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Category Archives for Business

Beyond Financial Gain: Other Reasons To Start A Business

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If you were to survey business owners as to the raison d’etre behind starting a business, you would probably experience many of the same answers.

“It’s all about the money.”

And why not? We all want to feel financially secure, so if a part or full-time business can offer the scope for greater financial freedom, then this is an excellent reason to begin something.

However, there are other reasons for starting a business that go beyond financial gain.

  • For your health. Are you sick and tired of the daily commute? Are work pressures getting you down? If so, quitting the rat race and starting out on your own could bring great benefits to your health. You would have the opportunity to work from home for a start, so that would cut out the stresses of traveling to and from work. And you might have the opportunity to follow your passions within your business, giving you a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment as a positive consequence.
  • For other people’s health. If you have an interest in the health industry, you could make a positive impact on the wellbeing of others. You might take the example of (and use the resources) of Cambridge Stratum, and sell products that promote better skin care. Or you might sell health foods, be that online, or to your local community by setting yourself up in the food takeout business. Or you could start a blogging business, and educate the masses on fitness and nutrition. There are plenty more healthcare business ideas here, so take a look if this is something that interests you.
  • For your creative skills. Especially when you have struggled to use your creative talents within your usual job role, starting your own business could be the best way forwards. No matter what you create, be it cakes, works of art, photographs, or pottery (as just some examples), you can sell what you make online and at the relevant places within your community.
  • For your family. Do your family bemoan the fact that you are always at work? Then do the right thing by them and start a business from home. This way, you will have the flexibility to both care for your family’s needs and your work needs. Of course, your business can benefit your family in other ways. Should your children see you working hard, they might be more inclined to work harder at school. You might also open up your business to your children when they are older, giving them the option of running it with you. Your business might then continue long after you have retired.
  • For the fun of it. Running a business can be hard work, but if you enjoy what you are doing, then you won’t mind toiling away. Not many people truly find fun in the work they do, but as a business can be shaped to your lifestyle and passions, you might get that fun factor that other people generally miss out on. Here are some fun business ideas to give you inspiration.

So, be it for money or for one of the other reasons mentioned here, consider starting a business if you haven’t yet done so. We aren’t saying it will be easy, but there may be benefits available to you that are not covered by your current job role.

Let us know what you think!

Thanks for reading.

Your Side Hustle Is Taking Off… Now What Do You Do?!

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Building a side hustle can be manageable up to a point. Perhaps you’ve got a handle on a process, and you’re able to stay productive, despite the fact that you’re working at home. But what about when your side hustle begins to take off, and everything that you’ve done that has worked to precision now needs altering? And this side hustle that was a very modest endeavour is now being successful beyond your wildest dreams. It’s exciting, but it can be a bit scary! What do you need to do now to make sure that it’s everything it can possibly be?

Focus On The Customer

The customer is one of the most important aspects, and it’s them that have made you who you are. As such, if you’ve been scraping by, and you’re finally at the point where you’re making a good profit, it’s important to build on your relationship with the customer. After all, it’s now time for you to build your brand. You can do this by improving your marketing, but what really helps is how you bond with the consumer.

Improve Your Professional Development

If you’ve been learning by doing, there may very well be gaps in your knowledge. Now is the prime opportunity for you to learn your weaknesses. And we can become complacent when we made a success of our business, but we can either improve, or find ourselves slipping back down the ranks. After all, competition is the name of the game. And it’s not just about improving the marketing or the product, but you’ve got to improve yourself. And by doing this, and being on a constant quest to improve your presentation skills, build up your base knowledge of communicating with people, or just being the best person you can possibly be, these things will feed into your business. After all, every decision you make will impact your business greatly, and so, the fresher you are, and the more up to speed you can be in terms of contemporary trends, as well as your human qualities; you can be a great leader and a great person.

Get More Employees

It’s probably been on the cards for some time, but you didn’t have the funds. Maybe you’ve been having people helping on occasion, but now it’s got to the point where you’re making such a success of this, you are desperate for employees. It’s logical that you get more people on board, but because this business is your baby, you might not feel so keen to hand over certain duties to other people. Finding the right employee can be hard work, but what you need to think about is not about the hiring process, or getting people with certain skills, it’s about finding someone that you know, deep in your bones, that you can trust. Trust is integral to any business relationship. If you don’t trust your employees, you’re not going to build this culture of communication and nurturing that should be the backbone of any business.

A lot of people set up a side hustle to make some extra money, but when you get deep into it, you learn that this is what you want to do. And this is when you have to develop the business acumen.

