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Financial Health for Your eCommerce Business

Financial Health for Your eCommerce Business

So you’ve got a great product, and a great website to sell it, but does your eCommerce business have the right financial processes in place to survive? 

According to a recent survey by Small Business Trends, about 90% of eCommerce businesses fail in their first 4 months. Process-related issues like “running out of cash,” and/or “price and costing issues” were cited by at least a third of their respondents – circumstances that are often preventable by developing & sticking with business procedures.

These processes and procedures are often collectively referred to as “financial hygiene.” Just like our personal hygiene keeps us healthy, we need to maintain good financial habits to preserve our financial health. 

  • Hire a CPA When Launching Your Business
  • Open Your Mail 
  • Maintain Accounting Controls
  • Reconcile All Financial Accounts
  • Anticipate Expenses
  • Keep an Eye on Debt

Hire a CPA When Launching Your Business

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can help you set your business up correctly. If you’ve already launched, he or she can still get your bookkeeping going in the right direction before costly problems arise. 

It’s true that software like Sage and Quickbooks make it easy to do your own bookkeeping. In fact, most CPAs are happy to help you learn how to work with accounting software. But failing to properly set up your chart of accounts can leave you in the dark, with a setup that’s poorly designed for your particular industry or situation.

As an example, I once served on a board where the accounting software wasn’t telling us anything about our financial position. All of our revenue went into one account called “general revenue,” and all of our expenses came out of one account called “general expenses.” Sure enough, our reports were pretty meaningless. 

The Meaningless Company’s income statement only shows general revenue and general expense. It tells you nothing.
The Meaningless Company’s income statement only shows general revenue and general expense. It tells you nothing.

Establishing a few accounts that captured how our funds were coming in and going out made our finances come alive.

The Meaningful Company’s chart of accounts allows much more information to flow to the income statement.
The Meaningful Company’s chart of accounts allows much more information to flow to the income statement.

Same bottom line, but just a few minutes spent looking at it could tell you:

  • Left handed widgets are far less profitable than the regular ones (compare sales and the cost of making them)
  • Even though you took in more money than you spent, you lost money selling widgets. Selling a piece of equipment masked a serious shortfall.

Proper bookkeeping throughout the year allows you and your CPA to anticipate your tax liabilities and plan ahead. It also makes the process of creating your tax return relatively simple, because your business expenses are already properly allocated to the right categories, like automotive expense, travel expenses, meals, and so on. 

Without proper bookkeeping, your expenses must be figured out after the fact (if you still can). Many deductions are lost because a business owner did not keep adequate records and receipts to attest to them.

A CPA or a qualified business consultant should also help you develop realistic budgets and goals for your business, so that you can develop forecasts and know how much capital you need to launch your business.

Open Your Mail

You might be surprised how many business owners neglect to open their mail (whether electronic or postal) and take care of it. Sure, much of it will be junk, But taking care of your bank statements, government notices, and customer correspondence will keep your business on track and keep small problems from turning into bigger ones. 

For example, a government notice that your sales tax payment is missing generally comes with a small penalty and interest charge – if you catch it the first time – but these costs soar if you ignore the initial notices.

Set aside a time at least once a week (preferably more often) to go through everything and process it:

  • Pay bills
  • Deposit checks 
  • Respond to customer complaints or concerns (even the difficult ones)
  • Respond to vendor, bank and government notifications

You may think the advice to “deposit checks” above is unnecessary. But I was once asked to shred a number of old documents for a client, and found almost a dozen unopened envelopes with checks in them totaling over a thousand dollars – checks that were now long out of date.

If something comes in that you simply don’t understand how to handle, talk to your CPA or another trusted advisor. One of my college instructors gave my class simple advice that has always stuck with me: 

“Bad news doesn’t get better with time”

Maintain Accounting Controls

As your business grows, the items mentioned above are often the first things a business owner wants to delegate. However, maintaining good accounting controls dictate that you, the business owner, personally perform certain tasks whenever possible. 

If you have someone else writing your paper checks, you should still sign them. You may have someone else reconciling your bank statements, but you should still read them. The mundane task of checking the PO box has saved more than one business owner from continued fraud or theft within their organization, because they noticed an invoice or other document that didn’t make sense and tracked it down.

Reconcile All Financial Accounts

Reconciling bank and credit card statements should be performed monthly. Reconciling statements means comparing them to your records to ensure the totals are the same. Online banking and the daily transaction download to your accounting software is a good thing, but reconciling keeps your records accurate and provides a check on whether the amounts being stated are going where you believe they’re going. 

For example, Quickbooks may assume that a downloaded transaction for $100 matches a transaction you’ve already entered for $100. But those amounts may just happen to match, and in fact the transaction you entered may still be outstanding. 

Reconciling accounts forces you to track down all of these transactions, and is also a second chance to notice where payments have been made. For example, you may have thought you put Google AdWords on hold, but find that it’s still being charged to a credit card.

Taking inventory of your finished goods, work in progress, and raw materials periodically also helps you to keep your business records on point – and can help you discover it if things are going missing.

Anticipate Expenses

Some expenses, like ordering inventory and paying shipping bills, are predictable. Others, like payroll, taxes, and loan payments, come in at different times (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually). 

It may be tough to keep track of how much you will owe at different times. To make it even more tricky, payroll expenses are often automatically deducted from your account, ready or not!

One solution for this is to maintain a cash flow forecast that accounts for all anticipated future expenses in the next few months. Another approach that many business owners use, especially for payroll expenses, is to maintain a separate bank account. By transferring the gross (i.e. total) amount of payroll expense to it each pay period, the business owner can effectively save up for monthly and quarterly payroll taxes as they come due. 

Dedicated checking accounts are also sometimes used for significant business expenses like inventory. Depositing a portion of the money from all sales into an inventory checking account means you are always financially ready to order more inventory.

For expenses that are predictable, but that will be realized at somewhat unpredictable intervals (like the payroll and inventory examples), the additional bank accounts are preferred by many business owners because they provide a clearer picture of where they stand, without having to make calculations on the fly. 

For example, if you need a new $2,000 computer in a hurry, you have $6,000 in the main bank account, and you know that your next payroll is already transferred to the payroll account, you know you’re able to buy the computer. 

You’ll still need to do cash flow forecasting, but having a few dedicated checking accounts for those critical functions described above will help you stay organized, and your business should have money for your priorities.

