Whether you are launching a startup, or looking for ways to maximize success in a well-established or struggling business, many business owners struggle with the exact direction to take. Even if the business owner is fairly confident in the direction they want to go, if all does no not go as planned—they may not be able to clearly identify where things went wrong. For business owners and company executives who have yet to seek out the expertise of a consultant, the benefits are many.

Identify The Most Favorable Areas Of Opportunity

One of the many reasons companies seek out the expertise of an outside consultant is because it is so easy to become so caught up in the daily workflow, that daily operations continue as usual without second thought. A consultant will provide a fresh set of eyes, and an outside expert opinion, whose primary focus is to help companies achieve and/or maximize success. Consulting will help to identify where to focus more energy, as well as where to focus less energy. It will help to eliminate redundancies, and help to increase efficiency and productivity.

Innovative Ways To Grow And Expand Your Business

It is essential that companies do not spread themselves too thin by offering so many services or products, which can make it challenging to give each product and service the level of attention required for success. That being said, a consultant can provide invaluable insight as to the most effective ways to grow and expand a business. This may include scaling back on some services and product lines, and offering add-ons and up sells to other services and product lines. This could also include innovative ways in which branching out into other sectors of an industry can prove to be beneficial. This may also include focusing energy on a new or secondary target audience. The bottom line is customer service and improving the customer experience, according to a blog by Michelle Nowak of CSG International.

How To Remain Competitive, Without Sacrificing Company Culture

Companies must remain competitive in both their primary service area, as well as within their industry. However, sometimes the competitive nature of business—both internally and externally—makes it challenging to maintain the desired company culture. Maintaining company culture is essential for both employee and client retention. Forbes contributor Micah Solomon maintains that your business must remain “customer centric” regardless of changes in dynamics. A consultant will ensure that an action plan is put in place, to confirm that all short-term and long-term goals are created with strategies and tactics to ensure a business remains relevant within their industry—as wall as a desirable company to work for.

How To Restructure, And Maximize Success In Times Of Growth

As exciting as it is when a company experiences a surge in business, if the surge in business is not properly managed—there may be some downsides. Even if the growth and business has occurred gradually over time, companies must reevaluate both their daily operations—and how their departments are organized. Growth will not only require companies to onboard new team members, but is likely to create the need for entirely new positions. For example, if one person currently manages all aspects of marketing, a secondary role may need to be created solely for social media marketing. This will ensure that the initial marketing professional is not spread too thin, and that focus on all relevant aspects of marketing is not lost along the way.

Around 80 percent of businesses fail within their first 18 months, according to Eric. T Wagner, a Forbes contributor. Many more achieve success that they are unable to maintain—turning to a consultant can help businesses continue to grow, expand and manage change in a healthy manner.



Even the most accomplished of professionals must take a proactive approach to their ongoing professional development. The most common types of training professionals seek out is industry specific training, or the ongoing training provided by their employer. While both of these types of training are essential, professionals must not forget the importance of expanding their technical and computer skills with training that is transferable across all industries. The five reasons below are just a few reasons corporate professionals of all skill levels should consider online training in software they are familiar with, as well as software they may want to begin utilizing.

Improve Quality Of Work

Once a professional invests in online training that introduces them to new software, or features they were unfamiliar within the software they currently use—they are likely to learn several ways in which they can improve the quality of their work. This could be as simple as new methods to keep their daily to-do list more organized, or ways in which they can create powerful and organized reports and presentations. Employers should consider encouraging more ongoing training, as it shows their team that they are invested in their success, according to Victor Lipman, a contributor to Forbes. Not only that, ongoing training is essential for maintaining a fulfilling and challenging career.

Increase Productivity

While many professionals are proficient in 2 or 3 software programs within the Microsoft Office Suite, few are familiar with more than that. Without training in the other software programs within Office, corporate professionals may not be aware of what tools are available to increase their productivity. On top of that, many professionals are unaware of the full range of capabilities that even common software programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have to offer.

Increase Value

Knowledge truly is power. The more learned, the more valuable professionals become to their employer. Once new training is applied, professionals can pass their skills along to other team members, or simply allow their new skill set to shine through in their work. Taking the initiative to invest in ongoing technical training will also show employers a higher level of commitment and dedication. Both the desire for additional training, as well as the increased skill set make employees more valuable to their employer.

Remain Competitive

Industry-specific training is essential for remaining competitive within an industry, but online computer and software training helps professionals to remain competitive within the business world as a whole, as outlined by CBTNuggets. Even if online training is not paid for by an employer, professionals should consider making the investment because the skills they gain provide a competitive edge.