3 Ways To Save Time As A Busy Business Woman

When you’re running a business, one of the hardest things that you have to do is to ensure that you can fit everything into the day. You could be in the office for 24 hours, 7 days a week, but you still wouldn’t be able to fit everything in, would you? Managing your time is difficult even if you’re one of the most organized people, but there are some ways to claim back some of that time in the working day. We’ve put together 3 simple tips here, for those busy business women with long to-do lists.

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1. Work smart, not hard

One of the most important things to remember in business is that some things don’t take as much time as you think they do. In fact, it’s all about working smart, rather than working hard. The best way to do this is to plan out your day, and to make sure that you’re entering everything with a well thought out, succinct plan. You will be working hard if you’re always running around unprepared, and as a result, you’re always creating more work for yourself. You’ll be working smart if you always know what you’re going to do, how long it’s going to take, and when you’re going to do it.

2. Outsource certain tasks

Some of the tasks that you have take up a lot of time, and potentially a lot of money if you have to hire somebody full-time to take on the list of never ending tasks that you have. A cheaper (and more intelligent) option is to outsource your tasks, and there are many services out there for those business women looking to outsource. You could get virtual services, for example, to act as a receptionist for you, to get rid of the need to answer so many phone calls a day. And who doesn’t want that? Look into the outsourcing options that you have, and see whether this could help you.

3. Don’t take on too much

It seems like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of people who make this mistake. You always want to take on that new contract, because you don’t want to give it to your competitors, do you? However, if you take on too much, you’ll be spending a lot of time on trying to meet your deadlines, and the jobs that you’ll be doing will be of a lower quality, which can damage your reputation. Think realistically about what you can take on, and don’t push yourself too far, or you won’t be able to manage your time. You can try however hard you like, and be as organized as possible, but it just won’t work!

So, if you want to save yourself some time as a busy business woman, then make sure that you remember these 3 simple tips. Work smart, not hard, outsource all that you can, and learn when to say no to a contract. You’ll be glad that you did these things in the long-run, when your time in the office is spent a lot more wisely!

How To Test Your Website

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When it comes to forming a reputation online and in the public eye one of the things you should always try to do is create a great website. Websites are windows to our business and they allow people from all over the world to connect with us and see what we offer. A website is a powerful tool for sales and it is something which we should take the time to work on this year.

As we create a website this year for our brand it is important for us to make sure that it works well and functions in the best possible way. Today we are going to take a look at some of the ways we can test a website and make sure that it is in too order.

Use software

The first step in testing a website it choosing the right user testing software for the job. It is easier for you to test a website using a software like this because it will automate many of the services you would have had to try manually otherwise. Take a moment to have a look at different softwares and make sure to choose a good one for your job this year.

Check image sizes

Part of checking the usability of your website is to make sure that the loading time for your website screens is quick. No one wants to visit a website and end up having to wait for ages while the page loads up. We want to be able to click a link and almost instantly see the content we were looking for. Images can be a big culprit for slow loading times and a lot of the time you will need to lower the size of the image to make it suitable for the web. For example on photoshop there is an option after editing an image where you can save for web and this will ensure that the image isn’t too large for a web page but stills holds its quality.

Broken links

The worst thing you can have when you have a website is broken links which take people to an error message when they click on it. As a brand you want to be promoting your website and social media as much as you can, so making sure that your social media links work can be a huge thing and will make a big difference to you overall.

Navigation

It is important as you build a site to think about the navigation of the website and build a site map which will show you where the menu leads and how many clicks it will take to get to a product or a certain page. Making sure the menu works how it should and takes you to the right place is super important so be sure to check this as you go through. This will make a big impact on usability and it will ensure that you are able to get everything you need out of your website.

Bumps In The Business Road? Get Some Of The Best Resources!

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Maybe you’re working from home as a freelancer or you are setting up your own business, and when you are making these tentative steps towards being self-sufficient and developing your own side hustle, you can feel like you’re in over your head. After all, we can’t know everything about running a business, but what can help us when we are struggling is understanding the best resources out there to help us get over certain bumps in the road. When you don’t have anybody to turn to, what can you make the most of?

Online support

There are so many forums that you can go on, but they can feel like a very supportive network. This is essential for any person starting a business or a side hustle but they don’t know where to turn. And that’s the great thing with sites like Linkedin because they can even point you in the direction of a mentor. But there’s also plenty of online business forums out there you can learn from their mistakes and apply them to your own professional trajectory, making it a far smoother transition into a successful side hustle.

Help with outsourcing

And for every business out there, where it’s one person by themselves or a skeleton staff, outsourcing becomes an incredible ally. If you are working out of your home and attempting to build a product, it can feel like you don’t know where to turn to get it to the next level. But there are resources like agentdraw.co.uk that can help with the design of the product. When it comes to building prototypes, there is only so much we can do it home, if we want to realise our vision, we need to start building relationships with the right suppliers.

