Be sure to have business cards for your startup.

Marketing 101 for startup businesses

As a new startup, you may be looking for all the advice you can get. According to Forbes, nine out of ten startups will fail. This can be from a plethora of different reasons, like if the product isn't fully finalized or the finance team doesn't know how to manage the budget. However, one of the biggest reasons a startup will fail is because it doesn't know how to market itself successfully.

Nowadays, with smartphones at everyone's fingertips, some companies believe that marketing is an easy aspect of business. However, this is not the case: The right marketing could make or break your company. Here are some tips for how to market your startup – the right way.

Decide Your Tone
When your company is just in its beginning stages, it's essential that you come to terms with what kind of tone you will embodying. Who is your target audience? Is it other businesses? Then you're going to want to take on a professional, educated voice for all your social media, fliers, etc. On the other hand, are you trying to win over millennials with your product? Then it may be in your best interest to take on more casual and colloquial language. Decide your audience, choose your tone and make sure that you are consistent. 

Head to Social Media
Regardless of your targeted age demographic, it's vital that you take your company to social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest are all sites that can help boost your visibility. In addition, these websites allow for your to speak directly with your customers. It puts a much more public spin on customer interaction, and how you treat those relationships can truly effect your business. 

However, it's all about choosing the right social media. For example, Instagram is a place where people post pictures and graphics with captions. If you're targeting an older, more professional audience, odds are you aren't going to connect with them on here. LinkedIn may be more your speed.

Take Your Customers' Advice
If you're still in the early stages of a startup, you're going to want as much feedback as possible. Feedback from other successful businesses can be helpful, but what you hear back from your customers is what truly matters. After your first six months or year, create customer surveys to send out. Have your buyers explain what they liked and didn't like. This can be helpful for improving your overall company for the future. 

Hire a Marketing Team
It may sound simple, but some startups think that their money is better spent elsewhere, rather than on a marketing team. In an effort to keep overhead costs low, companies often decide that other departments can do the marketing. However, this couldn't be more wrong. A marketing team is what gives your company legs. This is not to say that other departments cannot handle some of the marketing. It's just that if the going gets rough, those teams are going to throw marketing to the side to focus on their jobs. Having a marketing team can truly make your startup shine.

Don't Forget About Paper
There once was a time when marketing was all about fliers and posters, not emails and social media. And while a lot of companies have gone completely paperless for their marketing departments, there are still some paper marketing materials that can benefit you. For example, never underestimate the power of a good business card. If you're a new startup, you're going to want to get your name out there, and there's no better way to do that than with a business card. These little slips of paper can get your foot in the door, so be sure that all of your employees have some and that they carry them at all times. You never know when an opportunity to network is going to present itself. 

Organizing your desk can clear your mind of stress.

Decluttering Your Workspace

How many times do you find yourself shuffling through heaps of papers and files on your desk at work? If the answer is even once a day, it's time to declutter. Having a clean workspace can significantly improve your productivity and overall mood. However, your old cleaning up routine won't do anymore. Here are some new ways to declutter your workspace.

Start With Your Desktop
In today's technological age, some of the messiest parts of our lives are on the computer. Odds are, most of your job requires a lot of time typing away. Now is the time to do a little cleaning. Do you have files and stationery all over your desktop taking up space? Create organized folders to add some order, and delete anything you no longer have use for. That way, you'll be able to find anything you need more easily.

Your computer might need some actual cleaning, too. When's the last time you wiped off al  the smudges and fingerprints on your screen or keys? Computers can collect an absurd amount of dust and bacteria, so it's necessary to give them a deep clean every other week or so. Not only will it help your piece of mind, but the germs that have been lurking on these areas will be long gone, too

Empty Your Email
Speaking of decluttering your computer, it's time to take a look at your inbox. Many of us have stacks of stacks of emails that we've read but haven't deleted. On the other hand, some of us have unread backlog emails that can be quite daunting. If you're looking to declutter your work life, go through your email. Delete anything that isn't essential, and reply to messages that have been forgotten over the past few months. 

