Monday, April 24, 2017

Do You Need Laws to tell You to Do What’s Right?

Why Do We have Laws?

Laws provide guidelines for how we should treat each other and the world around us. They are also designed to protect us from those who choose to do harm. 

Sadly, we can’t always count on people doing the right thing. That is why laws are also used to punish those who break them.

But, should we really need laws and regulations to tell us to do what is right?

Many of us recognize the need for doing what is right in our personal lives. Few would argue that, except under the most dire circumstances, it is wrong to kill another human being. As people, we also rally when we see the need to protect those that can’t protect themselves. 

Essentially, we know how we should treat others, and most of us try to live our daily lives this way. 

But when it comes to the laws and regulations that govern our businesses, things can be less clear cut.

Do Your run Your Business by Doing What is Right? “Tweet This”

Every time we elect a new president, or a new justice is appointed to the Supreme Court, laws and regulations that govern our businesses can change. Even voting in new local representatives can make a difference.

Suddenly existing labor laws, regulations, and guidelines may come under fire. Minimum wage laws may change. Guidelines concerning equal pay, workplace accommodations, and even what is considered a “protected class” may fluctuate under a new administration.

But does this mean our businesses 
should follow suit?

There are some laws and guidelines that, to my mind, are simply the right way to do business. They focus on the fair treatment of our employees, from hiring to the workplace, and our impact on the environment.

Currently, many of these laws and regulations focus on employee hiring and background check guidelines, especially for those applicants who have a criminal history. 

The biggest, and often most controversial of these, is “ban the box”.

At its most basic, ‘ban the box’ is the removal of the question or “box” on an application that asks whether the person has a criminal history. The belief is that by disclosing that (a criminal history) early in the application process, many are being automatically rejected”, excerpt from “Background Checks and Ban the Box ~ The Pendulum Swings”.

The EEOC started the ball rolling by enacting guidelines recommending employers ban the box. Many states then followed suit. 

Even if this law didn’t exist, its spirit, giving people a second chance, is often the right thing to do. Along with individual assessments (find out more about them here), recognizing that people people are different, that they have their own unique experiences and stories to tell, is what makes us human. And hiring for our businesses this way makes sense.

Other hiring legislation focuses on discrimination. Hiring those of different races and genders, applicants with disabilities or of different sexual orientations, all currently fall under what is described as “protected classes”.

Existing laws not only govern the hiring of these types of employees, but how we treat them in the workplace. 

Hiring policies that show, or even suggest, employment discrimination against protected groups can result in consequences for your Small Business.

When we hire, we have the power to make a difference in someone’s life. For me, that is reason enough to do everything possible to make sure people are treated fairly.

The problem of Equal Pay and Gender Wage Bias is also addressed in current legislation.

Sadly, what should not be a novel concept, getting equal pay for equal work, is not always the reality. In many industries, women continue to make less than their male counterparts doing the same job.

The ramifications of this impact not only women, but also their families. Learn more in “Discrimination ~ Gender Bias Keeps Us from Earning What We are Worth”. 

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and many states have addressed the issue of equal pay. The EEOC pushed for companies to release their pay data in the hopes of identifying those that are guilty of wage bias (when a new administration took office in 2017, this requirement lost steam). 

But some states continue the fight. Laws barring companies from asking salary history, ending pay secrecy, and enforcing “equal pay for equal work”, are all designed to if not eliminate, but lessen, the occurrence of wage bias.

Find out more about these state laws here.  

There are also regulations that address the impact our businesses have on the environment. Manufacturers must lessen the amount of waste produced by their businesses. Chemical run-off into our waterways must fall within acceptable guidelines. Even recycling efforts are encouraged. 

But what if these laws, or ones like them, 
no longer existed? 
What would you do?

The bottom line is, why should we need laws and regulations to force us to run our businesses ethically? 

Shouldn’t we simply want to do what is right?

Choosing to hire as fairly as possible. Striving to achieve a more inclusive and tolerant workplace. Paying our employees the same for doing the same job at the same skill level. All these are not only good business, but are fundamentally right!

How we treat our employees is a strong reflection on us as people, and it speaks volumes about our business. 

Recognizing that our employees matter, that no one is “less than” anyone else, should never come in question.

