Why the Shortest Month Is the Hardest for Business Owners Make the Most of February
January is over, along with the hustle and stress of shopping for the holidays, sending out W-2s, and preparing for the year’s close. But for some business owners, the shortest month of the year isn’t a time for celebrating. With festive decorations put away and no holidays to anticipate, customers and clients may be feeling the gloom of winter. Many may also be holding their wallets a little closer as they recover from the December spending purge. To top it off, tax season is in full swing, but this year, you have 29 days to make February count. Stay Ahead There’s an old saying about only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. You know tax season is around the corner and your books are up for an intense examination to close out the year. Tax Day, April 15, 2020, and the filing deadline for S corporations, March 15, 2020, will be here before you know it, but if you prepare now, you can enjoy a steady and easy spring. January was the perfect time to wind down from the holidays, collect your plans, and ensure your employees have what they need to file taxes. Now, devote February to compiling everything you need for a successful tax season, and ensure all your employees’tax documents were filed and sent out correctly. Also, commit your organizational energy to your business. What do you need for the IRS or an auditing company? What happened in 2019 to change how you approach things in 2020? What shifts do you need to make for 2021? By March, you’ll be How do you do it?
settled from the whirlwind of responsibility the new year brings, and you can coast into spring.
is a historically slow month for you and your company, consider how you could improve internally. Offer extra employee training, provide cross-training events, streamline processes, test new software, or ramp up education for your sales, customer service, or technician staff. Take advantage of the extra hours in the workday not devoted to a customer’s needs and make your business stronger than ever for when the busy season hits again. Your team will be better prepared for the onslaught, and their extra precision just might pay dividends to overcome another slow month. The shortest month of the year is nothing to fear! With these tools, you can make this your best February yet. -Todd Thurston Sales Manager
Check Your Goals At this point of the year, you should have a clear idea for how the first and second quarters of 2020 will go. Because goals can shift, February is the perfect month to assess whether or not you need to make adjustments to the plan you made in 2019. Since business typically winds down to a manageable pace this month, consider how you could ramp it up come springtime. Do you need to press harder with your plans for 2020, or do you need to capitalize on what already worked in January? Compare your post-January projections to those of previous years to get a clear idea about what your next steps should be, and use February to implement them. Embrace the Slowdown No one likes a slow month in business, but you can use it to your advantage. If February
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3 Essential Tips for Using Facebook Live
AND MAKING YOUR BROADCAST A SUCCESS
Facebook Live has been available to Facebook users for years now, but many business owners still haven’t taken advantage of this powerful customer engagement resource. Essentially, this technology gives users the ability to broadcast live from their Facebook account. For businesses, a gold mine of opportunity is opened to connect with customers and prospects in real time. Some companies utilize it for product launches, rebranding, general announcements, or directly engaging with potential customers. That said, a poorly executed broadcast can leave you with more issues than you started with. With that in mind, here are some essential tips to ensure your Facebook Live videos strengthen your marketing instead of weaken it. 1. Record for at least 10 minutes. If you set out to broadcast for 45 seconds, your content isn’t going to reach anyone in your target audience. A good rule of thumb is to create enough content so that your event reaches at least 10 minutes. With an average broadcast time of 10 minutes, your audience will have more opportunity to see your content, and you’ll reach the highest number of people possible. 2. Prioritize good production quality. You don’t need to be a professional videographer to develop quality video content, but a poor broadcast could damage your brand. For example, your viewers will be distracted if you use an unsteady camera, so invest in equipment to keep your broadcast steady, like a tripod. In addition, make sure your environment is completely quiet so your audience can focus on your content without hindrance. If you plan on having more
than one person in the video, use microphones to ensure your audience can hear you. 3. Engage with the comment section. You could be alienating the audience you’re trying to engage by failing to respond to questions in the comment feed. Facebook Live isn’t just
about broadcasting yourself; it’s also about communicating with your viewers directly to develop relationships with them. And as an added bonus, viewers’ comments can give you valuable feedback and consumer insights. It takes effort, but putting in the time to respond is well worth it to show you care about your audience’s opinions. These tips only scratch the surface of making your Facebook Live event a success, but they offer a good starting point. Before you dive in, know that Facebook’s platform changes periodically, so be sure to test Facebook Live on your personal page to familiarize yourself with the updated format. And to stay up to date on all of Facebook’s updates, check out their new newsroom at Newsroom.FB.com.