Move Things to Drawers
Keeping items on your desk may sound like a good thing in theory, but it can actually make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. It's Time to Get Organized recommends keeping only your current project on your desk, and putting everything else like stationery and notebooks in drawers or organizational units. 

Moving things off of your desk not only clears your space but also can clear your mind. You know the phrase, "Out of sight, out of mind?" Well it works here. If you're working on a project and something else catches your eye, you could lose focus. By only keeping what you're working on on your workspace, it will have all of your attention.

Watch Your Wires
Between computers, keyboards, phones, cellphone chargers, headphones, etc., you probably have plenty of wires surrounding your desk. The last thing you're going to want is to waste time finding out which wire goes to what device – so it's time to give them a label. This can easily be done with brightly colored masking tape. Just be sure to use a different shade for each item so you don't get anything mixed up. 

Fix Your Distractions
Sometimes it's really nice to adorn your desk with personal photos and items. It can make the office feel more like home, rather than a stale workplace. However, sometimes these can be your exact trouble spots. Do you find yourself zoning out and staring at your pictures? Well, then it's probably time to get those decorative items out of the way. Toss old knick knacks that have just been sitting on the counter, especially if you can't remember where they initially came from. 

Move Things Around
Sometimes you don't have to throw anything out to declutter. Just do a little rotation of your items. It's true that some things can fit better stacked on top of one another or side-by-side. Figuring the best place to put the pieces together for your puzzle of a desk can greatly improve your workspace. 

Here's your office spring cleaning guide.

Spring Cleaning at the Office

Let's face it, the winter can be dark and dreary, and most people cannot wait until it's over. During this time, it's inevitable for people to let their routines slip a bit. Employees may order in lunch instead of heading out so that they don't have to go outside. Others may be working from home most days because of the brutal weather. Another effect of winter you may have noticed? The lack of tidying up.

An organized workplace is pretty essential for people's productivity levels. And while your office may have a cleaning crew come in every night, there are some things that the workers must take upon themselves. Here's a great way to improve employee camaraderie and make the office more comfortable for everyone: spring cleaning.

Make It a Team Effort
If you're looking to do an office spring cleaning, it's important to do it as a group. Send out an email to everyone marking the time and date of the spring cleaning. In addition, make a list for people to sign up for what supplies to bring. (Hint: You can never have too many paper towels). Getting everyone involved makes it seem more like a project than a tedious task.

Assign Jobs
It doesn't matter if your office has 15 employees or 100. If you're going to have a spring cleaning day, you're going to want to assign jobs so that there is some sort of schedule. Without tasks, everyone will be running around, and certain surfaces and rooms can be cleaned several times, which is counterproductive. Instead, make a list and have people sign up to clean an assigned room. That way, there will be structure to the day.

Do Some Prep Work
Before the day arrives, you're going to want to make sure the little jobs are out of the way. Have everyone throw out their uneaten and expired food from the fridge and organize their desks. Throw away useless paper to make room for more helpful things. Employees should only keep items on their desks that are essential, according to Forbes. Once the small tasks are out of the way, everyone can focus on getting the main duties done – which are the ones that truly matter.

Make It Fun
Not many people actually like to clean. In fact, most people despise it. But the trick to getting your employees excited about the day is making it fun. Send out an email asking for music requests, and create a playlist based off those songs. Bring in some speakers, and blast the tunes while everyone works. You'd be surprised how quickly tasks can go by when there's an element of fun incorporated into the mix.

Have a Reward
Sometimes motivation comes down to a reward. When it comes to office spring cleaning, make it worthwhile for your employees. For example, offer catering for lunch once the job is complete or have everyone leave early for drinks. The truth of the matter is that food and drinks can be a great incentive, and your workers can get the opportunity to bond after the job is done. 

A narrow brand strategy is more successful than a broad one.