Productivity tools

And if you are working by yourself, you need as much in the way of productivity as possible. Especially if you are planning to have a decent work-life balance; it’s all about working smart instead of working hard. A very good example is your typing speed. How fast is it, really? If you don’t type very fast at all, say it takes approximately 40 minutes to type a 500-word document, when instead you could dictate it, and it would take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, productivity has shot through the roof. And in fact, with voice dictation software, you can reap the benefits. On zapier.com there’s a list of the best speech to text software out there. Not only this, but there are ample productivity tools around to ensure that you can do everything in a fraction of the time. In many ways, you can learn this as you are going, but if you want to hit the ground running, productivity is vital.

As you’re learning the ropes and finding your feet, you will begin to realise what is helpful to you and what isn’t. At the very beginning, it’s important to make the most of every resource. As you go, you can filter these into a few essentials, and then you can build the business accordingly.  

Reasons why your Customers Aren’t Buying from You

When you run your own business, you need to decide how you are going to measure your success. One of the best ways for you to do this would be for you to track your business traffic, and your sales. By doing this, you can then make sure that your customers are not only finding you but also converting as well. If your customers don’t seem to be buying, then here are a few tips that will help to fix this issue.

Competitor Advertising

One reason why your customers might not be buying from you is because of your competitor advertising. You might not be putting out ads as frequently, or as consistently as them. You may also find that they are far more creative in the way that they reach out to their customers as well. Either way, it doesn’t matter what the reason is because if your advertising is not on par with your competition then there is a high chance that your customers are going to be buying from them instead of you. If you want to be more creative when it comes to your advertising then why not look into motion graphics video? This is a great way for you to explain everything you need your customers to know about your company, and it will also help you to capture their attention for a much longer period of time. If your company is not on social media, then this could be hurting your sales as well. Consider creating some bright and eye-catching advertising material, and investing in targeted ads. This will help you to attract the exact customers who you want buying from you, and it also gives you the chance to get ahead of your competition.

Difficult Buying Experiences

In this day and age, customers demand convenience more than anything else. They focus on things like location and even in-store experience. Think about it, do people have to wait in long lines after they have chosen the items they want? Are they having to take a large chunk out of their day just to find your business location? If this is the case then you really need to look into this. If your buying process is not convenient then this can lead to customer frustration and they will easily choose someone else over you.

Price and Value

Is your product needed, or wanted? This can vary depending on the customers who you serve and even the timing. If you work selling automobile parts for example, someone who is having car trouble will need your product. If you sell jewellery, someone will probably just want it, and the pressing need to make a purchase won’t be as evident. If you can, you need to make your customers feel as though they need your product. For example, instead of just selling jewellery, put an emphasis on how it will make the recipient feel, the smile on their face when they receive it and even the quality. By taking this angle, you can then create emotionally driven purchases, and this will really help you with your sales.

Marketing the “Boring”

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Not every product that has to be marketed can be exciting, but that does not mean they are not necessary. It’s great if you have a visually appealing product to promote, but that is not always the case. If you have a product that is useful but boring, what is the best way to make sure it reaches the eyes of the consumers?

Show Its Advantages

If you can show the advantages of a visually boring product you will stand more chances of it being a success. You need to show prospective purchasers about how your product can help them. Just quoting specifications and features will make the boring effects worse. The product needs to solve a problem for them and you have to demonstrate its advantages.

For instance, brushed servo drives do not look anything special, but are an electronic amplifier used to power servomechanisms, and are extremely useful. PayPal, as another example, was first seen as a faceless financial institution. However, the right marketing showed its capabilities and now it is part of many people’s everyday lives.

Keep It Simple

If your marketing makes the product sound complicated, consumers will just not buy it. You need to explain the benefits of the product in a simple way that does not take too long. A boring explanation together with a visually boring product will not work at all. Make anything that is said short and straightforward and then you are more likely to gain viewers interest.

Even your website should be easy to understand as if viewers have problems with it they will soon disappear.

Make It Look More Appealing

There is not much you can do to make a tap washer look attractive, but you can show it in a more appealing setting. Show how your tap washers have helped create a stunning bathroom and people will not think about the fact it is the same little boring round thing that is on sale everywhere. They will be attracted to yours.

Tell A Story

Behind every business and product, there is a story of some sort. Consumers love stories and telling yours is a great way to get people interested in your boring products. It is even better if the story has some humour in it, as the reader will remember that and come back again. Something that made them laugh will always be remembered more than an explanation of how something works.