Increase Creativity

Many professionals walk away from their online training feeling inspired. Not only do they have new skills they can apply to their daily professional life, but the training often opens their mind to new areas of opportunity. This could include anything from expanding the services they offer, to taking an entirely different approach to their current job duties.

With computers and technology playing a primary role in group presentations, the daily workload, and internal and external communication—increased technical training is essential. By turning to online training courses, professionals can gain the additional training they require at their convenience—without traveling or taking time off of work. In fact, most online training courses can be complete in small blocks of time spread out over several days.

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When you own a retail business, one of the most important aspects is that of displaying products and merchandise. Specials, discounts, highlighted items and more can see an influx of purchases through the use of visual aids. However, there is more to attracting the interest of a customer than merely printing out a sheet of paper with information regarding the sale. Various display types and positions may have superior capabilities for attracting customers.

Accentuate Popular Brands

One of the most popular methods of attracting attention to various sales and merchandise is by accentuating popular brands. This means putting the brand name and logo in large print above the merchandise itself. Consumers will recognize the section in which their favorite products are located based merely on the color and logo. These should be seen from various locations within the establishment and are usually displayed high above obstructions.

Portable Displays

The ability to move a display from one location to another could be invaluable especially if you move sale items often. According to Best Displays Online, display stands can be easy to set up as well as durable allowing you to move the banner or advertisement to virtually any location. This can help you discover which areas of the establishment the ads work the best for attracting customers. You could take these displays a step further and use retractable units allowing you to develop seasonal ads that can be reused for years to come and easily stored afterwards.

Avoid Specific Products Displays

Displaying brands is safer than creating banners for specific products. If you’re on a strict budget, creating banners for specific products could make those displays obsolete should the company not make that product in the future. While some items are safe to display given its nature, it may be a better idea to develop graphics surrounding the manufacturer. Of course this depends on the item you’re selling.

Window Decals

Window stickers and decals are a heavily used method of attracting attention to a product or brand. According to blogger Zoe Ajiboye of Web Designer Depot, using stickers is an “innovative and cost-effective way to create a lasting impression.” However, you want to be certain about what kind of stickers or decals you want to use. If you paste permanent stickers on the windows of the establishment, it could create a mess when it comes time to change the information. Use decals that are self-adhesive and do not contain permanent glues.

Trending Product Graphics

Trending products can sell very quickly as long as the consumers know you have these items in stock. The cost for creating a display for these sought after items can be easily justified depending on the popularity of such a product. However, this means you will need to keep a close eye on developing trends around the country for your particular niche.

While displays can help guide consumers to purchase various goods, you don’t want to bombard each individual with a plethora of ad-like displays. Catchy graphics and benefits to using certain items can do wonders without making it look like the ad section in the newspaper. It may take trial and error to find the perfect positions for certain displays, but the rewards could be plentiful.


Shipping valuables and important items can be considerably stressful. Most people that go through the processes of shipping often fear that their packages will arrive damaged and dirty. In the worst case scenario, contents may arrive in poor condition. When going through the shipping process, these types of concerns should not be an issue if you take the right precautions. Rather than stress about your shipment, you can focus on the more important and time-worthy responsibilities of your day. To help with this process, below is an overview of the top precautions to take before shipping your items.

Choose Durable Packaging

Before you physically start packing your items into boxes, taking the time to decide upon the best type of packaging material can be vastly useful. Choosing strong and durable packaging material will protect your belongings and will increase the likelihood that your possessions arrive safely to their destination. The most common types of shipping boxes are shipping cartons, file storage boxes, moving boxes, and corrugated bin boxes. Each of these options has its own level of durability. Generally, the heavier and more delicate the shipping items are, the stronger the box should be. To further protect your possessions, it is also useful to place bubble wrap or foam insulation.

Wrap Your Possessions

Water is one of your worst enemies during the shipping process. While your items are protected while there are in transit, it is important to realize that your possessions are not always covered from rain and other weather elements. For instance, your shipment may be transferred from one transport to another, easily increasing the risk that your item can get damaged. Therefore, rather than take the risk that your item will arrive with water damage, you should consider pre-packaging your shipment. Items like paintings, wooden objects, books, and furniture can be wrapped in hefty plastic wrap or bubble wrap. This will keep your possessions dry as they go through transport.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve properly packaged your product, the next top tip is to do your research and find a proper shipping company. You mainly want to research the company’s shipping policies, its reviews, what it usually ships and does not ship, how long your shipment will take to arrive, and the cost of shipping. According to FreightRun, freight calculators can be especially useful in comparing prices with a large selection of carriers.

