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Should you Allow Your Employees to Work Remotely?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a huge surge in both business owners and employees working remotely from home.

Small businesses in the Midwest are the least likely to hire remote workers while small businesses in the Southeast and Northeast are really warming to this trend. Regardless of what region of the United States that you operate your business, should you allow your employees to work remotely?  This is a challenging question to answer. To determine if a remote workforce would be best for your business, you have to consider the employee’s specific job duties, their ability to work effectively from home, and their ability to work securely from home.

Types of Things to Consider:

  • Is the employee safer at home than in your office?
  • Would your business benefit from lower overhead?
  • Does the employee have the equipment and technology at home to work efficiently and effectively? If not, are you willing to provide it?
  • Does the employee work with highly sensitive business data? If so, do you have security practices and solutions in place to safeguard that data when accessed remotely?
  • Does the employee have the tools to provide customer service or customer support?

If you choose to allow your workforce to continue to work remotely, you will need to put in place policies for how they will work, how you will manage them, and how you will deal with the challenges that arise.

What You Need to Work On:

  • Make sure you get your new remote work policies put into writing and distributed to your team so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Schedule and conduct regular check-in calls, video chats, or meetings to ensure everyone is working together.
  • Provide opportunities for remote social interaction. Even though you are not all working in the same location, team building and bonding is still very important. Schedule and conduct virtual happy hours, trivia contests, team luncheons, etc.
  • Make sure to deploy the correct technology to keep your employees connected and collaborative. Things such as video conferencing tools, instant messaging, office productivity technology, security, software, and more.
  • Also, take the time to assess how working remotely is working out for your staff. Schedule one-on-one talks and ask your employees how things are going for them and if they need more support from you.

While there are a lot of benefits of remote work for both the employee and the business, there are also a lot of concerns and challenges to address. We are all exploring new issues with productivity, boundary setting, and personal relationships. Employers are worried their workers at home are too easily distracted with everything going on in their home life. They worry they do not have as much control over their remote workers and they feel they are harder to effectively manage; even while they feel that the work-life balance for employees is the greatest benefit of remote working.

People were already adopting remote work; the pandemic simply accelerated the popularity of the trend and it seems to be growing significantly. More and more companies are looking to expand the remote team model and shift a large portion of their workforce to remote work for good. Since more employees now have the technology and equipment they need to work remotely, it’s easier for companies to offer that ability going forward.

Your small Veteran or Military Owned Business will need technology to effectively work remotely in this new normal.   VAMBOA members and friends are able to take advantage of end of the year savings from our Dell Technologies of up to 50 percent.  Check out these values here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

A Message from VAMBOA’s CEO

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By Debbie Gregory.

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I think that we just need to move on to 2021 and leave 2020 in the rear window to fade away. This has been a challenging year for everyone, especially for Small Veteran and Military Business Owners.

We commend you for staying the course during these unprecedented times.   We have all had to adapt personally as well as professionally in how we operate our business.  Many of us are working harder and having to do more with less.  We are also doing things differently including working remotely and virtually creating and/or attending online events/conferences and training.  Many businesses have had to shut down physical operations and expand their online offerings.

VAMBOA, your Veterans and Military Business Owners Association works hard to bring you informative and timely information that will help your business.  We try to provide at least two or three new articles weekly on our Blog.  We hope you are not only enjoying the articles but are also gaining value from them.

We also try to provide you tips on the new skills needed to move your business forward as well as various loan programs that will provide you financial assistance.  Next year, we will be featuring and telling the stories of some of our members.  If you are interested in telling your story, please email me at:  info@vamboa.org.

I want to personally extend our sincere gratitude and thank our members, sponsors and those who have supported us during the year (you know who you are).   We appreciate you so very much.

This holiday season is unlike any other, to cap off a year unlike any one in our history Throughout this season, and as we move into a new (and hopefully better) year, we wish you moments of peace amid the difficulties, connections with family and friends even if they cannot be in person, the warmth of memories from holidays past, and wonderful glimpses of the joy that still lives under the surface.

Our holiday wish for each of you is health, happiness, and prosperity.   Hope is on the horizon with several viable vaccines and treatments for COVID 19.  Without health, none of us can prosper so please keep yourselves, your loved ones, and employees safe.