Take The Boring Away

People will think a blank piece of paper is boring, but what about the fun you had making aeroplanes and flying them in races. That boring piece of paper suddenly becomes something very interesting and that should be the aim of your marketing strategy.

The key to successful marketing of a visually boring product is to make it interesting in some way. This depends on what the product is as to how you do that, but if what you are selling solves a problem or makes a job easier, those are the things that you should be focussing on in your campaign.

5 Options For Business Distribution

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When you first get a business idea, it can be electrifying. Yet, it’s not always that straightforward. Because going into business is always a big deal. It’s just how things are. You may also feel overwhelmed and intimidated – perhaps because you do not know all that much about business or what you’re going to do. So, you need to change that. You need to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to build the company of your dreams. One of the areas that you need to be able to do this for, is actually getting your product out into the world – a.k.a distribution! So let’s consider your options for this.

1. Online

The very first option you have is online. And here, we’re not talking about selling products online in its entirety – because for that, you still need to send products out. But instead, what we’re talking about, is that you’re delivering the products online. So maybe you’re teaching a course or you’re creating words or images online for others? Providing a service like this is a great option.

2. Digital Downloads

But then also, as a step on from that, you’re then going to want to think about the kind of digital download products that you can sell – and there are many! So think about your audience and what you’re doing. Is there something that you can sell that can be downloaded? Essentially, you’re making one product online, and then it can be downloaded again and again and again by different people – even while you sleep.

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3. Self-Delivery

Now, when it comes to a physical product, you will have to make sure that you are getting it from you and out there to the customer. So how are you going to do that? One of the ways that you can do that, is to make sure that you are delivering it yourself. It could be that you look into van hire to deliver in your local area. Or maybe you then have a local store or pop-up stores across the country? Because one option is to just do it yourself.

4. Shipping

And then there’s the regular shipping option that you’ll probably be a bit more familiar with. Here, you’re going to want to get a contract with a big shipper. Sure, you could send things out via the postal service yourself, but it can be more economical for you to get a shopping package set up.

5. Fulfillment

And finally, if you don’t want to think about having to deal with everything yourself, then you need to find a company that is going to fulfill all of it for you. See it as an extension of what you’d do with a shipping company. But instead of you picking and packing the items and then waiting for them to be sent out. Instead, a company would literally do all of it for you, so that you free up time and are able to work on other areas of the business.

How to Boost Your Customer Service Game

Sure, you know everything about the importance of customer service. A business that doesn’t show them some love will quickly run out of customers – and especially in our days where the Internet won’t keep anything a secret.

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It’s important to make sure that there are good words about you out there but, at the same time, you won’t be able to edit the online world for bad reviews either. Luckily, there are other ways to step up your customer service game and make it a bit more likely that they only praise your hard-working startup.

Here is a handful of ways to make it happen so that you can deliver high-quality service each and every time. It’s the kind of stuff that makes them come back for more.

Make it easy for them to communicate with you

That the customer service should be good and on-point is something every business knows, but it’s also important to make sure that they have multiple ways of getting in touch with you. Not just through social media, though, but also through a 24/7 phone line, an online chat on your website, and a regular email address.

Way too many small businesses lose touch with their first customers because they stop communicating. If you’re not talking to them, you’re not listening either – and they won’t be able to tell you what’s missing or what you happen to be doing great.

Your earliest customers are, after all, the ones you have up to 70 % chance of re-selling your products to as they know your quality and service. Don’t allow this to drop, in other words, and make sure that they’re more than happy to return.

Social media, for example, is a great way to keep the channels of communication open and even public to everyone else. Let them reach out to your Twitter or Facebook profile if they have a problem, and make sure you have someone there to answer their questions as soon as possible.

Invest in your customer service team

This is one of the biggest challenges for startups as they simply don’t have enough resources to hire and train an entire customer service team in one go. Giving an existing employee the responsibility of handling the customer service is not the best idea either as they won’t have any training – and you certainly don’t want to skimp on this part.

Outsourcing the task is an option that most startups choose and for good reasons. They’ll get the advantage of having a whole team to back them up, minus the costs of training. Another option is, of course, to use customer success software in addition to having just a couple of customer service employees in-house.

It just makes it a bit easier to stay on top of the communication with your loyal and new fans, without all the hassle of spending precious money on training a large team. It’s the kind of stuff that will give your startup the running chance it needs regardless of the feedback your future and current customers have.

