7 Types of Organizational Structure & Whom They're Suited For [Diagrams]

The following article includes an excerpt from our free resource, An Illustrated Guide to Organizational Structures. If you'd like to download the full resource, click here.

Choosing the best organizational structure for your company, division, or team is a lot like picking out a new car.

At the most basic level, you're always looking for something road-worthy -- something that can take you (and your passengers) from point A to point B without a hitch.But beyond that, there are a lot of options to consider. Automatic or manual? Four-wheel drive or two? Built-in GPS? Leather interior? Flux capacitor? (Only if you're going back in time, of course.)Click here to learn how to structure your company for success.

In the world of organizational structures, the options you have to choose from include things like chain of command (long or short?), span of control (wide or narrow?), and centralization (centralized or decentralized decision-making?), just to name a few.

What's the point of an organizational structure? As a business leader, do you even need one? As I said, org structures help you define at least three key elements of how your business is going to run. Here's what each of those elements means to an organization:

Chain of Command

Your chain of command is how tasks are delegated and work is approved. An org structure allows you to define how many "rungs of the ladder" a particular department or business line should have. In other words, who tells whom to do what? And how are issues, requests, and proposals communicated up and down that ladder?

Span of Control

Your span of control can represent two things: who falls under a manager's, well, management ... and which tasks fall under a department's responsibility.

Centralization

Centralization describes where decisions are ultimately made. Once you've established your chain of command, you'll need to consider which people and departments have a say in each decision. A business can lean toward centralized, where final decisions are made by just one or two entities; or decentralized, where final decisions are made within the team or department in charge of carrying out that decision.

You might not need an org structure right away, but the more products you develop and people you hire, the harder it'll be to lead your company without this crucial diagram.

(To dive deeper into what all of these different organizational structure components are, check out my earlier post, "The 6 Building Blocks of Organizational Structure.")

Structure Your Company for Success

In this post, we'll explore how you can combine those components to form different types of organizational structures. We'll also highlight the benefits and drawbacks of different structure types so you can evaluate which is the best option for your company, division, or team. Let's dive in.

Mechanistic vs Organic Organizational Structures

Organizational structures fall on a spectrum, with "mechanistic" at one end and
"organic" at the other.

Take a look at the diagram below. As you'll probably be able to tell, the mechanistic structure represents the traditional, top-down approach to organizational structure, whereas the organic structure represents a more collaborative, flexible approach.

Mechanistic vs organic organizational structure, compared in two diagrams side by side

Here's a breakdown of both ends of the structural spectrum, their advantages and disadvantages, and which types of businesses are suited for them.

Mechanistic Structure

Mechanistic structures, also called bureaucratic structures, are known for having narrow spans of control, as well as high centralization, specialization, and formalization. They're also quite rigid in what specific departments are designed and permitted to do for the company.

This organizational structure is much more formal than organic structure, using specific standards and practices to govern every decision the business makes. And while this model does hold staff more accountable for their work, it can become a hindrance to the creativity and agility the organization needs to keep up with random changes in its market.

As daunting and inflexible as mechanistic structure sounds, the chain of command, whether long or short, is always clear under this model. As a company grows, it needs to make sure everyone (and every team) knows what's expected of them. Teams collaborating with other teams as needed might help get a business off the ground in its early stages, but sustaining that growth -- with more people and projects to keep track of -- will eventually require some policymaking. In other words, keep mechanistic structure in your back pocket ... you never know when you'll need it.

Organic Structure

Organic structures (also known as "flat" structures) are known for their wide spans of control, decentralization, low specialization, and loose departmentalization. What's that all mean? This model might have multiple teams answering to one person and taking on projects based on their importance and what the team is capable of -- rather than what the team is designed to do.

As you can probably tell, this organizational structure is much less formal than mechanistic, and takes a bit of an ad-hoc approach to business needs. This can sometimes make the chain of command, whether long or short, difficult to decipher. And as a result, leaders might give certain projects the green light more quickly but cause confusion in a project's division of labor.

Nonetheless, the flexibility that an organic structure allows for can be extremely helpful to a business that's navigating a fast-moving industry, or simply trying to stabilize itself after a rough quarter. It also empowers employees to try new things and develop as professionals, making the organization's workforce more powerful in the long run. Bottom line? Startups are often perfect for organic structure, since they're simply trying to gain brand recognition and get their wheels off the ground.

Now, let's uncover more specific types of organizational structures, most of which fall on the more traditional, mechanistic side of the spectrum.

1. Functional Organizational Structure

One of the most common types of organizational structures, the functional structure departmentalizes an organization based on common job functions.

An organization with a functional org structure, for instance, would group all of the marketers together in one department, group all of the salespeople together in a separate department, and group all of the customer service people together in a third department.

Blue diagram of functional organizational structure

The functional structure allows for a high degree of specialization for employees, and is easily scalable should the organization grow. Also this structure is mechanistic in nature -- which has the potential to inhibit an employee's growth -- putting staff in skill-based departments can still allow them to delve deep into their field and find out what they're good at.

