Collaboration Station: How to Stay Productive in a Busy Environment

Collaboration Station: How to Stay Productive in a Busy Environment

If you have ever worked in a collaborative environment, like a co-working space or an open-concept office, then you’ll know that these kinds of work environments have their own unique conditions. We are speaking from experience as we share some tips to be productive in your co-working or collaborative space.

Staying Productive

One way to stay productive is to stay motivated. Co-working spaces and open-concept workplaces have reportedly resulted in happier employees. When employees make personal connections with their co-workers, or other members of a co-working space, they feel more engaged, motivated, and less isolated. A study in the UK reported that happy people are 12% more productive. (Source) Being in your happy place will help you be more productive.

Collaboration is at an all-time high in an open-concept workspace. When you are in close proximity with other workers who bring a variety of skills to the table, you have a wealth of knowledge surrounding you. Use the human library that is at your fingertips and collaborate!

Are you easily distracted? Set boundaries! Some tenants use a sign on their chair to note that they are unavailable for conversation. Some co-working places have a “headphones” rule; if you have your headphones on, you are sending a message that you are unavailable for chatting. If someone needs to discuss something with you, they should send you a message to schedule a time that works for both of you.

What Are Some of the Other Benefits?

We all seek “work-life balance”. As a freelancer or entrepreneur, this may feel impossible, especially if your work is in your home. Co-working spaces provide an “away” space where work can be completed and your worries about whether you did the dishes or not can be out of mind.

Socialization is another key part of employment for many people. Whether you work for a large company or a small business that has opted for an open concept work environment (like us!), socialization is an important factor in motivation, and overall happiness.

Socializing can also provide an opportunity for networking. We have met so many wonderful people, and clients through our co-working space at Innovation Works. The opportunities to collaborate with other businesses and support them in their business journey have been abundant.

What about privacy? It’s true that in an open-concept space there isn’t a lot of privacy for confidential phone calls or sidebar meetings. However, if you do have something sensitive to discuss, most open-concept layouts plan for that with closed-door conference rooms or “phone booths”. Workplace phone booths are smaller, enclosed spaces where you can make or take more private phone calls without disturbing your coworkers or being overheard. 

What About Life Post-COVID-19?

According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, 20-25 percent of jobs could allow staff to work from home 3-5 days a week. The same study suggested that 80% of people surveyed enjoy working from home part of the time. (Source) But what about the other part of the time? This is a great time to consider a flexible co-working space. As cases begin to decrease again, the social aspect of working life is expected to return.

Happier, healthier workers will lead to better productivity. Here, at MYOB, we love being part of the Innovation Works community.

Which Social Media Platforms Does My Business Need?

Which Social Media Platforms Does My Business Need?

As a business owner, you already know that social media is an essential tool to have in your marketing toolbox. You may also be aware that using the most appropriate social media platform(s) for your business can assist you in attracting new business while retaining existing customers. Other business goals that can be accomplished by using social media include driving traffic to your website, capturing a higher quality of leads, driving in-person sales, and boosting brand awareness and engagement.

The only issue with choosing social media platforms? There are so many possibilities!

A few years ago, choosing your brand’s social media platforms used to be fairly “simple”: you started a Facebook Page, created a Twitter profile, and then gradually added others. It is safe to say that the social landscape has changed a lot since the early days. Instagram has become much more popular (and stayed popular) for businesses and individuals. Facebook’s dwindling organic reach is a troublesome reality for business owners; Twitter’s algorithms are always changing; and LinkedIn is seeing increased traffic. Surprisingly, platforms like Pinterest and TikTok have become quite popular for brands, and if you are going to create video content, YouTube should be at the top of your list.

Trying to be active on dozens of social media channels at the same time is simply not feasible. So, it’s important to determine which ones are right for your business and marketing efforts. Here are some suggestions to help decide which social media channels are best for you.

Begin with your own audience.

