Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Time to Learn New Software

Maybe you’ve hired a new employee who needs training on a software program, or maybe the company has the need to use a new program. In the midst of running a business, how do you take the time to learn new software yourself or teach it to others? While it needs to be done, you don’t want to take time away from the business at hand.

If you are teaching someone the software, review all its fundamentals to see how clear the instructions will be a new user. For example, some programs have tags that tell the user what will happen if they click on a certain element. A lot of programs provide prompting instructions as the user is using features of the software. If you can, use this and other methods to cut down on face-to-face training because that can take a lot of time and get interrupted. If you are creating separate training materials, you could put them into a PowerPoint presentation or use screenshots in your notes to match the visuals to what they will see when using the software. Remember that no matter how much is covered in training; there will be questions that will come up later, so keep that in mind. Creating short quizzes after different stages of the training will gage how much the person has learned and help them remember key points.

Rather than simply enabling someone to learn the nuts and bolts of a software program, emphasize how the software is a tool that helps the business reach their goals. Defining processes, procedures, and policies along with software training shows employees how their efforts contribute to the larger effort of the business. Start with the basics and add more in-depth training when they begin to feel confident. Also, the training doesn’t have to be completely separate from the job they will be doing—have them use the software for real, on the job tasks even if they need someone there to coach them.  They will be able to do the job you hired them to sooner, rather than being sidelined until their training is complete.

Think about who should do the training—if you choose a veteran employee who must train someone in addition to their workload, one of the two may suffer if you aren’t careful, so make sure their schedule can work with this extra job. Also remember that different people learn in different ways, through seeing, hearing, doing or a combination of those. Some people need to know how things work and why they are done that way in order to learn something. Formal training in isolated situations is enough to make the new employee bored, unenthusiastic, and annoyed, so be careful to integrate training into other tasks where they can talk to coworkers and take breaks. While you can’t hold their hand too much, do not just place a new employee in front of a computer with the software and tell them to just start using it. This will not work--even online training tools need to be accompanied by answers from real people. Use a blend of training methods to get the best results.

Make it happen!
© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Choosing the Location for Your Business

                You’ve probably heard the expression sometime in your life-location, location, location. When is that more true than when choosing where to place your business? The choice of location for your business can make the difference between high sales and no sales. Taking the time to carefully choose the physical place for your business can make a huge difference.

Think about the people that live around the place your business will be. Are there a lot of young couples, retired people or middle-aged people with kids? Does your type of business depend on one of those groups more than the others or are you looking for a combination of all of them? Is the area heavily populated or more spread out? What are the income levels like in the neighborhood? If the products and services you offer are more of a luxury, you may want to think about placing yourself either downtown or in high income suburb. Sometimes, it’s favorable to match the location to the theme. For example, if you have a restaurant with fresh seafood, locating near a body of water or marina makes sense. It’s also a good idea to look at the crime rates in the neighborhood because you want your business to be safe from burglary and vandalism.

You need to know what kind of traffic the location will generate, if you will be easily accessible by car and on foot. It is better to be visible from major roads and highways.. Will your building have a parking lot or street parking? Is it on a bus route? Research has shown that the most successful businesses place themselves in the center of their customer base. If you are as close to your biggest competitor as possible, it will give you the chance to prove to customers that you are a step ahead.

The building itself, of course, has quite a few factors to consider. Is the lease negotiable? Will the size and layout of the building accommodate what you need to do? Are there any repairs to be made? Are the lighting, heating, and cooling systems up to the standards you need? Will there be a bathroom available for your customers? Finally, is the setup for communications such as the phone and internet workable for what you’ll be doing?

Some people may consider the best location for their business to be their home. If you have a mail based business, this could be a good option. If you do choose to stay in your home, be sure you can focus in your casual environment and be flexible around your family. This may mean starting early, taking a long break, and picking up again to work later in the night. Don’t hide the fact that your business is based from home because chances are if it’s working for you, it’s working for your customers. Whether you are choosing a location for your new business or moving your existing business to another location, take your time. Make it happen!
© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC