10 Reasons Why You Should Be Outsourcing Your Business Now 

business outsourcingOutsourcing has become one of the most important success strategies for small businesses. Years ago, this process was not fully understood and adopted by smaller businesses and entrepreneurs due to fear, and it were only huge corporations that used outsourced work.

These days, you will find more and more SMEs and individual entrepreneurs using outsourcing as a means of meeting business goals and accomplishing more tasks as their businesses grow. If you are thinking of outsourcing for the first time and still not seeing it as a strategy on a business standpoint, here are some of the main reasons why you should go for it.

1. You can save a lot of time. As business owner, focusing and spending time on core business tasks should be your priority, instead of doing tedious ones that can be delegated. Let's face it; there are tasks that eat up a ton of our time even if they are not directly impacting our business as a whole. Multi-tasking is often the solution that others think of, when it's time to speed things up. But studies show that multi-tasking decreases productivity and increases stress.

At the end of the day, it's about completing specific tasks that you should not be doing yourself. If you take on all of the tasks, you might not finish all of them within the day. So why not hire someone who has the skill to do it instead? This way, you can focus on your customers and key responsibilities while your outsourced staff takes care of completing other tasks that are also crucial to your business.

2. Hire experts. When you are running your own small business, it’s impossible to be an expert in every facet of the business. Why not hire people who are? Someone who specializes in the task you want done can not only do it better, they can often do it faster and cheaper as well.

3. Get a fresh, outside perspective. Hiring an outsourced professional can also bring in a fresh new outlook to your business and strategies. You can get new ideas that you wouldn't have thought of yourself and make use of them to improve the way you market your business, for example.

These perspectives come from different experiences, skill level, and involvement of the outsourced individual. When you give this person a chance to collaborate with your in-house team, they can share what they know and learn from each other's insights. Collectively, these insights can bring in fresh new ideas, solutions, and strategies that can help your business in the long run.

4. Leverage expertise on a global basis. If you don’t outsource, you are limited to the local labor pool for human resources. Multinational companies have long enjoyed the benefits of a worldwide knowledge base and teams of professional experts. You don't have to be a huge company to tap and leverage into world-class capabilities. You simply provide the platform and the tasks or projects for your global staff, and let them collaborate with your in-house teams.

5. Reduce stress and improve productivity. Delegating tasks which can free you up is more productive and efficient, rather than doing everything yourself. To some, it is an added expense because adding people into your company means paying extra heads for tasks done. However, in the long run, you will realize that things can only be accomplished sooner if there are a few experts helping out. And instead of spending time finishing tasks, you could use those extra hours in making more sales and getting more customers.

6. Increase your agility and flexibility. It is difficult to juggle tasks and responsibilities as a business owner. But with an outsourced team of skilled professionals, it is easier to keep up with the fast-changing business landscape and improve your business reach.

7. Gain access to specific technologies. When you hire outsourced professionals, it's not surprising to find that many of them are either familiar or using some of today's latest tools and apps. This can be the result of having to work with various companies in different industries which provided them access to the latest tools they use. This can help you in discovering and using whatever latest technology is out there that can specifically benefit your projects and company overall.

8. Save money. Lower operational cost is among the major concerns and goals of SMEs. You don't need a big office in a city's high-rise building and paying for operational costs when you hire skilled professionals from all over the globe. And when properly executed, outsourcing skilled and experienced people has its crucial impact on your business's revenue and savings.

9. Minimize risk. Businesses carry certain amount risks. Competition, financial conditions, markets, technologies, and government policies change quite rapidly. Outsourcing professionals assume and manage these risks for the businesses they partner with, and generally, they make better decisions on how to avoid risks in their areas of expertise.

10. Facilitate fast growth. Outsourcing specific functions of your business to a specialty skilled professional is a strategic decision which can bring savings, improves process efficiencies, and enhances the quality of information, facilitating better decision-making, while alleviating the bottlenecks related to business growth.

Are you outsourcing some of your business functions?

What benefits have you enjoyed so far?

View User Profile for Brian Conte Brian founded Fast Track with over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience and technology expertise. Brian managed the development of Microsoft's first browser in 1985 and later founded hDC, the first Windows software company. Brian ran hDC, later named Express Systems, for 10 years before selling it to WRQ in 1996, where he remained as CTO. Brian spearheaded the development of one of WRQ's most successful products, Express 2000, which generated more than $10 million in its first year. Brian holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.
Posted by Brian Conte Friday, February 5, 2016 8:55:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C business partnership

What is Agile Methodology? 