Creating a welcoming workplace not only helps our employees, but it is good for our business. It will help us attract and keep top talent because word will spread and people will want to work there!

When it comes to our environment, we need to remember that we are all part of one world. Doing what we can now to protect it makes sense.

While presidents, judges, governors, representatives, and administrations 
will change, and laws and regulations 
may come and go, 
doing what is right should not! 

There will always be laws and regulations in place that concern our businesses. They will be designed to shape how we hire, how we run our workplace, and how we impact our world.

But no matter what current dictates require, running your company with a focus on 
treating people fairly, as unique individuals, and caring about our planet, 
is simply right. 
And that is good for everyone!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Why You Need to Take an "Active Break" Every Day

It's once again that time of year....
the weather gets warmer, the skies look bluer, and the sun is shining. 
After winter's passing, 
I can hear the days calling me to 
get outside and relax.

But the responsibilities of work, home, and family often get in the way. I simply can't always just stop what I am doing and go enjoy the day.

As a solopreneur, it can be even harder to do. All the day to day tasks of running my business fall squarely on my shoulders. And while I am grateful for the freedom and flexibility this gives me, it is often hard to close my laptop and be done for the day ~ or sometimes for even an hour!

However, I know that pace is not good for me. Sitting behind a computer all day is 
unhealthy and unwise. 
The older I get, 
the more I can feel the stiffening in my back and legs. Even my eyes get tired.

Not to mention the brain overloadAt times, I can find myself too tired and stressed to even think clearly! 

Taking an "Active Break" is Good for You & Your Business! "Tweet This"!

That is when taking an "Active Break" makes all the difference!

Getting up and going outside, even for a quick walk around the block, helps clear my head, get my muscles moving, and puts a smile on my face. I even find that when I go back to my work, I am re-energized and re-focused.

You can find out more about the benefits of incorporating "Active Breaks" into your day in "Tips to Help You Gain Focus and Get Active"!

So the next time you find yourself stressed, achy, or mentally tired ~ get up and take an "Active Break"!

Do you have tips that help you 
stay healthy and productive? 
Please share here!

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Share this article on Your Favorite Social Sites! Thanks!

*all pictures featured were taken during my own "Active Break"!

Authored by    

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on our Website!

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Hiring? What You Should Do Now to Attract the New Hires You Need!

Does the Way You Hire 
attract the new employees you need?

How you hire can say a lot about You and Your Company. That is why it is so important that you are aware of what yours is saying about you!

Does your Hiring Process mesh with your brand and company values? Does it show your commitment to your employees, not just your bottom line? 

Simply put ~ 
Are you doing enough during the hiring process to grab the attention of your best new hires?

Millennials currently make up the largest portion of our workforce, and the number of even younger workers will only continue to grow.    

Because of that, it makes sense that as an employer you consider what drives this group of younger job seekers when choosing how you hire and run your workplace.

How to Change Your Hiring Practices to Land Your Top New Hires! “Tweet This”

What does this mean to employers? 
For many, it means it is time for a Change!

Companies will have to focus on how their workplace and hiring practices appear to the current pool of job seekers. This means taking a hard look at your “applicant experience”, including your employment background checks. 

Addressing this generation’s love of technology and social media is a good start. 

You will need to advertise your open positions using a wide variety of job sites and social media platforms. In addition, your application processes need to be both highly reactive and easy to use. This will show your recognition of where your future applicants live.

But, if you really want to 
set your company apart, 
make certain that your quest to be “social” 
goes both ways.

Be sure to acknowledge when you receive an application. Keep your job posting up to date, even going as far as sharing when a position no longer becomes available.

This personal touch will help establish your company as someone who cares about their applicants and goes a long way towards projecting a positive company brand!

You must next address your employment screening

When it comes time for the background check, many applicants are understandably wary. This is especially true of younger job seekers. If you want to truly attract new hires, then you need to put them at ease. This means making the entire process as completely transparent and accurate as possible.

Open communication between you and your potential new hire should be your focus. You must be upfront and truthful about all stages of the background check. You should share:

  1. What You Will Check 
  2. What You are Looking For 
  3. What Factors can cause Delays 
  4. What You will do to Lessen the Possibility of Errors 
  5. What Your Applicant’s Rights Are    

Discover more about the steps you can take to prepare your applicants in “Ready to Hire? What Your Applicant Needs to Know!”.