Why Independent Businesses Should Narrow Their Brand

Your product or service may be beneficial to individuals in every demographic you can think of, but that doesn't mean your brand should target literally everyone. In fact, taking too broad of an approach can actually do more harm than good. Not sure how a narrower branding effort can help your business? Here are a few reasons it could be the right move:

You'll Target the People Most Likely to Buy
Your target audience is perhaps your strongest source of revenue – that's the reason it's your target! But this group of individuals isn't your audience because you want it to be. Rather, it's your audience because it aligns with your company's goals, mission and style. What's more, your target audience is most likely to want or need your service. For instance, high-end kitchen supplies may help everyone cook better meals, but the target audience of such products includes people who can afford the luxury and who enjoy cooking. Retailers of cookware can create a brand that appeals to other demographics, but it may contradict the products themselves.

Research who is most likely to use and love your products, and narrow your brand to target those individuals.

You'll Help Others Get to Know Your Business
Your business goals and values shape the type of company you build. Whether you try to improve lives with your goods or services or put some of your profit toward charitable endeavors, your branding should speak to those unique features. Everything from colors to fonts to the language you use paints a picture of your company. For this reason, every choice you make in your branding is important.

Avoid anything too general and instead develop a website, marketing materials, business cards, etc., that speak to the values your company holds. For instance, if friendliness is at the heart of your brand, don't use wording that's snarky. Or, if your brand is romantic, stick to advertisements that reflect that.

Expanding Could Be More Successful
A study conducted at BI Norwegian Business School found that companies that used a narrow brand strategy had more success expanding their product line than companies that followed a broad strategy. Whether you're still trying to establish your independent business or thinking of ways to expand in the future, establishing a narrow, targeted brand first may be instrumental in guiding your growth.

Re-examining your company's values and goals and identifying your target audience can help you establish a specific brand that your customers will start to notice.

Perfect your work from home routine.

Perfecting Your Work-from-Home Routine

If you have the luxury of working from home, you should consider yourself incredibly lucky. There's nothing like doing your job from the comfort of your own home, especially when the weather is bad. However, this act can sometimes be challenging because houses offer up many more distractions than an office. Here are some tips for perfecting your work-from-home routine:

Give Yourself a Work Environment

Typing away while lying on your couch or bed might sound nice, but it can actually do you more harm than good. If you're working from home, it's best not to do it in your bed. You need to be able to draw a stark line between rest and work. With the blending of the two, your productivity level will go down. Try to sit at a desk if you have one or your kitchen table. If you're feeling restricted, it's OK to move to a comfier seat, but don't stay too long. Some people have home offices, but others have to make do with what they have. 

Let There Be Light
If you wake up and get straight to work, you may be working without enough light and not even realizing it. Before you turn on your computer, flick all the lights on in your home. The brighter it is, the more it will feel like an office, and the easier it will be to get your job done. In addition, darkness can put a severe strain on your eyes, which could cause headaches. Don't risk it, and turn the lights up so you can mimic the environment you normally are in while working.

Get Out of the House
While working from home, you can become so engrossed that, before you know it, you've spent an entire day without even walking outside. This lack of outside world can limit your creativity. Do your best to get yourself out of there. It doesn't matter where you go, whether it's getting a cup of coffee in the morning or picking up lunch in the afternoon. Or, if it's nice outside, try to work out there. 

If you don't feel yourself being productive, you don't have to stay at your home. Working from a coffee shop still constitutes as working from home. Sometimes all people need is a little change of scenery.

Get a Head Start
Most people spend at least an hour of their day commuting to and from their job. By working from home, you should be able to reclaim your commuting time, according to Inc. Start a little earlier so that you can end a little earlier. In addition, you could also win back a little time by not getting ready in the morning. 

Take Breaks
Being in your home, you might feel like the entire day is a break. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can be harmful to you. Even though you might be at your house, you still need some time off throughout the day. Go for a walk or read a chapter in a book. Sometimes the best thing is to get away from your work and come back to it refreshed and with more concentration. 

Rid Your Home of Distractions
Distractions can be the downside of working from home. There, you have complete access to television, music and even people in your life. Odds are, the television playing in the background isn't helping you work. If you have other people in your home, close the door so you can have peace and quiet. If you let them know you need to work, they should respect your time. But don't forget to respect your time yourself. No one is there to force you to work, so you're going to have to do it yourself. Getting carried away with distractions will only harm your workload in the long run. 

