Blog Category: Guest Blogs

20 Skills to Learn in 2019 to Improve Your Professional Life

20 skills to learn

The business landscape changes daily and that drives almost a constant need for professional learning. Never before has it been more essential that you not only keep up with the details of your own job and industry but others as well. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your business will struggle.

If you want to stay on top of your industry and continue to attract new customers while retaining old ones, there are a few key skills you should master this year.

20 Skills That Will Improve Your Professional Life and Your Business

#1. Basic Facebook skills.

You must know basic Facebook skills even if you have a marketing department supporting you. There are times where you may be at special events or other parts of your life that you want to share with your company following. If you have to run it through the marketing department and have them do it for you, you’ll lose critical time. It’s also possible that they won’t be with you and there’s no way to second-hand a live stream event.

The basic Facebook skills you should master in 2019 (if you haven’t already) are:

  • creating live stream videos
  • using pixels and Facebook advertising
  • posting to your page and to your company page
  • understanding insights

#2. Google analytics.

Again, even if you have a marketing department and a data analyst supporting you, it’s important that you understand the basics of the analytics on your site. If you don’t, you are at the whims and desires of the marketing department and you’ll need to rely on them for reporting. If you don’t understand what those reports are saying it’s difficult to make executive decisions.

#3. Creativity.

While it’s widely debated about whether this skill can be acquired or if you’re born with it, like anything else, you can become better at it even if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s essential to business growth and management these days.

#4. Market analysis.

If you’ve read the book Blue Ocean Strategy, you know about the importance of low-cost differentiation. Even if you have somebody else doing the research for you, you want to ensure you understand the market you currently serve and any potential market you might serve in the future. Be creative with thinking about new markets but research them thoroughly.

#5. Employee culture.

Your business will only be as successful as your least disgruntled employee. Said another way, an unhappy employee cannot provide good customer service. Learning the basics of good employee culture and boosting morale can help you be more effective as a business leader.

#6. Understanding social listening.

A critical part of social media is listening. You must understand that listening for the benefit of your company involves more than just what you sell and your company name. You may also want to include things people would search on to find you, problems you solve, and services you offer in the city you service.

#7. Website visitor experience.

Even if you have someone designing your website for you, that person likely doesn’t know your ideal customer the way you do. They may be thinking about design and not about your unique website visitors. You need to be the one to tell them what your customers are looking for and what’s most important to them. Together you can design a great visitor experience. Make sure this includes the mobile experience as well.

#8. Basic coding.

It’s important these days to know just a little bit of coding. While most website design is drag and drop, basic coding can help you fix minor problems that still crop up. If you have the skills, you likely can make changes on the fly on your timeline and not need to wait on someone else.

#9. Marketing automation software.

Marketing automation software allows you to stay top-of-mind with your customers and potential customers. By scheduling periodic communications, you can provide them with the needed resources and become known as a valuable partner in their success. Marketing automation software also allows you to be more efficient in your communication. You can schedule emails to send based on activity saving you lots of time.

#10. Blogging.

Many people are under the wrong impression that to be a blogger you must be a writer. It’s probably better that you aren’t because blogging is more about conversation. If you follow a typical business essay structure your audience will fall asleep. Develop your own style in blogging, one that appeals to your audience. There are few marketing activities that are better at helping your audience get to know you than blogging.

#11. The basics of SEO.

The basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are a moving target. You cannot read one article and master it. But you can read a definitive guide and understand the basics of SEO for this moment in time. In order to truly understand the basics of SEO, you will need to make learning about it an ongoing task as things are always changing. However, understanding the basics will help you reach your audience organically and keep the search engines focused on your content.

#12. Tax changes.

This is an area you likely have a professional handling for you. But it’s a good idea at the beginning of every year, or even the end of the previous year, to meet with your tax professional to understand the changes that may affect you this coming year. It can help you make buying decisions, hiring decisions, and freelance decisions among others. Planning your expenses can save you considerably on taxes. Since these things change year-to-year it’s important to understand what’s tax deductible and what isn’t before you spend the money.

#13. Video.

Now that we all walk around with cameras in our pockets, it’s easy to use these tools to build a following. Just as you need to learn the basics of social media and live streaming, it’s important to also know the finer points of video. Some of these things include basics of lighting, sound, the tools you’ll use, editing, and tagging as well as meta descriptions.

#14. Creating experiences.

