How to Get Your Business Ready for a Remote Workforce

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How to Get Your Business Ready for a Remote Workforce

When you run a remote business, there's an entirely different set of rules you operate by. A brick-and-mortar business has different requirements and processes compared to a remote company. That's why, when preparing to bring on a remote workforce, it's important to know what you'll need to do to prepare for success.

In a survey by Upwork, 38 percent of hiring managers predict that remote work will dominate in the next 10 years. Telecommuting is gaining tremendous popularity with workers, because advanced technology allows for productivity and success in all the same ways as in a brick-and-mortar business. You no longer need to go into an office five days a week to meet your professional goals.

If you're trying to get your business ready for a remote workforce, here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Get your data on the cloud

In preparation for a remote workforce, you'll need to keep your data organized in one place where it can be accessed by you and other members of your team. You can do this by putting your data on the cloud with a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) program.

CRM is a platform used to collect customer data, store customer and potential contact information, recognize conversion opportunities, manage marketing campaigns and more – all from the cloud. A CRM solution will give your business a proper strategy and help you focus on your relationship with customers so you're able to tailor your content and products to customers' needs.

It's easier to increase productivity and collaborate as a team when your data is in one spot. Analyzing your relationship toward consumers will give you insight on how to further your reach, increase engagement and focus on what drives customers to make a purchase.

Editor's note: Looking for CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 
2. Use a messaging communication system

It's even more crucial when you're setting up your business for a remote workforce that you will all be communicating with each other effectively and efficiently. Without clear communication, your business is prone to mistakes, lags, glitches and other predicaments that otherwise could have been avoided.

To keep up with everything surrounding your business, you need to use tools that will make your daily communications more efficient. There are several instant messaging systems that eliminate the need for pesky back-and-forth emails, making it easier to get in touch with your team for faster response times. Project discussions, announcements and keeping up with co-workers is made simple and, best of all, useful to build the remote workforce you want.

3. Onboard the right employees

Remote work sounds like a dream come true for those who dread the 9 to 5. Who wouldn't like to work in their pajamas and stay inside on days when it's ugly outside?

The reality, however, is that not everyone is well-suited for working remotely. Remote work has increased 140 percent since 2005, according to research by GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics, but that doesn't mean it's the right situation for everyone. To ensure your business is ready for a remote model, you have to make sure you have the right people on your team.

First, you need to have an idea of who you want working for you and who you think could handle telecommunication. Try to narrow your focus and create a picture of your ideal remote employee. What are the traits of your ideal employee? What is their communication style? And, as you interview candidates, the more information you can get about an individual's remote work experience, the better you'll be able to understand if they have what it takes to succeed as a remote employee under you. 

When looking for remote employees to join your workforce, consider their attitude and behavior and reconcile that with what you envision for your company. Brainstorm a list of behavioral questions to ask potential candidates based on the results you'd like to see. This will ensure you go beyond inquiring about mundane, run-of-the-mill routine questions so you can focus on how candidates act, their skills and their outlook on remote work.

Ask candidates questions around the following subjects:

Prior teamwork experience Remote work experience Leadership skills Problem-solving Handling conflict Remote work ethic Over to you

Preparing your business for a remote work team means knowing what you want and finding the people who can do it for you. By uploading your data onto the cloud, you and your team have easy access to all the information you need in one place. You also have to ensure a communication system is put in place so everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively. Finally, hiring the right people for remote work is crucial because some aren't cut out for it or don't work as productively in that environment. What would you do to get your business ready for a remote workforce? Leave your recommendations below.

Don’t Listen to Your Heart When Naming a Business

When you are coming up with a business name, it can be challenging to know how to pick the right name, especially if you are expecting love at first sight. You may have tons of ideas, and all of them fit, but none of them feel like “the one.”

So what do you do?

Sometimes, illusions must be cast aside. When it comes to naming a business, love-at-first-sight is not the most productive approach. In fact, going into the naming process with the expectation of falling in love with a name right away often leads to disappointment.