Disadvantages

Functional structure also has the potential to create barriers between different functions -- and it can be inefficient if the organization has a variety of different products or target markets. The barriers created between departments can also limit peoples' knowledge of and communication with other departments, especially those that depend on other departments to succeed.

2. Product-Based Divisional Structure

A divisional organizational structure is comprised of multiple, smaller functional structures (i.e. each division within a divisional structure can have its own marketing team, its own sales team, and so on). In this case -- a product-based divisional structure -- each division within the organization is dedicated to a particular product line.

Green diagram of product-based divisional organizational structure

This type of structure is ideal for organizations with multiple products and can help shorten product development cycles. This allows small businesses to go to market with new offerings fast.

Disadvantages

It can be difficult to scale under a product-based divisional structure, and the organization could end up with duplicate resources as different divisions strive to develop new offerings.

3. Market-Based Divisional Structure

Another variety of the divisional organizational structure is the market-based structure, wherein the divisions of an organization are based around markets, industries, or customer types.

Pink diagram of market-based divisional organizational structure

The market-based structure is ideal for an organization that has products or services that are unique to specific market segments, and is particularly effective if that organization has advanced knowledge of those segments. This organizational structure also keeps the business constantly aware of demand changes among its different audience segments.

Disadvantages

Too much autonomy within each market-based team can lead to divisions developing systems that are incompatible with one another. Divisions might also end up inadvertently duplicating activities that other divisions are already handling.

4. Geographical Divisional Structure

The geographical organizational structure establishes its divisions based on -- you guessed it -- geography. More specifically, the divisions of a geographical structure can include territories, regions, or districts.

Yellow diagram of geographical divisional organizational structure

This type of structure is best-suited to organizations that need to be near sources of supply and/or customers (e.g. for deliveries or for on-site support). It also brings together many forms of business expertise, allowing each geographical division to make decisions from more diverse points of view.

Disadvantages

The main downside of a geographical org structure: It can be easy for decision- making to become decentralized, as geographic divisions (which can be hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters) often have a great deal of autonomy. And when you have more than one marketing department -- one for each region -- you run the risk of creating campaigns that compete with (and weaken) other divisions across your digital channels.

5. Process-Based Structure

Process-based organizational structures are designed around the end-to-end flow of different processes, such as "Research & Development," "Customer Acquisition," and "Order Fulfillment." Unlike a strictly functional structure, a process-based structure considers not only the activities employees perform, but also how those different activities interact with one another.

In order to fully understand the diagram below, you need to look at it from left to right: The customer acquisition process can't start until you have a fully developed product to sell. By the same token, the order fulfillment process can't start until customers have been acquired and there are product orders to fill.

Orange diagram of process-based organizational structure

Process-based organizational structure is ideal for improving the speed and efficiency of a business, and is best-suited for those in rapidly changing industries, as it is easily adaptable.

Disadvantages

Similar to a few other structures on this list, process-based structure can erect barriers between the different process groups. This leads to problems communicating and handing off work to other teams and employees.

6. Matrix Structure

Unlike the other structures we've looked at so far, a matrix organizational structure doesn't follow the traditional, hierarchical model. Instead, all employees (represented by the green boxes) have dual reporting relationships. Typically, there is a functional reporting line (shown in blue) as well as a product- based reporting line (shown in yellow).

When looking at a matrix structure org chart, solid lines represent strong, direct-reporting relationships, whereas dotted lines indicate that the relationship is secondary, or not as strong. In our example below, it's clear that functional reporting takes precedence over product-based reporting.

Teal diagram of matrix organizational structure

The main appeal of the matrix structure is that it can provide both flexibility and more balanced decision-making (as there are two chains of command instead of just one). Having a single project overseen by more than one business line also creates opportunities for these business lines to share resources and communicate more openly with each other -- things they might not otherwise be able to do regularly.

Disadvantages

The primary pitfall of the matrix organizational structure? Complexity. The more layers of approval employees have to go through, the more confused they can be about who they're supposed to answer to. This confusion can ultimately cause frustration over who has authority over which decisions and products -- and who's responsible for those decisions when things go wrong.

7. Circular Structure

While it might appear drastically different from the other organizational structures highlighted in this section, the circular structure still relies on hierarchy, with higher-level employees occupying the inner rings of the circle and lower-level employees occupying the outer rings.

That being said, the leaders or executives in a circular organization aren't seen as sitting atop the organization, sending directives down the chain of command. Instead, they're at the center of the organization, spreading their vision outward.

Multi-colored diagram of circular organizational structure

From an ideological perspective, a circular structure is meant to promote communication and the free flow of information between different parts of the organization. Whereas a traditional structure shows different departments or divisions as occupying individual, semi-autonomous branches, the circular structure depicts all divisions as being part of the same whole.

