You Can Outsource Your Operations; But Avoid These Pitfalls

As you go through the process of growing your small business, there will come a point where you will have to decide whether or not to take on additional full time or part time employees. On one hand, the added human input can help you scale up your operations. But on the other hand, taking on employees can be a very costly and time-consuming process. Plus there is always the risk that your new hires won’t end up working out.

One way to overcome this dilemma is to outsource some of your business’ operations to another individual or business. Doing this will allow you to expand while reducing the risk of a costly bad hire or even a good hire made at the wrong time.

But, outsourcing parts of your business comes with its own set of challenges. After all, who says that this outside entity will properly “get” your company and its unique culture. How well will they be able to relate to your customers, and how do you ensure that there is enough motivation on their end to do a good job?

Outsourcing can truly make or break a company depending on how it is approached. So before you outsource anything- especially those front-line positions, such as customer service and sales- make sure you consider the following five pitfalls:

Businesses don’t consider the scope of their needs. This is the very first, critical step to successfully outsourcing your business’ operations. Before you start the process of looking for an outside company to take over, you should figure out exactly what it is you need from them. Not only will this help to make your search process easier, but it will help you avoid some of the other pitfalls mentioned below.

Businesses don’t allocate enough money. You really do get what you pay for, so beware of prices that seem too good to be true. While many small businesses are working with tight budgets, price shouldn’t be your only consideration when hiring a service provider. If you discover a company that offers the same basic services yet they are charging much less, then it could be a indicative of the kind of work quality you can expect from them.

There is not enough due diligence. Don’t just fall for a company because they have a flashy-looking website. You need to dig into this company’s reputation as well as the amount of time they have been in business. You should also research customer reviews and seriously consider trying to contact previous clients to see how satisfied they were. During the research process, pay attention to any red flags that could signal potential problems or mis-representation. For example, if it takes a long time for you to speak to a real person when you try contacting the service provider or if customer representatives are unfriendly and not knowledgable, then it may be sign to take your business elsewhere.

Businesses forget about cultural fit. Just as you should hire people based on their cultural fit with your company, not just the skills and experiences listed on their resumes, the same is true for any business partnership- whether that partnership is contractual or a joint venture or a full, working partnership.

There is no system to monitor performance. Outsourcing vital operations is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. There needs to be a system in place to monitor and review the company’s performance as well as the ROI that the setup is supposed to be achieving. By doing this, you will be able to quickly spot problem areas and then decide whether or not the partnership is a good one. One of the biggest factors to successful outsourcing is knowing when to walk away from a bad setup.

In short, outsourcing business operations can be a very reasonable and profitable method for expanding a business- but only if it is approached in the right way. In order for such as setup to have the best chance of success, the company needs to consider it as an important investment. With a bit of time, effort, and money upfront, they have the best chances of watching that investment grow.

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Credit Card Fraud Among Ecommerce Grows While POS Fraud Declines

With the evolution and proliferation of ecommerce and chip enabled credit cards, credit card fraud has been going through a metamorphosis over the past couple of years. As the tides change, smaller businesses in particular need to be paying attention and taking action. Without the proper precautions, small businesses are prime targets for fraudsters and hackers who can compromise sensitive data and send a crippling financial blow.

The Closing Window of Opportunity and the Opening of a New Window

As the US is slowly introduced to EMV chip credit cards, point-of-sale credit card fraud is expected to decline in the coming years. According to reports by Javelin Strategy and Research:

POS card fraud will become progressively less lucrative. Card counterfeiting will border on impossible, given the inherent security of EMV chip-cards…  Additionally, merchants who use encryption or tokenization would effectively render data gained from compromised terminals useless for future POS transactions. These factors will largely restrict POS card fraud to lost or stolen cards… [which] are significantly more difficult to acquire and are more likely to be canceled shortly after compromise… [F]raudsters at brick and mortar stores face a closing window of opportunity.

But while physical credit card fraud may be on the decline, all indications point to a significant rise in online credit card fraud as the surge in ecommerce continues. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, online fraud in the U.S. is expected to nearly double to $19 billion by 2018 from $10 billion in 2014.

Though all businesses and organizations operating online are being affected by fraudulant activity, small businesses are the most vulnerable because many are unable to afford the systems to detect and prevent it. Moreover, when it comes to online purchases, the merchant is typically the one paying for the fraud. If for example, a fraudulent customer uses a stolen credit card to purchase a product, typically by the time the real cardholder discovers the charges, the fraudster already has possession of the items. While the real cardholders are often not liable for unauthorized transactions, retailers have no such protection. Thus, when the true cardholder eventually reverses the payment, the retailer must foot the bill- an amount that includes the cost of fulfilling the order, the lost revenue of the sale, and the fees associated with receiving the chargeback (which can easily reach 25% of the transaction amount)!

What Can Small Businesses Do to Prevent Online Fraud?

In order to prevent or at least reduce a small business’ exposure to credit card fraud online, there are three things that need to be in place: knowledge of safety compliance, technology, and good payment processing practices. We’ll briefly go through each one below.

1. Maintain PCI Compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information do so in a secure way. PCI is developed to proactively protect customer data, such as account numbers, names, addresses, and social security numbers. PCI compliance generally involves basic security precautions, such as maintaining a firewall between the business’ Internet connection and any system that stores credit card numbers.

2. Technology. There are various software applications out there that can help companies weed out fraudulant activity. Usually, these tools consider a number of potential red flags, such as whether the shipping and billing addresses match, whether the order is placed from an unfamiliar computer, device, or location, and whether the email address associated with the order has changed. Once suspicious activity has been identified, the business can then investigate further.

Another important element to consider is the ecommerce platform. Some of the most popular platforms actually do not offer so much fraud protection. So, this is something that should be researched before hand.

3. Payment Processing Best Practices. The best software in the world, however, won’t help a business that is careless with sensitive data. Businesses that are serious about data security will make the effort to routinely check that their fraud protection systems are working as they should. For example, business owners should check to see if all checkout URLs maintain a secure connection (“https”) during the checkout process. They should also set up system alerts that allow them to quickly and effectively screen out fraudulant activity, and make it a point not to store any more data than needed on customers and their transactions.

Bottom line: those businesses that process payments online need to be extra vigilant these days. Online fraud can easily ensnare a business, causing severe damage to a business’ reputation and its profitability. But, with the right knowledge, preparation, and tools, small businesses have the best chance of making it through unscathed.

How Do You Measure Your Customer Service?

Your customer service team is the face of your business. Yet, measuring the effectiveness of your customer service and how it fits into the the overall customer experience can be tricky. This is due to the fact that it is a very subjective variable based on your customers’ expectations and the impressions your business is making in order to meet those expectations.

Though customer service may be a bit abstract, there are still ways to measure it. The following are seven factors that, when taken together, will give you a pretty good idea of how effective your business’ customer service is.

1. Customer Satisfaction. If you want to measure the effectiveness of your business’ customer service, then the first place to start is with your customers themselves. You can do this by conducting customer satisfaction surveys. One thing in particular that you want to pay attention to is your customers’ level of satisfaction over time. Does it trend up or does it tend to trend down? Depending on what you find, you may have vital information on why your customers choose to either stay or leave your business.

2. Customer Retention. And that brings us to the next important factor: customer retention. If your customer service is doing a good job, then chances are your overall customer experience is pretty good as well. Customers who are happy with the service they are getting will be much more likely to stick around and continue to patronize your business.

3. Rate of Referrals. When your customers are happy with their experience, then they will be likely to recommend your business to their family, friends, neighbors, and peers. So, another factor to consider is the rate of people who are actively recommending your business to others.