As the number of younger people entering the workforce grows, many employers are also adding Social Media checks to their hiring process. This can make potential new hires even more uncomfortable.

Many may consider this type of check an invasion of their privacy and not relevant to their job search. Others may question what you will find.   

Once again, being as transparent as possible about what will be checked, and why, will go a long way in alleviating those fears. It is also important to emphasize that, as an employer, you will never ask your applicant for their social media passwords or request that they “friend” you or another employee so that you have more access to their profiles.

Find out more about what your applicants need to know about how social media is used in the hiring process here!

While improving your applicant experience 
is a great way to attract new employees, 
it can’t stop there.

You also need to be ready to 
“sell” you and your business. 
This is especially true if you run a 
Small Business!

Be clear about what you have to offer. Share concrete examples of the advantages enjoyed by your employees ~ everything from chances to take on growing responsibilities to workplace flexibility.

Read “4 Reasons Why Job Seekers will Want to Work for Your Small Business” to find out more! 

It is important to understand that this new workforce approaches employment differently, and your company would do well to recognize and respond to this.

While certainly valuing their professional lives, younger employees expect to have a personal life too ~ and they want to work for a company that supports this. Benefits such as flexible work schedules and ability to telework are key to the attractiveness of any job. 

I don’t see this as unreasonable, but a move in the right direction!

Creating an environment that helps your employees reach their goals, encourages their own ideas of success, helps them develop marketable skills and set their own goals, and gives them the opportunity to advance is key to retaining your top talent.

Find out more in “Why I have Faith in the Millennial Generation”! 

A company that not only understands but embraces this different approach to their employees’ professional and personal lives will also attract, and keep, the best new hires.

While appealing to this generation of job seekers is certainly important, 
that does not mean it is 
out with the old and in with the new!

In order to really succeed 
in creating an 
innovative and welcoming environment, 
you need a mixed workforce. 
Having both experienced and skilled employees at all levels is key.

Creating an atmosphere where each generation of employees can learn from the other is one that will thrive and prosper. This results in the best of both worlds ~ a marriage between the tried and true and the up and coming.
This type of culture embraces experience while recognizing the benefits of introducing new talent and ideas. It is also the perfect way of establishing a strong company succession plan ~ something that every successful company needs.

The time is Now 
to really look at Your Hiring Practices 
and Your Workplace Environment
Updating them to reflect the 
interests and goals of your potential new hires will not only ensure you get 
quality applicants, 
it will create a better environment 
for all your employees ~ old and new
And nothing could be better for You 
and Your Company than that!

Authored by   

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Hiring and Employment Screening Process!

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Pending Charges ~ Why You Need to Consider them Before Hiring

Imagine this… have found someone you think will be a perfect fit for your company and the job. They have all the right qualifications and they interviewed well. And while you have no reason to think you will find anything negative, it is time to start the background check process to make sure.

That is when it happens. 
While checking the courts for a 
criminal history, you find a case. 
But instead of it being closed, 
it is an active case. 
There is no disposition. No sentence. 
What do you do?

This exact scenario has happened to me many times, and it may have even happened to you. 

How Should You Treat Pending Cases found in Your Background Check? “Tweet This” 

Whether you are an employer, or a background check company, it is important that you have a plan in place to deal with this situation.

When it comes to criminal history, the usual best practice is to consider convictions, not arrests, when making your employment decision. Arrests do not determine guilt, so it makes sense they should not be part of the hiring equation.

When you have evidence of a conviction (especially those verified through a quality background check company), you know the record is that of the applicant and you know the outcome of the case. Only then can you make a truly fair and informed determination of the applicant’s suitability for the job”, excerpt from “Why Checking an Applicant’s Criminal Past Should be About Convictions, Not Arrests!”.

But with a pending or active case, there is no such determination of guilt.

So what is an employer or 
background check company to do?

This is where a well thought out plan of action is invaluable.

I believe in the employer’s right to know. That is why my practice is to include pending and active cases in my background check reports.   