Many people think that experiential marketing is for Fortune 500 companies. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are simple experiences you can provide your customers. For instance, a spice company can host a cooking demonstration or better yet, a tasting opportunity. If you find the right experience for your audience, you may even be able to charge for it and create an additional source of revenue for your business.

#15. The basics behind increasing low-cost staff.

There are many business needs that can be filled through freelancers. If you do a good job in communicating with them and selecting them for their skills, they can be an inexpensive way to get specialized services completed. The key here is to ensure you provide them with all the information they need including information about your market and your ideal customer. You will get exactly what you put into it.

#16. Public speaking.

It’s essential that today’s business leaders embrace a public persona. If you are doing anything of note in your industry, at some point, you likely will be asked to speak about your experience. Learning the basics of good public speaking will ensure you’re ready when you get that call.

#17. Technology.

This is a broad term and can apply to almost anything from your smartphone to your laptop to any of the software you use. But the reason it’s included is that it’s no longer quaint among today’s business leaders to not understand the basic tools the world is using. If you refuse to at least learn the basics of common daily technology, you’ll end up like a once cutting-edge filmmaker who locked himself away from society only to reappear with an old-fashioned viewpoint. You’ll think you’re leading a cutting-edge movement in your business and you’ll really be behind the times.

#18. Networking.

Even with the advent of digital marketing, business still gets done through networking. It’s still who you know that matters. In fact, people want to buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. Networking both in person and online is essential to this. If you don’t feel comfortable networking, find a public speaking group, a chamber of commerce, or other networking organization that can help you feel more comfortable and master the basics.

#19. Appealing to what’s in it for them.

It doesn’t matter how well you know your product or service, if you are still selling features and not things that benefit your audience in a direct way, you’re leaving money on the table. Master speaking to your customers about what’s in it for them. All of your copy should be focused on your audience; what they need, what they want, how they see themselves, the problems you can solve for them, and what they will receive by doing business with you from their standpoint.

If you sell based on features, you are asking your audience to make that correlation of how the features can help them. That’s a big jump for someone who likely is only spending minutes getting to know you, if you’re lucky. On the other hand, if you tell them exactly how you can help, not only does it spell out the issue for them but it also makes them feel like you understand their needs.

#20. Learning from others.

When you’ve been in one business for a long time there’s the possibility of stagnation, especially if you’re an operation of one or employ people who have been with you from the beginning. In order to stay fresh, you should constantly look for new experiences in your professional and personal life and encourage your employees to do the same. This can take the shape of attending professional conferences, insisting everyone use all of their vacation, and / or being part of a mentor or mentee relationship. It’s amazing what other people can teach you about your business even if they’re not in your industry. Avoid stagnation by learning from others.

 

2019 is likely to bring a lot of new opportunities to your business. One of the best ways to capitalize on this is to ensure you’re always acquiring new skills and ways in which you look at your business.

 

 

Christina R. Green is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.

19 Awesome Resolutions to Bring You More Business in 2019

Copy of involved with chamber

2019 is your year. It’s time to grow that business beyond your wildest dreams. If you’re ready to see a change in your business, there are 19 things you need to start doing.