4. Sales Conversion. When your customer service team communicates with a customer, what happens next? Do they to make a purchase or do they take some other desirable action? If not, then determine when during the communication process are your customers slipping away.

5. Resolution Time. Another variable to consider is the time it takes your customer service team to respond to customer inquiries and resolve any issues. These days, your customers may be expecting extremely fast turn around times- meaning they want to hear from you within a few hours. A good rule of thumb is that no more then 24 hours should go by without the your customers getting some kind of response from your customer service team.

6. Rate of Resolved Issues. How many questions and complaints get satisfactorily resolved? If your customer service team is able to solve them quickly and your customers are walking away from the experience feeling satisfied with the actions that were taken, then this is a good sign that you are providing effective customer service.

7. Number of Complaints. You certainly can’t please everyone, and your business is bound to generate some customer complaints along the way. But if you see that your business is receiving an unusually large number of complaints, or the number of complaints has been increasing without an overall increase in customer growth, then this could be hinting to a fundamental problem.

If your business keeps track of all of these factors, you will get a pretty good sense of how effective your customer service is. This information will also help you to pinpoint those areas that may need improvement and ultimately allow you to provide the best customer experience possible.

What Successful People Do That You Aren’t

Ever wonder why success isn’t beating down your door? Don’t just chalk it up to bad luck. Even if it seems that some individuals may have been dealt an amazing hand in life, the truth is the vast majority of successful people became that way because they wanted it, worked for it, and throughout it all, kept their eyes on the ball.

10 Keys to successSo,what are they doing differently? What’s the secret to being successful in business and in life? Here are 10 things that successful people do that most others overlook:

1. They get up early and make the most of the morning quiet. All you night owls out there, listen up! Most successful people use the wee hours of the morning to exercise, focus on their most important projects, and set their agenda for the rest of the day or week. That is when their minds are the freshest and there is less risk of being interrupted. They also make sure to eat a healthy breakfast. If mornings are particularly hard for you, though, then there are several things that you can do to at least make your day start a bit earlier. If not, then tune into your body to see where your energy is the highest, whether it’s in the late mornings, afternoons, or evenings, and then do what you can get to create an uninterrupted work environment.

2. They choose a work environment that energizes them. While we’re on the topic of work environment, one of the most essential aspects of working productively is how conducive your surroundings are to getting work done. For some people, this may mean having a clean and quiet work space, for others a window with a nice view, still others may prefer to work in a busy, collaborative space surrounded by other people working on their own projects. Again, you have to be in tune with your own rhymes and rhythms to see what gives you the biggest boost.

3. They spend time on meditation and visualization. You don’t have to get into the lotus position to take advantage of meditation. Meditation really just means focus- an inward focus on yourself, your goals, and your place in the world. And, when mediation is combined with visualization it is a tremendously powerful tool you can use to both keep yourself focused on what you want to accomplish and to help you see the steps that are needed to get you there. The most productive times to do meditation are for a few minutes first thing in the morning as well as right before going to sleep at night. But, if you are struggling with it, then here are some fun tips.

4. They spend quality time with family and friends. Successful people know how to set boundaries for themselves in order to preserve their energy, time, and space. This includes ensuring that there is adequate time for loved ones. Not only will this make you feel more balanced and energized, but your friends and family will be more likely to be supportive of what you do as well.

5. They go outside of their comfort zones. Successful people constantly push themselves to acquire new skills and competencies even under difficult circumstances. When they have issues that get in the way, such as fear or real deficiencies, they look for ways to work around them. For example, an introverted person could look for ways to use his or her nature to get further in life- even in a world that favors extroverts.

6. They learn by doing. Successful people spend more time implementing the ideas and knowledge they already have till they achieve a sufficient amount of mastery and less time gaining new knowledge.

7. They look for inspiration. Successful people have a role model that they study. They will often not spend their energy trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they’ll also consider what is already working and then adapt, expand, or improve on those ideas.