Acts of Kindness are important and rewarding to both the recipient and the giver.   You may enjoy this article on “Kindness Changes Everything.”

https://vamboa.org/?s=Kindness

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Debbie Gregory

CEO & Founder, VAMBOA (Veterans and Military Business Owners Association)

The “Go To” Association for Veteran and Military Business Owners

With over 8,000 Registered Members and almost a quarter of a million fans and followers

Membership is free – to join go to:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Special End of Year Technology Discounts (up to 50% off) Only for VAMBOA Members & Friends: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

 

Marketing Advantages of Blogs

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By James Pruitt – Senior Staff Writer

A blog allows agency over your company’s narrative. With a blog, your company’s news comes from your perspective. With news releases, any information must filter through another outlet. Your blog allows information through the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Blogs are essentially websites with primarily informational content. Your company’s blog should provide information directly from you and your organization. While news releases certainly have value as marketing tools and as evidence for recognition of your company’s accomplishments, blogs eliminate the hearsay factor and allow you to control the narrative of your company’s development.

Blogs are a boom to new companies. In the past, marketing was a more challenging process. News releases, public relations specialists, and advertisement executives mattered far more. Since the Information Age, blogs have done much of the initial marketing work, and applications such as WordPress have placed much of this work directly in the hands of the small business owner.

Assuming access to a newswire, a news release can in fact reach more people. Hence the continuing relevance of news releases. However, blogs allow a starting point for directed marketing.

From your blog, you can begin a directed marketing plan for yourself, under your own thumb. Not least important, blogs allow tracking of website traffic, and hence facilitate marketing through the most appropriate channels. No one likes spam. However, directed marketing works.

As you are starting a company, starting a blog allows opportunities for the initial pitch, for control over your own cycle of news, and for a plan to track site visits. Additionally, a blog administrator for a new business should consider the ins and outs of visitor feedback, and archiving information. The new blogger can trace organizations that may link back to your blog or track the number or origins of site visits. Such information can help with directed marketing and provide cues about the best routes for varieties of outreach strategies.

Blogs can serve as their own news release source.  The business owner can schedule posts over the course of the year regarding any variety of subjects, including new hires, new innovations, and new policies. The owner can set their own rhythm to these updates, and at their discretion, news outlets can respond accordingly.

Also, blogs allow an opportunity for feedback. In other words, blogs are interactive, rather than news sources which are under the control of some third-party news outlet. Therefore customers can provide business owners with feedback, and give endorsements and create greater opportunities for more business. The interactive nature of blogs is priceless for a new business owner. The old-fashion news report only spews information through any channel that will publish it. A blog allows a one-on-one with the ownership of the company.

This direct interaction can provide some of the most important feedback for a small company at its earliest stages.

Traditional routes such as press releases are not irrelevant for your new company. However, this deep into the Information Age, blogs allow the business owner unprecedented control over the initial stages of their marketing campaign. By setting up a blog, you, the business owner, may control your own business plan and marketing trajectory.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that you enjoyed this first article on blogs in our mini-series.  Stay tuned….

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, please consider joining.  There are not any dues or membership fees.  We provide a great deal of valuable information weekly.  You can also proudly display the VAMBOA seal on your website and collateral.

Here is a link to sign up:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Turning a News Release into a Blog Post

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By James Pruitt – Senior Staff Writer

Congratulations on your news release. News releases in themselves show interest in your product or services. Whatever the news source, the publisher of the news source clearly feels confident in your business idea. These news sources could be local newspapers, free publications, or newspapers. Engaging the interest of these publications is an outstanding business strategy.

A first-hand blog can and should provide the vanguard marketing strategy of a new business. That supermarket newsletter may validate your product, demonstrate interest, and spread the word about your offerings. However, a business blog allows a business to express itself, through a diverse range of media, without resorting to an intermediary.

Your business has hit the news, whatever that news source may be. Here, we flesh out how to exploit that story in your blog.

  • Transforming a News Release into Web-Friendly Format:

Blogs differ from news releases in the web-based content, which allows the business owners more direct control.  Blogs allow various channels for the owners’ creativity, such as graphics, personal interaction, and other multimedia.  This enables the owner to develop the company’s brand. A cold news release can provide the information “meat” of the blog, demonstrating the successes of the company itself. However, the graphics and other media of the blog demonstrate the character and personality of the company itself.

  • The Headline:

With a blog post you control the headline. A news outlet prefaces information about your company with a line they feel will grab their readers’ attention. However, in your blog post, your own marketing spin prevails. Generally, readers may ignore large blocks of text absent a catchy, attention-grabbing hook at the beginning. Whatever the targeted viewers’ interests, the headline should grab that reader and drag them into the deep end. The headline should cater to their interests and leave them salivating for more.

  • Formatting:

The web offers endless opportunities for multimedia presentation. Use them. Business promotions are not news stories. Viewers know they have no responsibility to “close-read” your content and tend to dismiss content from private companies. It is on you to make the content fun, and to use your own artistic sensibilities to draw in the viewer. The informational “meat” that may go into a news release must be presented in an entertaining manner, else face consignment to the vortex of discarded advertising content we see all around us.

