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5 Key Customer Service Mistakes

 Given that customer service is so important, it is valuable to know some of the most common customer service mistakes. Customer service experts lent their expertise to Business News Daily and shared how to avoid them.

Just because it can be automated does not meant it should be, and it also does not mean the automation will automatically translate into cost savings.

Don’t automate just because you can. Avoid erasing all personalization and direct contact with the customer. When possible, provide a variety of different communication modes, as some customers prefer online chat while others want to talk to a person over the phone.

“Give them that option. Don’t force customers to use frustrating phone trees,” said Dana Brownlee, founder of consulting firm Professionalism Matters.

Assuming you know what the customer wants, instead of listening to the customer, is a big mistake.

“Teach listening skills throughout the organization, especially to (customer service representatives),” said Brownlee. “Develop processes that ‘force’ CSRs

Climbing the Career Ladder

 For the ninth month in a row, the national unemployment rate hasremained below 5 percent, a clear indication that the economic recovery in the U.S. continues to progress. The results of a recent workforce survey bySnagajob and LinkedIn recognizes this development, and paints a positive picture of the overall employment situation.

Snagajob CEO Peter Harrison says the company’s research highlights encouraging trends for hourly workers and managers.

“With a low unemployment rate, and a dramatic spike in the amount of open hourly positions and jobs, it’s a job seeker’s market right now,” he stated. “As the competition between employers increase, this data helps hourly employers understand what workers want out of a job to help improve recruitment, improve engagement and reduce turnover.”

Based on Snagajob’s research and engagement with 75 million hourly workers and nearly a half a million employers, one of the issues that came to the forefront was “a real need for resources to guide hourly workers through their employment journey,” Harrison noted.

5 Skills IT Professionals Need to Land a Job

 Information technology is a rapidly growing and changing industry, and the qualifications for those who work in this field can change just as quickly. If you’re looking for work in this field, it’s in your best interest to stay up to date on the workforce trends.

“For IT candidates to stand out in a sea of emails and resumes, they should be aware of the latest technology trends,” said Dino Grigorakakis, vice president of recruiting at Randstad Technologies, a technology talent and solutions provider. “Based on our experience with midmarket and large enterprises, the line between cybersecurity specialists and IT specialists is beginning to blur. The most attractive IT professionals are those who have at least some expertise in cybersecurity (and) . . . mobile development skills.”

Based on its research, Randstad offered a closer look at essential skills and requirements IT professionals need to land tech jobs in today’s market.

The distinction between cybersecurity professionals and IT specialists will become blurred, as all IT professionals will be expected to have

6 Business Ideas for Sports Lovers

Sports camp organizer

Organizing a sports camp is one great way to start a business revolving around any sport you love. A camp could focus on any level of competition and last just one day or as long as several weeks.

To boost your camp’s profile, be sure to bring in experts, like coaches and athletes, to offer attendees experienced insights into their respective games. Retaining a local athletic personality’s endorsement can also be a huge marketing benefit.

Sports photography/videographry

Parents of school-aged children on sports teams want lasting records of their kid scoring the winning goal or hitting a home run. Most times, the best they can get is a blurry action shot on their smartphone or digital camera. As a sports photographer, you can work with amateur teams to capture stunning photos of each player and sell them to proud parents. Knowledge of the game and a good single-lens reflex (SLR) camera are essential for this business. Photography retailer DigitalRevoffers tips for beginners.

In addition, game footage is a much sought after skill for coaches and media outlets alike. If you’re a skilled videographer, consider freelancing; teams require gameday

7 Part Time Business Ideas

Tutoring service

Whether you’re an academic or you have a special skill (like computer expertise or fluency in another language), it might be time to get into the tutoring business. First, figure out your target audience of students — for example, are you looking to help high school students with math, or teach computer skills to adults? Once you know whom you’re looking to reach, start advertising your services. If your students are happy with the results, ask them to refer friends or other organizations that can use your help, and build up a clientele from there.

Hair Stylist/Makeup Artist

Beauty school isn’t a prerequisite for launching a successful hair or makeup business. For those who can create masterpieces with a teasing comb and some hairspray, you only need a good reputation and client trust. Since beauty professionals often build their business through client referrals, Businessweek recommends working on friends and family for free or at a discounted rate at first. Once you have a solid customer base, you can offer competitive rates for updos and makeup for weddings, proms and other special events.

Pet Care

Are

7 Ways to Identify a Great Business Ideas

Does it solve a problem?