Here's how to handle office layoffs.

How to Handle Layoffs

Having to lay off employees isn't easy for anyone involved. However, as a company manager, the way in which you conduct a layoff can affect past, present and future workers. Here are some ways to navigate a layoff respectfully: 

Warn Them if You Can
No one likes to be blindsided. If your company obtains information that layoffs are going to be made in the future, sometimes it's in the best interest to inform your employees. First of all, this can increase incentive to work harder, which can make the layoff decision easier down the road. In addition, it gives your employees the chance to be prepared for what may come. There's nothing worse than a worker completely shocked upon being told he or she is going to being laid off – even though sometimes it's inevitable. 

As a boss or manager, be sure to make the best call for your company when deciding whether or not to inform employees there will be layoffs.

Communicate Openly
When you unfortunately have to conduct a layoff, it's important to give your terminated employees all the information you can. Be sure to do this in private so you can give employees the time and space to react. Do your best to explain to them the reasons why this has to happen. Be prepared to experience a wide range of emotions from sadness to rage. Everyone is different and can respond to this news differently. Some need to get it all out, and some want the cold, hard facts while others might just walk out the door, according to Harvard Business Review. 

Offer Help
Immediately after you break the news, be sure to make it about them, not the company. Do whatever you can to help, whether it's keeping in contact, giving them a lead on a job or simply explaining that you can be used as a reference. The more you try and offer help, the more positive your employees will feel about themselves and the company. 

Offer employees your business card, and encourage them to keep in touch and reach out if they ever need anything. Extending a helping hand can go a long way.

Thank Them
Oftentimes managers forget one of the most important parts of letting someone go: thanking the employee for all of his or her hard work. You'd be surprised at how much better an employee may feel if you speak to him or her earnestly about how grateful you are. Be specific. Reference moments when the person truly shined in the workplace. That way, he or she will be able to recall positive moments once the dust has settled. 

Respect Their Time
It's very important that you respect your employees' time. That means once you know they're going to be laid off, you should inform them. Be sure not to tip-toe around for a couple of days; it's a waste of their time and yours. In addition, be sure to conduct layoffs early in the day and the week. The last thing you want is your employees working hard all day or week only to be informed right before the weekend that they no longer work for you. 

Use extra time in the morning to organize your desk.

3 Bad Work Habits to Break

When starting a new job, usually you're on your best behavior. But over time, you may begin to develop bad habits without even realizing it. Before you know it, these habitual actions can limit your productivity and overall work ethic. 

Since it's a new year, it's time to start fresh and kick those shake up your routine. Here are some bad habits you may have at work and how to break them.

1. You Need Coffee to Be Productive
Let's face it, caffeine is addictive. Some workers need several cups of coffee to just get through the day's work. And while there's something to be said for enjoying a drink you like, too much coffee can actually do more harm than good. Caffeine can make a stressful situation even worse. It makes your blood pressure rise and spikes levels of adrenaline – both of which can make you more uptight and stressed. In addition, it doesn't go away after you leave the office. Have you ever found yourself lying awake in bed unable to fall asleep? The four cups of coffee you drank at the office could be why. 

When it comes to limiting coffee drinking, start small. For instance, stop drinking it after lunchtime – so, let's say 1 p.m. When you need a little boost, try herbal green tea or a cold glass of water. These will hydrate your body, not dehydrate it like coffee does. That way, you'll perk up and be ready to finish the day strong. 

2. You Arrive Just on Time
Have you ever walked into work at exactly 9 a.m.? While being on time is by no means a bad thing, there's so much more you can gain from arriving early. Even if you walk in 15 minutes early, it gives you just that little more time needed to start the day off on the right foot. With that 15 minutes, you can answer emails that have been piling up, write yourself a note, organize your desk or even make yourself breakfast. Those extra moments can really set the tone for the kind of work day you will have.

In addition, having that time without the whole office bustling will allow you to be extremely productive. Then, by the time your co-workers arrive, you'll already be ahead of the game. 

