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7 Efficiencies Created by Having an Integrated Back Office

The back office is the unsung hero of many small businesses. Untold quantities of paper pushing and forgotten transactions work together to keep an organization humming along like a well-oiled machine.Of course, that’s the case when a back office is operating at peak efficiency. Often the reality is a bit less organized. Scattered team members, inefficient processes, and inadequate tracking can leave a back office operating far below peak productivity.That’s where integration comes into play.The Benefits of a Fully Integrated Back OfficeThere are many software solutions that allow a new business to fully integrate its back office activity. This impacts efficiency practically overnight.An integrated back office gives an organization greater transparency and visibility. It empowers employees and allows for more accurate measurement, scheduling, and forecasting of various business activities.These benefits can also boost the efficiency of your organization in multiple ways throughout your business. Here are some of the biggest efficiency boosters that an integrated back office offers.1. Fills in GapsMany new businesses use software in varying degrees throughout their back offices. However, this doesn’t happen in an even manner. According to payroll service provider, OnPay, in 2019, a paltry 27% of businesses had integrated HR software into their operation. This is less than half of the 60% that used payroll software at the time.The information reveals a common struggle — unequal technological integration from one department to the next. By tying all of your back-office activity into a single integrated system, you balance your business’s software solutions. This has the effect of filling technological gaps and shortfalls wherever they may exist.2. Provides Easy-To-Access RecordsBack offices handle a tremendous amount of mundane, monotonous, and otherwise dull activities. This includes purchases, sales transactions, inventory records, invoices, receipts, and other endless paperwork.Using software to unite these activities can introduce an unparalleled degree of organization. By using a program to collect and catalog all transactions and information, you bring everything together into a limited number of easy-to-access locations.3. Bolsters Customer ServiceYour customer service team members may be on the customer-facing side of your business. Nevertheless, it is intimately tied in with your back office. Existing data of past sales and stored customer information is often required for customer service activity.When you integrate your back office, it can streamline the delivery of this information for your customer service reps. Customer relationship management software can keep every single iota of information in orderly files. You can then use this to provide fast and accurate customer service at any given moment.4. Lowers Operational CostsInefficiency is a drain on company cash. It has lowered productivity and sapped resources ever since the beginning of civilization. One of the easiest ways to foster inefficiency is to have a diverse and unconnected internal business operation.This is why one of the quickest and simplest improvements that come with back office integration is lowering operational costs. Software is both affordable and efficient. It also avoids the need to do a job more than once. This can lead to significant savings as your team expends less effort on each activity.5. Improves Operational CapacityThe streamlined nature of an integrated back office has been brought up a few times now. Cost savings and organization are obvious frontline benefits that come with the deal. However, there’s another element that is easily overlooked: operational capacity.Software reduces the number of steps and eliminates the need for human involvement in many areas of business. This frees up your employees to focus on other tasks. Thus, by integrating your back office, you also improve the capacity of your team to take on more work without the need to hire new staff. This can do wonders in boosting productivity.6. Increases Informational AccuracyAlong with making information easy-to-access, integrating your back office also improves accuracy. When multiple departments must receive and record information on their own, it introduces the opportunity for errors to arise.A software solution unifies this information, often into a single universal location. When that happens, it reduces the chance that information will conflict during interdepartmental interactions.7. Gives You Greater ControlAt the end of the day, back office integration gives you greater control. The effort unifies the front and back ends of an organization by tying them together throughout each transaction. When a sale takes place in the front office, the information is recorded throughout the back office’s files. When customer service interacts with a client, they can easily access needed information stored in the back office system as well. This is all done in an automated and accurate manner.In addition, by bringing your back office operations together into an integrated whole, you improve your company’s communication. Individuals access the same files and don’t have to worry about conflicting information.All of these factors help to give management a much greater degree of control over their entire operation. The seamless transition of information from front to back offices knits everyone together. The central collection of data eliminates misinformation and provides a single location where leaders can go to get answers. The increase in available manpower can translate into greater innovation and creativity, as well. All of this combines to deliver a powerful sense of control over the back-end operations of a company.Back offices are often ignored in favor of splashy front-office solutions. E-commerce, marketing, and even customer service are prioritized over the run-of-the-mill activity that goes on behind the scenes.And yet, the powerful technological solutions of the 21st century are not purely focused on the customer. They can also be integrated into back offices with dramatic effect. From filling software gaps to unifying easy-to-access records, improving accuracy, boosting productivity, lowering costs, and more, there are many benefits that are created by having an integrated back office.While just it’s one of many ways to improve business efficiency, it’s a good idea to review your current back office situation. Are you using software to tie your organization together or are departments operating on their own? Where can you implement software solutions that bring your organization together as a unified whole? As you look for these areas of improvement, you’ll be able to tap more and more into the unparalleled benefits that come with a fully integrated back office.Image: Depositphotos

11 Tips for Entrepreneurs Looking to Write Their First Book

Putting together a book takes time, energy and a lot of effort. And while it accounts for a lot of the book’s labor, writing isn’t the only thing an entrepreneur needs to concern themselves with. Publishing the book and the marketing associated with it also have a place in the overall success equation. But not all new writers know what to expect from the writing process. To help, 11 experts from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answer the following question:“What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to write or publish their first book? Why?”Follow these tips to ensure your first book-writing experience is a successful one.1. Clearly Define Your Audience“Having written my first book in 2019, I would share the following advice: It’s important you clearly define your audience and not get sidetracked. I kept thinking of writing for my peers, but the book wasn’t for them. Understand the goal you want to achieve and temper your expectations. Choose the most effective publishing options and develop a marketing strategy around the launch of your book.” ~ Kevin Getch, Webfor2. Leverage the Right Tools“The right tool can make a huge difference in the level of effort you need to put in to write a book. I suggest using personal knowledge management tools like a note app. There are also applications and web platforms that have features that support book writing. They’ll have referencing tools, research aids, chapter dividers, tags and other elements that can make it easy for you to write.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner3. Create Shorter Pieces First“If you’ve never published educational articles on a blog or op-eds for online publications, it is going to be very difficult to dive straight into writing a book. Instead, start sharing your ideas and insights with a broader audience through content marketing, see what topics are resonating with your audience and use those to kick-start your book!” ~ Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.4. Set a Daily Word Count Goal“The most important part of writing is actually getting words on the page. Everything else comes later. So, if you are serious about publishing your first book, you need to establish good daily writing habits early on. Set yourself a daily word count goal and hold yourself to it. Not everything will be good or worth keeping, but at least you will have it. You can always revise it later.” ~ Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained5. Start With a Short, Focused Book“Start with a book that’s relatively short and focused. Many readers today prefer shorter books, especially for nonfiction, when the objective is to learn something. Narrow your subject down to something specific within your industry that you know well and give readers clear tips they can follow. You can always follow up with longer books later on.” ~ Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting6. Create a Presentation First“Create a presentation first with slides and visuals that describe your thesis and outline of the book, and end with key takeaways. Present it to a group to test your book idea before you start writing. You would test your new products on a market, so why not beta test your book? I published two books already and will soon be publishing a third. We always test our audience.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic7. Be Ready to Revise“When writing a book, you have to revise. Few people can write a perfect nonfiction draft on the first try, even if they have a detailed outline and sources. Block out time for writing, taking a break, sharing the draft with trusted friends and rewriting. Research agents, large or small-press companies and relevant software for self-publishing. Then you can make a decision about these options.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum78. Pay Attention to Cover Design“Although people say ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ many people still do that. So always pay attention to your cover design. It’s your cover that will set the first impression for your readers. So if it’s not an attractive one, you might lose a lot of potential buyers.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster9. Build Your Brand and Promote Early On“My advice is to start building your brand and the book’s presence six months prior to the book’s publication date so you don’t launch to silence. Design a website for the book, build an email list, grow your social media footprint, get interviewed by the media and try to generate book reviews. All of these activities will maximize your book’s awareness.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC10. Build Publishing Industry Connections“Learn about the publishing industry and start building connections with editors and fellow writers now. It takes a long time to nurture relationships and build a community, so start early, even if your book is still in progress.” ~ Sean Harper, Kin Insurance11. Be Careful What Agency You Work With“If you choose to work with a publishing agent or agency to promote your book and develop a marketing strategy, research and verify their reputation. Publishing agents are notorious for promising the moon and underdelivering. If you sign a contract, make sure there are performance targets in place so you won’t waste money on unsuccessful efforts.” ~ Shaun Conrad, Guitar Repair Bench Online LessonsImage: Depositphotos