Help Your Kids Achieve More This Year
With Simple, Actionable Goals
Keep things simple and achievable. When your kids are forming their resolutions, their first attempts will probably be very broad. Statements like“I want to be more kind”or“I will try to help more around the house” incorporate good values but don’t include any actionable steps. Help your kids think of tangible ways to act on those goals. For example, if they want to be tidier, a good resolution might be for them to clean their room once a week or take responsibility for one household chore every day. Don’t do all the work for them. While it’s important for you to help your kids formulate their goals, be sure that you aren’t taking over. If they’re ultimately responsible for their resolutions, they’ll feel more compelled to keep them. Instead, suggest different goal areas they could improve, such as home, school, or sports, and let them elaborate. When it comes to creating habits, nobody is perfect, so even if your kids falter on their goals in the middle of February, don’t worry. The important thing is that you continue to encourage them every step of the way.
With every new year comes an opportunity to reinvent ourselves or start down a new path toward self-improvement. Making resolutions is a big part of many families’New Year’s traditions, and parents often have a desire for their kids to take part in that tradition when they’re old enough. Following through on resolutions is tough, especially for young children, but with your help, they can achieve their goals. Practice what you preach. You are your children’s role model for almost everything, including following through on NewYear’s resolutions. So, ask yourself if you follow through on your own resolutions. When you proclaim that you will read more books or finally get a gymmembership, do you actually try to do it? Your kids will assign as much importance to NewYear’s resolutions as you do, so by sticking to your own commitments, you can help them stay on track, too.
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Sell With Your Heart Avoid a Bad Sales Reputation With These Tips Let’s face it: Salespeople get a bad rap. Scammers, con artists, and inexperienced or unempathetic sellers make it hard to convince customers you have their best interests in mind. Here are three qualities every salesperson must have to convincingly sell with heart. A Win-Win The most important trait of an ethical salesperson is having a product or service that is honest and true. You can’t ethically peddle something that doesn’t have value for your potential customers. Sure, it’s exciting to make a sale. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, and the payout isn’t too bad, either. But if what you’re selling doesn’t also benefit your customer , then you’re no better than a swindler. Your product has to be a win for the customer, and you have to believe in it wholeheartedly to succeed. The ‘How Ya Doin’?’ Call The sale is done. The dotted line is signed. The customer is happy, and you are excited. Time to forget about themandmove on to the next sale, right?Wrong. You have to follow up with customers after a successful sale. If anything has gone wrong, checking in will allow you to be proactive in fixing it. Being proactive builds trust and bolsters your chance of a referral. It also lets you learn fromhappy and dissatisfied customers.You can discover what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had known before buying. Picking up the phone—or dropping in—to leave a post-sale impression could bemore valuable than you realize.
Just Listen A good salesperson knows what their customers want. They actually listen to what customers are saying and don’t second-guess customers’ needs. Many people associate salespeople with smooth-talking and wittiness. But in reality, a good salesperson just needs to be a good listener. When a customer says, “I just want something that works,” they are not looking for the latest and greatest model. They just want something that works.
Selling with your heart is easier than it appears, and these methods are a solid foundation for creating strong, lasting customer relationships.
A traditional New Year’s favorite in the South, Hoppin’ John includes black-eyed peas that are said to represent coins, a sign of prosperity for the coming year. It’s usually served alongside collard greens, which represent cash.
• • •
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
• • •
1 smoked ham hock 1 medium onion, diced 1 cup long-grain white rice
5–6 cups water
1 dried hot pepper, optional (arbol and Calabrian are great options)
Wash and sort peas.
Add rice, cover, drop heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes, still covered. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and serve.
In a saucepan, cover peas with water, discarding any that float. Add pepper, ham hock, and onion. Gently boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are just tender, about 90 minutes. At this point, you should have about 2 cups of liquid remaining.
AQUARIUS CAPRICORN CELEBRATE CHAMPAGNE FIREWORKS
FREEZING JANUARY MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR PARTY
SNOW TOAST WINTER
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Make the Most of February
Using Facebook Live to Strengthen Your Marketing
Helping Your Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions
Avoid a Bad Sales Reputation With These Tips
Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer
CTRL, ALT, DELETE YOUR CLUTTER Tips for National Clean Up Your Computer Month
Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order. Start by Dusting Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer. Organize Your Files Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving
you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need. Back Up Your Computer Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about how much room is left. Clean Up Space Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to forget just how much goes in there.
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