Disadvantages

From a practical perspective, the circular structure can be confusing, especially for new employees. Unlike with a more traditional, top-down structure, a circular structure can make it difficult for employees to figure out who they report to and how they're meant to fit into the organization.

That concludes our exploration of different types of organizational structures. Keep in mind that what we've just looked at are simply archetypes -- in real-world applications, organizations often use hybrid structures, which can borrow elements from multiple structure types.

Want to see some real-world examples of marketing team org structures from companies like GitHub and Rue La La? Download the complete resource, An Illustrated Guide to Organizational Structures.

To learn more about working on a marketing team, check out the 6 Building Blocks of Organizational Structure [Diagrams].

download: free guide to org structures

free guide to org structures


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NATSO Testifies on Draft Legislation to Reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

NATSO was invited to testify before Congress today to discuss new legislation that would reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and transition the gasoline market to a high octane fuel performance standard.

Titled the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act, the legislation would, among other things, end the Renewable Fuel Standard's ethanol blending mandate beginning in 2023, and eliminate the advanced biofuel (e.g., biodiesel) blending mandate 10 years later. It would also begin a transition to higher octane gasoline.

Testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs David Fialkov focused primarily on the diesel market and the opportunities for policymakers to incentivize diesel retailers to incorporate increasing amounts of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel into the nation’s diesel fuel supply.

NATSO supports the provisions of the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act that would facilitate market conditions and opportunities for its members to lower prices for consumers for advanced biofuels. However, Fialkov also recommended revisions to the draft legislation that would eliminate unnecessary obstacles to market investment in renewable fuels infrastructure and that undermine the returns on those investments that industry has already made.

Specifically, Fialkov testified in favor of the provisions that would extend the advanced biofuels mandate for another decade. But Fialkov strongly urged lawmakers to revise the draft legislation to address NATSO’s concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency’s practice of issuing small refinery waivers that exempt small refineries from their obligations under the RFS, including small refineries that are owned by profitable refining entities.

"The bill’s rules-based Renewable Volume Obligations system will only achieve the objectives of enhanced certainty and less volatility if it addresses the Program’s current flawed small refinery exemption regime,” Fialkov testified. “The fact that the Legislation is silent on this topic is a real flaw. … Any legislation to reform the RFS must remedy this situation.”

To read a full copy of NATSO's written testimony, click here.

 



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What's the Business Case for Virtual Reality? Here's What the Experts Say.

Around here, we give a lot of thought to the question, "What is the business case for VR?"

Last week, I had a chance to attend VRX -- an annual virtual reality (VR) industry conference and expo, where I was able to hear insights and reflections on the state of VR -- and where it's going next. On day two, the focus shifted to this question.

We've written about success stories with this still-emerging, immersive technology -- about experiences that could make even the biggest VR skeptics a bit of envy, about what it was like when our own team had a chance to play around with a VR headset, and about potentially game-changing hardware.

And yet, the question for many still remains: How is VR really going to benefit me, my business, and my customers?

Here's what the experts have to say.

Removing Barriers and Distance

Anjney Midha is the co-founder & CEO of Ubiquity6: an augmented reality (AR) platform with a mission to build experiences that bring people together in an immersive (albeit digital) way.

And when it comes to making the case for AR or VR, he said at VRX, the emphasis should be on an experience "that doesn't isolate you [and] allows you to interact with the world and people around you."

It's something that Midha said occurred to him when he become a student in the U.S. after growing up overseas. Now, that distance is one of the most compelling points in the case for VR: to remove barriers and distance between friends, family, and colleagues.

"Can you bring the people I care about," he asked, "into the spaces I care about?"

As a growing number of workplaces are adapting to remote employees, the idea of building a virtual workforce becomes more prevalent -- of creating an immersively digital environment where those who work elsewhere can meet and collaborate with colleagues in a way that makes it feel like they're in the same room.

"The jump from conference calls to video conference calls was a huge leap that allowed us to pick up so much context from watching someone's facial expressions, but video conferencing has struggled to scale that interaction," says HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Janessa Lantz, who's also a fully remote employee. "Where I see the potential for VR to impact my day-to-day would be to make large meetings more closely mimic real life."

That more natural approach to conversation and collaboration could be one thing that allows for a more immersive, virtual workplace.

"It's nearly impossible to run a good meeting with a big group of people on a video call," Lantz says. "The audio makes conversation awkward and you lose so much relational context by not physically sharing space."

It's that idea of a more immersive, virtual community that feels more natural -- whether professional or recreational -- that many businesses within the VR industry, like Facebook-owned Oculus, see as an end goal.

"We're all really interested to see how Oculus Quest changes not only how people play games and people build games," Allison Berliner -- a product marketing manager for the Oculus Quest -- told me at Oculus Connect earlier this year, "but also how people learn and communicate, and connect with each other."

The Case for Data

"Before your conscious kicks in, your eyes actually tell you what you’re going to do. That’s important to keep in mind when building a [VR] experience," explained Vinay Narayan, VP product and operations at HTC Vive, during a VRX panel discussion.

