The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanter’s wand — itself a nothing,
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyze the Caesars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! Take away the sword,
States can be saved without it!” 

– Edward Bulwer-Lytton, novelist, and playwright

Have you noticed that nearly everyone has something to say these days—especially online? It’s not your imagination! People have become increasingly emboldened by having the opportunity to use social media as an outlet for their individual voices. Most of the time, people use their social media platforms to share positive, funny, and uplifting messages, whether their own thoughts, or through memes. Unfortunately, on the flip side, we see more than our fair share of negative messages as well. In either case, once something is said on the internet, it can exist indefinitely… there is no going back.

In one of our recent blog posts, “Service for the Customer,” we addressed the importance of providing excellent customer service as one way to avoid receiving negative reviews online. However, you will always have at least one disgruntled individual who has no qualms about letting you know how unhappy they are — either on your social media platforms, within your blog comments, online review sites, etc. – nor will they hesitate to make their feelings known to the public.

Along with the opportunity and easy access to do so, each of us has the power to use words, both positive and negative, to express ourselves. So, what’s a business to do? Here are a few ways you can “sharpen your own sword,” so to speak, and make your words – and those of your audience – matter.

Acknowledge ALL comments

Although it’s tempting to simply ignore or delete the negative comments, it could end up being one of the worst things you do as a business. For one thing, it will give an unhappy individual yet another excuse to continue negativity towards your business. Every comment, whether positive, negative, or neutral, should be responded to since doing so helps you better connect with your followers by opening the lines of communication.

For customer service purposes, every negative review provides an opportunity to turn the situation around for a win! It’s not always easy, but it’s important to always be polite and professional when communicating online with your followers. Avoid swear words, even if they’re using them. Be mindful of your loyal customers; if they happen to see you being rude to others, it may affect their opinion of your company as well as their decision to continue doing business with you.

Note: Spam and vulgar or offensive comments are definitely exceptions and should be reported and deleted.

Own it!

Mistakes can happen in any organization. Quite frequently, brands are called out by their audiences for what may seem to be a minor error, such as a typo or misspelling. However, there are times where a major blunder could occur unintentionally, such as internet controversies, offensive posts, inappropriately timed posts – perhaps due to prescheduling – or engaging in an online argument with an individual that goes sideways.

Regardless of whether the blunder is tiny or gigantic, the first step to take as business owner is to apologize. Even if you disagree with the individual, saying, “We are very sorry,” goes a long way to start the process of resolving or avoiding further conflict. The damage is done, so attempting to cover up or ignore the mistake will only make the situation worse for your business. Instead, immediately accept responsibility and take ownership for your error with a public online apology. When issuing your public apology, make sure you are sincere. Most people can tell the difference between a fake one that translates to an ‘Oops! We got caught!’, and a genuine, heartfelt sentiment. Your audience will appreciate your honesty.

Obtain positive feedback and customer testimonials

One of the most effective ways to reduce impact of a bad comment on your company image is through earning positive reviews, which will far outweigh the negative ones! If you’re not sure how to ask for feedback from your customers, HubSpot offers a few tips to help you get started:

1. Ask the customer in person.
2. Leverage moments of customer happiness.
3. Begin with an open-ended question.

How will you use your words today?

Taking the time to share kind words online, such as a recommendation for a local business or nominating someone for an award, can be powerful and even life-changing for them. This makes the metaphorical pen very mighty indeed. Which takes us back to the famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” According to one interpretation, writing is a more powerful tool than violence, and a pen can accomplish far more than a sword. It implies that the power of writing is timeless, whereas the sword’s power is fleeting. Our words have power, so we should always consider using them in a positive way and on a regular basis.

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.

Business Tips for Start-Ups: Part I

Business Tips for Start-Ups: Part I

Are you thinking about starting your own business? If so, then you are certainly not alone. According to Fundsquire, a global startup and scale-up funding network, Canada’s startup scene has been growing exponentially in the last few years. In fact, Canada has been ranked as the world’s fourth most influential startup hub, trailing only the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom. (https://startupstash.com/canada-startups/)

It is important to keep in mind that before you begin purchasing supplies or registering your company, you must devote time and effort to developing a business plan. Taking the first steps toward launching a new business may seem intimidating to you, but fortunately, there are excellent resources to help you with this, such as the London Small Business Centre (https://www.sbcentre.ca/). This not-for-profit organization provides training and support to starting and growing businesses. Plus, they make it simple to find programs, services, resources, and support for all aspects of your business.

So, are you eager to launch your own startup? Here are three tips to consider as you get started:

1.     Finance

A budget has numerous components that must be determined before you begin your business. This includes your own financial investment required to get started. Depending on your business, you’ll probably wish to purchase office equipment and furniture, a computer, printer, supplies, etc. One especially important aspect of your budget to keep in mind is your marketing plan expense.

You should plan to open a separate business bank account to avoid mixing your personal and business income and expenses and to keep a clean set of books. Consistent and diligent record-keeping is essential, so start from the beginning with a bookkeeping plan. Canada Revenue Agency’s rules and regulations, including whether to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), must be considered as well.

2.     Marketing Plan

Marketing your startup is critical to its growth and to distinguishing itself from competitors. Having a marketing plan will help you as you begin identifying potential customers, channels, and the best ways to target the people you wish to serve.

While there is no set template, components of a solid marketing plan may include – but are not limited to – the following:

  1. Networking (Face-to-face or virtual)
  2. Referrals
  3. Digital marketing: setting up social media accounts (Facbeook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), social media ads
  4. Print/magazine ads
  5. Mailings
  6. Radio and/or television advertising

3.     Website

Opening and running a business, even a brick-and-mortar one, without a web presence is no longer feasible. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, consumers use the internet for everything from researching products and services to finding a store’s location and operating hours. A well-designed professional website can certainly give you an advantage in your industry, while helping you easily and efficiently expand your business.

As you begin envisioning your startup’s website, you’ll need to first determine its primary purpose. Based on this, you will then need to consider whether you need a brochure site, an interactive site, and whether your clients need a secure sign in portal or downloadable forms.

We are here to help!

With skill and experience in the areas of bookkeeping, social media management and website design, our team is dedicated to our clients’ success, whether they’re just starting out or already established. MYOB can help you mind your own business better!

We have three other tips for startups coming up in our next blog post!