When it comes to social media platforms, your target audience is unquestionably the most important consideration. Nothing else, not even size, matters if your audience is not engaged on the channel. Facebook, for example, has the most active users of any network. However, if your target audience is hanging out on TikTok or Instagram then that is where you should be.

In other words, each platform has a unique core audience; it is critical to identify your target audience and connect with them through their preferred social media channel. At the same time, if your product and target audience do not use a specific network, it makes no sense for you to be on that network.

What are your competitors doing?

Although you shouldn’t do something just because your rival is doing it, it is often quite helpful to see what others in your industry are doing so you can make an informed decision. Consider things such as what platforms they are using, what is working (and not working) for them, and how engaged their audiences are on each channel.

Consider how your brand comes across to others.

Your products and services, as well as the personality of your brand and the nature of your business, should all play a role in the social media platforms you select. For example, creative brands and artists could focus on visual sites like Instagram or Pinterest, while B2B companies should have LinkedIn at or near the top of their lists. Keep in mind though that there are no black-and-white options when it comes to platform selection. Plenty of B2B and B2C companies may have a visually attractive brand presence that potentially allows them to shine on Instagram, too.

Learn about the different platforms and understand them.

Each social media site has its own distinct personality and communication style. Twitter, for example, is wonderful for discussions and popular subjects, whereas LinkedIn is great for highlighting professional skills and corporate information. One important reason we recommend Facebook to businesses is that this account allows happy clients to tag you and recommend you.

Taking some time to learn about the channels you are considering as well as becoming familiar with the communication protocol has several advantages. Doing this will not only assist you in determining the ideal platform(s) for your business, but it will also assist you in avoiding communication blunders.

Are you ready to get social? We can help!

As you can see, having a solid social media presence provides numerous benefits, especially when you use the best platforms for your business. If you are eager to get started with social media management, we would love to help you avoid wasting time on sites that aren’t going to bring you the results you deserve. Find out how we can help your business stand out on social media by calling or visiting us online!

A Decade in Business!

A Decade in Business!

August 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Mind Your Own Business. It’s not every day that your “baby” turns ten, so I am super excited about it. My team and I are not only celebrating the fact that we have been in business for a decade, but we are also thriving!

Initially, my business model was for a Virtual Assistant. As a sole proprietor, I was responsible for a wide range of office administration services. Before I knew it, I was receiving an increasing number of requests for bookkeeping and website design, prompting me to hire my first employee. The requests kept coming in, so I hired my second employee and continued to grow. As of today, we total nine!

As the years passed, the services my customers need have also evolved and changed. Mind Your Own Business Inc. now offers bookkeeping, social media, and website design. So, how did we get here? I believe there are some lessons worth sharing about my ten-year journey. Prepare yourself for the good, the bad… and the ugly!

The Good

Getting started, I feel truly fortunate to have connected with Anderson & Associates whose business connected service providers with companies looking for the services I offered. Inquiries were also brought to my door by word-of-mouth recommendations from friendly, supportive colleagues. My circle began to expand after joining various networking groups, which brought together like-minded entrepreneurs at various stages of their businesses. Being a member of the London Chamber of Commerce also offered opportunities to meet and network with other local business leaders, as well as making possible a fantastic group benefits plan for our employees. Additionally, it was invaluable to work with the Small Business Centre to develop my business plan, which eventually qualified me for government funding to start my company. Next, I commissioned a brilliant graphic artist who helped me develop my logo and branding, which was money well spent.

As a team player, I love having and being part of a team. I absolutely love being a part of the dreams of other entrepreneurs and business leaders as we collaborate and work together to deliver excellent service. Through these past ten years, I have met and worked with so many people who have not only inspired me, but also became friends. Through my volunteer work on fundraising committees, I had the opportunity to meet and work with seasoned executives who mentored me as I progressed along my path.

And I certainly could not have done all of it without the support of my family. I can’t thank my husband enough for his encouragement and assistance along the way. When I needed extra hands on deck ten years ago, my daughter and her (then) boyfriend worked on contract. Today, that boyfriend is my son-in-law and my General Manager, and my daughter is the Social Media Manager.