His point: Eyetracking technology is something that, in recent years, has become more feasible and scalable with VR. Having that type of data -- and knowing where the user's eyes are going and where they pay the most attention -- can not only help VR content creators build more engaging experiences, but also, help businesses understand customer needs.

Eyetracking, then, can let businesses know if a user even saw the key part of the experience to which they were hoping to draw attention, Narayan said. "Looking at the data layer helps you figure out where you can solve your business problems, or even give you insights."

Take the example of Tobii Pro: a tech company that pairs VR with eye-tracking technology to help retailers learn where a shopper pays the most visual attention and plan store layout accordingly. I took it for a spin at SXSW in March:

"Very similar to an in-store shop-along or in-depth interview research, this is another tool that can be added on top of that," Amanda Bentley, Tobii Pro's Director Of Commercial Sales (whose voice can be heard in the background of the video above), told me at the time.

"You can get another layer of understanding not only how shoppers feel ... but also, what information do they actually process?" Bentley continued. "What are they attending to as they're making the decision to purchase products?"

Immersed in Education

VRX opened with a presentation from SuperData's VP of Strategy and Head of XR Stephanie Llamas on "What’s really happened with VR & AR in 2018," where -- among other topics -- she discussed the highest points of supply and demand VR within enterprise settings.

C99BF464-57D2-4746-913D-717DE452F9F0-3828-000001E99DD2FBED

As this slide shows, VR and AR opportunities aren't wholly occupied by gaming and entertainment. Much of the time, it's about partaking in an immersive experience to learn something new.

"VR has the potential to be an incredible tool for connecting the most curious, passionate and collaborative individuals together," says HubSpot Academy Senior Manager Christopher LoDolce. "The trifecta of learning is knowledge transfer -- typically teacher in front of the classroom -- an application like homework or something learned at work, and then, discussion. If you are able to simulate an in-person experience with VR and incorporate the trifecta, it would break down barriers."

"We believe people that learn together grow together. VR will take the asynchronous learning experience and flip it on its head."

- Christopher LoDolce, Senior Manager, HubSpot Academy

Pair that with the highest area of growth for VR, which Llamas predicted to be location-based: the concept of bringing a VR experience to users where they already are, to introduce them to the technology without requiring a purchase.

Taking a location-based approach to educational VR in a setting where people are already in attendance to learn something -- such as an industry conference or educational event -- could be one of the more promising business use cases for VR.

"Education is a no brainer for VR. The ability to have an immersive educational experience could really enhance on the top training and adoption of new skills," says HubSpot VP of Marketing Jon Dick. "You could imagine teaching about a concept like workflows in a more immersive way that highlights the journey a user is going on prior to diving into the software."

Where to Begin

Undertaking a VR use case could seem like a tall order for some businesses, considering the fact that it still has yet to go mainstream and many people are still learning about the benefits it could offer.

To address that, Narayan suggested a step-by-step approach to businesses building a VR experience, no matter what its purpose.

"Small incremental tasks go a long way, because it’s low-risk," Narayan explained. "Map a customer journey. What do they want to do? What’s important to them? You can solve sub-steps for that."

Started with the big picture and breaking it down into a smaller pieces, said GE Power Product Architect Connor McCollough at a VRX panel, has the potential to be a sustainable approach to successfully building a business-focused VR experience.

“Sometimes, the business just doesn’t have an appetite for that big, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel vision,” McCollough explained. "Break it down into smaller chunks, and solve the business case for each of those pieces -- and tie them back into a [bigger] vision."



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Zoho Inventory Goes Mobile with Benefits for Small Businesses

Zoho Inventory App Takes Functionality Mobile

A little over three years after its launch, Zoho Inventory becomes available on your mobile device with an all-new Android App. The 28th product release under the Zoho umbrella, Zoho Inventory was launched in 2015 and is a boon for small businesses.

Zoho Inventory App

According to Zoho, the new app will handle the order and warehouse management of your business on your device no matter where you are.

Inventory management has become a challenge for small businesses as they integrate their brick and mortar stores with their eCommerce platform. Being able to keep track of your inventory in and out of the office means you can manage your supply more effectively and with greater accuracy.

For small business owners who don’t have the resources to hire inventory managers or expensive applications, Zoho Inventory for Android offers an affordable option. The app makes all of your data available on your device so you can have a comprehensive view of your inventory.

App Functionality

Whether you are in the office or out and about, the Zoho Inventory app allows you to order goods and services instantly while looking into the stock level of your inventory.

When you are ready to talk, the app gives you access to the contact information of your customers and vendors. The integration with Zoho CRM and Zoho Books automatically syncs all your contacts and orders while helping you manage your financial data.

This allows you to respond to your customers more effectively because you have full access to their history, which also applies to your vendors if you want to make a purchase.

The app also tracks online and offline orders. For online sales from your eCommerce platform, it automatically gets the sales orders for you. When it is an offline sale over the counter, you can create sales orders, download it and email it to your customers.

