them quickly using tools like Upwork’s escrow services, and treating them with respect. From day one, project team members collaborate via Slack and Skype. This promotes open communication, which helps them resolve issues expediently and hold each other accountable.

The new norm

If you’re wondering, “But what would clients think about freelancers doing the work?” Most likely, they won’t have a problem with it. Using freelancers is so common that 80 percent of respondents in a ClickZ survey said their agency uses freelancers.

Now that 54 million Americans freelance, it’s almost inevitable that nearly every industry is accustomed to working with freelancers to some degree. And it’ll be even more ubiquitous over the next few years as nearly half of our workforce will freelance by 2020. This includes experienced baby boomers and top talent.

Brian Chappell presents freelancers as a value-add. He explains how he can assign the most seasoned expert to work on the client’s project—and only for the time they’re needed. Not only does the client enjoy higher-quality talent, they also benefit from a significantly lower project cost.

9 tips for freelancer success

Marketing and creative consultant Anne Miles says, “When you use freelancers properly, you can REDUCE overheads and increase specialization and IMPROVE service levels.” For exceptional creativity and projects that remain within budget, consider leveraging these tips:

Build your professional network wisely

1. Don’t restrict your procurement process. Don’t have the same teams hiring the same freelancers. Optimize your value for the money by having a wide bench of talent that any team can access.

2. Look at their rates and their ratings. Thoroughly vet talent until you can trust their work is good and that they know how to deliver what you expect. Marketplaces like Upwork make it easy to see a freelancer’s portfolio and client history.

3. Develop relationships with key contractors. A reliable bench of talent improves work consistency, shortens ramp up time, and minimizes the cost of searching for talent for every project.

Treat them like assets

4. See their value. Treat freelancers like a low-cost, temporary widget and that’s what you’re likely to get. Treat them like specialists whose talent and experience can benefit your team, and you’ll get cost-effective, high-quality results.

5. Provide all pertinent information. Help freelancers develop a deeper understanding of the client and project by inviting them to relevant meetings and connecting them to the right people to answer questions. What’s more, when a freelancer feels like they have all the information they need for a project, they become more dedicated and willing to collaborate. In turn, your project may benefit further from their expertise and experience across multiple projects and industries.

6. Communicate expectations clearly. Today’s freelancers are more particular about pay and an agency’s culture. Be upfront about what the work entails, deliverables, and what success looks like. Get the freelancer’s expectations too so you know what will be billed, availability, and other important details.

Manage your costs

7. Automate your processes. Wherever possible, automate and streamline freelancer sourcing, contracting, communication, and payment processes. When The Motley Fool adopted a contingent workforce solution, their editorial team saved 40 hours/month on payment processing alone.

8. Bring contractors onboard earlier. Before the pitch, involve freelancers to help shape the project scope, define what success looks like, and estimate price better.

9. Get the CFO’s input. Review how pricing was estimated, what your agency promised the client, and what the teams feel they can deliver. The CFO may be able to suggest new efficiencies or point out areas of concern before the pitch.

It’s no longer about who does the work

The bottom line is, clients want to know you have the experts available to produce quality work. And with the exploding freelance workforce and technology making it so easy to work remotely, it’s becoming irrelevant whether a worker is freelance or staff. That’s great news considering how labor costs are usually an agency’s largest expense. And how agencies must be able to ramp up and down quickly according to project needs.

But much like when you’re searching for the ideal employees, sourcing and vetting the ideal freelancers in an increasingly competitive market takes time—sometimes months. And the search can be ongoing as new projects and fast-changing technology may require new skill sets. That’s why many agencies are turning to sourcing services like Upwork Pro. Freelancers are handpicked for your specific needs, then served up—all you need to do is choose one.

If you use contract workers often, consider creating your own established talent pool through Upwork Enterprise. This complete contingent workforce solution makes it easier than ever to work with the best developers, creatives, and marketing professionals worldwide. The robust platform lets you handle all of your currently engaged and other contract talent from a single dashboard to dramatically streamline everything from sourcing and contracting to payments.

signsToday, the modern business arena is almost entirely digital. Young entrepreneurs from all over the world are constantly starting profitable ventures with little more than an idea and an internet connection. However, even in this digital age, there’s still a lot of promise in physical retail outlets. If you’re planning to set up a physical store, one thing you can’t do without is foot traffic. Here’s a few good practices for getting people into your store.

The first and possibly most important tip I can offer is tidying up your store front. In any business, first impressions count. This could be a flyer, a chat at a trade fair, or most likely a website. For a lot of your target market, their first impression of your business is going to be your storefront. Many businesses have reported huge increases in foot traffic from some surprisingly small changes. Simply leaving the door open can be enough to tempt in a prospective customer. At the very least, you should make sure that all your window displays are well-organised and keeping with the season. A high-quality sign from a firm like Encore Image will also give your business an essential air of professionalism.

If you can find the right candidate, then partnering up with another local business can also be a great way to increase foot traffic. When you first start your business, it can be pretty easy to assume that you’re competing against every other storefront on the high street. This isn’t always the case, and you may even be able to turn some of your local neighbours into powerful allies. Take a walk around, and think about any related businesses that may be interested in some kind of partnership. For example, if you run a vinyl store, get talking to a local musical instrument shop and ask them if you can leave some leaflets on their counter. Provided that you’re willing to do the same, this could be the start of a hugely beneficial partnership.

Finally, consider introducing some loyalty schemes, especially in your earliest stages. Those customers who come back again and again are going to be the foundation for your retail business. Encouraging them to return after a purchase is a complete no-brainer. Of course, this is usually better suited to stores that sell small, disposable products. Still, I’m sure you can think of some way to fit a loyalty scheme into your own business model. Do a little maths to see what you can afford, and then start offering your customers a discount on their third, fifth, or tenth purchase. Once everything’s in place, design some attractive marketing materials and put them somewhere where it’s going to be seen. Even if someone isn’t all that interested in what you’re selling, discounts like this can be enough to draw them in and initiate a purchase. At the very least, it will spark some helpful word-of-mouth marketing.

Take these tips on board, and you’ll see a significant increase in foot traffic