  1. Track data. There are tons of tools (some even free) where you can start tracking the numbers that matter to you most. Figure out your business goals and what it takes to achieve them, then put a plan in place on how you will track and analyze the data behind getting you there.
  2. Start conversing. Social media needs to be social. Put an end to the broadcast messages. Make 2019 the year you start talking with your audience, not at them.
  3. Give away something small but unexpected. Wowing your audience is a great idea to help them remember you and think of you first. It needn’t be expensive. Give them a coupon for future use, a caligraphied card with an inspirational quote, a fortune in their bag, or even a gift bag can brighten their day when it’s unexpected.
  4. Look for local sponsorships or ways to get involved. In order to buy from you, they need to think of you. Consider local sponsorships that can help you get in front of your ideal audience. These include PTAs, community sports teams, business collaborations, and local non-profits.
  5. Join a strong virtual group or meet-up. Find a virtual group that helps you learn something new, network with people in your industry, or get in front of your ideal audience. Which type you join will depend on your goals for the year. Virtual groups also allow you to connect and grow on your schedule.
  6. Join the chamber. Virtual networking groups don’t take the place of chamber membership because those organizations don’t have the business clout or knowledgeable staff the chamber does. The chamber has a strong referral network and is tied into the community in a way the virtual networking groups aren’t.
  7. Work smarter not harder. Doing something every minute of your day doesn’t mean you’re doing the right kind of work to advance you toward your business goals for 2019. Don’t take on busy work. Prioritize your most important activities twice a day. Having said that…
  8. View everything as moving you closer to a goal or farther away. When you adopt this mindset, you acknowledge you only have so much time in a day and you focus your efforts on things that matter.
  9. Make time for that thing you’ve been putting off. Whether it’s a health check or business expansion, let 2019 be the year you finally get around to doing that thing you keep rescheduling. Turn the annoyance into an accomplishment.
  10. Get a business checkup. Whether you hire a coach, work with a mentor, or read a successful business book, getting a different opinion on your business can help you look at things in new ways. This new set of eyes may come with suggestions or advice on overcoming potential challenges in the future.
  11. Work on your employee culture. Nothing will derail your hard work faster than a toxic culture. Make sure managers clear the paths for those who work for them and everyone is focused on your business goal. Then, just like you do for your customers, find ways to engage and impress them with little wow moments. Everyone wants to be a part of something great. In order to help with that….
  12. Hire slow, fire fast. Be exacting in the kind of person who will not only be a good fit for the position but for the team as well. If you’re dealing with a toxic employee, handle it quickly for less fallout.
  13. Tell your story. Telling your story creates a connection between your business and your audience. You want them to buy from you and that means they need to know, like, and trust you.
  14. Try (or learn) something new. Stagnation never benefits a business and your business won’t benefit from stagnant leadership. Try something new or learn something you’ve wanted to know more about. Then think of ways you can share that knowledge or your business can benefit from it.
  15. Explain what you do to a young child. When you explain your business to a kid, you have to perfect telling the story of what you do. You’ll need to make it quick (their attention span is limited), interesting (again, the attention span), and expressed in easy concepts. When you do this, you will see your business from a new angle and it may help in your elevator pitch.
  16. Build your list. If you’re not collecting email addresses of your customers and those interested in your business, you need to start now. Look into an email sender (there are free ones all the way up to several hundred dollars a month) that fits your business and start brainstorming a list of things your ideal audience would be interested in. This will help you stay top of mind and position you as a valuable resource for them.
  17. Become a thought leader. You likely know something about your business or industry that others don’t. Positioning yourself as a thought leader can help you get more exposure in areas that matter. It could also create a new revenue stream for you if you start speaking at conferences.
  18. Celebrate important days. Your social media content calendar requires a lot of content to keep it full. One way to get quick content is to search days of celebration for things that matter to your business. If you discover them with enough advance time, you can create fun contests around them. For instance, if you operate a restaurant you can offer a special on National Pizza Day.
  19. Laugh a little. Humor is contagious. Adding it into your social media can increase your shares. Adding a sense of humor to the office can improve morale. Employ it where you need a boost.

2019 is the year to finally get around to doing those things you’ve been putting off that will grow your business. Here are 19 solid ideas to get you started.

Christina R. Green is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

 

EventPhotoFull_Lynn Woodcroft
Thanks to our Professional Development Sponsor: Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Rep, Royal LePage!

Strategic Planning and Enterprise Risk Management: A one-two punch to knock out road blocks to your success!

one two punch

Strategic Planning and Risk Management is how you can increase your chance of success and increase the value of your organization.

Small and medium sized businesses are often too busy running the day-to-day operations to stop and plan for the future.  The owner has a vision in their mind of what they want the future of their company to look like but they take little time to plan for that vision. It was pointed out in a recent Globe and Mail article that businesses that create formal strategic plans increase their chance of success by 30 to 50 percent. (more…)

12 Ways to Make Summer Business Sizzle

If it’s been a long, cold winter for your business, it’s time to kick things off with the season that generally equates to tourism and travel. Here’s how you can capitalize on those things and get your marketing in a position to capture some of those summer crowds.

Photo 2016-06-09, 10 50 15 AM

(more…)

Guest Blog: Four Goals or Forty?

 

0

How many goals do you and your senior managers have versus what is listed in the strategic plan? I once was given 4 brand new goals by the board of directors to start building a new strategic plan for the company. To start the process I set out to interview the 10 senior managers about their plans for the future. What the interviews revealed was that the company didn’t have 4 Goals….it had 40 Goals. (more…)