Some of the other functionalities include tax compliance, multi-warehouse management, order fulfillment, invoice payments, multicurrency transactions, and more.

Automation

Being able to make payments while you are on the go and tracking those transactions while keeping tabs on your inventory automatically is an invaluable asset for small businesses.

Zoho Inventory integrates with major sites including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, and others so you can sell on those platforms and keep accurate records of all the transactions.  Having an automated system gives small business owners a tool which doesn’t require additional hire or investment.

Availability

You can sign up for the new Zoho Inventory here. After you sign up through the web application, use your credentials to log in to your mobile app and start using Zoho Inventory for free with a 14-day trial.

If you choose to continue using Zoho Inventory, you can subscribe to the plan that best suits the needs of your business. There is a free version which gives you 20 online and offline orders, shipping labels, and shipment tracking.

The Basic, Standard, and Professional tiers provide up to 30,000 of the orders, labels and tracking features. It also includes automated workflows/module and the management of up to 10 warehouses.

Image: Zoho Inventory

This article, "Zoho Inventory Goes Mobile with Benefits for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Zoho Inventory Goes Mobile with Benefits for Small Businesses

Zoho Inventory App Takes Functionality Mobile

A little over three years after its launch, Zoho Inventory becomes available on your mobile device with an all-new Android App. The 28th product release under the Zoho umbrella, Zoho Inventory was launched in 2015 and is a boon for small businesses.

Zoho Inventory App

According to Zoho, the new app will handle the order and warehouse management of your business on your device no matter where you are.

Inventory management has become a challenge for small businesses as they integrate their brick and mortar stores with their eCommerce platform. Being able to keep track of your inventory in and out of the office means you can manage your supply more effectively and with greater accuracy.

For small business owners who don’t have the resources to hire inventory managers or expensive applications, Zoho Inventory for Android offers an affordable option. The app makes all of your data available on your device so you can have a comprehensive view of your inventory.

App Functionality

Whether you are in the office or out and about, the Zoho Inventory app allows you to order goods and services instantly while looking into the stock level of your inventory.

When you are ready to talk, the app gives you access to the contact information of your customers and vendors. The integration with Zoho CRM and Zoho Books automatically syncs all your contacts and orders while helping you manage your financial data.

This allows you to respond to your customers more effectively because you have full access to their history, which also applies to your vendors if you want to make a purchase.

The app also tracks online and offline orders. For online sales from your eCommerce platform, it automatically gets the sales orders for you. When it is an offline sale over the counter, you can create sales orders, download it and email it to your customers.

Some of the other functionalities include tax compliance, multi-warehouse management, order fulfillment, invoice payments, multicurrency transactions, and more.

Automation

Being able to make payments while you are on the go and tracking those transactions while keeping tabs on your inventory automatically is an invaluable asset for small businesses.

Zoho Inventory integrates with major sites including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, and others so you can sell on those platforms and keep accurate records of all the transactions.  Having an automated system gives small business owners a tool which doesn’t require additional hire or investment.

Availability

You can sign up for the new Zoho Inventory here. After you sign up through the web application, use your credentials to log in to your mobile app and start using Zoho Inventory for free with a 14-day trial.

If you choose to continue using Zoho Inventory, you can subscribe to the plan that best suits the needs of your business. There is a free version which gives you 20 online and offline orders, shipping labels, and shipment tracking.

The Basic, Standard, and Professional tiers provide up to 30,000 of the orders, labels and tracking features. It also includes automated workflows/module and the management of up to 10 warehouses.

Image: Zoho Inventory

This article, "Zoho Inventory Goes Mobile with Benefits for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends



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10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy

10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy

You might recognize Mike Lindell as the inventor of MyPillow, the popular pillow brand that manufactures quality products in America.

Lindell has actually run multiple businesses throughout his entrepreneurial journey. He’s also dealt with various issues ranging from addiction to faith throughout his experience.

Through all of those ups and downs, Lindell has learned many valuable lessons that could also help other entrepreneurs better shape their own ventures. He recently spoke with Small Business Trends about the factors that have led to his own entrepreneurial success along with tips for other business owners.

Tips to Success

Here are some of his top tips.

Keep an Eye Out for Deviations

Even for successful entrepreneurs like Lindell, it’s important to be constantly learning. One of the best ways to learn as a business owners is to pay close attention to anything out of the ordinary.

Lindell says, “If there’s a deviation, you need to learn from it, whether it’s good or bad. Any time you notice something different in your sales numbers or anything outside of the norm, you better find out why it’s happening and then adjust or react to what those numbers say.”

Learn from Others

In addition, Lindell recommends getting a mentor or asking questions of other business owners. This can be especially relevant for someone buying a business — Lindell recommends sitting down with the previous owner to really dive into the details.

He says, “If you’re just getting into business, learn from someone who’s been there that you trust. By grabbing that information from them, you don’t have to make the same mistakes and you can accelerate your growth.”