Keep an Eye on Debt

A certain amount of debt may be inevitable in a business, especially when it’s starting up and/or growing. But unless you carefully monitor debt, your access to credit may mask serious issues with cash flow and profitability in your business. You may simply wake up one day and find that your credit cards and/or business line of credit are tapped out. 

To avoid this, you should monitor your debt – check your balances at least once a month to make sure they’re heading down, not up. Keep a spreadsheet so that you see how these balances are changing over time. Creeping debt is much easier to correct before it gets completely out of hand than it will be later when you’re running out of credit and paying a lot of interest.

Financial Hygiene – It’s Good for You!

You went into business because you had a great idea, not because you love accounting. Bookkeeping chores, reading emails, and other administrative tasks may feel like nothing but distractions from reaching your goals. But staying on top of them is the best way to control the risks you run in business!

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Second Half of the Year Day

Second Half of the Year Day

It’s July.  Wait, Whaaaat?

Although March and April seemed to crawl along as we all learned to navigate brand new economic and personal landscapes, it’s somehow suddenly summer. 

The goals we set for ourselves and our businesses back in January seem a distant memory now. Wednesday, July 1st is precisely half-way through the year 2020. 

The 182nd day of the year, it is the perfect time to take stock of the past six months.

In so many ways, the first half of this year has been challenging for businesses and organizations. There’s a reason that nearly every email we exchange lately contains words like “unprecedented” and “uncertainty.” But we know that times of upheaval can also be times of tremendous positive change—if we are intentional about the ways we engage with our business, with our employees, and with ourselves.

2020 thus far has been tumultuous. And in six months, it will be behind us. 

It’s never been more important to take the time to pause, reflect, reevaluate, and recognize how to move forward in ways that recognize that the current state of the world may be the norm for some time. 

So, how can we advance our businesses, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

Take stock.  Reassess how the year has gone so far.

Look back on your goals for the year.  When originally setting objectives and targets to measure the success of ongoing projects at the start of 2020, no organizations could foresee what our lives and companies and work would look like in a few short months.

Now is a great time to examine those objectives and targets and re-prioritize.  What should you start doing, stop doing, and keep doing?  What goals have been reached and which ones just aren’t realistic anymore?  Which projects need attention, what new opportunities have presented themselves, and which efforts are simply not adding value anymore?  Be ruthless.  

If understandable delays have occurred in your business, think of July 1st as a time to get back on track. Consider July 1st as a restart – a New Mid-Year’s day, if you will. It’s a clean slate on which to adjust goals and come up with cohesive action plans that take our new “normal” into account.

Make an action plan for forward movement.

Do you need to take a different approach?

Recognize the ways you can continue to make progress in the midst of uncertain times. If there are aspects of your business that need attention or adjustment, think about trying a different approach if you’re falling short of some of the goalposts you’ve set. Think about new methods and actionable steps that could help you and your team find new and positive ways of working for the latter half of the year. Try setting SMART goals—ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Keeping security up to date.

Take some time at the beginning of July to ensure that your online security is up to par. As most companies continue working remotely, cybersecurity protection is more important than ever. Make sure that your cybersecurity is up-to-date and that any necessary updates have been installed. Prevent security issues and make sure the second half of the year is as smooth as possible.  Security is complex and can be viewed as “just another thing to worry about.”  But mitigating risk is a critical component of any successful business and you owe it to your customers to protect them – and to yourself to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  Don’t make a hard year worse by succumbing to a security breach that could have been prevented.  If you need help, here’s a few good resources.

Holidays! Think ahead.

Planning ahead for the holiday season will be essential for eCommerce stores. From your website optimization to products, July is the perfect time to plan out what your strategy should be for the 2020 holiday season. It is also a good time to get in touch with suppliers and distributors to understand about any potential delays and restrictions due to the pandemic. Online business will be the order of the day.  Is your digital commerce strategy and site ready to go?  No? Let’s get on it.  Here’s how we can help.

  1.  Prepare Your Site for Potential Spikes in Traffic: Hostdedi offers infrastructure that can scale quickly, ensuring server resources can meet demands. Don’t leave customers unable to check out with your products due to slow load times, or worse, a crashing site.
  2. Mitigating a Malicious Attack on Your Server: Handling legitimate traffic can be quite enough without adding on a DDoS attack or code injection. Hostdedi offers basic and advanced DDoS protection to help, along with other add-ons such as firewalls, load balancing, or ServerSecurePlus™ for server hardening.

Get creative about “events.”  

At the beginning of 2020, I approved a Marketing plan that invested heavily in events, in-person Partner Summits, and travel to clients.  Well, that’s not our world anymore. As conferences, face to face meetings, and business-related travel continues to stay motionless, getting creative about ways to connect with your customers and employees is important. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our event planning for this year. While we are unable to come together for in-person conferences, consider using this time to completely rethink the way your business approaches these gatherings. Using a webinar format is a great option for the time being, give thought to how you can make them fun and interesting.  But also consider brainstorming about how best to revamp in-person events when the time comes.

Connect with employees.

It is vital to find ways to connect with employees who are working remotely. Outside of whatever sort of mid-year performance review you may do, consider reaching out to remote employees to have separate, open discussions about their professional goals. Though many things in our businesses have shifted and changed, our employees still have ambitions. Ask them about their hopes and think about ways you can support them.

Many people are using this time to think about personal development. Perhaps there are training resources or seminars that you can offer remotely to help employees build skill sets or try new things.

Celebrate success.

Finally, be sure to celebrate your successes. What have you done well in these challenging times? How have you shown up for your employees and reminded them of their value? It is essential to look back at all you have accomplished during the first half of the year. 

Be sure to celebrate and congratulate yourselves and your colleagues as we continue working through this pandemic. 

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What is PWA? Using Progressive Web Apps for your Magento Store

What is PWA? Using Progressive Web Apps for your Magento Store

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

Let’s begin by answering the question – what is PWA? PWA stands for Progressive Web Apps. Progressive Web Apps are a pattern for building web applications using HTML, CSS, JS and modern web browser APIs to bring a native-like experience. PWAs combine the best of 2 worlds: web and native apps. Like other mobile applications, PWAs are easily installable and make development work simpler for any merchant trying to reach as many customers as possible.

While the feature parity between Progressive Web Apps and native apps is not 1:1 just yet, PWAs have come a long way since inception. Features like instant loading, push notifications and offline navigation/purchase are now widely available no matter which PWA implementation you choose. 

They won’t be the right approach in every case – for example, if you need a feature that’s not available on a Web browser or through an API, you will likely need to go the native route. But PWA capabilities are continuing to expand and what may require a native app today, might be PWA-worthy tomorrow. Project Fugu is a good place to see what’s coming and what’s being worked on right now.

Why are PWAs such a big deal?

PWAs come with an incredible set of features that were once reserved for native mobile apps alone. While regular web apps have tremendous reach in every device with a browser, at the end of the day these apps are just a webpage in a browser. 

Native apps are another way to reach mobile users but they must be developed for one platform / operating system at a time. PWAs enable development of a single app for multiple platforms. This streamlined approach is something mobile developers have been anxiously waiting for – easily reaching every potential customer no matter what operating system they are using. 

They also solve one of the most challenging issues developers face: distribution. Since you don’t need to publish these apps in a marketplace, you can just add a few lines to your manifest and make PWAs easily installable with a couple of clicks. Results drive a consistent customer experience that they expect through a native application but with PWA, they get a standalone experience, completely separated from the Web browser. 

This means a full-screen experience with no URL bar, the ability to install the PWA and dock it to your device home screen instead of visiting a regular webpage plus everything a Service Worker has to offer. 

Instead of the legacy way of updating via form submission and waiting for approval and publishing of the new version to the App Marketplace, changes made into any PWA are immediately available the next time you are connected to the Internet and open the app. PWA installation is now a standard feature available in all major mobile browsers, as well as Chrome and Edge on desktop.

How does PWA help Magento merchants?

Let’s face it: the Magento 2 frontend was already old when it was released and we’ve seen how that plays with frameworks like Prototype.js and Knockout.js. 

The JavaScript ecosystem evolves quickly and constantly following the hottest frameworks, developer trends, and updated best practices. This makes it challenging to keep up when having to maintain separated codebases. 

PWAs are particularly attractive to merchants using Magento 2 because it reduces front-end development complexity, giving you flexibility, extensibility, and opportunity to deploy resources to develop new features. Developers can implement almost everything in the regular Magento 2 frontend at a fraction of the cost and time by using any of the available APIs.

How can customers run a PWA on Hostdedi?

We’ve made it easy to run PWA on the Hostdedi platform. We’ve created a step-by-step guide for how to install Magento’s official PWA PoC, Venia storefront. This resource outlines how to build, compile and transfer this PoC to one of our servers without the need to start and maintain middleware services.

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How to import WooCommerce Products with WP All Import

How to import WooCommerce Products with WP All Import

Ready to add new products to your WooCommerce store? You can import WooCommerce products from any CSV or XML file with any file structure. Here are the steps to import any product with WP All Import:

  1. Create an import with WP All Import and select WooCommerce Products.
  2. Drag & drop the data from your import file.
  3. Choose to import new WooCommerce products, update existing ones, or both.
  4. Run the import to create products, import images, categories, etc.

WP All Import is a powerful tool that allows you to import any XML, CSV, or spreadsheet into WordPress. Read on for an in-depth guide to importing WooCommerce Products, including price, stock, categories, and product image galleries. 

Importing Products with WP All Import

Follow along in your own testing install of WordPress: http://www.wpallimport.com/try/

Here’s the share URL for the import file used in this example: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15vSspWyfqyvtox3faDpsfHUdzGgwrxDuH8SN5BWlZCU/edit?usp=sharing.

Let’s get started!

Create a new WooCommerce Product Import

Create a new import and choose your import file. You can either upload a file from your computer, download an import feed via URL, or you can use a file that already exists on your server. 

Google Sheets is readily available, so we’ll use the share URL of our sheet in the “Download from URL” field and select “WooCommerce Products” from the drop-down:

Filtering Options

WP All Import has the ability to filter imported products based on pretty much any criteria. For example, only products with a sale price, products with a certain brand, or anything else. This is all done using drop-downs and pre-built rules.

We don’t need to filter anything from this feed, so let’s continue.

Drag & drop to import WooCommerce product data

Now we need to map the data from our import file to our WooCommerce Products. The data from your import file is displayed on the right, and the import template is displayed on the left. To set up your import drag & drop your data from right to left.

First, we’ll map the product name, product description, and product short description.

Next, we can populate the product information inside the “WooCommerce Add-On” section.

Import WooCommerce Product Prices

In the “General” tab, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide which product type to import. WP All Import supports all of the built-in product types in WooCommerce: Simple Products, External/Affiliate Products, Subscriptions, Grouped Products, and Variable Products.

If you’re importing Variable Products into WooCommerce, WP All Import has several different options to connect parent products and their variations. We’ll go over those options in a separate guide.

First, drag in your SKU and Prices. If you do not have a SKU, WP All Import will create one for you.

In this section, there are some options that give you complete control over your pricing:

  • Click the “Adjust Prices” text to open a section where you can adjust your prices on-the-fly by a percentage or a set amount. 
  • Next to the Sale Price field, you can click “schedule” to schedule sale prices.
  • And, you can use the options below “Adjust Prices” to attempt to automatically reformat your prices to match WooCommerce’s requirements.

Import WooCommerce Product Stock

In the inventory tab, you have full control over the stock settings for your imported products. You can choose to manage just the stock status, or to set the stock amount and let WP All Import set the stock status automatically. You can also decide to set a low stock threshold, whether to allow backorders, and more. These settings can be applied to all products in your import, or you can set them on a per-product basis depending on the data in your import file.

WooCommerce Shipping Class

Next we’ll import the weight and the dimensions of your products, as well as the shipping class. Like everything else, you can choose to apply the shipping class option to all products in this import, or you can set them individually for each product.

Product Up-sells and Cross-sells

In the linked products tab, you can import the up-sells and cross-sells for each product. You can match up-sells and cross-sells by SKU, ID, or Product Name. WP All Import will search for the products in your WooCommerce shop and automatically add their IDs to these fields for you.

If you’re importing multiple up-sells and cross-sells you just need to separate them with commas.

WooCommerce Product Attributes

WP All Import has full support for Global Attributes and Custom Attributes in WooCommerce. You can choose to use these attributes for variations, and determine if they should be visible on the product page or not.

For Global Attributes, WP All Import will avoid duplicates by using existing attributes when possible. If no existing attributes are found, new ones will be created for you.