The Bad

Along with the good times, there are, unfortunately, a lot of tough times. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Every business owner has at least one horror story to tell. Here is one I will never forget.

I can’t tell you how shocked I was the first time a new client demanded “emergency” service for a 20-hour job. I dropped everything to finish it, but she refused to pay. This lady had been referred by a trusted friend, but after the refusal to pay, I learned that this was a common tactic for this lady, who refused to pay for everything from hair styling to spa services to business services. She was my first client to go to a collection agency, and I was eventually forced to accept only a percentage of the total amount owed. Despite upfront quotes and new client agreements, I have unfortunately had to use the services of this collection agency several more times over the years since some people simply do not pay their bills.

One thing I have learned the hard way over time is that there will always be arrogant and condescending people who have decided that my services are of lower status in comparison to their lofty height of financial success. I keep in mind, however, that being talked down to says more about their character than it does about my services! Great business leaders always recognize, respect, and value their support staff, whether they are in-house or outsourced.

Another tough lesson I have learned is to be wary of the people who call and start a conversation with, “I don’t want to pay you for this call, but as a friend, I thought you could help me brainstorm my marketing ideas because you’re so good at it.” Promises of lunch or some minor reward for my contribution were frequently broken, but one favour turned into expecting another and another and so on. Master manipulators are adept at their games, and sadly they walk among us.

The Ugly

And finally, there’s the ugly. I consider myself an optimist, and always look for the best in people. As such, I strongly wish to keep the “ugly” to a minimum. But when reviewing this first decade of my business, I must acknowledge its presence as well. So here we go.

At the top of my ugly list is firing clients. Sleepless nights are preceded by several drafts of the break-up letter because the original cathartic script cannot be used! However, when a ‘bad client’ exhausts my tolerance and brings toxic negativity into my business or personal life, it becomes necessary – albeit difficult – to break up. It has happened a few times over the past ten years, and in each case, it was the best possible outcome. When doors closed, windows opened, and along with the fresh air, my entire teams’ attitudes were refreshed and renewed in preparation for new clients.

Wrapping It Up (With a Bow!)

So, there you have it – the good, the bad and the ugly! Overall, the decade has brought me more joy than I could have imagined, and I am looking forward to the future.

As I wrap up this part of my celebration, I wish to share my best advice with you. These tips have served me well, and I hope they will be helpful for you, too — whether you are just starting out as a new business owner, or you’ve been in business for over ten years!

  • Get signed contracts — even though you have integrity, your word is golden, and you think you don’t need them, you do. Handshakes and agreements are lost in the wind when the client won’t pay.
  • Make sure you have enough – and even extra – cash on hand to get started. Limited cashflow can create a nightmare.
  • Check references thoroughly before hiring someone.
  • Keep expenses under control – don’t waste your money on cool “toys”, shiny objects, or coloured paper clips. Don’t be cheap, just mindful.
  • Build and expand slowly and with a plan so you can stay away from high interest debt as you build your company.
  • Keep your bookkeeping up-to-date and government filings on time.
  • Have an excellent accountant to do your taxes and who will properly advise you.
  • Be consistent with your branding and messaging.
  • Have a business coach and/or mentor.
  • Answer your phone, respond to emails, and be available to your customers.
  • If you have a big ego – park it at the door. It’s a repellent.

 

Ready, Set, Go! Business Tips for Start-Ups: Part II

Ready, Set, Go! Business Tips for Start-Ups: Part II

This week, we are back with the second part of our business tips for startups series! In the first part of our series, we went through three key points to think about as you start your new business: finance, marketing plans, and websites. (https://www.myobontario.ca/business-tips-for-start-ups-part-i/) In this article, we’ll go over three more critical aspects for launching a successful startup.

These three additional tips will assist you in making your business a success:

1. SWOT Analysis of competitors

Regardless of the type of business you start, one thing is for certain: there will be competitors. Even if no other business is selling exactly what you intend to sell, there are likely other products or services that your target customers are currently using to meet their needs. To be successful, you must research your competitors and learn as much as you can about what they sell and how they sell it.

