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.

Deep Dive into Social Media Platforms: Choose the Right Ones for Your Business

Deep Dive into Social Media Platforms: Choose the Right Ones for Your Business

In our recent blog post, “Which Social Media Platforms Does My Business Need?”, we touched upon the importance of including social media in your marketing toolbox and provided suggestions for deciding which platforms to use. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into some of the most popular social media sites to help you determine which may be the most appropriate for your business.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Facebook

As one of the world’s oldest (it turned 17 this year) and most widely used social networks, Facebook has nearly 2.8 billion monthly active users. That’s a lot! It’s also a great platform to reach people who already know your business.

When developing an effective Facebook marketing strategy, businesses must understand two main things: 1) Who is on the platform and 2) How they are using it.

So, who makes up Facebook’s billions of users? They come from all over the world and represent all age groups. Here are some interesting statistics:

  1. In Canada, over 72% of the population has access to Facebook. The number of Facebook users in Canada reached 27.35 million in 2021 and is expected to reach 36.2 million by 2026. (Source: Statista)
  2. 83% of Canadians have a Facebook account, making it the top social platform in our country. (Source: Hootsuite)
  3. Many of Facebook’s users are between the ages of 25 and 34. (Source: Statista)
  4. Two-thirds of Facebook users visit a local business page at least once a week. (Source: Sprout Social)
  5. Facebook ads are among the most cost-effective advertising options for small businesses, and its marketing features extend into Instagram (which Facebook owns) and Messenger. (Source: WordStream)

Instagram

Instagram has expanded tremendously over the years and continues to do so. The photo-sharing app has evolved from being a favourite place for people to share their holiday, food, and family photos into a platform that appeals to a wide range of influencers, advertisers, and brands. Instagram is an excellent platform for humanizing your company, showcasing your values, and elevating your brand through eye-catching images and videos.

It’s probably safe to say that your target audience is on Instagram. In fact, your ideal customers are probably scrolling through their Instagram feeds right now! Check out these numbers:

  1. Instagram is estimated to have 1.074 billion users worldwide in 2021 (Source: eMarketer), and it’s the fastest growing social media platform in Canada.
  2. The average Instagram user spends at least 7 hours per week on the platform. (Source: Sprout Social)
  3. 71% of the billion monthly active users on the Instagram app are under the age of 35; The single most popular age range is users between the ages of 25-34, followed by users between the ages of 18-24. (Source: Statista)
  4. Even though Instagram is most popular among those aged 18 to 30 (Gen Z and Millennials), 71% of B2B companies now have an Instagram account. (Source: Social Media Examiner)
  5. 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business, meaning that businesses have a great opportunity to increase their reach through Instagram. (Source: mention). One appealing option for brands is they can add contact information to their Instagram Business pages, which isn’t an option for personal profiles. This includes a business phone number and physical address.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful business-oriented network and the most popular social media platform for professionals. The content shared on this platform is primarily designed to improve a company’s profile, connect with other businesses, and encourage job recruitment.

Although it’s not the biggest social network, or the one with the largest reach, LinkedIn is still a great site to be on, whether your business offers B2B or B2C products and/or services. Here are some statistics to consider:

  1. LinkedIn has 722 million members; 57% of the platform’s users are men, and 43% are women. (Source: Hootsuite)
  2. 1% of all Internet users in Canada use LinkedIn each month, and 44% of all Internet users in Canada have an account on this social platform. (Source: eMarketer). LinkedIn reports a total of 17 million users in Canada.
  3. 9% of LinkedIn’s users are between 25 and 34 years old. (Source: Hootsuite)
  4. 55 million companies are on LinkedIn. (Source: Hootsuite)
  5. LinkedIn is only second to Facebook as the most popular social media network for B2B marketers. (Source: HubSpot)

Twitter

Whether you love the platform or not, Twitter can be an extremely effective tool for expanding your company’s online presence. If you’ve spent any time at all on the platform, you already know how fast-paced and chaotic it can be, so It’s vital to be able to stand out as a business on Twitter these days if you want to succeed. Here are a few numbers to help you decide whether tweeting may be worth your while:

  1. There are 554,750,000 active users on Twitter. (Source: Rival IQ)
  2. 24% of people check their Twitter feed more than twice a day. (Source: Rival IQ)
  3. 70% of small businesses are on Twitter. (Source: Rival IQ)
  4. 33% of Twitter users follow a brand. (Source: Rival IQ)
  5. 79% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend brands they follow and 67% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow. (Source: Rival IQ)

YouTube

Does your business create a lot of video content? When it comes to traffic, revenue, and a vast user base that can’t get enough of video content for any brand’s target audience or budget, YouTube’s effectiveness for a business is beyond compare. Even better? It’s not too late to start a YouTube account for your business if you haven’t already, and the process isn’t complicated.

Having a business YouTube channel can help you reach a larger audience, expand your business, and further establish your brand. Check out these statistics:

  1. YouTube has 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, making it a very close second to Facebook. (Source: Foundation)
  2. There are YouTube users in over 100 countries. (Source: Foundation)
  3. YouTube is not just for the teens and millennials. Surprisingly, the fastest growing demographic currently on YouTube are Baby Boomers and Generation X. (Source: Foundation)
  4. Google recently revealed that Generation Xers (ages 39-53) now account for over 1.5 billion views per day on YouTube, with 75% of that group viewing YouTube at least once a month. (Source: Foundation)
  5. 90% of users say they discover new companies or products on YouTube, which could mean that video is becoming a more common way to get your brand’s name out there. (Source: Foundation)

Are you ready to make your business stand out on social media?

There are even more social media platforms available than we have covered above — and new ones pop up almost every day it seems. Either way, social media networks are exciting marketing tools to have in your toolbox and managing them and engaging your customer base is one of our areas of expertise. Your business is unique and the social media activity you choose needs to be aligned with your needs.  Let’s talk about the options!

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.

 

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.