If you’re importing products with a different amount of attributes per-product, that’s fine – WP All Import will only import attributes that have attribute values for the products and ignore the rest.

Importing WooCommerce Product Images and Galleries

Next, decide how we want to import our product images. You can download images from an external host via URL, use images that already exist in the Media Library, or use existing images from your server. WP All Import has a wide range of options to cover pretty much any scenario.

If your images are hosted somewhere else and your import file has URLs linking to each image, WP All Import can download those images directly into WordPress and add them to your imported posts and image galleries. You can also match your imported data to images that are already in the WordPress Media Library, or those that have been uploaded to wp-content/uploads/wpallimport/files/. 

You can also choose to have WP All Import scan through the post content of each product and import images that are wrapped in <img> tags. They’ll be imported into the Media Library and their old URLs will be replaced by the new ones in the post content.

In the “SEO & Advanced Options” section, you can choose to import image metadata, including the Title, Caption, Alt Text, Description, including the file name and extension.

Custom Fields

WP All Import can auto-detect custom fields in your products that have been added by your theme or other plugins. You can import data to these custom fields, or define new ones here in the import.

WooCommerce Product Categories and Tags

WP All Import offers full support for Product Categories, Product Tags and custom taxonomies in WordPress. There are a few different ways to import nested categories to WordPress.

No matter the settings you choose, WP All Import will always search for and use existing categories and tags to prevent duplicates from being created. New categories and tags will be created only when no match is found.

You can also use the mapping tool to translate category or tag values from your file to whatever you need them to be. That means you can convert your suppliers categories and tags to the ones on your site and avoid a bunch of redundant ones getting created in your shop.

Import Settings

Any time you use WP All Import to import data to your WordPress site, the settings on this page will determine exactly what’s done with the data as it’s being imported. You can create new products, delete products that you remove from your file in subsequent runs, and update existing products on subsequent runs.

You can also enable the “Choose which data to update” option if you only want to update specific fields for existing products. For example, you can use these settings to limit your import to only update the prices and stock for existing products.

Scheduled WooCommerce Product Imports

Imports can be set to run automatically on a schedule. At the scheduled time a fresh version of your import file will be downloaded and the import will run to create, delete, and update products based on your import settings. Schedules can be created manually using cron jobs, or automatically using WP All Import’s Automatic Scheduling service.

Running the Import

Now it’s time to run the import.

Finishing Up

After the import is complete, go over and take a look at the products that have been imported.

In just a few minutes we’ve imported hundreds of products, including their product images, attributes and taxonomies into our WooCommerce Shop. WP All Import is a powerful tool that allows you to import any XML, CSV, or spreadsheet into WordPress.

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WordPress Plugins to Use for A/B Testing Marketing Efforts

WordPress Plugins to Use for A/B Testing Marketing Efforts

Have you ever wished you could test an alternate a call-to-action or an ad placement on your site without the risking a negative effect on your conversion rate? You don’t have to make decisions blindly when it comes to your marketing. A/B testing gives you the hard data you need to make informed decisions regarding your conversion optimization strategies. As a result, you can lessen the risk that your changes will have a negative effect on conversions.

Today, we’re answering your biggest questions about content experiments: What is A/B testing in marketing? What does an A/B test look like? And what are the best WordPress A/B testing plugins that you should be using on your WordPress site?

What Is A/B Testing in Marketing?

A/B testing is when you compare two or more versions of a webpage, app, or piece of content to gauge which performs better. In marketing, A/B testing gives you the ability to determine what the outcome of your optimizations will be before you apply them.

There’s one important reason to use A/B testing: marketing is often a matter of trial and error, but A/B testing means you can test changes before applying them. This allows you to be certain the changes will deliver the desired results, and effectively eliminate the guesswork.

What an A/B Test Looks Like

Consider a hypothetical example. You have a landing page, and you want that page to convert more subscribers. 

If you used an A/B testing tool, you could create a variant of that landing page by making one single yet significant change to the page. From there, the tool could run both pages — original (or “control”) and variant — by delivering them to your traffic at random and with equal frequency. Meanwhile, the tool would monitor how many conversions each page generates. If the variant page has an increased rate of conversion, then the change you made was effective and can be applied to the actual page.

A/B testing can be done with multiple variants (multivariate testing) but test results are clearer with just one variant. When there’s just one variant with one single change from the original page, you can conclude that change is the source of the performance difference.

What You Can Split Test on Your WordPress Site

A/B testing — also called split testing — on WordPress primarily entails testing your landing pages. Since the goal of a landing page is to convert leads, you can use split testing to compare different iterations of the landing page and find out which generates the most conversions.

Besides landing pages, split testing on WordPress can be used to compare variations of on-page elements like content headings or the location of your social sharing buttons. Another common use for A/B testing is to compare different sign-up form implementations. This test lets you determine whether you get more subscribers when the form is served in a pop-up or when it floats in from the side of the page.

Some of the common elements used in split testing include

  • Landing pages
  • Product pages
  • Buttons
  • Calls-to-action
  • Ads
  • Content headlines
  • Graphics and visual elements
  • Signup forms

Best WordPress Plugins for A/B Testing

There are many great plugins for WordPress A/B testing. Whether you’re looking to test your on-page elements or want to do split testing for a landing page, here are the best plugins for your WordPress A/B tests.

Nelio A/B Testing

As one of the most widely used A/B testing plugins for WordPress, Nelio A/B Testing is an extremely versatile tool that will help boost your conversion. Nelio can do split testing for your product pages (in addition to your landing pages, on-page elements, and blog posts) with all your experiments tracked right from your WordPress dashboard. As a bonus, the tool supports experiments with multiple variants. 

Nelio offers additional features like multi-site support, a heatmap feature, and experiment scheduling across its three subscription plans starting at $29 per month for up to 5,000 pageviews.

Split Hero

Split Hero is a split testing tool that keeps things simple. It lets you create up to four variants of your page using either the Split Hero plugin for WordPress or your preferred page builder. From there, it’s as simple as inputting the details of your experiment — i.e., name for the experiment, length of time for the test, destination page for after conversion — and running the test. Then the plugin serves those pages to your audience and monitors the data. 

A Split Hero subscription costs $27 per month for unlimited testing capabilities after a free 14-day trial. And if you run a web store, Split Hero supports WooCommerce. 