Entrepreneur and co-founder of the Web design school The Starter League Mike McGee thinks the best business ideas are those that solve a problem in some way.

“If there is a problem that affects you, your friends, family, co-workers, etc., then the chances are high that it affects people you don’t know as well,” McGee said.

Will people will pay for it?

It’s paying customers who validate an idea and determine which ones have the greatest chance for success, said Wil Schroter, co-founder and CEO of Fundable.

“An idea is just an idea until you have a paying customer attached to it,” Schroter said. “Anyone can discredit a simple idea, but no one can discredit paying customers.”

What’s your price point?

Charlie Harary, founder and partner of investment firm H3 & Co., said that while there are many ways to solve problems, great business ideas do it in a way that is less expensive than what the market will endure.

“Once you have determined that you are solving a legitimate problem in a scalable way, you need to determine not only the

7 Ways You’ll Know Your Business Idea Stinks

So you think you have a great idea for a business? You might want to think again. While entrepreneurs are best known for the businesses that make them money, they often go through a series of bad ideas before settling on one that works.

But how can you tell if the business you’ve been building in your mind will be a total flop? While there’s no set criteria for judging business ideas, there are several indicators that your scheme might be a waste of time and money.

Here are 7 ways you’ll know your business idea stinks.

Someone tells you it stinks

The most sure-fire way to know that your business idea stinks is if someone tells you your business idea stinks. Of course, not everyone you talk to will be qualified to give you that kind of critical feedback.

If you’re looking for a negative opinion that you can trust, find an expert or two in the field you’re pursuing and ask them, point blank, what they think of your idea. That’s the approach taken by Dan Fendel, a serial entrepreneur whose latest project is a boating safety company, Float

7 Low Cost Business Ideas

Starting a business is quite the financial undertaking. There is a lot to consider, and lack of money can sometimes be a deterrent for would-be entrepreneurs. For those who are dreaming big but are on a small budget, here are a few low-cost businesses to inspire that entrepreneurial passion.

Social media and the 24-hour news cycle have created the perfect storm of opportunity for creative professionals like writers and graphic designers, who can use their talents to create high-quality, shareable content for businesses and media outlets. Thanks to a growing part-time economy of freelance and contract workers, it’s easier than ever to market yourself as a professional freelancer.

If you’re a highly organized, detail-oriented individual who loves putting parties together, you might have the right personality to launch an event-planning business. Working for weddings, birthday parties and class reunions, event planners make it easy for others to host an exciting party. LinkedIn, cold calling and planning a few pro-bono events will help give you the proper experience. This will also help you build up a solid database of vendors and contacts so you can help your clients orchestrate the event

6 Business Ideas for Artists

Art dealer

Imagine making a living finding beautiful works of art and selling them to art enthusiasts. If you have the money to rent space in a high-traffic area, you can open your own art gallery and assist fellow artists get their work noticed. As with any business, building your reputation and niche can be an uphill battle: You’ll need expert networking and marketing skills to get the word out. Use social media to your advantage to show your work and meet people in the business to build your contacts. Once you establish a good client base, you’ll be rubbing elbows with some of your city’s most prominent artists at your gallery parties and exhibits.

Art teacher

Were you an award-winning artist your tenure as a student? Maybe you were a successful TA in college. Or maybe you create amazing works of art through painting, sculpting and other mediums. Teach classes and impart your wisdom to aspiring artists or novices who just want to learn. This idea is best suited to a part-time business, but you can still make good money offering hour-long classes at local craft stores, community centers

7 Holiday Business Ideas

Music/caroling coordination

The holiday season means music is constantly in the air. Whether its events with live music or neighborhood caroling trips, organizing and scheduling that kind of musical manpower is a tall order. A business that helps plan and schedule caroling trips, or one that maintains a team of musicians specifically available for hire for holiday parties could be a useful — and profitable — venture for celebrations everywhere.

Baked goods

Pies, cookies, fruitcakes and gingerbread are all staples of the holiday season. If your kitchen is constantly filled with the smell of freshly baked desserts during the holidays, why not get paid for it by packaging and selling them? People love giving and receiving candies and baked goods during the holidays, so you’re sure to have a huge demand.

Santa Claus appearances

Taking children to the mall to see Santa may be free, but parents will pay big bucks for a home visit from Kris Kringle (or perhaps Mrs. Claus, if you’re a woman). If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of time on Christmas Eve — or buying/renting a Santa suit — you could make arrangements

5 Business Ideas for Fashion Fanatics

Only a select few will ever make it to the runway, but plenty of fashionable startup opportunities await. They all take hard work and a great eye for fashion, but most have very small startup budgets. Here are five startup ideas for the entrepreneurial fashionista.