Despite there not being a final decision, 
pending charges can impact the employer 
(my client), their company, and 
their other employees.

For example, there is likely to be one or more scheduled dates where your applicant will have to appear in court. If hired, they would need to take this time off.

Then, if your new hire is found not guilty, or the charges are dropped or withdrawn, time off for court may be as far as it goes.

However, there is also the possibility they will be found guilty. What then? 

If they are sentenced to jail time, you will have to start the entire hiring process all over ~ wasting the time and money you spent in vetting and training your new hire. 

Even if granted probation, or a sentence requiring county or state sponsored rehabilitation programs, your hire will most likely miss work to fulfill this part of their sentence. This is also a drain on your finances and on the other employees who must cover your absent employee’s work.

However, if you as an employer 
were unaware of the pending case, 
you would have hired blind 
to these possibilities. 
That is why reporting pending and active cases is so important.

But what if, despite knowing of these open charges, you still want to hire this applicant?

Then hiring them on a conditional basis may be a good idea. Your employee could then be placed on a probationary status pending the final outcome of the case.

On the positive side, you will also be giving someone with a troubled past a second chance. Face it, people make mistakes. Being solely defined by those mistakes, however, serves no one..

That is why it is important to 
balance cautiousness with fairness. 

Employers must continue screening their potential hires to protect themselves, their company, and their employees. But if a criminal past is found, that is when we have the opportunity to make a difference.

Find out more about safely hiring ex-offenders in, “Once a Criminal, Always a Criminal ~ Why We Need to Believe in Second Chances”.

The key here is going in with your eyes wide open and fully aware of the potential outcomes when the case is finally decided.

The bottom line ~ 
Employers have every right to know 
all the relevant information there is to know about their applicants before they hire
And that includes any pending or active cases. Hiring without this knowledge 
can put you at a disadvantage 
and cost you time and money in the long run.

Once again, Knowledge is Power!

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Share this Article on Your Favorite Social Sites!

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Why You Need to “Trust But Verify”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could take 
Everyone and Everything at face value?

If we could believe that what they say is really true?

Things would be so much easier! We would always be confident that we were dealing with honest people who would never mislead or cheat us. 

But while there is no doubt that this would be ideal, it is not reality

When it suits their purposes, there are those that will lie.  The lie can be anything from embellishing the things they have done to taking credit for something that is completely false.

While we can usually get past these types of misrepresentations in our personal lives, when it comes to our business, it can be much more costly!

Making poor choices because others have exaggerated or down right lied about themselves or their products and services can heavily impact our company’s success.

Why You Need to “Trust but Verify” in Your Business! Tweet This!  

That is why I strongly advocate that we “Trust but Verify”!

Being sure that what we think about someone or something is true makes good business sense. It allows us to make decisions with our eyes wide open and with all the facts firmly in place.  

If we are deceived, it can end up costing us time, money, and even damaging our reputation.

This can be even more problematic if you own a Small Businesses.

When it comes to 
the people or companies we hire, 
the services we use, 
or those we collaborate or partner with, 
we need to be especially careful.

Verifying what a candidate has listed on their application or resume is vital. Not only does it ensure they meet your job requirements, but it is also a first step in determining their honesty. It is truly a “trust but verify” situation.

Resume lies come with a cost. Putting your trust in the wrong applicant, before having all the facts, is harmful to your business. There is a “high cost associated with hiring, training, and replacing employees that are later found to lack the skills or education necessary to do the job”, excerpt from “The High Cost of Resume Lies”.

Opening yourself up to negligent hiring lawsuits because you didn’t screen properly should also be considered. If anyone ends up being harmed because you didn’t check for a violent or criminal past, you could be held liable.

Your best defense is a good offense. 
Taking the time to 
verify before you hire is the key.

To work to their full potential, background checks should be done on all new hires, whether full-time, part-time, seasonal, or even interns. After all, they each represent the “face” of your business. And it is important that your image is as good as possible.

Making a hiring mistake can harm your carefully cultivated brand. There is also the possibility of putting your employees, clients, and even your business itself, in jeopardy

When you make a hire, especially a new hire, you will sometimes be tempted to do it quickly. It is most likely you need someone to handle increased workflow, help launch a new product, or even to help with seasonal sales. No matter the reason, hiring in haste, without doing the proper screening, is not the answer.