Thrive Headline Optimizer

Click-through rate on posts and articles is largely dependent on the strength of your headlines. If you want to boost the click-through rate on your content, consider trying Thrive Headline Optimizer. Not to be confused with Thrive Optimize, Thrive Headline Optimizer is an A/B testing tool for headlines. With this tool, you can test different titles for your content to figure out which generates more engagement. 

Popular and highly-trafficked outlets like Forbes, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed use Thrive Headline Optimizer because it’s easy and effective; just input your variant titles, launch the experiment, and monitor the results right from your WordPress dashboard. It’s included in the Thrive Suite of WordPress tools for $19 per month (paid annually), or you can buy Thrive Headline Optimizer separately for a one-time payment of $67.

Simple Page Tester

Simple Page Tester is an A/B testing tool that lives up to its name. Available for free with a premium version available for a one-time payment of $59, Simple Page Tester simplifies split testing with its user-friendly test setup wizard. 

Installing the plugin is the most difficult part. From there, just tell the plugin what you want to test e.g., a blog post or page, and when (or whether) to declare a winner. Simple Page Tester has native integration with Google Analytics for conversion goal tracking and offers variable traffic controls between variants. With the premium version, you also get comprehensive analytics which let you monitor your tests from your WordPress dashboard.

A/B Press Optimizer

Testing a post or page is pretty standard for split testing tools, but A/B Press Optimizer lets you more easily test variations of specific on-page elements. You can test different graphics, button or link styles, subscriber form locations, and even headlines for your content. The plugin allows for unlimited experiments and unlimited variations in those experiments which makes A/B Press Optimizer essential if you plan on doing lots of split testing on your site. 

Between the limitless number of tests and ability to compare specific on-page elements, A/B Press Optimizer is great for granular conversion and engagement optimizations. You can start using A/B Press Optimizer after a one-time payment that starts at $49.

WordPress Calls to Action

Similar to how Thrive Headline Optimizer focuses on split testing for headlines, WordPress Calls to Action is a split-test plugin made by Inbound Now for your calls-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to convert subscribers and customers, and WordPress Calls to Action Plugin can be used to test different versions of your call-to-action so you can find out which converts the most traffic. But it’s not just limited to calls-to-action. In fact, you can also run A/B tests for your ads, posts, pages, and other elements. WordPress Calls to Action even has templates that you can use to quickly create your variant calls-to-action. 

As a freemium tool, WordPress Calls to Action has a “lite” version available for free, or a premium version is available as part of the Inbound Pro Marketing Suite for $59.99 per year.

WordPress Landing Pages

Also made by Inbound Now, WordPress Landing Pages is a split testing tool for your landing pages. It includes a robust page builder so you can design different landing pages to use for your experiments. There are a number of templates available to use for your landing pages; these templates are built on the Advanced Custom Fields framework. 

In addition to all those useful features, WordPress Landing Pages supports multivariate testing, meaning you can test multiple variant elements on each variant page. There are also in-depth reporting options that can be accessed right from your WordPress backend. Like WordPress Calls to Action, WordPress Landing Pages is a freemium plugin, so the “lite” version is available for free, and the premium version is part of the Inbound Pro Marketing Suite for $59.99 annually.

Marketing Optimizer

Marketing Optimizer is an all-in-one marketing plugin that is completely free to use. It can meet many of your marketing needs with marketing automation, call tracking, and customer relationship management capabilities. However, Marketing Optimizer is arguably most robust as an A/B testing tool. The built-in builder makes it very easy to create high-converting landing pages, pop-ups, calls-to-action, and emails as well as variant versions for your tests. 

Although it has its own builder, you can use elements created with your preferred builder(s) in your Marketing Optimizer split tests. Once you’ve designed and initiated a test, Marketing Optimizer tracks the results and generates visual reports which you can view from your WordPress dashboard. It supports both caching plugins and server-side caching.

Google Optimize

Unique from other plugins on this list, Google Optimize — previously known as Google Content Experiments — is an A/B testing tool that doesn’t require a plugin. Just embed a small amount of code in the header of your site and use the external Google Optimize platform to build and run your split tests. Since it’s a Google-made tool, it integrates fully (and automatically) with Google Analytics, so your tests will generate a ton of valuable and actionable data.

Google Optimize can track up to five simultaneous split tests consisting of up to 16 variants for free, or you can upgrade to Optimize 360 which supports up to 100 simultaneous experiments consisting of up to 32 variants. For pricing on Optimize 360, you must contact the Google Optimize sales team for a custom quote.

Do You Need A/B Testing for Your WordPress Site?

No matter what type of website you run, the search for ways to convert more subscribers, leads, or customers is never ending. But there aren’t any default tools to do conversion testing in WordPress. Testing site conversion is something you’d need to do manually, and even so, it would be complicated, cumbersome, and lack the in-depth reporting.

An A/B testing tool for your WordPress site gives you the opportunity to more easily find tweaks and make improvements to your site so you can achieve your goals. Most importantly, these tools make the process of conversion optimization something that’s based on real historical and experimental data rather than a game of guesswork. A/B testing tells you what’s working and what’s not, so you can make smarter and more informed decisions.

Hostdedi Can Provide the Performance You Need for Robust A/B Testing

Before you can run an A/B test on your landing page, you need a great hosting plan for your website. That’s where Hostdedi can help.

Hostdedi is your premiere web hosting provider, offering plans for Managed WordPress hosting & Managed WooCommerce hosting. With a Hostdedi hosting plan, you get fully unlimited and unmetered traffic, built-in optimizations for fast loading, automated framework, and plugin updates, and so much more. Once you’re ready to start split testing your landing pages, Hostdedi’ performance-oriented hosting will give you the peace of mind that your site can handle just about anything.

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Virtual Team Building: Putting the Fun in Fundamentals

Virtual Team Building: Putting the Fun in Fundamentals

This was originally posted on the Liquid Web blog.

Liquid Web’s Executive Vice President and General Manager on creating a virtual team building atmosphere where individuals feel valued, supported, and part of a community.

A company culture in which employees feel challenged, work with people they enjoy, and work for people who “have their back” creates an atmosphere of high performance, loyalty, positivity, and frankly, fun.

In my last blog, fundamentals of management, we talked about the fundamentals being more critical than ever given our current global pandemic situation. Now, as we face the reality of an extended stay-at-home work-life situation, it is also imperative that we maintain a strong community for the sake of our employees. A company culture in which a worker feels valued and supported as an individual is vital in even the best of circumstances. Given the current global situation, the importance of maintaining your culture and your “community” magnifies. 