Putting on a fashion show is no easy feat. Fashion event producers works with designers and models to help put together a show, and may even help coach runway models.

“You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves,” said Kerry Bannigan, founder of Nolcha, a New York-based fashion event production company.

While startup costs are minimal – you won’t need employees or even an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion. Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work, Bannigan said. Business cards and a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio are a mus,t as well as a printed portfolio. Networking through industry websites is also essential, she said.

Before you embark on

7 Business Ideas for Couples

If you and your partner have made the decision to start a business together, you can choose from plenty of startups that are well suited for a two-person team. As with any partnership, these business ideas work best when you each take on roles that best fit your skills and strengths. An entrepreneurial relationship, like all business ventures, is truly a labor of love.

For those foodies who also love to travel together, consider opening up shop as a food truck vendor. Whether its music festivals, block parties, or private events, food trucks are a great way to make some extra money while traveling and meeting new, interesting people. For many food truck vendors, the freedom of the open road and the appeal of their favorite activities has led them to strike out on their own; doing exactly that with the person you love might just be the best way to see the world together.

Crafty couples who share a passion for DIY projects can launch a successful e-commerce business on platforms like Etsy or Zibbet. One of you can

7 Unique Food Business

These 7 businesses have succeeded because of their off-the-beaten-path approach and delicious delicacies.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Philly pizza jointRosa’s Fresh Pizza truly lives up to its hometown’s name. The restaurant is decorated with a wall of colorful sticky notes worth $1 (or one slice), which feeds its homeless visitors.

“One day, a customer asked to buy forward a slice for a homeless person,” Mason Wartman, the owner of the shop, said in a video for the Ellen DeGeneres show. He then purchased sticky notes, which now cover the wall of the restaurant. “Then a homeless person takes a sticky note and trades it in for a slice of pizza.”

According to the video, Rosa’s feeds approximately 40 homeless persons a day. Visit for a slice of pizza and the gift of giving back. If you’re not in the Philly area but still wish to help out, the restaurant has set up a donation page.

Since the growth of subscription services, items for dogs (made by the humans obsessed with them) have gotten

Tips to Start a T-Shirt Business

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start an online T-shirt business, you could purchase an expensive T-shirt printer or screen printing equipment. But you don’t have to; you can get your business off the ground with minimal startup capital — as low as $50, according to some experts. Compared to other types of startups, an online T-shirt company is low-priced and simple to launch, and you don’t even have to manage order fulfillment.

Your t-shirts can contain simple words, fully printed designs or a combination of both. Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop can be great tools to help you create your designs. Adobe offers low-priced monthly subscriptions; Adobe single apps are available for $19.99 per month. Adobe and online education companies such as Lynda.com offer a wide variety of Adobe classes to help you develop your design skills.

If you have ideas but don’t have the skills to produce your designs, you may find affordable graphic-design freelancers through sites such as Guru, Fiverr and Upwork. Rates are often affordable and negotiable. If you want to start designing without Photoshop, T-Shirt Magazine contributor Ana Gonzalez recommended Placeit, which offers clothing mock-ups for as little as

Tips to Start a Photography Business

Starting your own photography business is a great way to add a second income or a main income, if you work hard. While the photography market is competitive, many photography business owners have been able to find their niche and build a sustainable career. Like most creative endeavors, you need to balance your passion for photography with real business skills in order to be successful.

To build and grow your business, you need both raw talent and a knack for marketing. One photographer we spoke with said an ability “to market yourself” was one of the most important factors in success. You should continually be working to improve your craft and evolving your product, and work consistently on your own branding, online marketing and people skills. Without the two, the results will likely just be an expensive hobby rather than a viable full-time business.

In this article…

1. Startup costs
2. Your branding and reputation
3. Pricing
4. Customer expectations and contracts
5. Where to find work

Quality photography equipment is notoriously expensive, so you’ll want to start off with the minimum: Buying a $5,000 lens

6 iPhone Apps to Plan Your Workday

Day Planner: Schedule Planner (Free)

Schedule Planner puts the focus squarely on the minutiae of your daily tasks, and then provides the tools you need to see if you’re spending your time wisely. It features an easy-to-use interface to help you quickly plan out your day in the morning, and lets you place items in color-coded categories, such as Work and Free Time. The app then generates charts to help you see, at a glance, where your time is going — a key feature for small business owners who make their own schedules. Like other day-planner apps, Schedule Planner allows users to set custom alerts, repeat tasks and move items around with easy cut-and-paste functionality.