But if you can’t depend on your emotions, how do you know which name is the right name?

A big myth in naming your business is that you should feel an immediate emotional connection to your business name. This is simply missing the main benefit your brand name can offer to your future success. Instead, consider what a name actually should do – function as a tool that supports your business.

It is better to follow logical naming criteria to find a name that supports your brand than to worry about finding a name that makes your heart leap. Your name should function as a productive and powerful marketing and branding asset.

Setting up your naming criteria

Because emotions are subjective, it is better to choose your final business name based on how well it fits your naming criteria. That means you need to set up naming criteria before you begin brainstorming business name ideas.

General naming criteria

Make sure your business name meets the following standards:

Easy to say

A good business name makes referrals easy. Any obstacles in memorability may prevent your customers from passing your name along to other customers. A name that’s difficult to say will discourage people from sharing it. It will also make it more difficult to remember.

Tip: If your brand name can’t pass the crowded bar test, it might be a good idea to pick another name.

Easy to spell

A name with a confusing spelling makes it difficult for your audience to find your business online. If they are depending on memory when searching for your social media accounts or website, but they can’t spell your name, they may not find you. That means you risk losing out on sales with a name that’s difficult to spell.

Easy to remember

By picking a brand name that’s memorable, you ensure that customers can easily remember your name when looking you up, referring you to others and engaging in repeat business with you.

Captivating or evocative

A captivating, evocative name will attract people to your business. With the right level of appeal and intrigue, people will ask questions about your business just after they hear your name. That’s why it’s also important that your name captures the right values and tone.

Contextual

Does your business name make sense within your brand? If not, it may not make sense to your customers. Avoid picking a confusing name that does not have anything to do with your business, industry, values or audience. While using metaphors, symbols and intrigue in a name is a great technique, make sure your name makes sense.

Appealing

An embarrassing or cringey business name can set your success back. An unappealing name will hold people back from saying it, so be mindful of any hidden meanings, odd sounds or bad translations of your name.  

Unique

When naming a business, a unique name helps you avoid trademark conflict. Using a business name that is already taken will only invite messy legal battles.  

Avoid being vague

Is your business name a personal reference only you and your close friends understand? A business name should not have to be over-explained. That detracts from its power and memorability. Names that resonate with you might be too personal. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it will help your business grow.

Your personal needs

Although the above criteria are helpful in naming your business, you also need to have parameters that are specific to your personal business needs. This is why a project statement is a helpful tool in setting up your naming criteria.

A project statement is made up of tone and secondary branding elements that are the basis of your brand.

Tone is the immediate impression your brand gives off. At SquadHelp, we think of tone in five styles: classic, modern, playful, practical and emotional. Having the right name for the right tone plays a huge role in brand perception.

You’ll also have to consider secondary branding elements that might be relevant to your name. Including a few of these ideas in your project statement will help you narrow your focus. Secondary branding elements include big ideas, values, stories, industry specifics and benefits and feelings. You want to understand the big picture focus of your branding when trying to settle on a name.

Once you put together your tone and secondary branding elements, you can produce your project statement, which contains your core concepts and summarizes your brand.

Here’s what that might look like for a brand that sells unique, vintage and upcycled clothing:

"We need a unique, intriguing name for a boutique that sells artistically-modified clothing and curated vintage finds. The name should speak to standing out, art, being yourself, radiating creativity and quality."

The project statement becomes something you can refer back to as you continue to settle on a business name.

Making the decision

As you continue to brainstorm and narrow your choices, consider what names fulfill the criteria you outlined prior to naming. It’s OK if you don’t absolutely love a name at first. In all likelihood, you will learn to love it and discover that it fits in more ways than you imagined.

Once you’ve narrowed your list to 5-6 names, you should consider audience testing to get unbiased feedback from your target audience. When we have helped people with audience testing in the past, they sometimes found that the name they loved performed very poorly with the target audience. This kind of imbalance should inform your final decision. 