Get Legal Advice

Additionally, he recommends sitting down with a legal professional to get advice on the compliance issues that your business may face. They can also provide you with contracts or document templates that could help you protect your company.

Take Chances

Running a business is inherently risky. So if you’re uncomfortable with risk, you may need to eliminate the backup plans you have in place.

Lindell says, “Some people are so afraid of taking chances. I didn’t have something to fall back on. And a lot of people don’t want to go out and do something for themselves when they have something safe to fall back on.”

Collect Customer Feedback

Lindell says this is especially important for product businesses. If you go to trade shows or fairs, make sure you collect feedback from potential buyers that could help you shape your product going forward.

Have Passion for Your Brand

Money may be an important factor for your business, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY factor. When you actually enjoy your business and believe in your product, Lindell believes that becomes apparent to customers.

“I went all-in with MyPillow,” he says. “You better like what you’re doing and what you’re selling, because if you don’t like it then it shows through to your customers.”

Hire Passionate People

When you get to the point where you’re ready to grow a team, they should also have some level of passion for your business and for their role in it.

Lindell says, “Pay special attention to the people you surround yourself with. When you have passionate employees who have your back, that’s really important.”

Keep Communication Lines Open

From there, you should be constantly talking to your team and make sure they can come to you with any issues or deviations they notice so you can make proper decisions.

Lindell says, “Anything that goes on in your business reflects on you as the business owner. Even though my business is bigger now than it was when I first started, I still run it the same way. Most of my workers have my direct phone number and if they notice a deviation they let me know.”

Make Sure Everyone Is Valued

You also need to make sure that your entire team and everyone else who surrounds your business knows how important they are.

Lindell says, “Treat every employee like they’re your only employee, treat every customer like they’re your only customer, treat every vendor like they’re your only vendor.”

Manufacture Products Domestically

One of the major noteworthy features of MyPillow is that it’s manufactured in America. And that’s something that Lindell feels very passionately about. He acknowledges that there are some situations where domestic manufacturing isn’t possible, like when the materials you use are mainly cultivated in a specific region outside the U.S. However, if you’re just looking to cut costs, Lindell believes that those minor savings are not worth the headaches that can come from outsourcing your manufacturing overseas.

He says, “If you rely on overseas, it’s usually 120 days from the time you order the product before you receive it. And now your money is tied up and by the time you get the product, it may be not up to your standards. This makes it hard to do projections, and what if you get busier or people need it sooner?”

Image: Mike Lindell

This article, "10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy" was first published on Small Business Trends



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10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy

10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy

You might recognize Mike Lindell as the inventor of MyPillow, the popular pillow brand that manufactures quality products in America.

Lindell has actually run multiple businesses throughout his entrepreneurial journey. He’s also dealt with various issues ranging from addiction to faith throughout his experience.

Through all of those ups and downs, Lindell has learned many valuable lessons that could also help other entrepreneurs better shape their own ventures. He recently spoke with Small Business Trends about the factors that have led to his own entrepreneurial success along with tips for other business owners.

Tips to Success

Here are some of his top tips.

Keep an Eye Out for Deviations

Even for successful entrepreneurs like Lindell, it’s important to be constantly learning. One of the best ways to learn as a business owners is to pay close attention to anything out of the ordinary.

Lindell says, “If there’s a deviation, you need to learn from it, whether it’s good or bad. Any time you notice something different in your sales numbers or anything outside of the norm, you better find out why it’s happening and then adjust or react to what those numbers say.”

Learn from Others

In addition, Lindell recommends getting a mentor or asking questions of other business owners. This can be especially relevant for someone buying a business — Lindell recommends sitting down with the previous owner to really dive into the details.

He says, “If you’re just getting into business, learn from someone who’s been there that you trust. By grabbing that information from them, you don’t have to make the same mistakes and you can accelerate your growth.”

Get Legal Advice

Additionally, he recommends sitting down with a legal professional to get advice on the compliance issues that your business may face. They can also provide you with contracts or document templates that could help you protect your company.

Take Chances

Running a business is inherently risky. So if you’re uncomfortable with risk, you may need to eliminate the backup plans you have in place.

Lindell says, “Some people are so afraid of taking chances. I didn’t have something to fall back on. And a lot of people don’t want to go out and do something for themselves when they have something safe to fall back on.”

Collect Customer Feedback

Lindell says this is especially important for product businesses. If you go to trade shows or fairs, make sure you collect feedback from potential buyers that could help you shape your product going forward.

Have Passion for Your Brand

Money may be an important factor for your business, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY factor. When you actually enjoy your business and believe in your product, Lindell believes that becomes apparent to customers.

“I went all-in with MyPillow,” he says. “You better like what you’re doing and what you’re selling, because if you don’t like it then it shows through to your customers.”

Hire Passionate People

When you get to the point where you’re ready to grow a team, they should also have some level of passion for your business and for their role in it.