8. They track their progress… the old fashioned way. Successful people set goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable, and they take the time to reflect and learn from their mistakes. Writing things down is key. This means using an old fashioned notebook. Eminem keeps a journal. Peyton Manning keeps a journal. Richard Branson uses one too. There’s just something about writing things down, the physical act that creates a physical thing that is not so easily lost among all the other bits of digital data, reminders, and metrics.

9. They spend time with the right people. Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.

10. They know how to handle failure. This is one of the biggest factors to success. High achievers aren’t perfect. In fact, many of the most successful people faced an extraordinary amount of setbacks along the way. The key was knowing how to either turn those set backs into opportunities or know when to cut their loses and move on.

In short, real success is about real work and focus. There is no way around it. So, are willing to do what it takes to be successful? If the answer is yes, then you’re already well on your way.

How to Prepare for Your Next Business Conference

As the summer approaches, major conference events will start cropping up everywhere. Conferences can be as productive and fun as they can be overwhelming and draining. The investment of time, energy, and money required to go to a conference, makes it all the more vital that the experience be rewarding.

conferenceOne of the best ways to help ensure that you get the most out of attending a conference is to go into the event prepared. Here are five tips to help you get there:

1. Make a list of all the key people you would like to meet. Do some research before event and find out who is going and which of these people you would like to connect with. Even if you don’t have such a list, you should spend some time thinking about the kinds of people you would like to meet and why.

2. Create a plan for exchanging contact information. Don’t just quickly print out some business cards and assume that the other people will do the same. Think through how you plan on exchanging contact information. This is even more important if you have a hard time remembering people’s names and details. Aside from business cards, you could connect via LinkedIn or exchange email. You could have Evernote ready to jot down a few notes about who this person is, what he/she does, and other interesting facts or information.

3. Plan to attend formal and informal social events. Most conferences have some social events and mixers baked into their schedules. See which ones speak to you and decide which ones you would like to attend. Additionally, keep your eyes and ears open for informal get-togethers among conference attendees. You could try to create one yourself, by say, sending out a Tweet with a hashtag branded for the conference asking if anyone is interested in joining you for coffee or beers.

4. Plan some down time for after the conference. This is particularly important if you are introverted. You will need anywhere from 1 to 3 days to process the experience. But, even if you are extroverted, simply attending a conference is going to throw you off-schedule

5. Create a follow-up plan. Many conference attendees make the mistake of following up with new connections right away after the event has ended. Likely, they are motivated either by the fear that they or their new connection will forget about their interaction, or they believe that it shows an extra willingness to move the relationship along. The truth is, however, it’s probably best to wait anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks after the conference before trying to reach out. This gives both you and the other person some time to settle back into a schedule and normal routine, thus giving you a better mindset to take things to the next level.

Now over to you… What things do you do to get ready for your business conferences?

Motivating Employees in Your Small Business

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to get back to work and start focusing on the new year’s challenges and opportunities. One such challenge (and opportunity) that you may be facing as a small business owner is how you will keep your employees motivated and putting in an above average performance throughout the year- especially if you can not afford to throw a generous benefits package their way.

teamwork-concept-1382435-mMany businesses, big and small, get employee motivation wrong, putting emphasis and money into unproductive areas. But, you can avoid this by keeping in the mind the following five factors:

1. Hire the right people. Having motivated employees really starts here. While skills and experience are certainly important, you want to be as certain as you can be that this person has the personality and passions necessary to work in your business. Keep in mind that you are really trying to build a team. If someone really isn’t a good fit for your business, even if he or she has a resume full of amazing qualifications, then let this person go. It’s not worth it. Even the time and money-consuming task of having to recruit and hire a new person, is a small price to pay to get the right team working for you.

2. Create a clear and compelling vision. But the right team by itself won’t be enough. You need to rally them around a clear and compelling purpose and mission. When everyone is unified around a common goal, big things happen.