Learn more about why not doing background checks on your new hires is a big mistake here!

The same argument holds for doing background checks on your part-time or seasonal employees. This type of hire often has to hit the ground running, and it is vital that they truly possess the experience you need. A good background check will help you verify that.

For the same reasons, screening your interns is just as important. While hiring interns is a great way of gaining their valuable talents on a short term basis, taking their stated skills at face value is a risk. 

Discover more in “Hiring an Intern? Don’t Skip the Background Check”!

Screening Other Companies
Background checks are the perfect tool to vet companies too. If you are considering these businesses as potential partners / collaborators, or may use their products or services, then you should check.

While these businesses may appear to have a good reputation, and the company people you have had contact with seem above board, this is another instance where following the “trust but verify” rule makes sense. 

Simply trusting that they will bring value to your company or that their products or services will meet your needs is not good business.

Performing this type of Due Diligence should include a criminal record check and a civil court record check.

The criminal check will show if the company, a principle partner, or employee representing the company, has been convicted of a criminal offense.  Incidents of fraud, embezzlement, or violent offenses should definitely be noted. 

A civil report will discover any litigation or bankruptcy case where the company is listed as a defendant or plaintiff.  With this information you will know whether they have sued, or been sued, by other companies or individuals.

While one or two such cases may not be cause for alarm, more than that should give you pause.

Discover more about using Civil Court record checks as part of your background check tools here!

Another tool for vetting companies is to conduct a search through the Better Business Bureau. Through the BBB you will be able to see if there have been complaints filed and, if so, how timely they were handled.

According the the BBB, their mission is to ensure “that high standards for trust are set and maintained” ~ exactly what “trust but verify” is all about!  

When you are ready to use background checks to vet your hires 
and potential business partners, 
then it is time to consider outsourcing them to a good screening company.  

This will help ensure you are following all current screening laws and guidelines and get you the quality information you need.

Outsourcing is also a great way to protect the sensitive information used during background checks and acts as a barrier against potential discrimination.

You can find out more in “5 Smart Reasons to Outsource Your Background Checks”! 

Practicing the principle of “Trust but Verify” when it comes time to hire or vet a business 
is simply good business. 
It will help ensure that 
your initial positive impression 
is based in fact and 
help keep your company safe!

Authored by   

We can help you with your screening needs and answer your background check questions!

Learn more About Us and our 
Security Consulting services too!  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why We Need to Change our Thinking about Background Checks

The words “Background Check” 
have a negative connotation for many.  
Even people who have nothing to hide, 
fear what a background check will find.

And if you do happen to have 
something negative in your past, 
then a background check 
can be downright scary.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! 

This fear (of background checks) often arises out of a lack of understanding about what a background check really entails.  Applicants are confused about what will be checked, worried about their privacy being compromised, and don’t know what an employer is really looking for!”, excerpt from “Are You Afraid of Background Checks?  They’re Not as Scary as You Think!”.

It is this misunderstanding and miscommunication that causes a lot of the anxiety about background checks.

You may think that employers actually want to find out negative things about you.  When, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

When it comes time for the background check, employers are really just verifying that they have made the right decision when it comes to hiring you!

By running a background check, Employers are simply looking for confirmation that they have made the right choice. 

By this point in the hiring process, they have already read your resume, interviewed you, and, out of all the other candidates, picked you as a good hire.  

They have invested a great amount of time and money.  And they will have to spend even more screening you.

But while popular belief is that the intent of a background check is to find a way to keep you from getting the job, this is simply not true.”.

Find out more about what an employer is looking for during the background check here!

While it is certainly true 
that the fear and confusion 
surrounding background checks 
contributes to the negativity, 
changing our thinking about them can 
make all the difference. 

We need to recognize that a background check is not about highlighting any of the things you have done wrong.  Instead, it is about finding the things you have done right! 

Employment Background Checks are really looking for what is Good about You!  “Tweet This”

It is about truly reflecting your life’s journey.

That is why making sure 
your resume and social media sites 
highlight your best assets makes sense.

You should begin with your resume.  First make sure it accurately features your education and training.  You should include high school, college, or any other kind of learning opportunities you may have pursued.  A good background check will then verify it.