Designate as Fragile

According to the Consumerist designating your contents as “fragile” may not cause your package to be given extra care. However, rather than writing “fragile” in bold letters followed by a slew of exclamation points, it could just be best to be a bit more human about it. Writing a short “thank you” and taking the time to truly request extra care for your package just may be the better solution.

Packaging and shipping your precious possessions isn’t always easy, but taking the time to do things right can save you stress and money in the long run. The above tips will provide you peace of mind as your contents go through transport and will leave you confident that your items will arrive safely and in one piece.



How can you motivate your employees and colleagues to be as productive as possible? It’s a holistic approach and no single change is going to do it for everyone (or probably anyone). Plus, it also requires creating teams that work well together since some combinations (like too many dreamers and not enough doers) can be deadly to your company. When it comes to productivity, it’s a constant honing that you’ll never really perfect.

From having the right environment during special events as well as the daily grind to understanding which personality types work best together, there are many equations to better productivity. It also depends on your industry and goals. However, here are some foundational basics to get started:

1. Happiness

Happy employees are healthy, productive employees. In fact, Forbes even reported that the happier your employees are, the more money the business will make. However, many companies don’t make happiness a constant, high priority and instead try to inject it randomly (such as with forced office birthday parties). Be transparent with your workers and get feedback on what will actually make them happier.

2. A healthy environment

The health of your environment will play a huge role in how productive everyone is, which is why regular professional cleaning is a must. The healthier your employers are, the better they’ll be able to do their job. Infuse as much natural light as possible, encourage or require frequent breaks, and consider starting an office run/walk club or other fitness incentive. Even a daily lunch stroll can have huge benefits according to Real Simple, and it also provides a bonding opportunity.

3. The right tools and technology

You can’t expect your employees to be as productive as possible if you’re not kitting them out with the latest tools and technology. Your competition might be doing so, which puts you (and all your employees) at a major disadvantage. Remember that these items are tax write-offs for the business. Otherwise, you’re asking someone in Crocs to win a marathon for you.

4. Regular training

Just because Susie in accounting got her training with your company 12 years ago doesn’t mean she remembers anything or that the information is even relevant today. People forget, things change, and it’s normal to feel embarrassed asking for clarification on something a person is supposed to be doing everything. Provide regular training for all employees and teams, and you’ll discover things are suddenly being handled much better.

5. Give options

There are more and more companies offering telecommuting and virtual office options. For some employees, this can massively boost their productivity but for others it can hinder it. You can’t play favorites, so experiment by offering trial runs. You’ll find out if certain job descriptions work well with telecommuting, or if it’s just some people.

6. Give incentives

If you really want a certain person or team to do their best, inject some healthy competition into the mix. From making a certain sales goal to having the highest customer satisfaction rating, there are many approaches you can take with this. Make sure the incentive is truly desirable, such as a paid Friday or Monday for a long weekend or an impressively high gift certificate to a local restaurant.

When it comes to the productivity of your employees, a lot of it is in your hands. However, it’s tempting to get lazy and settle for good enough. Put some hustle into your workplace and actively encourage productivity on a daily basis. Remember that leading by example is powerful stuff, so don’t exempt yourself from following your own recommendations and bolstering your own productivity levels.


Every year, the Women’s Presidents’ Organization releases a list that features the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led businesses in the country. These companies generate billions of dollars in revenue and employ more than 20,000 people. The average number of employees per company is more than 600. The women owning and operating the diverse businesses are around 47 years of age. Explore the statistics of some of the top women in trade.

Happy Family Organic Superfoods

A group of young mothers headed by Shazi Visram established the company that is located in New York. All were concerned about the healthy food options available for infants and toddlers. The women devised the means to deliver nutritious and fortified organic products in the form of finger foods, shakes and smoothies containing various combinations of fruits, vegetables, fiber and protein rich seeds. Since introducing the business in 2006, revenues have exceeded more than $60 million annually.

Strategic Communications, Inc.

Kathy Mills established the communications company in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1994. Boasting clients of all sizes in every state of the country, the business offers everything from audio/visual solutions, cabling and networking to cloud computing and data centers. With technicians located throughout the United States, customers have access to the type of communication needs that best serve their purpose. The company receives revenues of more than $40 million every year.

BrightStar Care LLC

Shelly Sun began the company in Gurnee, Illinois, in 2002 in an attempt at addressing the care-taking needs of families. She recognized the need for clients to ensure that loved ones receive care in the familiar surroundings of their home. Staff members provide services around the clock whether needing childcare or supervision of an elderly parent. The type of care offered also varies from basic supervision or assistance with daily activities to licensed professional evaluations and treatment. Now with offices in more than 250 locations, the company lists an annual revenue of more than $200 million.