3. Give your employees some space. The more authority, wiggle room, and autonomy you can comfortably give your employees, the better. The more they are allowed to make the decisions and take the actions that are needed to get the job done in the best way, the more you will see them rise to the occasion.

4. Provide opportunities for advancement. Static jobs and roles are not only boring, but they are unfulfilling as well. Give your employees opportunities to advance themselves, their skills, and their careers through cross training, continuing educational opportunities, coaching, and feedback. They will be both more well-rounded and more motivated to do their jobs.

5. Randomly recognize achievement. There is a big difference between rewards versus recognition when it comes to motivating your employees. The problem with sticking to a rewards program is that the goal becomes getting the reward itself, while the bigger picture of doing a good job gets lost. A better strategy is the randomly recognize and reward outstanding performance. This keeps your employees focused where it counts while offering come recognition of their efforts.

In short, motivating the employees in your small business is not just about money and rewards. There are a bunch of other factors that can make all the difference between employee motivation being an opportunity instead of a challenge.

4 Simple Ways to Increase Your Online Shopping Cart Conversions

If you are selling products online, then one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is not just getting visitors to your site, it’s how to get those visitors to complete a sale- especially if they have actually added items to their shopping cart.

cartAccording to the web research company, Baymard Institute, an average of 67.75% of all online shopping carts are abandoned before a sale is made. While that may seem like a pretty overwhelming statistic, the truth is there are many things that online store owners can do to improve conversions and ultimately increase sales. But, this takes some understanding of why people are abandoning ship in the first place.

That said, here are 4 easy ways you can really change the purchasing dynamic at your online store:

1. Make all costs associated with the purchase visible and clear from the beginning. Several studies point to the fact that the biggest reason people abandon their shopping carts is due to unanticipated or overly high expenses for things like shipping, taxes, and other fees. For this reason, it definitely pays to make all these expenses very clear to the potential buyer from the start.

Also, you should try to understand which of the the expenses are putting people off and why. Free shipping, for example, is a very common “service” that many online buyers are beginning to expect. Where this is not feasible, you may want to try some workarounds, such as offering free shipping once a certain purchasing threshold has been reached.

2. Look for ways to re-target shopping cart abondoners. Many online merchants don’t realize that 99% of first time visitors will not buy on the first visit. However, 75% of those people who abandon their carts are doing so with the intention to buy later on. Not only that, but 72% of those who abandoned their cart will buy within the first 12 to 24 hours. To capture the attention of these potential buyers, you can run a series of remarketing campaigns via Google Adwords. If you have their email addresses, then you could even run an email campaign encouraging them to return and complete the sale.

3. Emphasize the unique qualities and features of buying from your store. If you can’t compete on price for the products you sell, then make sure you emphasize any other perks or unique selling points, such as free return shipping and live support, that make buying from your store appealing. Not only should these features be prominently displayed on your site and marketing materials, but you should also make sure they are emphasized in your retargeting efforts.

4. Make it easy to complete the purchase. Many potential buyers are turned off by the “obstacles” that stand in the way of making a purchase. This includes things like: having to open an account to make the purchase, having extremely limited payment options, having to fill in many fields of information, and having poor site and shopping cart navigation.

In short, increasing shopping cart conversions is not rocket science. If you are selling quality products and your site is relatively easy-to-navigate and your prices are reasonable given the overall value that customers are receiving, then a few simple tweaks can really make all the difference to your conversions and the overall buying experience.

Why You May Want to Think Twice About Working Over 40 Hours Per Week

If you are running your own small business, it can frequently feel like there are just not enough hours in the week. After all, we’ve got many hats to wear, many tasks to accomplish, and limited resources to do it all. Thus, it’s little surprise that the title “small business owner” so often finds itself in the same sentence as “chronically over-worked.”

stressedBut, if you are constantly clocking in over 40 hours a week, then you may want to rethink your workload. Several studies point to the fact that consistently working more than 40 hours a week is just unproductive.