In other cases, names you love might not be usable for trademark reasons. In these cases, it is always important to have some backup ideas before getting too emotionally attached to a name.

Overall, you need to view your business name as more than a name. Naming a business is not like naming a pet. The name must support your business objectives. You should view it as a tool to help you achieve your goals and pick based on what you think will best accomplish them.

When it comes down to it and you end up with a few strong names that you love, of course it is acceptable to go with your preference or gut feeling.  

At the end of the day, emotional attachment to a name is hard to pin down. You should love what the name does for you. You should be excited about how the name helps you launch your business, rather than how it resonates with your past or your preferences.

As long as you can envision your business name helping you succeed, you’ll be in a good place to launch the name.

Graphic Design Trends and Predictions for the Industry's Future

Graphic design is an ever-changing industry. Even in the last five years, I've seen massive changes. When I first started doing design work, I started in the corporate world and then migrated into freelance work.

Whether you're just getting started in a corporate career or want to start your own design firm, it's vital that you stay up-to-date on current trends to remain competitive and relevant. Here are five of the trends moving us into the future.

1. Remote work rises.

When you first break into the industry, you're eager to prove yourself. One of the drawbacks of working for a corporation is that they tend to already have standards and guidelines in place. If you don't follow them to a "T," then you risk getting in trouble. While they do want your work on trend, they also don't want to think too far outside the box of what they know works for the majority of their clients or their business model.

Fortunately, remote work has become more accepted by companies around the globe. Instead of being tied to a desk, workers are taking their laptops home or designing on the fly from a coffee shop or library workstation. You're still bound to the company's guidelines, but at least you can complete work from the convenience of home and save on commuting costs.

2. Millennials are interested in freelancing.

The average pay for a graphic designer is about $48,700 per year, but just starting out, my salary was much lower than that. Entry-level pay meant I had to take on some side gigs for a little extra income. The more you work for yourself, the more attractive freelancing becomes, but there is also some uncertainty that comes along with working for yourself. Will my income remain steady? What about insurance and a 401K?

Out of more than 250,000 graphic designers in the U.S., almost 25 percent are self-employed. Expect this number to rise in the coming years due to the desire of millennials to ditch the corporate culture for a freelance lifestyle.

Before you jump in as a freelancer, it's a good idea to at least intern at a local company and gain some experience in the industry. Basic management skills are another vital part of running your own business.

3. Experience takes the stage.

In the last few years, flat design made a comeback, but it seems to be making its way back out, replaced with three-dimension designs and experiential graphics. One of the innovations in visuals includes a more immersive experience for consumers. Imagine wrapping every element of a shopping mall in visual property, including the water fountains, or adding signage to the floors and ceiling.

4. Mobile becomes more vital.

Mobile responsiveness has been a buzzword for a while now. Each year, more people access the Internet via mobile devices. Plus, studies show that smartphone ownership jumped from 35 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2018.

As a graphic designer, I access my work on the run more than ever before, whether I'm using my phone to respond to a client's question or jumping on team boards to see what we've completed so far on a particular project.

When I look back on the perhaps dozen times a week I used my phone five years ago compared to the dozen times a day I use it now, I expect mobile access to become even more important, both in the tools I use as a designer and for the design itself to be mobile responsive.

5. Artificial intelligence shapes the future of design.

As technology advances, we have more tools at our fingertips than ever before. Taking the time to analyze data shows me how well-received any particular design element is. With cold, hard facts, it's easier to tweak a design, so it has the most impact possible for the brand.

Expect to see designers spending less time on creative endeavors and more time figuring out which features work to increase traffic and convert site visitors into customers. The nature of design work has slowly been changing for the past 10 years, and this trend is likely to continue into the 2020s.

The world of design is ever-changing. Even in the short time I've been a graphic designer, the market has shifted toward a mobile focus and innovative trends every year. The best way to stay on top of trends is by studying the work of designers you admire. It will be interesting to see where the future takes graphic design.

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