Lindell says, “Pay special attention to the people you surround yourself with. When you have passionate employees who have your back, that’s really important.”

Keep Communication Lines Open

From there, you should be constantly talking to your team and make sure they can come to you with any issues or deviations they notice so you can make proper decisions.

Lindell says, “Anything that goes on in your business reflects on you as the business owner. Even though my business is bigger now than it was when I first started, I still run it the same way. Most of my workers have my direct phone number and if they notice a deviation they let me know.”

Make Sure Everyone Is Valued

You also need to make sure that your entire team and everyone else who surrounds your business knows how important they are.

Lindell says, “Treat every employee like they’re your only employee, treat every customer like they’re your only customer, treat every vendor like they’re your only vendor.”

Manufacture Products Domestically

One of the major noteworthy features of MyPillow is that it’s manufactured in America. And that’s something that Lindell feels very passionately about. He acknowledges that there are some situations where domestic manufacturing isn’t possible, like when the materials you use are mainly cultivated in a specific region outside the U.S. However, if you’re just looking to cut costs, Lindell believes that those minor savings are not worth the headaches that can come from outsourcing your manufacturing overseas.

He says, “If you rely on overseas, it’s usually 120 days from the time you order the product before you receive it. And now your money is tied up and by the time you get the product, it may be not up to your standards. This makes it hard to do projections, and what if you get busier or people need it sooner?”

Image: Mike Lindell

This article, "10 Amazing Tips to Success from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy" was first published on Small Business Trends



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4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring

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4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring

Hiring new employees can be a pain. Especially when you’re a small business. Luckily, there are hundreds of tools available to help make your life a bit easier. The days of paper applications and mountains of resumes are over. The next time you look to hire anyone, here are 4 ways to make it easier.

1. Upwork

Before you jump into hiring someone fulltime, have you considered a freelancer? I have used Upwork time and time again to hire some fantastic freelancers who have helped me grow my business. The best thing about hiring freelancers is the ease of it. In some cases, you can post a job description and have applications, interviews and an offer the same day. When hiring freelance employees through Upwork, the platform handles payment, all you need to do is connect your account to a business credit card, PayPal account, or bank account. Additionally, you do not need to worry about benefits, tricky tax documents and more. If your need is part-time, or less than fulltime, freelancers may be the best option.

2. Facebook Jobs

You may know a handful of people who don’t have Facebook. But, chances are the majority of your friends, family and colleagues have the social media platform. Facebook is well aware of this fact and has used it to its advantage. Recently, Facebook launched their Jobs Platform in order to help small businesses hire employees–for free. This tool allows businesses to share jobs on company pages and in groups. If you’re going to publicize a job posting, why not on Facebook?

3. HRdirect Smart Apps

HRdirect knows hiring. For over 30 years, HRdirect has partnered with companies of all sizes to make hiring and maintaining employees easier.  So, who better to help you hire a new employee?

HRdirect has Smart Apps for hiring, job posting, and even keeping employee records. In our current hiring climate, employers need to be extra careful they are hiring employees legally. When it comes to hiring regulations and laws, HRdirect have in-house attorneys to make sure your job applications and paperwork are 100% compliant. Once you hire someone, you can also track all of your legal paperwork, taking away some of the typical hiring stress every small business owner is used to. Another benefit? It’s affordable making it perfect for any small business budget. Not big into technology? Fear not, the apps are very easy to use, truly living up to their ‘Smart’ name.

4. LinkedIn

Normally, when you think jobs and careers, you think about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform, allowing professionals to connect, network and even look for new positions. If you are willing to make a small investment, LinkedIn is a great place to search for new employees. You can either do it proactively, with an inMail campaign reaching out to prospective employees or with a job posting. I have many colleagues who have found great people through LinkedIn.

The old methods of hiring are long gone. Thanks for technology and some great new advances, hiring is now easier than ever. If you’re in need of new employees– look no further than your internet browser and your laptop.

Image: HRdirect

This article, "4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring

Sponsored Post

4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring

Hiring new employees can be a pain. Especially when you’re a small business. Luckily, there are hundreds of tools available to help make your life a bit easier. The days of paper applications and mountains of resumes are over. The next time you look to hire anyone, here are 4 ways to make it easier.

1. Upwork

Before you jump into hiring someone fulltime, have you considered a freelancer? I have used Upwork time and time again to hire some fantastic freelancers who have helped me grow my business. The best thing about hiring freelancers is the ease of it. In some cases, you can post a job description and have applications, interviews and an offer the same day. When hiring freelance employees through Upwork, the platform handles payment, all you need to do is connect your account to a business credit card, PayPal account, or bank account. Additionally, you do not need to worry about benefits, tricky tax documents and more. If your need is part-time, or less than fulltime, freelancers may be the best option.