  • Images:

News releases are informational and lack images. Your blog provides an opportunity to color this information as you see fit. Feel free to celebrate your news release on your blog with appropriate graphics. Your company’s image will brighten as a result.

  • Include Details, but Keep them Relevant:

The initial news story hopefully draws readers to your business blog. The news source may or may not have included assumptions or questionable statements, hopefully positive. One strategy is to expound on your own perspective on these statements, and clarify any misunderstandings, as well as address any questions. The news is hearsay, and media is not always 100% accurate. However, news statements that require clarification may be opportunities. In a business blog, owners can expand on these statements to educate readers about their company.

  • Sources:

For the news release itself, you are the source. However, remain mindful of the legitimacy of any of your blog content. Business owners should never venture claims absent tracing the sources.

Connect to Other Content:

On a related note, part of the magic of the web is the ability to link. Once your news release hits your blog, feel free to link to the news source itself. Also feel free to link to any of your other articles, as well as any source that provides information or resources that supports that article. Just use care in the choice of associated content.

In conclusion, successful news releases in themselves provide ample opportunities to promote your business. However, business owners may color and amplify this opportunity by spinning that news information on their blog. Whether the publication is local or widespread, blogging allows the new business to pounce on the opportunity to put their newfound publicity to the best possible use.

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, please consider joining.  There are not any dues or membership fees.  We provide a great deal of valuable information weekly.  You can also proudly display the VAMBOA seal on your website and collateral.

Here is a link to sign up:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Gaining the Most from your Business Blog

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By:  James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

 

1)  Establish your Authority:

Through advice, anecdotes, and selective marketing, a blog allows business owners to establish themselves as leaders in their field. An interior decorator can post home repair advice. A computer technician can share cybersecurity tips. Your business is helping your customers in their everyday endeavors. A blog allows you to provide free tidbits to demonstrate your potential, nudging viewers toward deeper engagement.

2)  Promote your Brand to Attract Talent:

A blog allows a chance to profile your company’s employees, showing the human face of your enterprise. Whether a college degree, special award, or new business license, a blog enables a business owner to boast about their talents and human assets. This is the time and place to boast about achievements and milestones. Whatever a business has to offer, a blog allows a channel to share the value of their human capital.

3)  Share Testimonials:

A blog lets potential customers hear from the horse’s mouth. Did you know that 50 % of customers   make purchases after researching products online, and 92% trust referrals from people they know? Online testimonials offer a personal connection in researching your product or service. Blogs are the perfect venue to showcase good karma and positive goodwill.

4)  Drive Traffic to your Website:

When customers read your blog, they are nearly twice as likely to click on your website. The more engaging the blog, the more hits will accumulate on your main website. Blogs offer the perfect chance for engagement with clientele. One simple link multiplies exposure to the site providing information

5)  Analyze Demographics:

Any marketing campaign needs user data. The back-end data from site visits provides feedback on the geographic and behavioral characteristics of your audience, and hence allows wise use of advertising dollars. Google Analytics and SEO software can prove valuable tools in breaking down this information.

6)  Promote Business Partners:

Most businesses have partners involved in their supply chain or service delivery. A blog provides opportunities to plug fellow companies. Business relationships are by nature reciprocal, and owners can expect good karma from small acts to promote your fellow travelers in the industry.

7)  Involve Employees:

Your business allows creation of a fun, vibrant workplace community. A blog allows the showcasing of get-togethers, life events, and updates about your workforce. Every time a worker shares these updates on social media, more attention is drawn to your company. Every time they tell a friend about their fun workplace activity, you spread positive word of mouth.

Better yet, with each share, your SEO numbers go up. Engagement with your own website increases, and your business will more likely appear in search results.

8)  Earn Cash through Promotions and Advertisements:

A blog provides advertising space, and selling these promotional opportunities only adds to your company’s value. Not only can a blog provide saleable advertising space, but other ideas may include selling products online, providing internet-based courses, and conducting online market research.

9)  Inform Customers of Socially Conscious Activities:

Community engagement provides some of the best advertising opportunities. Did you know that 85% of customers are more likely to support businesses that donate or volunteer?  Bloggers should not hesitate to draw attention to their good works and promote relevant causes. Goodwill from customers and good karma follows.

Conclusion:

Online marketing is all about engagement. Engagement provides outreach as well as market feedback necessary to adapt products and services to their relevant markets. Blogs are vibrant, living documents that provide a dynamic, engaging sphere for client outreach. The above strategies can maximize traffic to both your blog and your website, adapting your business to your specialized market niche as well as changing demands.

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, please consider joining.  There are not any dues or membership fees.  We provide a great deal of valuable information weekly.  You can also proudly display the VAMBOA seal on your website and collateral.

Here is a link to sign up:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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