Before implementing any new strategy, it is important to evaluate your current position. From there, you can consider where you want to go, how you intend to get there, and what obstacles may arise.

To determine these things, a thoughtful SWOT Analysis of your competitors could be revealing. What is a SWOT Analysis? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats; a SWOT Analysis is a method for evaluating these four aspects of your competitors.

2. Staffing

When it comes to hiring, startups face unique challenges. Finding the right people is a challenge that every business, whether established or new, faces. However, the people you need to hire for your startup will require a specific skill set to advance your business to the next level – yet you may lack the funds to attract the right people through the usual channels used by large corporations. It’s going to be an ongoing balancing act between having confidence in your company’s growth and spending the cash it takes to acquire and retain good talent.

Startups are also frequently faced with the decision of whether to hire permanent full-time employees or independent contractors. There are pros and cons to both, so which approach is best for you? This decision is likely to be influenced by your startup’s requirements and available budget. The primary distinction between contractors and employees is that contractors work for themselves, provide their own equipment and have other clients. If you hire your own employee, on the other hand, you are responsible for managing and paying additional overhead costs such as CPP, EI, statutory holidays and vacation pay. Furthermore, there are critical filings and remittances required to be paid to Canada Revenue Agency.

If you’re ready to hire, be sure go over your startup’s budget and priorities to make the best hiring decision for your team!

3. Lining up your professional support team

Hiring professionals to help your startup makes a lot of sense, especially when you are just getting started. Although a support team – which includes, but is not limited to, an accountant, attorney, consultant/coach, and bookkeeper – is not required to launch a startup, having access to their expertise is beneficial in getting your startup set up correctly and supporting continued growth. For example, most new business owners are unfamiliar with the legal and financial matters that must be addressed for their startup to succeed. You can, of course, do research and attempt to learn on your own, but doing so will take valuable time away from your primary responsibilities – starting and growing your business! Plus, having access to qualified professionals you can count on helps you to confidently focus on other elements of your organization.

Are you ready to get started?

Startup owners who wish to be successful must be able to adapt to changing circumstances, keep a healthy balance, and surround themselves with the right people. We hope you find these suggestions helpful, and we wish you luck as you begin your journey down a new path! If you need us, we are here for you – call or contact us and let us know how we can help.

Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger

“Don’t talk to strangers!” Parents have warned their children for decades. Evil often comes packaged in beauty and charm. And so, obedient children have refused to be lured by candy.

Today’s online lures are clever, disguised and not obvious in many cases. Now that we are used to the emails from a Prince in a faraway land who wants to send us money and avoid the demands to “click here to enter banking information”, the scams are getting more sophisticated and aimed straight at our emotions. Let’s look at some common scams that are online today, targeting our curiosity, fear, sympathy or even love and connection.

Curiosity

Shocking social media announcements about a scandalous situation with a celebrity or sudden news that someone has died can be enough to make you click for more. Be aware that not all websites are created equal. False information is everywhere on the internet. Before you click share to be the first to tell your friends, you can verify news via scam-checking websites like https://www.snopes.com/

Fear

Have you received a recorded call on your cell phone telling you that you have violated rules with Revenue Canada and there is now a warrant for your arrest? Or perhaps a huge alert appeared on your computer screen, seemingly from the RCMP saying they have detected child pornography on your computer? These terrifying messages are followed by demanding an immediate response from you. Cell phones ask you to press 1 and computers ask you to click a link for help. Stop. If you’re worried about Revenue Canada, call them directly. If you’re worried about a virus on your computer, call an IT company to help you.

Sympathy

There have been numerous fraudsters trying to collect money on group funding websites, or phone calls from a charity. They all tell a sad story with an urgent need. Because this has happened too often, the sites are now tightening up the regulations. To help avoid unwanted cold calls, you should register to be on the “Do Not Call List (DNCL). https://lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/en Let common sense be your guide. Check the story and the source before sending money.