3. You Gab With Co-Workers
You may love chatting with your office mates, and you should definitely make time to do that. However, as time goes on, talking to co-workers may be eating up a large portion of your day. Instead of leaning over to tell your neighbor something or chatting him or her when something comes to mind, try and save it for lunchtime. Of course, this only applies if what you were going to say isn't work-related or urgent. Saving most of your social interactions for lunch will allow you to completely focus on work without any interruptions. Not only will this help your productivity, but it will also have a positive impact on your lunch break. Make a rule to not discuss any kind of work at lunch. That way, you'll be able to keep your work and personal life separate, said Career Realism.

Here's your save the date etiquette.

Save the Date Etiquette

Nowadays, it's extremely common for engaged couples to send save the dates to their friends and family members. These reminders can be done with beautiful images, graphics and fonts, and they can come in many forms like post cards and magnets. There are many important decisions that go into crafting your wedding reminder. Here is your guide to save the date etiquette.

Sending on Time
No matter how big or small a wedding is, there's a lot of preparation involved in throwing this celebration. Your guests need to be given some information ahead of time. Why? For some weddings, guests will have to plan for things like buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations and requesting vacation time. The farther in advance you give them notice, the better off it is for everyone. These reminders are usually sent 6-8 months before the wedding date. 

You should send a save the date to everyone you're planning to invite to your wedding. However, f you're looking to cut costs, only send these postcards to guests you know are traveling. Your close friends and relatives will forgive you if you opt out of sending one to them for budget reasons. Although, everyone should receive a formal invitation.

Choosing the Style
Save the dates can come in various different styles. Some are formal and elegant while others are more personal and relaxed. When choosing the kind of save the date you want, think about the kind of wedding you're having. Are you sticking with tradition or doing things a little bit differently? Your reminder should match the overall vibe of your wedding. For classic weddings, try a save the date card with fancy paper, fonts and colors schemes like red, white and black. On the other hand, if your wedding is more relaxed, try a magnetic card with a photo on it. That way, your guests and anyone who walks into their home can see your smiling faces up on their refrigerator.

Using a Photo
Over the past decade, adding a photo of the engaged couple to a save the date has become increasingly popular. There are plenty of positives to having a photo accompany your text. First, it will showcase you and your partner in a loving and creative light. Some couples have weddings that are extremely large, and they choose to invite friends and relatives who they haven't seen in several year. This is a good opportunity for couples to share more recent photos with those long-distance loved ones. Second, it also means you can get more usage out of your engagement photos if you choose one of the pictures from your professional session. Lastly, it's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a photo is the best way to encapsulate the excitement for the upcoming wedding.

Deciding on a Photo
If you've decided to use a photo, you may have a hard time choosing the perfect one. As mentioned above engagement photos can be used for this exact purpose. But don't limit yourself – use a photo that embodies the love you and your partner have. It doesn't have to be professionally taken, but it should be one that isn't too low resolution or it could appear pixelated or warped. Try and do a test run before printing all of them to see if the photo you choose will look good. 

Matching the Theme
A great way to keep continuity in your wedding is to match the save the dates to the overall theme. If your wedding has certain colors or images that are going to be used, be sure to add those to the save the date. Coordination is a great way to ensure that your wedding will be one to remember. 

Here are some things every CEO should know.

5 Things Every CEO Needs to Know

Running a company isn't easy. And while being a successful boss may come naturally to you, there are always plenty of ways you can improve. Here are five things that every CEO needs to know to run a successful establishment. 

1. You Must Follow Through
Talk is cheap. It's easy to have a surplus of meetings with your employees in which you describe in detail the plans you have for the future. That can be great, but what really convinces your workers is taking action. Words mean nothing if you don't execute your plans. For example, if your company has plans for the future, like renovating or salary increases, it's best to give your employees specific dates. When you actually put a time stamp on something, people have more trust in your plans. But here is the important part: Don't be too ambitious. It's much worse to have to continuously push back a start date for an event or plan than it is to not give one at all. It's best to be practical with your plans and follow through with them. That way, you'll gain the trust of your employees in small ways, which can give them assurance in bigger ways. 