It is also important to share your skill set.  List projects you have worked on, changes you implemented, and be sure to mention the positive outcome of your efforts.  A background check will then confirm this by contacting your former employers.  Investigators will ask specific questions designed to discover the qualities you brought to the workplace.  Things like leadership and initiative are definitely valued.    

Your resume should even include the interesting things about you! Your volunteering efforts or causes you are active in makes you more interesting to a potential employer.

This attention needs to continue on to your social profiles. Employers are increasingly using social media as part of the screening process, so make sure what they find will show you in a good light.

The goal in checking social media “will be to find any relevant posts about you and use them as a cross-check against (your) resume”.  This will include considering “both positive and negative posts.  Positive posts can include mentions of awards received or charity and volunteer work you or your applicant are involved in”.

Negative posts may include excessive complaints about a current or past employer and certain “behaviors depicted online that might be undesirable to a potential employer ~ explicit photos, illegal activity, etc.”.

You can find out more about making your resume and social media profiles help you to get the job in “Tips to Help You get Your Resume Background Check Readyand “Why I have Added Social Media and Resume Screening to My Services”!

Highlighting the positive aspects of your past 
in both your resume and your social media 
will help lessen the fear and distrust 
about your upcoming background check.  
It is also an important step in 
helping to change our way of thinking 
about the entire process. 

And I believe that simply 
thinking of a “background check” 
as a “Personal Profile” instead 
is a step in the right direction!  
After all, when done right, 
a good employment screening is about 
showing the whole picture ~ 
a true “profile” of your life.

That is one of the reasons I picked Access Profiles as my company name.  I believe in helping an employer or job seeker by providing the most accurate “profile” of their candidate possible. That is what it is all about.  It is my true focus and passion. 

A person is more than just their past.  
They are a sum of multiple parts ~ 
and a good background check reflects that.  
A true Personal Profile will be a snapshot of where you have been, what you have learned, and who you are now.

But it is your job to make that picture as positive as possible!

And we can help!  
Let us show you how to make your past, 
your resume and your social profiles 
work for you, not against you. 

Authored by  

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Monday, March 13, 2017

What You Need to Ask Yourself Before Marketing Your Small Business

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Marketing is one of the most important tasks you must focus on for your Small Business.  Spreading the word about what you offer, and why, is key to its success.  It is not only the way to attract the customers and clients you need, it is also the catalyst that drives your income and growth.  

But how do you do it?  

How do you not only get your name out there but also compete with other businesses like yours, even big businesses?

The best way to answer this question is to ask yourself one first, “What Do I Do that Makes My Company Different”?

Know how Your Small Biz is Different before Marketing It!  “Tweet This”

Take the time now to discover what makes you and what you do unique.  What is it that will make your company stand out from the crowd?  What is your true focus?  This will be your company “brand”. 

It starts with knowing what kind of business you want to run, especially when it comes to recognizing your core values.  Simply put, you need to know your “Why”!

Understanding first what it is that truly drives you and defines your idea of success makes sense.  It was this realization that helped me in my quest to market my own business. 

I found that “running the type of Background Check business where I feel a sense of accomplishment and that speaks to my desire to help others” needed to be the focus on my brand.  

Find out more about the importance of discovering your “Why” in, “I Know Why I Do What I Do!”.

Once you know your “Why”, 
the rest of your marketing efforts will start falling into place.

Next you should concentrate on finding your niche.  To do that, it is important to once again take your “why” into consideration. 

For me, I recognized that “my passion was to help small business owners and women in business find their own success. (This helped me) identify my target market. This was my niche, and where I needed to focus my marketing efforts”, excerpt from “How to Find Your Small Business Niche”.  

Niche Marketing is especially important for a small business.  It helps you put your marketing time and money to its best use by focusing on a well-defined audience.

Understanding how you are 
different than other companies, 
then knowing your goals, interests, strengths, and weaknesses, 
will help you accomplish the next step ~ creating your marketing strategy.

Your Marketing Strategy should include:

The Products or Services You want to Offer
My advice, start small.  Offer only those things you can do well, and be ready to promote these in your marketing efforts.  Spreading yourself too thin at this point is not productive.  Making sure you are showcasing your company’s strengths is!