How To Create A Content Strategy For Your Instagram Feed

“Most people post the first thing that comes to mind on their Instagram feed,” says digital marketing consultant and Instagram expert Scarlet Vincent. It’s basically a surefire way to make sure that you miss the bullseye when you’re aiming for your ideal clients. So it pays to work on your aim. “You need a specific strategy if you want to use the platform to attract clients,” says Vincent. “Research shows conversion rates are up to six times higher for businesses that have a content marketing strategy compared to those who don’t.” No doubt, finding time to come up with something strategic to say is the perpetual entrepreneurial struggle. But with more than a billion people scrolling through Instagram every month and the average user spending half an hour there, having a strategy can pay off. A whopping 90% of Instagram users follow a business on Instagram, according to Sprout Social, a leading social media software company. That means it’s an excellent platform for increasing your brand visibility. 

To figure out how to make time for creating deeply engaging posts that attract ideal customers and increase your following, I caught up with Vincent for some advice. Not only did she grow her Instagram following organically to more than 50,000 people over two years, but she did it as a busy, single mom with an immune condition that causes chronic pain. As a result, her approach to social media is all about clarity and simplicity so she and her clients can build thriving businesses without being overwhelmed. Follow Vincent’s advice for a prosperous plan of Instagram action.  

1. Identify Your Customer’s Pain Points   
“Your ideal clients scrolling through Instagram need to find value in your posts before making the decision to follow you,” explains Vincent. “In order to create that value, you need to compose strategic content that does a deep dive into their pain points and offers the solution that they desire to get.” For example, if you’re a finance expert, are your ideal clients struggling with managing money during a pandemic and can you offer tips about that? If you’re a relationships coach, are your customers depressed over dating while social distancing? Can you help them with that?

“Your marketing message needs to resonate and align with the beliefs of your target audience, so it is essential to go beyond demographics,” says Vincent who encourages you to ask your own audience about what they’re struggling with and pay attention to comments and questions in your direct messages. “When you have a clear understanding of your Ideal Client Avatar, then you’ll be able to connect with them through your brand message.”

2. Do Market Research To Increase Engagement
“Market research will show you the types of words your ideal clients use to describe what they’re going through, what’s going on in their lives and so much more,” says Vincent. “YouTube is a great place to conduct your market research. You simply go to your competitor’s channel, filter their content for “most popular videos” to see which topics are hot in your niche, and repurpose that as an Instagram post.”
“Beyond that, you can leverage strategies that are already proven to increase engagement on Instagram, like mining your own feed for information,” explains Vincent. “When you have been constantly creating content, you’ll be able to determine which types of posts tend to get a positive response from your ideal clients. Monitor what has been getting a lot of traction and duplicate that on your feed.”
3. Put Posting On Your Schedule
“Have a schedule specifically to create content and stick to it,” says Vincent. “For example, you can work on Instagram content every Monday between 9am to 11am. That way, you’ll stay consistent, which is key for growing engaged followers. Remember, you’re planning high-value content that is strategic, instead of uploading random content on an irregular basis as inspiration doesn’t always strike a pain point.”
“You should also create a social media content calendar to plan your content two weeks in advance, leaning into the kinds of posts that have gotten a positive response for you in the past. When you have a consistent schedule, followers will also look forward to your posts as they know when to expect fresh content from you.”