Agile methodology

Agile methodology is a set of tools, skills, and knowledge that is considered (collectively) as an alternative method to conventional product management and development. It is often used in software development wherein teams act and decide in response to unpredictability through iterative work sprints.


The Origin of Agile

The 1970 publication by Dr. Winston Royce entitled "Managing the Development of Large Software Systems" criticized the sequential process involved in product development.

Dr. Royce emphasized that software should not be developed like a product on an assembly line where each component is added in sequential phases, and where each phase must be completed before starting the next phase – the so-called “waterfall” approach. He opposed this phase-based approach wherein developers first gather all of the requirements, complete all of the architecture and design elements, write all the code, do all testing, and so on. Dr. Royce specifically opposed this style of process because of the lack of communication between the specific groups which complete every phase.

In waterfall methodology, teams only have a single chance to get things right. It is also not an optimized method compared to the concept of agile. Waterfall method assumes that each requirement can be identified prior to the design and coding processes. Could you tell your developers all they need to know (requirements and all elements) to include in the software before it is up and running? Or would it be easier to illustrate your idea to the development team if you could give feedback on functional software?

Why Go the Agile Way?

Using agile technology provides opportunities for your team to assess the direction of your project during the development process. This is attained through regular iterations, at the end of which, teams should present the resulting product increment. This method is described as 'incremental' and 'iterative' due to the process of repetitive shortened work cycles and the functional product they produce.
 
There are different types of agile methods that use the original principle stated in the agile manifesto. The most popular types are the following:

Scrum

Scrum specifically focuses on how to manage tasks within a team-based development setting. It is the most widely implemented agile method possibly because it is easier for IT development teams to understand and follow. Scrum is not repressive and doesn't demand loads of technical discipline unlike well-defined Agile methods. It lets the development team decide what to do and how to do it; as well as get up to speed and begin doing Agile swiftly and cost-effectively.

Scrum certification helps fulfill the objective of the Agile manifesto by encouraging collaboration, productivity, and accomplishment among team members.      

Dynamic Systems Delivery Method (DSDM)
Possibly the original agile method, DSDM was already in existence even before the term 'agile' was used and adapted in software development.  DSDM fixes cost, time and quality at the outset and uses prioritization scope into “musts”, “shoulds”, “coulds”, and “won’t haves”.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming or XP is a more thorough type of agile method which focuses on process analysis, development, and test phases through frequent releases in short development cycles intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints to accommodate new customer requirements.

Among the three popular types, DSDM is possibly the most comprehensive agile method, while Scrum and XP are a lot easier to implement and complementary since they deal with various aspects of software development projects and both are established on very similar concepts.

In the last decade, many industries have seen the benefits of using agile technology. Media, marketing, technology, large corporations, as well as government sectors have seen a dramatic improvement in their IT development projects and team efforts, which also provides that much-needed competitive edge.

In agile product development, project management is a little different as it relies more on the team leader's skills in coordination, communication, and facilitation with less emphasis on planning and control. However, not all projects go well with this method and it is not always the key to instant success. The key is to understand many techniques from different agile and waterfall methodologies, and pick out the best approaches that will suit a specific situation.

Agile technology, with a combination of your team's skill and experience, can help you have a more flexible approach and less documentation, more collaboration and visibility that allows for a more rewarding team experience and better products as a result.

 

View User Profile for Brian Conte Brian founded Fast Track with over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience and technology expertise. Brian managed the development of Microsoft's first browser in 1985 and later founded hDC, the first Windows software company. Brian ran hDC, later named Express Systems, for 10 years before selling it to WRQ in 1996, where he remained as CTO. Brian spearheaded the development of one of WRQ's most successful products, Express 2000, which generated more than $10 million in its first year. Brian holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.
Posted by Brian Conte Thursday, January 21, 2016 5:08:00 PM Categories: business partnership custom development enterprise project management small business tips technology web design web development

[Infographic] Social Media Images Cheat Sheet 2015 

We've compiled the newest images for social media just for you.

Complete social media images cheatsheet for 2015.