Your Ideal Client
It is best to determine your ideal client by utilizing your niche.  Ask yourself what kind of customers fit in that niche.  Then hone your marketing in on them and how best to reach them.

How You Plan on “Selling” What You Do
Start with developing a quick “blurb” that captures what you do and why ~ and be ready to use it whenever possible!  Generate concrete examples of how your products or services will help solve your clients’ problems and include these in your marketing strategy. Also being able to show how using your services is cost-effective goes a long way towards “selling” them to potential clients!  

Finally, your Marketing Plan must include 
how you plan to spread the word!  
This is where the right tools will help. 

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Marketing Tools You can Use:

Social Media
All businesses, even small businesses, need to include social media in their marketing efforts.  Creating profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the myriad of other social sites out there, is a great way to give your company a “face”.  However, don’t make the mistake of thinking you must use them all to be effective.  Picking even one or two to start out with is fine.  
The key is to use the sites you choose to your best advantage.  Be present.  Be consistent.  Be “social”.  But most of all, be careful of what you post.  Remember, what you share online is a reflection of you and your company.  Make sure whatever you share is inline with your core values and your brand.  Compromising your reputation by being cavalier about what you post is not good business.  

Find out more tips on how to best use Social Media to market your Small Business in, “Small Business Tips from ‘People in the Know’!”.

For me, blogging has definitely been the best way to market my brand.  It is also an effective way to be seen as a “go to” voice in your field.  Through blogging you can share things like industry news, valuable insights, and even guidelines to help your clients.  It is also a way to let your passion and focus shine through.    

But as with anything social media, content and consistency are key. You will gain nothing by posting articles that are not the best you have to offer.  Start out slow and keep the quality high.  This is definitely where quality over quantity rules!

Discover more about the benefits of Small Business blogging here!

And if you need some one-on-one help to get you started, or to revamp your existing blog, then find out how we can help in, “Are You Afraid of Starting Your Small Business Blog?”.  

Email Marketing
Have you ever considered Email Marketing?  If not, you should!  It is a great way to keep in touch with those you have already forged some kind of connection with, whether it is through your blog, your existing clients, or interested potential clients.

With this type of marketing, your focus should be on sharing relevant news that will inform or even entertain your connections.  It could be about changes in your industry, new products or services you are offering, etc.  The key is to make sure what you share is quality information that is in line with you and your brand.

If you decide to try Email Marketing, you must allow your contacts the opportunity to opt out of receiving your emails.  Otherwise, you risk alienating the very people you want to reach.

Local Business Groups
Joining local business groups will help you create ties to your community.  It also gives you the chance to network with other area companies.  But, most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to forge strong reciprocal relationships with other local businesses.

Building these types of relationships can really help your business grow and succeed.  

Your Existing Relationships
Don’t be shy.  Let your family, friends, and even old co-workers, know that you are starting a business.  Share with them what you do and why.  Enlist their help in spreading the word. 

Cold Calling
This is easier if you are a B2B type of business.  Before calling, do a little research.  Find out the best person to contact for what you are trying to sell. Keep track of when you call, who you speak with, and what they say .  Be prepared ~ you will most likely not get much traction initially.  You may need to contact them multiple times before you get anywhere. This is where your call list will come in handy.  But remember, if anyone requests that you not call again, then don’t.  You want your contact to keep you in mind, but you don’t want to be a pest.

If the company you want to reach is local, you may even consider a drop-in visit.  While definitely not easy, reaching out to potential clients with a phone call or in person, shows your commitment to and belief in your business.

No matter which way, or ways, you choose 
to market your business, remember ~ 
you don’t have to do everything at once.  
It is best to focus on only one or two, 
and do them right, before adopting more.

Look at marketing your Small Business as a process.  Mastering each step before moving forward will go a long way towards yielding the results you want.

That is why asking yourself the question, “What Makes My Company Different” 
before beginning any type of marketing 
makes sense.  
Using your strategy with a 
focus on your niche is key.  
Not only will you be sharing your core values and creating your “brand”, 
you will be reaching like minded consumers.
And that will result in the sales and growth every Small Business needs!

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