2. Facebook Jobs

You may know a handful of people who don’t have Facebook. But, chances are the majority of your friends, family and colleagues have the social media platform. Facebook is well aware of this fact and has used it to its advantage. Recently, Facebook launched their Jobs Platform in order to help small businesses hire employees–for free. This tool allows businesses to share jobs on company pages and in groups. If you’re going to publicize a job posting, why not on Facebook?

3. HRdirect Smart Apps

HRdirect knows hiring. For over 30 years, HRdirect has partnered with companies of all sizes to make hiring and maintaining employees easier.  So, who better to help you hire a new employee?

HRdirect has Smart Apps for hiring, job posting, and even keeping employee records. In our current hiring climate, employers need to be extra careful they are hiring employees legally. When it comes to hiring regulations and laws, HRdirect have in-house attorneys to make sure your job applications and paperwork are 100% compliant. Once you hire someone, you can also track all of your legal paperwork, taking away some of the typical hiring stress every small business owner is used to. Another benefit? It’s affordable making it perfect for any small business budget. Not big into technology? Fear not, the apps are very easy to use, truly living up to their ‘Smart’ name.

4. LinkedIn

Normally, when you think jobs and careers, you think about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform, allowing professionals to connect, network and even look for new positions. If you are willing to make a small investment, LinkedIn is a great place to search for new employees. You can either do it proactively, with an inMail campaign reaching out to prospective employees or with a job posting. I have many colleagues who have found great people through LinkedIn.

The old methods of hiring are long gone. Thanks for technology and some great new advances, hiring is now easier than ever. If you’re in need of new employees– look no further than your internet browser and your laptop.

Image: HRdirect

This article, "4 Great Resources to Simplify Hiring" was first published on Small Business Trends



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NATSO to Testify on the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act

NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs David Fialkov is scheduled to testify Dec. 11 before a Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the discussion draft of the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act.

During the hearing, Fialkov will testify that  the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) successfully created market incentives that have led many of NATSO’s members to incorporate biodiesel into their diesel fuel supply.  They do this as a means of lowering prices for consumers and competing for market share.

At the same time, the RFS has been undermined in a number of ways, including through the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) practice of  issuing small refinery waivers that exempt small refineries from their obligations under the RFS.

Fialkov will testify that the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act would resolve many of these issues, though in other areas it could be improved to provide further market certainty and protection against counterproductive executive branch implementation decisions.

NATSO will provide a more detailed write up for members following the hearing.

NATSO members will be able to view the hearing on Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. Eastern here.



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Advice From an Expert about How to Start a Glamping Business

She Has Got the Secret to a Glamping Business and She's Giving It Away

Around the world the trend of Glamping has been rising in popularity and prestige. As people increasingly ditch the hotels and hostels for an authentic Glampsite where they can enjoy being at one with nature but sleep in luxury camping conditions, more and more savvy entrepreneurs are jumping on the trend and opening their own Glamping sites.

One such individual is Di Wood who set up Wild Harvest 14 years ago, which offers TimberTipi living, courses and activities in the great outdoors. Such is the success of Wood’s outdoor living business, the entrepreneur has written a book about setting up a successful Glamping business.

To shed some light on her book, ‘How To Set Up A Successful Glamping Business and Get Fully Booked Using Our Unique, Low-Risk, Proven Formula,’ and how to successfully start and run a Glamping business, Small Business Trends interviewed Wood at length.

When asked what makes glamping such a successful business, Wood replied:

“Glamping has become a worldwide phenomenon with Glampsites setting up in Turkey, California, Morocco, Columbia and Ireland!  People everywhere are wanting to escape to nature and connect with themselves, their families and the environment.  With consciousness peaked about eco travel glamping offers people the chance to travel lightly and also gives an easily accessible break without airport waits and long transfers. It’s also a fun business to run!”

The successful Glamping business owner and author revealed why she is divulging the secrets of Glamping success in her book.

“Because I have too many customers — the formula I have developed over the 14 years has seen me fully booked and the next logical step is to either sell my formula to others ideally with the idea they will add our Wild Harvest Activities packages to their offering or even become a Wild Harvest Branded Glampsite,” said Wood.

Small Business Trends also asked Wood what you need to run your own successful Glamping business, to which she replied:

“Time — enough to run a part time job (so you can keep an existing job and set up a glamping site around that until you are established), a small amount of capital upfront (if you read our book we teach you how to set up with little financial outlay), energy and self-discipline – you can’t not turn up to work when you are self-employed and have guests due in.  It is possible to run it yourself to start with, so no staff needs up front.”

Can anyone make it in the world of Glamping?

Woods certainly thinks they can, saying:

“I was a single mum of three and started offering camping around Wild Harvests Courses and Activities, then I bought a couple of pop up tipis — which one woman can put up on her own – so YES absolutely!

“There is a series of FREE printables from the book for people who sign up to www.glampsitesuccess.com one of these is to help you see what assets and skills you already have and what you will need to work on.

“There is never a day I wake up and think ‘Ugh – work!” Wood concluded.

Image: Glamsite Success

This article, "Advice From an Expert about How to Start a Glamping Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



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