To-Do List: Todoist (Free)

Todoist can help you burn through tasks by adding tons of extra functionality to the traditional to-do list format. In addition to the ability to set up simple checklists, the app lets you set due dates and even rank tasks by priority to help you identify your next action item. It also includes project management features, including the ability to assign individual tasks to a larger project, and designate tasks to a specific

Top 8 Workplaces for Women

As gender equality continues to take the spotlight in workplace issues, more women are seeking job opportunities with companies where they’re most likely to receive equal pay and treatment.

InHerSight, a workplace ratings and matching site for women, collected user ratings data on 27,000 U.S. companies across five main categories: equal opportunities for men and women, salary satisfaction, maternity and adoptive leave, top leadership, and management opportunities for women.

While InHerSight used its data to rank the best workplaces in each category on a five-point scale, the top 10 workplaces for women overall include:

  1. Title Source (4.6)
  2. Procore Technologies (4.4)
  3. The Boston Consulting Group (4.2)
  4. The Motley Fool (4.0)
  5. Netflix (4.0)
  6. Facebook (4.0)
  7. NetSuite (3.9)
  8. PayPal (3.9)

According to Ursula Mead, CEO of InHerSight, female representation in leadership and management opportunities for women, as well as equal opportunities and salary satisfaction, are strong predictors of women’s satisfaction at work.

Last year, several high-profile companies announced improvements to their parental leave programs, so maternity and adoptive leave became a highlighted factor for InHerSight. Mead hopes that trend continues in 2017.

“The great news about many of these larger companies is that they’re always hiring, and often hiring for a lot of open

Mobile Apps for Small Business

Mobile friendly websites and applications have become ever more important among small businesses, and now a mobile strategy is widely regarded as a prerequisite for any successful company. Recent survey results compiled by Clutch, a B2B research company, show that small business mobile apps are the new normal, and those businesses that refuse to implement mobile strategies risk falling behind.

Clutch’s survey found that 42 percent of responding small businesses currently employ a mobile application. However, that number is expected to rise dramatically, with 67 percent of business owners responding that they intend to have a mobile app by the end of 2017.

“Mobile apps for small business is not a mature market yet, but if small businesses haven’t considered building an app yet, they’re behind,” Cameron Banga, project manager and cofounder of app developer 9magnets, told Clutch.

Whether the goal is increasing sales, improving customer service or creating an additional vehicle to drive your brand, the benefits of implementing mobile applications for small businesses are many. But how can you go about developing a mobile application without significant experience?

There are, of course, mobile

Why Humility Matters for Managers

Humility might not be the first quality that comes to mind when you think of leadership skills, but studies are showing that it is one of the most vital characteristics of successful leaders. Leaders who practice humility engender trust, empower their subordinates, look at failures as challenges and develop a team spirit — all of which leads to happier employees and more profits for the company.

Further, humble leadership has the same positive influence regardless of gender or nationality, according to a study by Catalyst: “Humility was one of the most significant indicators, after empowerment, of altruistic leadership in this study.”

Humility may be too easily dismissed as a leadership quality because people associate it with weakness, but according to several leadership experts, humility simply means understanding your strengths and weaknesses and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of others. Angela Sebaly, co-founder and CEO of Personify Leadership and author of “The Courageous Leader” (Wiley, 2017), adds that humble leaders are focused on the big picture of mission and team rather than themselves.

“Humility is about minimizing the self and maximizing the bigger purpose you represent,” Sebaly said. “When you think about

6 Pubic Relations Tips for Success

As a small business, you may not think you need to pay much attention to public relations. However, when it comes to branding, marketing and promoting your company, PR is one of the most important tools to help get you the right type of attention.

According to Landor Associates, 45 percent of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it. Furthermore, 75 percent of consumers cite brand awareness as a major influencer in making their buying decision, and consistent brands are worth 20 percent more than those who aren’t consistent.

How you create and deliver your company’s message matters to consumers looking for your brand.

“Public relations can provide legitimacy for a business, and that’s especially important for an SMB that may not have a lot of brand awareness,” said Amy Bryson, the vice president at Airfoil Group, a marketing and public relations firm.

Bryson notes that if a media influencer or third party validates a company, product or service, it demonstrates credibility, which is great for brand building.

“A positive article, review, blog post or social media endorsement is a great asset to