View User Profile for Crista McCandless Crista is a self-proclaimed geek who loves fiction, data analysis, growth hacking and everything Tolkien. At Fast Track, she helps businesses identify areas to improve and grow online with her ninja moves. She manages the digital strategy, including online marketing and search engine optimization. Follow her musings about world domination in Twitter as @crista_mcc.
Posted by Crista McCandless Friday, September 11, 2015 1:47:00 PM Categories: infographics SMB social media social media marketing web trends

Five Effective Strategies on How to Optimize Your Power Site 

New to Power Site? Here's five ways you can optimize your website on your own.

5 Effective Strategies to Optimize Your Website

Building your online business using Power Site is the most convenient way of putting your brand out there. Leaving the coding part to Power Site's web developers frees you from doing such meticulous task. So you can focus on other important aspects of your business.

By taking a look at the features of your Power Site, you will be able to determine which areas can be easily optimized on your own. Optimizing your site increases its Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP). Ranking high usually means more visibility online, and thus, bigger chances of gaining more leads.

Here are a few ways to optimize your Power Site:

(1) On-page Optimization

Your Power Site's on-page content optimization may include the following strategies:

  • Proper keyword optimization without keyword stuffing - Your primary keywords should be used on page titles, headings, sub-headings, page body/content, product descriptions and tags, image file names and alt texts, meta title and description , page URLs.
  • Improve internal link building - You can link your most-linked web pages to your homepage and new SEO-targeted pages to harness link equity.
  • Video sitemap - Create a video sitemap if you have numerous video promotions.
  • User friendly landing pages - Improve user experience by having clear calls to action, properly constructed website navigation, and properly tagged product images.
  • Mobile device compatibility - Make sure that you have a mobile version of your website for customers who use mobile devices when browsing the internet.
  • Social media integration - Integrate social media to allow sharing of your content, highlight customer feedback, use as social-based commenting, show trending products/services to your social media followers.

(2) Blogging

Power Site's content management system allows you to easily manage your site's blog. Maximize these blogging features which will enable you to create properly optimized posts:

  • Set up categories to organize blog content to help visitors find the topics they are looking for.
  • Use primary and long tail keywords on your posts.
  • Include related images and links to reliable resources on your posts.
  • Include shareable images  you own. Make sure their file names are relevant to the content. Add alt tags when you insert the images on your posts.

(3) Link Building

  • Build relationships with other website/blog owners and get backlinks through guest posting.
  • Send request letters to manufacturers/suppliers for backlinks on their websites.
  • Find and interview influencers in your industry.
  • Create shareable infographics.
  • Write how-to guides for your target audience.
  • Answer questions on platforms like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and other Q&A sites.
  • Curate a 'weekly roundup' of best posts within your industry.

(4) Enlisting your Power Site to local directories

  • List down all of your business information such as website URL, physical address, telephone number/s, email address, as well as several product images you use on your website. These are required by local directory listings and will appear on a page once your account/submission is approved.
  • To find where your competitors are listed, you can use Whitespark's Local Citation Finder.
  • Submit your Power Site's URL to all relevant local directories.

(5) Other Best Practices

  • Always stick with high quality content for your website and/or blog posts. Apply the same principle in writing services or product descriptions.
  • If you do sell products on your Power Site, do not copy the manufacturer's description. Instead, write your own optimized product descriptions your customers can relate to.
  • Write long form blog posts particularly for new products you are promoting.
  • Many free PR sites are quite dubious. Have a budget set for press releases and make sure the site/s you will choose are highly reputable and known to produce good results.
  • Avoid mass submissions to various directories. Pick only relevant authority directories to submit to.
  •  Do not submit your website to Google using submission sites and tools. Use Google URL submission page.

The ease of having a Power Site for your business does not stop at the completed website itself. There is always room for improvement and there are basic steps you can take as website owner in order to optimize your website further.

View User Profile for Crista McCandless Crista is a self-proclaimed geek who loves fiction, data analysis, growth hacking and everything Tolkien. At Fast Track, she helps businesses identify areas to improve and grow online with her ninja moves. She manages the digital strategy, including online marketing and search engine optimization. Follow her musings about world domination in Twitter as @crista_mcc.
Posted by Crista McCandless Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:18:00 PM Categories: SEO small business tips SMB web trends website

SMB Tips: 15 Social Media Mistakes Brands Need To Avoid 

Knowing what social media marketing is not enough. Understanding how it works is the main menu for your online success. Here's 15 social media mistakes some businesses tend to overlook and how you can avoid them.

Social Media Mistakes Brands Need To Avoid

If you’re a smart marketer, one strategy that you’re probably using to attract new customers is social media.  When done right, social media  becomes a means to connect and engage with targeted customers through sharing useful content, as well as information about your products or services.

