Top 10 Business Tips From This Week's OPEN Forum

No time to read this week? Here are our favorite 10 tips from this week's top OPEN Forum stories.
November 23, 2013

1. Create a scope of work template. By outlining the project overview, project details and payment terms in a document—and having them sign it—business owners can curb the likelihood of their clients asking for free services. (From "Scope Creep: How To Stop Doing Extra Work For Free," by Erika Napoletano)

2. Always build upwardSuccessful businesses, much like great improv scenes, depend on furthering the conversation beyond "yes." Probe beyond the simple answer to create better engagement with your customers, leading to great word of mouth. (From "How Tina Fey's Improv Rules Can Boost Your Business," by Rohit Bhargava)

3. Develop local leadership in international markets. If you want to expand your brand abroad, you'll need the help of someone who lives in the country and can help you navigate the unique language, culture and regulations of your newest market. (From "Going Global: 4 Ways To Expand Into International Markets," by Ty Morse)

4. Provide incentives for social media fans“Incentivizing consumers via Facebook with an offer like $5 off a weekend purchase is a great way to encourage likes and shares, as well as build customer loyalty,”  says Aaron Everson, COO & president of Shoutlet, a social media management company. (From "From 0 to 27,000 Fans: 6 Ways To Engage Followers On Facebook," by Dawn Papandrea)

5. Use email templates. Answer frequently asked questions faster by using Gmail's Canned Response feature, which lets you create templates that you can use instead of rewriting the same email over and over again. (From "Productivity Ninja: How I Deal With 800 Emails A Week," by Anita Campbell)

6. "Departmentalize your work week." As a small-business owner a lot of different tasks fall under your purview, a fact that can be overwhelming at times. But, says Lou Imbriano, former CMO of the New England Patriots, "performing different tasks on different days will help to efficiently organize your workflow."(From "Sage Advice From Smart People," by Brian Moran)

7. Offer more flexible scheduling this holiday seasonYour employees will appreciate having more time to run errands and be with their friends and family, than canned food drives and sing-alongs (ahem, Walmart and McDonald's). (From "The Worst Ways To 'Help' Employees Over The Holidays," by Kelly Spors)

8. Provide incremental training for employees. It's hard to keep employees properly trained when regular updates require everyone to learn a new system. Employers should offer quick, accessible and short training sessions to keep everyone abreast of new changes as they come. (From "5 Trends Your Business Must Jump On Before 2014," by Mike Michalowicz)

9. Get on board with mobile advertising. In 2013, the amount of Web traffic coming from mobile rose 6 percent to 17.4 percent. Use mobile advertising to target and engage audiences where they're spending the most time. (From "4 Businesses Winning With Mobile Advertising," by Tracey Wallace)

10. Personalize your thank yous to your customers. Pricey gifts are always nice, but you can show how much you appreciate your customers with simple and thoughtful gifts, such as showcasing their business on your website or eGift cards.  (From "12 Ways To Thank Your Customers Without Breaking The Bank," by Barry Moltz)

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Photo: NBC