Intellect Resources

The company founded by Tiffany Crenshaw in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1999 offers a wide selection of IT services in the healthcare industry. The company recruits talent, manages projects, implements systems, trains personnel and provides live support when needed. By providing comprehensive and innovative solutions, the company has enjoyed revenues of approximately $30 million annually.

Cenergy International Services LLC

The Houston, Texas, company established by June Ressler in 1996 provides employment solutions for the gas and oil industries. The company also offers inspection and safety solutions, logistics optimization and vendor management when and where the services are required. The company currently provides services to industries located throughout the world and has revenues of $250 million.

Rose International Inc.

Sue Bhatia founded the corporation in 1993 for the purpose of providing employment and technology solutions. With more than 6,000 employees, who provide various services to more than 130 regular customers in every state of the country, in addition to having 20 International offices. The minority and female owned business generates more than $350 million in profits every year.


Connecting with new customers is great for business, but your company must also learn how to drive repeat purchases. Loyal buyers can help your company weather slow seasons. Happy customers will also become promoters of your brand and products, allowing you to connect with all new customers and begin the cycle of retention again. Here are four ways to build customer loyalty and encourage repeat sales.

Offer Consistent Value

Your products, services, and prices play a significant role in building your brand identity. Customers expect some form of regularity from your business. It’s important to maintain certain levels of quality. Businesses often hurt themselves if they deviate from their normal pricing structures or successful product lines. Just take a look at what happened to Netflix, when they split their offerings into two separate subscriptions with different fees. The public backlash demonstrated that loyal customers had been conditioned to expect certain services and fees.

Keep Communication Channels Open

Make it easy for customers to contact your company and provide feedback. Loyal customers who become invested in your product lines should be able to communicate easily with sales and support representatives. This also gives your business an opportunity to catch detractors early and resolve their issues, before they take to online reviews to vent their frustrations.

Find Ways to Say Yes

Customers will take note when your associates go above and beyond their duties to be of assistance. Create flexible policies so that your employees have an easier time reaching a “yes” solution or at the very least, a compromise. Brands that are able to assist customers, especially during times of need or during high stress situations, will become instantly memorable. Saying “yes” and assisting customers can also be extremely fulfilling for employees who are positively impacting peoples’ lives.

Reward Loyalty

Finally, your company should have some way of tracking customer loyalty and providing incentives to repeat customers. Capture customer information, follow up with loyal buyers on a regular basis, and provide them with incentives. Promotions or special discounts can be excellent ways to acknowledge how much you value a customer’s repeat business. These small tokens of appreciation can go a long way in building a positive, long-term rapport.

Companies should strive to develop customer loyalty by adopting flexible policies, capturing important client data, and paying attention to feedback. Repeat business can help sustain your company in the long run. Loyalty rewards, effective communication channels, and consistent value can turn your customers into life-long promoters.



Living in the Bay Area, you expect to have the best of all worlds when it comes to connectivity and related services. The companies that compete to give you Internet, cable, and phone service do so in a competitive environment that forces them to enhance service offerings in order to gain and keep customers.

Below are some ways that area cable companies seek an edge in the battle to be able to serve you.


Now that greater speeds and greater bandwidth are possible, cable companies have been working to create the ultimate high-speed experience for your home or business. Some providers offer download speeds of up to 110 Mbps for their clientele, but at the same bundled prices they were used to receiving at slower speeds.

By providing improved services for the same package price, these companies not only retain customers who are generally pleased with the free enhancements, but also compete more effectively for new business.


Although many Internet service providers give you the access you need to enjoy online services such as on-demand movies, they frequently fall short in the category of direct entertainment services: television or movie channels, for example.

Conversely, local cable companies have managed to enhance their offerings by tailoring program options to serve a greater market. There are more international as well as sports programming options today than there were a few years ago.

Another feature that has continued to innovate is DVR service. Some local providers now offer multi-room DVR through the same box connection, which makes it easier for families to integrate their choice of television programming.

Some providers have also taken a page from the satellite television service providers’ playbook and made dozens of music channels available as part of the basic cable package.


If there are any users of traditional land lines still in the San Francisco area, they are few and far between. Cable phone service has proved to be superior in terms of both quality and convenience.

If you’re the kind of person who checks rates and has had phone service for a number of years, you probably know that local phone carriers that did not offer competitive prices saw them get driven down and out by both cable and VOIP service providers.