I recently stumbled upon an interesting post over at that does a beautiful job of explaining the background behind the tried and true 40 hour work week as well as what has happened in recent years to glorify over-working and ultimately create the perception that more hours equal more productivity. There are a lot of good points in this post, and it’s definitely worth a read.

But, it still leaves small business owners and entrepreneurs with the problem of trying to get everything done in a limited amount of time. Because, let’s be honest here, even with all the nifty technology and tools that are supposed to make our work lives easier, our to-do lists just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Is there any hope?

I think there is. But, there are some tweaks to be made to your work schedule, and though they may seem small, they can really make all the difference.

Get the mindset right. First things first. If you really want to put some real balance back into your life, then you have to recognize the true value of having it- not only in terms of your personal life, but also in terms of your productivity within your business. If you want to accomplish more and do it better, then you have to be running on a full tank of gas, otherwise you’ll just stall out. Once you’ve accepted balance as a priority, you can move forward.

Only go over 40 hours a week in short bursts. One of the findings pointed out in the article mentioned above, is that working over-time for short periods, such as two or three weeks, can and does help to boost productivity. Work levels start to fall in incremental levels, however, as this OT becomes chronic. The take away here is that when you are working on your business, you should try to organize the work or project load in such a way that you are not steaming ahead the whole time. There should be deliberate peaks and valleys in your work cycle.

Take on temporary help. In order to smooth out your productivity without having to strain your personal schedule, one strategy is to bring in temporary help for very defined tasks. You can do this by creating micro-jobs within your business or by temporary hiring a freelance worker.

Bribe yourself. If you happen to be a workaholic, then you need to create situations that will practically force you to take a break from your hectic schedule. If you allow yourself to put in a ton of hours one week, for example, then do it on the condition that the following week you’re going to take off time to spend with family and friends. And, don’t trust yourself to keep to your promises, either. Get others involved to help you stay true to your personal commitments. You’ll be happier… and so will they.

In short, though today there’s a kind of glorification on over-working, it’s an extremely unhealthy way to work or live. By making a few, simple changes to the way you organize your time and to what you make a priority, you can bring back some much needed balance.

10 Good Online Groups and Communities for Small Business Owners

Knowing where to turn to for advice and support in your business, can really make all the difference between success and failure. I know that may sound a bit strong if you are looking at this statement from the outside. But as small business owners, we see our fair share of ups and downs, questions, set-backs, and high learning curves. It’s the stuff that scares many aspiring entrepreneurs away. The minute they stick their toes in the water and it feels a bit chilly, they’re out in a flash.

In order to maintain some sense of balance, as small business owners, we need a place to ask questions, receive support, and get some much-needed feedback.

teamwork-1-1254520-mIronically, though the Internet is seen as a super connector, bringing individuals together across tremendous physical and cultural divides, it can sure feel lonely if you don’t know where to put yourself. There are all these conversations going on, yet it may be hard to find them or even know where to jump in once you do.

That said, the following are some great online groups and communities for small business owners to check out:

LinkedIn Groups

Many business owners may have some vague idea that Linkedin is a place where business connections happen, but they may not realize the full potential of LinkedIn for business knowledge, support, and advice. This is where LinkedIn Groups comes in. While there are many great groups to choose from, the following three provide a consistent flow of quality posts and discussion:

Small Business Accelerator– This is a great networking and information sharing group for entrepreneurs. You have to apply to join.

Small Business Online Community– An engaged online group for small business owners. Like the group above, you have to apply to join this group.

Social Media Marketing Networking Club– This group originally got it’s start on Social Media Examiner and has since moved over to LinkedIn. It’s one of the best LinkedIn groups there is for small business owners and has a very helpful, supportive community.

Google+ Groups

Google groups are a relatively recent addition to Google’s G+ social network. But, they are all abuzz if you know where to look. Here are my top three picks for small business owners:

Building a Company– Content and discussions around the nitty-gritty of building a business.

Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed, and Small Business– An active community for new and upcoming small business owners

Social Media Strategy– Active discussion on social media for small businesses and non-profits

Notable Forums

Compared to the fast-paced flow of information and constant changes that have come to characterize social media, forums may seem like an old school tactic that has past its time. Not so! There are plenty of vibrant forums to turn to for advice and support. Here are my two top picks:

Open Forum– This well-known online community and forum is hosted by American Express. Ask and receive advice and keep up to date on the latest in small business news.

Small Business Brief– This forum has been around for a few years, and it still supports an active community

Business Blogs and Social Bookmarking

We can’t leave out business blogging communities and social bookmarking sites from this list. Many niche sites have an active and helpful following. The two best in my opinion are:

Firepole Marketing– “Marketing that works!” This blog has a very active, loyal, and cohesive following. It definitely pays to spend some time there not only to absorb the insights, but to learn from and connect with the other readers.

BizSugar– This is a social bookmarking site for small business news run by the same people behind, and it supports a pretty active community.

Last, but not least, one other option that I didn’t mention above is Facebook groups. The reason I’m not including examples here is due to the fact that you’ll be better off finding a smallish group on Facebook that is specifically targeted to your niche or interest. There offer a lot of potential engagement, though, so it pays to search around for something relevant and not spammy.

Now it’s your turn. Where do you hang out online for inspiration, support, and advice?

The Traits of Successful Authority Business Bloggers

After Google started changing the search game a couple of years back, there’s been a lot of discussion about blogging “authority.” Now, plenty of people throw around the term indiscriminately. But what does being an authority within a given blogging niche look like? And, how do you get there with your business blog?

If you examine the most well-known A-list bloggers, you’ll find several traits and characteristics in common:

They communicate with authority. Just about any known authority blogger will agree that the biggest names out there are not necessarily the ones who know the most about their chosen niche. Part of what sets them apart from the rest is how they give over the knowledge and observations that they do have. Now, there is a paper-thin fine line between talking with authority and sounding like a know-it-all. To find that balance just keep this in mind: someone who is truly an authority in a particular subject won’t try so hard to get others to acknowledge it, and he or she will be open to further knowledge and understanding. Having a question, needing help, or even making a mistake won’t seem threatening.

They are connected to other authority bloggers. The top bloggers in any given niche know each other, work with each other, and promote each other’s work- even if they seem to have competing websites. Unless you are working in a hyper small niche, there is enough of an Internet traffic pie that you don’t have to worry about another site stealing your traffic. On the contrary, there is definitely strength in numbers, and you’ll frequently see top bloggers mentioning, promoting, working with, and in general supporting other top bloggers.

They have large follower numbers across channels. Take a look at the online social profiles of successful bloggers and you’ll no doubt see that they have an active presence on several different platforms and mediums and a pretty significant following in each. Now, obviously, what constitutes as “large” will really depend on your niche, so take that into consideration. Also, I suspect that many top bloggers hand over some of their social media maintenance to their hired staff or virtual assistants.

They have Klout. Put simply, it’s not just that people share your content, it’s also that those who share your content are influential in their own respects and have large followings themselves.

Their content is about relevant and timely issues. Top bloggers know their audience really well. They know what topics to discuss and how to discuss them. They also excel at content curation, using services such as and

They know where to promote their content, products, or services to get the biggest impact. The minute a successful authority blogger has a new product, service, or announcement to promote, he or she just sends out a few emails and instantly has recommendations and several links back to his or her site. This last trait is really a build up from all the points above, and it allows the blogger to instantly get targeted, quality traffic to his or her site.

In short, being an authority business blogger involves having the right mindset, realizing the importance of networking with other bloggers and being in touch with the needs and wants of your target audience. Understand this, and you’ll rise up in the ranks of blogging authority in no time flat.