Love

With the rise of popularity and success of online dating, there’s also a rise in catfishing online. Our human need for love and validation, opens the door to the hearts of all ages of people in all walks of life. These clever scammers know how to win trust and what magical words to type so that the victim becomes comfortable. Often it is months before a crisis occurs and a request for money is made. There are signs to look for: never meeting via Skype or Zoom or in-person, outlandish stories about impossible situations or professing undying love forever when you’ve never met. If you suspect this is happening to you or someone you know, search the internet for profiles of this person to see if they are consistent. You can also upload any images you’ve been given to reverse Google image search, or to a website like Tin Eye (https://tineye.com) to request matches elsewhere on the internet. If the images you have been given are actually stock photos, you’ll see that in your results.

Connection

If you have spent time on social media, being social with your “friends”, you’ve seen the fun quizzes asking for your favourite colour, your favourite vacation spot, your pet’s first name, your favourite band or the name of your high school. These sound like familiar security questions, don’t they? Of course there may be other harmless questions in there too, but think about the personal information that you’re handing out to the internet and not just your “friends”!

Have you ever received a friend request from someone you thought you were already friends with online? This is another way hackers try to invade your personal accounts. If you think there’s even a chance you may be friends with that person already, double check before clicking accept!

Are you making your accounts easy to hack? Identity theft is a nightmare.

At the end of the day, “Don’t talk to strangers!” is still a solid piece of advice for us all. Beware. Be smart. Be careful, verify and fact check before you click.

Who is Minding Your Store?

Who is Minding Your Store?

Imagine you are out window shopping one day. Suddenly, you come across a lovely new store with an incredible selection of exactly what you have been looking for! How exciting! You cannot wait to start shopping, so you walk on in. However, once you start looking around the store, you start to feel a little uncertain about shopping there. Something just doesn’t feel right, but you can’t put your finger on it. Then suddenly, you realize what’s going on…there is not a single person around to talk to. Not one.

Who is going to answer your questions or help you with your purchase? What if you buy something but need to return it? Who is minding this store? Unless you prefer a completely automated shopping experience, you are probably going to leave this beautiful store and never return.

Surprisingly, albeit it virtually, this scenario occurs on a regular basis for many of us on our favourite social media pages. And, unfortunately, there are far too many pages with large numbers of fans who receive no responses to their questions or comments. With someone to “mind the store,” so to speak, these pages would potentially see increased reach and engagement, as well as more trust and brand loyalty from their fans.

Why is community management so important?

There’s no doubt that social media use has exploded since 2004, and the numbers of users continues to rise. As a result, community management of social media pages on the major platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn has become a critical component of customer service. Good community management is key to retaining current customers as well as acquiring new customers, especially through referrals.

Are you still not completely convinced? Check out these statistics:

  1. As of 2020, there are 3.78 billion social media users, which equates to about 48% of the current world population. (Statista)
  2. 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that same brand to their friends and family. (Ambassador)
  3. In 2020, nearly 6 in 10 consumers preferred visiting social media pages of brands before deciding to visit their websites (an 81% increase from 2019). (Digital Information World)

Clients and Community Managers work together!

The relationship between a client/brand and its Community Manager is critical for a variety of reasons, but especially because it requires complete confidence for them to delegate the critical task of engaging with their consumers on their behalf. Although it can truly be challenging at times, it is important to understand both the tone of voice, and the industry jargon. This ensures that engagement with the clients’ followers on their social media pages is reliable and genuine.

Community Managers are on the front lines to promote and protect their clients’ reputation. This includes responding to negative feedback and all comments in a timely and respectful manner. All in all, the client is counting on their Community Manager to “mind the store”. By interacting with customers through social media platforms you are showing them that you care. What may seem like a simple gesture will often go a long way toward establishing positive customer relationships.

Let’s Begin.

At MYOB, our Community Managers research your brand and competitors to develop a strategy to meet your marketing goals. They will prepare an audit of your existing accounts and offer recommendations to move forward. MYOB can help you mind your own business better!