In my experience, keeping employees motivated and with high morale take priority, and it’s essential to make sure you have these bases covered:

  • Ensure each employee knows how they fit into the bigger picture, and how their role contributes to the success of the company.  
  • Reinforce with employees that management “has their back,” that employees are empowered, can take some risks, and that you’ll be there to support them.  
  • Take the time to ensure employees feel valued and are compensated fairly for the job they are doing. Sure, everyone would like to make more money, but sometimes that’s not what it’s all about. Make sure their compensation is fair and equitable to their peers for the job they are doing.  

And then, to tie it all together, most employees want to have a sense of community – not just from the neighborhood in which they live, but in their place of work, as well. Layering on a strong sense of community in a way that matches your culture can take your team from good to great.   

People are happiest when working in an environment that is in line with their values. A company culture in which employees feel challenged and are working alongside people they enjoy creates an atmosphere of positivity and productivity. And a part of liking someone is knowing someone—like really knowing them—on a level deeper than what their role is in the company. In times like this, it is essential that people feel connected to one another. 

Here’s where the FUN in fundamentals can come in…

Now is a great time to spend time thinking about how you all stay connected. Here are some things we are doing at Liquid Web to ensure that our team doesn’t feel isolated, and that every single employee knows that we have their back while keeping morale high and infusing some fun into a virtual work setting. A little something for all interests and personality types.  

I’d love to hear what you’re doing – hit me up @cawheeler99 on Twitter and share!

Themed Meetings

If you have a recurring meeting on the calendar, consider adding a bit of fun by giving it a theme. Every Friday, wear a certain color. My team enjoys Hat Fridays. Try different themes based on a decade or destination.

Games

At the beginning of meetings, ask someone to send in a photograph. Everyone has to guess who sent it in. When the sender is identified, they get a chance to share a bit about the photo they sent and why it’s meaningful to them. 

Gift Exchanges

Draw names using a gift exchange generator, set a budget, and let the fun begin. If budget is an issue, try doing a DIY gift exchange in which gifts must be made using only items that the giver has on hand in their home. This is a really fun way to let employee creativity shine. 

Netflix Watch Parties

This is a fun way for employees to stay connected. We’ve also opened this up to families and have kid-friendly viewing options. 

Roulette Hangouts

Groups of 4-6 participants are randomly selected to have a 15-30 minute hangout session to talk shop, interests, or favorite Baby Yoda memes. Sample questions are provided as a starting point to get the ball rolling, but participants are free to talk about anything they want to get the conversation flowing.

Virtual Home Tours

Ask employees to share their favorite part of their home, whether that’s a room, a piece of furniture, or an object. Find out what’s bringing employees comfort in these times when so many of us are housebound. 

Art Exchanges

Employees fill out a questionnaire about their interests and personality. They are then matched with an employee from a different location. The two swap questionnaires and, based on the other person’s answers, they paint or draw a small 4×4 piece of art for their new friend. 

Volunteer Initiatives

Set up Slack channels based on locations that allow employees to share information about ways to help in their communities. 

Hidden Talents

Hosting a virtual Talent Show is an excellent way to get to know your colleagues better. Everyone gets five minutes. Acts can range from serious to silly. Laughter is inevitable and you might just discover a secret opera singer in your midst. 

Happy Hour Team Meetings

This is a great way to unwind at the end of the week. Close out the week with a meeting that allows teams to check in about the week over their beverage of choice. 

Themed Photo Contests

Every week, choose a stay-at-home friendly theme (like food, pets, from my window) and host a photo contest. Feature the best submission at the start of a team meeting.

Resource-Sharing for Parents and Caregivers

Start a Slack channel for sharing resources like online learning, tips for keeping kids entertained, and how to balance working from home while managing education at home. 

For large companies with lots of employees, variety is essential. Try different approaches and see what resonates. One silver lining of these very trying times is that, if we can find ways to forge the connections that this season calls for, we will know one another more deeply—and we may even be more productive—than we ever have before.   

Be safe out there, and have some FUN!

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Always Own Your eCommerce Store

Always Own Your eCommerce Store

Last year, we sold my late father-in-law’s pocket knife collection on eBay. It was the right platform for a project like that. He had collected an impressive number of knives over his long life, but the total amount we were able to sell online was about $5,000 over the course of a few months.

EBay works for selling a few knives but if I were actually going into the knife business, there is no way I would have entrusted my livelihood to a third-party platform. As recent events have shown, there are a number of risk factors that you can’t control when you take that approach. 

Here’s a few things that you should think about when deciding whether to set up your own online store vs. using a platform or marketplace.

Control and Analyze Your Data

Amazon gave testimony to Congress last year that it uses “‘aggregate customer data’ to inform its private label brands”. This means they use 3rd party sellers information to create their own version of everything from data cables to clothing. They’ve learned what types, lengths, colors, and sizes sell best – by letting their resellers figure it out for them while giving them the data in real-time.

Direct access to your analytics data is also important. As your site traffic grows, you (or an agency you hire) can analyze data from Google, Yahoo, Glew and other sources to find out where your marketing is succeeding or failing, and where your site converts well and where it doesn’t. As your business matures, you can even personalize your product recommendations, customer experience, and even pricing based on who is visiting your site.   

Control Your Reputation (and Refunds)

Your reputation as a seller is important. If you treat customers badly, word will get around, and that’s as it should be, but the major marketplaces are sometimes buyer-friendly to a fault. Before choosing to open up online on someone else’s store, read their forums to find out what experiences other sellers have had. A 2019 eBay scam forced a seller to spend a lot of time disputing a refund with eBay, and it’s likely that thousands of other sellers were affected. 

Decide What Products You’re Willing to Sell

There are a number of legal products that are nevertheless banned from different platforms. We actually found that one of my father-in-laws knives was considered a gravity knife – legal in most states but not sellable on eBay. CBD products, firearms and related items, vaping products – the list goes on and on. What’s worse, it’s subject to change. Shopify once welcomed firearms-related products, but changed course in 2018, leaving merchants scrambling to find a new solution.

When you own your own ecommerce store you’ll never have to replatform because someone in an office somewhere decides it’s no longer appropriate.