However, there are still many businesses that just don't get it right when it comes to social media marketing. As a result, the incurred social media mistakes they've made become time-wasters, or worst, lost profit.

Below is a list of social media mistakes that you may be doing unknowingly:

(1) You have no plan

Before launching any tactic using social media, take a look at your objectives.. You should define your target audience, research your competition, select the right tools of the trade, and produce content before you post your first social media update. Without planning, you might end up appearing disorganized and unprepared.

(2) Going solo

If you have a business that needs a couple of people in order to work, it's the same with your social media campaigns. You don't have to have a separate team, but at least one or two people handling the tasks of strategizing, planning, creating content and design, promotion, branding, and monitoring. Doing it alone is not only stressful, but can also be chaotic.

(3) Being predictable with your content

It's not fun seeing the same updates over and over again on all of your social media accounts. Without creativity and careful thought in your content, your followers may end up clicking the 'unlike' or 'unfollow' button.

(4) Can't write?

Social media updates are not as long as a blog post. These updates should be professionally written, with the audience in mind, and with a dash of creativity and wit to capture their attention. If you can't do this, hire a professional writer who can channel the right tone and provide quality content consistently.

(5) Not posting updates in real-time

While it's okay to schedule updates on social media, it's not as engaging as a real-time updates that have commentaries instantaneously. Not sharing content in real-time may even deter your target audience.

(6) Spreading yourself too thin

If you're trying to post on  all social media networks, stop. Take a look at where your audiences are - are they on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+? If you are chasing after possible leads, it's best to focus on a few social media networks where they congregate. Rather than signing up for almost every social network, it's better to focus on a few where you can get the most targeted leads.

(7) Missing in action

If you are or if you have an erratic social media manager, it's difficult to gain results from inconsistent updates. Promoting your business and pushing your brand forward requires a  constant stream of updates to let your followers know that you're there and always available.

(8) You're unprofessional and careless

Typographical errors, grammar mistakes, and being too informal in creating updates puts your brand at risk. You'll be seen as unprofessional and people who follow you might think that you're not serious about your business. Social media marketing may not require everyone to be too formal, but you can be neutral, friendly, and accommodating, while maintaining a professional approach.

(9) Faking it

Being authentic, honest, and transparent can help win more followers and potential clients because you are not hiding behind a façade. You can provide opinions and facts to influence people with your genuineness. Always say what you mean and mean what you say. because it's your brand you're putting out there.

(10) You're too self-centered

It's not always about you. Always provide information that will help your followers, even if it’s not your content. . Be sure to share links to resources that your audience  can benefit from and also make sure to mention and thank the rightful owners.

(11) Why so serious?

Add a sense of humor when needed. You can add a bit of fun in your updates and promotions to lighten up the mood and engage  your followers. When an occasion calls for it, see to it that your updates are appropriate and light-hearted, without deviating from your content.

(12) You're being too safe

Don't be bland in engaging with your followers. You can be bold and expressive without offending.. Show personality in your updates and engagements, but do avoid arguments and being controversial. Keep it professional, honest, and creative with your responses.

(13) Where are the photos?

Adding photos or any shareable imagery, especially for social media updates, is the norm. Visual content attracts more attention than bland and wordy messaging. Use stock images, candid photos, Instagram, vine, and video to match your updates.

(14) Not checking the numbers

Defining your goals and developing a method for measuring your social media will help you see the results of your efforts. It's not enough that you're promoting your brand to followers if you cannot see any result.

(15) Not setting a budget

While organic search still lives, it's not always a reliable source of new leads. If you want to get your brand out there and be seen, it's best to spend a little for social media - either for tools, apps, or services.

Check your own strategies and see what needs to changed. There's always a chance you're making a few of these social media mistakes and now is the time to correct them.

If you need help and guidance in your social media marketing techniques, call us now. We can help you improve it for better results.

View User Profile for Crista McCandless Crista is a self-proclaimed geek who loves fiction, data analysis, growth hacking and everything Tolkien. At Fast Track, she helps businesses identify areas to improve and grow online with her ninja moves. She manages the digital strategy, including online marketing and search engine optimization. Follow her musings about world domination in Twitter as @crista_mcc.
Posted by Crista McCandless Monday, July 20, 2015 10:24:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C marketing tips online marketing small business tips SMB social media social media marketing
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