2. Communication Is Key
In today's modern age, everything seems to be accomplished through online channels, including chat and email. And while the Internet is an incredible resource, it has its limitations in the workplace. Be sure to encourage your employees to take the time to communicate in person rather than online. In addition, if you need to speak with someone, you should approach him or her in the office. People respond to constructive criticism or praise in various ways. However, talking to someone in person rather than through email is less intimidating and gives everyone the opportunity to work through problems more organically. 

3. Work Toward Creating a Culture
No matter what kind of business you run, as a CEO you should have a certain company culture in mind that you work to achieve. However, according to Life Hack, culture is more than just activities and vibes . Culture is about the collective energy, and a CEO needs to inspire people to work hard.

4. Be Available
No one wants a boss hey can't reach. It's important that your employees are able to reach out to you when need be and that you respond to them promptly. Granted, you should have managers who deal with smaller issues. However, your employees should feel like you're not an ominous figure but rather that you're an actual person who they can talk to.

5. Show Your Employees You Appreciate Them
One of the keys to happy employees is making sure they know they are appreciated in the workplace. This can be done in many different ways, like providing complimentary lunches or treating the company to business cards. Or, you can have monthly meetings during which you let people know what they're doing right or wrong. Either way, your employees will like that you are taking the time to speak to them individually. 

Here are some ways to help boost employee morale.

How To Boost Employee Morale

Keeping employees happy can be more difficult than you might expect. Sure, there are practical things that employees want and need such as a competitive salary and benefits. However, maintaining  employee enthusiasm isn't always that simple. Here are some techniques to help boost employee morale:

Show Your Appreciation
Sometimes all an employee needs is some recognition. In fact, a study by Accenture reported that 43 percent of workers credited "lack of recognition" for their unhappiness in the workplace. Unfortunately, this feeling oftentimes drives workers to look for a new job. Some offices believe that no news is good news, but that isn't the same for all employees. There are small, yet effective ways to show your appreciation for the people at your office.

For instance, taking the time to extend your gratitude toward someone sounds small, but it can go a long way. If your company has a monthly or quarterly meeting, make a slideshow of all of the positive things that happened over the course of that time. Call out specific employees and touch on things they did right. In addition, highlight new hires and promotions so that everyone feels like they are being acknowledged in the place they go five out of seven days a week. You'll be surprised by the positive impact that it will make.

Insist on Lunch Breaks
Oftentimes, employees get caught up in the work day and either end up skipping lunch or eating it at their desk. However, staying at a desk all day long can hinder productivity and creative thinking. You've probably heard that workers should be getting up to walk around often, but lunchtime is also a necessity. People don't have to eat to reap the benefits of a break, and it doesn't have to fall in the strict time category from 12-1 p.m. Granted, you can't force anything on your employees in the office, but you can take steps to encourage lunch breaks. For instance, be sure to keep the break room clean and fully stocked. To really make things special, you can order in catering once a week so that workers have an excuse to leave their desks. Or, take everyone out for lunch. It doesn't have to be far – just so people get the opportunity to stretch their legs.

Send a Holiday Card
Times get stressful in the office during the holidays. Plenty of people are taking paid time off, and everyone is preparing for upcoming seasonal events. However, having your company send a collective holiday card can get everyone into the spirit of the season and generate more enthusiastic at work. Be sure that everyone in the office signs it, and you can mail it out to all your clients and important contacts. 

On the other hand, encourage employees to bring in their family holiday cards as well. Nothing makes an office feel more homey than one that's filled with happy, smiling pictures. Everyone will love to get a look at employee's beautiful families, and it can help create conversation. People in the office can chat about the ages of kids, where people were when they took their holiday photo or how much littles ones look like their parents. 

Be Lenient During The Winter
There's not much more that people hate than braving cold weather to head into the office. If your business is in an area that gets harsh winters, be sure to implement a lenient policy for weather. The last thing you want is someone endangering his or herself while trying to get into the office. Have your employees work from home, or offer come-in-late or leave-early policies so everyone feels like their company truly cares about their safety.