With VOIP, however, some users discovered that bandwidth issues could impede the performance of their phone, making its use for business unacceptable at times. Not so with cable: Plenty of bandwidth is on tap for phone users, and enhanced features that require additional bandwidth are also available.

The other service that cable companies helped spark, which was not a reality until recently, was the unlimited North American calling area for one low package price. Long-distance bills used to be something that people would fret over and occasionally placed limits on your ability to keep in touch with distant relatives.

Today, not only can you find low-cost packages that feature unlimited service, there are also even lower-cost packages that allow you to keep your phone line and use it locally while doing the bulk of your calling from a cell phone. In many cases, these packages cost less than what you would pay for just a DID, or dedicated phone number, without any service.


Many highly trained people are looking at the current economy and not wondering about a dream job, but hoping that they can get any job at all. Only a few years ago, the unemployment rate rose to a staggering 10 percent, and that forced many to rethink what it might take to land the ideal job.

With the following few tips, you can improve your chances of success no matter what direction the economy goes.

Define your needs

While it might seem intuitive that someone who’s on the job hunt should have a good sense of what he or she wants exactly in the coming years, many people do nothing more than narrow their search to a particular industry.

That’s not really enough. Instead of looking at an entire industry or even a job title, future employees should hash out precisely what they want from a job in the coming years. This could mean everything from the financial compensation and opportunities for upward mobility to making sure you have fulfilling daily tasks in a specific field.

There’s no such thing as too much research

When it comes to landing your dream job, you can never do too much research. A dream job should always involve doing what you’re passionate about, and this means you need to do quite a bit of homework on everything from the company itself and the competition to industry trends and current news.

According to Altibase, you should also “prepare an actionable plan (verbally) on how you will help the company.” This line of reasoning can potentially make or break your performance in an interview and enable you to stand out from the pack as a candidate.

Resumes get interviews, but not jobs

A well-designed and eye-catching resume is only the first step in the process. In the same way, no one should ever assume the interview will be sufficient to land the job by itself.

When there’s so much competition for a popular position, resumes are often used for nothing more than to ensure the potential interviewees meet the basic requirements. From there, it will come down to how well the interview goes and how prepared you turn out to be for any turn the interview may take.

Show recruiters your passion

One of the most difficult things for an interviewee to do well is to show passion without upsetting the interview. While every recruiter and company is slightly different, most are looking for some form of passion in the people they interview.

That means they’re not terribly interested in hearing a mountain of information about their own company or the current state of the industry. Interviewees will want to plan a few key speaking points about how and why they applied for the job, but they should allow the interviewer(s) to steer the conversation the vast majority of the time.

If you’ve only recently gotten out of school or are simply looking to make a dramatic shift in career path, the uneasy state of the current economy can raise your anxiety. But with a little bit of patience and passion, a dream job may be only a phone call and interview away.



Company leaders never want to think about data disasters. However, technology isn’t infallible. Natural disasters, office accidents, or user error can lead to the destruction of data. Does your business have a strong recovery strategy so that you can pick up where you left off? For example, do you have alternate emergency processes if your point of sale server goes down? Being proactive about backups and software maintenance can help you company prepare for worse case scenarios. Here are four things to keep in mind as you take data protection measures.

Hardware Backups

If your company stores business critical data on external hard drives, then strongly consider scattering these backups across multiple locations. Don’t’ keep all of your eggs in one basket. If a fire or burglary at one location makes data inaccessible, then you’ll still have copies stored in other locations. Ideally, your business should invest in a combination of cloud and local storage, so that you’re not overly reliant on any single system.

Behavior Rules

When we think of “user error,” many of us think about employees accidently deleting an important file. However, everyday office behaviors, such as drinking coffee near a server rack, can put your company at high risk for data loss. A trip, bump, or spill next to important hardware can lead to thousands of dollars lost within moments. Data disasters aren’t always accidental – your data is an asset that is susceptible to internal theft too. Create workplace guidelines to prevent internal loss or theft of data.

Data Testing

Backups are useless if the data is riddled with errors. Your IT department should schedule routine data verification to ensure that backups are working properly. If write errors are discovered, it is important to prioritize data redundancy so that your company has reliable copies to fall back on.

Cloud Storage

Cloud services have become so ubiquitous; your company can accomplish an endless amount of tasks using dedicated cloud solutions. However, it can be difficult to identify the right cloud solutions for your company. Consider working with a broker who can help your company uncover cloud solutions for your data protection strategies.

Businesses must take a multifaceted approach to data protection and recovery. If one system fails, then your employees should be able to fall back on other solutions. Preparing for data disasters now can give your team the confidence and ability to operate no matter what the future throws at you.



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