Decide What Payment Processor to Use

Controversial products like the ones mentioned above are sometimes not allowed because of the preference of the platform or the marketplace owner. But sometimes they are not allowed because they are considered higher risk credit card transactions. That’s fair enough, but when your platform of choice doesn’t work with the card processor you need, the effect is the same – you’re out of business. 

Having a choice about your card processor is also important because card processors vary widely in the fees and percentages they charge for each transaction. Some SaaS platforms charge transaction fees if you DON’T use their in-house payment processor, on top of the fees charged by your merchant bank. If you do enough volume, these fees can really add up.

Decide How (and When) You Will Do Fulfillment and Shipping

Amazon again made the news recently when it announced that it would restrict shipping of items it deemed “nonessential” during the COVID-19 crisis. While this action may be necessary during these unprecedented times, it illustrates the power that Amazon has over their customers who have opted for Amazon fulfillment and shipping. If you’re a seller on Amazon you literally can’t make money since Amazon isn’t fulfilling those non-essential orders.

Setting up your own fulfillment operation is easy enough for most small businesses, and as you scale you can either grow your own fulfillment operation or negotiate with other fulfillment centers that operate worldwide – unless you’re locked in to a platform that determines this for you.

Operating a small online business requires you to make a number of hard choices – being locked into a platform or marketplace that dictates these choices for you can make it difficult to succeed. Look at WooCommerce or Magento open-source platforms which preserve your ability to grow and adapt your business.

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In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity

In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity

Every small business is unique and faces unique challenges in the best of times. As you navigate today’s challenges, exploring options to ensure sales with minimal disruption, now might be the time to consider taking your business online.

There are many things to consider when adding an e-commerce channel.

Legal and Regulatory Stuff

Taxes, payment gateways, shipping, and product liability are just a few areas to explore as you expand from bricks to clicks.

Since your business is (likely) incorporated already, your e-commerce site with the same name and owner should fall under the same legal shelter. Other issues to check off the list:

  • Create and adhere to shipping and return policies
  • Trademark your company logo and symbol
  • Ensure that published site content is copyright free

Of course, you cannot pay close enough attention to matters of consumer data privacy. A standard set of Terms & Conditions should cover the vast majority of your site’s transactions.

Least favorite of all, as a business with a physical presence, also called nexus, (and every state defines this differently) the vast majority of products are taxable and you are required to collect sales taxes. 

Building a Business Plan & Budget

Generally speaking, your budget will be driven by the sales volume you project in your e-commerce business plan. And as with traditional business plans, you’ll want to understand and leverage your competitive advantage, identify target customers, and develop a digital marketing plan which can include costs associated with email campaigns, social media content, and video production among other tools. (Site platform and host information are in a separate section.)

ECommerce sites don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can hire a freelancer or build your own WooCommerce site for $5,000. If you have a simple store that should be a great starting point. However, the more inventory you put online, the more features, functionality and security your site will require. 

WordPress is utilized by more than 60 million sites worldwide.

Selecting a Platform & Host (important!)

Your online store’s platform is like your car’s engine, and ideally you should never have to open the hood. That said, every platform comes with a learning curve and it can be fun to see what tools make the most sense to showcase your products or services.

The WordPress platform – an open source and software content management system (CMS) – is utilized by about 30% of the top 10 million websites or more than 60 million sites worldwide.

There is a reason for its ubiquity. Part and parcel to your platform is your site’s host, the selection of which should entail a comprehensive analysis of the service provider and available perks. Success factors include: 

  • Server reliability
  • Uptime scores
  • Customer service
  • Security (SSL certificates)
  • Availability of site backups
  • Registration and maintenance costs
  • Account limitations (our lowest level WooCommerce plan can handle 500 orders an hour)
  • and eCommerce and email options 

If your business already has a website, WooCommerce may be a good option as you extend to online sales.

Inventory Tracking, Product Fulfillment & Delivery

Knowing what to sell can be a challenge. Many brick-and-mortar stores that expand to e-commerce start by initially limiting online inventory to their top 10 or 20 items and grow from there as they gain comfort tracking sales and as the site gains new customers.

Remember that for each item, you’ll want to include product information such as cost, sizing, color choices, return policies, and shipping details. Stringent shipping and delivery protocols are increasingly prevalent across the retail spectrum.

In addition to logistics planning for how to fulfill new orders from potentially anywhere, you can reassure customers that your store has adopted universal precautions when it comes to inventory management, packing and shipping

An analytics program will help you see which channel customers are coming from.

Marketing & SEO – How will customers find you?

We could share pages and pages about digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The bottom line is that websites must meet specific requirements set by search engines like Google. This is why an SEO strategy is critical.

SEO trends will inform your site content and ensure that customers see your store in search engine results. Across these trends, descriptions of products and services should include natural and identifiable keywords that search engine crawlers will seek out to connect prospective shoppers to your site. It’s also important to make site page titles and meta descriptions unique to each page.

While security may seem irrelevant to SEO, it can impact a customer’s experience: a seemingly unsafe (or “not secure”) website will propel site visitors to the exit door. Voice search, mobile, video, dwell time, load time, and length of high-quality content all contribute to how people find and engage with your site.  

Customer Engagement Amidst “Social Distancing.”

Your new online store can be built with diverse and creative tools to maintain your connections with customers used to walking in your door – and to cultivate new customers.

Videos, social media, blogs, and virtual community gatherings can all be effective here. Bear in mind, however, that such features will add to the cost of your site’s construction and maintenance.

Incentives to Return Customers to Your Physical Location

Whatever our new normal looks like, most of us look forward to physically returning to our favorite boutique or market or restaurant. Until then you may want to incentivize customers with:

  • Bounce-Back Coupons for In-Store Purchases or Discounts
  • “Date TBD” Special In-Store Event
  • New In-Store Loyalty Program
  • Gift cards (for online or in person)

If you’ve put off exploring your online options, now is the time for action in order to expand your sales footprint and ensure brand continuity. Hostdedi can answer all your questions and we can connect you with the resources you will need.  

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Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach

Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach

Lansing, Michigan,  April 27th, 2020 –  Liquid Web  Family of Brands, the market leader in managed hosting and application services to SMBs and web professionals, announced, today, the hiring of Adam Williams as Liquid Web’s Chief Revenue Officer to oversee revenue operations for the Liquid Web and Hostdedi brands.  Williams brings nearly 20 years of sales leadership experience to his role, which includes leadership roles with technology providers, Microsoft and Rackspace. 

Williams will expand both the direct sales and channel organization to handle the rapidly growing product portfolio for the Managed Cloud and Managed Applications brands.   Building on the company’s reputation for expert and helpful service, Williams’ goal is to provide the right solutions across the product portfolio for Web Professionals and Agency Partners the companies serve. “Finding a company like Liquid Web that takes that personal customer connection a step further is amazing and humbling.  I am excited to apply my experience to see how we can continue to wow and serve customers,” says Williams.

“We could not be more excited to add Adam to our team to further champion our efforts to build relationships with our customers, aggressively advocate for the products, programs, and processes to help them grow their businesses,”  said Carrie Wheeler, EVP & GM, Liquid Web.   “His passion for customers, technology experience and ability to execute is a cultural alignment that excites us.  Adding a leader of this caliber furthers our commitment to powering the online content, commerce and potential for the Web professionals we serve”, said Wheeler.

About The Liquid Web Family of Brands 
Building on 20 plus years of success, our Liquid Web Brand Family consists of four companies (Liquid Web, Hostdedi, iThemes, and InterWorx) purpose-built to deliver software, solutions, and managed services for mission-critical sites, stores and applications for SMB’s and the Designers, Developers, and Agencies who create for them.  With more than 1.5 million sites under management, The Liquid Web Family of Brands serves over 45,000 customers spanning 150 countries. The company has assembled a world-class team, 10 global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies for twelve years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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In a Remote Working World, Fundamentals Are More Important Than Ever

In a Remote Working World, Fundamentals Are More Important Than Ever

Executive Vice President and General Manager of Hostdedi and Liquid Web on adapting and maintaining personal connections while managing teams remotely.

A remote work situation requires the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment — it just magnifies the importance of diligently sticking to the fundamentals.

Now more than ever, the fundamentals of team management matter. In the face of current global realities, remote work is a gift, offering us the unique opportunity to innovate while, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of employees and their families. 

As companies around the world are navigating how to best operate online, many managers brand new to remote team management are faced with the challenge of learning how to lead in an unfamiliar environment under stressful circumstances. 

I’ve been managing remote teams for nearly three decades. For most of my career, I worked for companies that operated on a global level. Early on, I had to learn how to manage teams around the world, often through the challenge of employees across many different time zones. In some roles, 100% of employees telecommuted. In others, only 15% worked from outside the office. In many ways, because I’ve built a career in technology, I’ve had broad exposure to the ins and outs of the trials many managers are now tasked with navigating. 

Here are some strategies for managing remote teams. 

  • Re-review individual objectives. If you are a manager or leader, take the time to re-review each individual’s objectives and recognize where specifics may have shifted. Perhaps more time may be needed on some projects, or adjustments need to be made for projects requiring physical presence.  As an individual contributor, seek clarity about moving forward under new circumstances. Clarity is critical in times of uncertainty – seek it out at all levels.
  • Set ground rules. When embarking on a new way of working—especially with teams who are newly working together remotely—it is vitally important to have frank discussions about how the team wants to work and what your expectations are from each other. What time of day can you depend on them to be online? Under what conditions will they be unavailable, and how will they let you know? By level setting ground rules, you provide helpful structures for what will become the new norm of interaction. 
  • Check-in often and individually with your team members. The power of maintaining personal connections is vital for all remote teams, but its importance cannot be understated in times of uncertainty. It can be tempting to just drop a note on Slack to check on your team. Resist this. Setup individual check-ins with each member. Do it often. Allow time for chit chat and asking about family.  Check in daily with brief video chats. Connect virtually over a cup of coffee. Technology is incredible, but it is imperative that, as often as possible, we maintain the personal connections that make us human. 
  • Decide which office rituals you’ll maintain online as a team. Take some time to determine which regular meetings are essential and should continue taking place with your remote team. But just as important as deciding which structures to maintain is understanding what you can let go of. Do you need to force everyone to sit through a four hour video call? Probably not. Determine what things are important, what you’re going to gather for, and what you’re going to decide to let go of for a while. 
  • Commit to fully engaging when the team is together. When working remotely, probably the greatest challenge is managing distractions—both your teams’ and your own. When you’re not face-to-face with someone, it can be difficult to make sure that everyone is giving their full attention, but it’s essential for both morale and productivity.  

A remote work situation requires all of the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment—it just magnifies their importance.  

When you’re physically separated from your team, it can be tempting to do things like sort through emails while you’re on conference calls. You have to resist these urges and offer your full attention. Set up dedicated times in the morning and afternoon to tend to your email so that your team knows you’re fully present and expect them to be, as well. There’s so much you can get away with if you’re all in one room. While working remotely, it’s important to pay attention to basics around how to run a good meeting. 

  • Encourage trust. For people new to remote work, one of the most crucial parts of building a healthy and productive work environment is wrapping your mind around the fact that you’re going to have to trust people. Trust that your team members will get the job done. This confidence will allow them to trust you, too. 
  • Determine your responsibility. You have a responsibility as much as your teammates to be online and communicative and trustworthy. The best way to do this is to put a schedule in place and stick to it. A lot of people think working from home is rolling out of bed and going about your day in pajamas, but getting up and showering and getting dressed can really help to put you in a ready-to-work, focused mindset. Find the place in your home in which you can be most productive. Face your day the same as you would face it if you were going out. 

Just as in team management, the fundamentals of how you care of yourself are also magnified and take on a greater importance when working from home—especially as we confront the possibility of long stretches in isolated environments. Eat nourishing foods. Drink lots of water. Set up a space that makes you feel good. Schedule short breaks that allow you to get up and walk around between meetings. Move your body and remember to check in with yourself. Make sure you’re caring for your physical and mental wellbeing. 

We are all making adjustments to the ways we live and work. There is so much right now that feels out of our control. What we can control is how we show up for our community and how we can encourage them to show up for one another. We do not have to lose our sense of togetherness—we can strengthen it. This experience will push us out of our comfort zones, but that is the space where growth can take place. 

You will get to know your co-workers in this period in ways you would not have before. You’ll get to know their pets and partners and kids. Frustrations will arise, of course, but do your best to embrace and enjoy the moments of joy and spontaneity that will accompany this new way of working. 

Let us also embrace this as an opportunity to innovate how we think, operate, and work together. We will all come through this changed. My hope is that we are changed for the better, forging community in new ways, and understanding what it truly means to be a team.

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