Mistakes Made When Choosing A Company To Design Your Trade Show Stand

Most businesses will agree that trade shows and exhibitions offer fantastic opportunities to increase brand recognition and find new clients. Nonetheless, in order for this to be the case, you need to use the opportunity wisely. One of the things you must do is make sure you have an incredible exhibition stand. Your stand is responsible for generating attention and effectively displaying what your brand is all about. When you consider how important this is, you see why it is advisable to spend a decent amount of time looking for the best exhibition stand builders for your business specifically. Read on to discover the main mistakes people make, so you don’t make them.

Lack of experience

First and foremost, it is essential to find an exhibition design company with plenty of experience. The last thing you want is to be someone’s practice project. You need to be safe in the knowledge that this company has created hundreds and hundreds of exhibition stands, many times before. This is the only way to be certain they have the first-hand expertise, knowledge, contacts, and resources to provide a winning exhibition stand.

One-size-fits-all

This is one of the worst things you can do. You need a custom built exhibition stand – something that has been designed specifically for your business.

Not checking their portfolio

Every good contractor who designs and builds exhibition stands should have a section on their website dedicated to their portfolio. Here you should be able to view some of the stands they have built so far. This will give you a good indication regarding the level of quality they can provide you with, as well as the amount of innovation and creativity they boast. The best portfolios are those that are diverse. You should be looking out for different types of companies and various kinds of stand designs. If the company displays this, you can be certain they can produce a stand that is completely in line with your brand and what your business is all about.

Failing to read reviews

In addition to the points that have already been mentioned, it is important to seek a company boasting a good reputation. Read reviews that have been left by previous clients. Were they happy with the stand they received? Was the company easy to deal with? Would they use them again? Testimonials are the only way to receive an honest evaluation of the company, otherwise, you are merely going to be reading a sales pitch. A mere five to ten minutes of searching online can alert you to any warning signs and ensure you do not select a company that has a poor track record.

Choosing based on price

Last but not least, it is obviously important to consider the price. After all, every business expense is one that must be evaluated carefully. Nevertheless, you definitely should not go for the cheapest company you find. If you do this, you are only going to suffer from an outdated design and a poor quality stand. Instead, make sure the company offers quality first, and then negotiate a price that fits in with your budget. You should also be certain the company can deliver the project to the deadline you require. A lot of issues have been caused because of companies failing to state their time limit from the offset.

How To Start An Online Business In Your Spare Time

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Many people think that starting a business means that you have to completely give up your job, however the great thing about an online business, especially, is that you really can do this in your spare time, so that you can get it up and running to feel comfortable enough to leave your job, and in this post we’re going to share with you how you can start an online business in your spare time.

Decide on a niche:

The first step in starting any business is to decide on your niche. Your niche is the area of  specialisation that you focus in that helps you to stand apart from your competition – for example you could be a copywriter who focuses exclusively in the travel industry or who focuses on a specific type of copy – for example, marketing copy. Being a specialist and having a niche makes it so much easier for you when you do things like market your business and speak to clients about how you can help them than it is if you’re going to be a generalist.

Decide on a business model:

Your business model is simply the way that you deliver your services to your client, for example a membership model would allow someone to sign up and pay a monthly subscription fee and access a pre agreed amount of services or products. You can also do things like a one on one service model with things like copywriting, coaching or consulting. Choosing a business model is not as difficult as it seems, and it’s always about what works for you and your goals and your lifestyle.

Set up your systems:

In order for your business to run effectively, you’re going to need to need to have systems set up to help you stay organized and focused. Systems don’t need to be complicated and are simply about creating processes based on the things you have to do in your business daily, weekly, monthly, and even annually. Things like signing up for an accounting software that focuses on Making Tax Digital and easy, or creating an onboarding process for your clients that can be automated.

Choose your services:

Your services are what you do that bring your clients the result or outcome when they hire you. So, for example, you could be writer who writes for companies like Apple to create high-quality website copy. Or write for travel companies to create amazing blog posts that drive traffic back to their sites and encourage people to book with them.

The best way to get started with deciding on your services is to pick what you’re good at and what you know you enjoy, but also what you know there is a gap in the market for, or that you can do better than your competitors. It’s also a good idea to start with perhaps 1-3 services and then build on it instead of trying to create a massive list of services and risk overwhelming your clients.

Set your prices:

The next step is to set your prices – it’s important when setting your prices to do this right at the beginning so that when you do start to attract enquiries from clients, then you know exactly what to tell them instead of just picking a random number and then risking that you could either out price yourself by aiming too high or risk seeming unprofessional by aiming too low. There are plenty of resources online for helping you to choose your prices and it really always depends on what feels right for you – there’s no right or wrong way to do this.

How To Make a (Positive) Difference In The World

There are periods in our life when, of course, we need to think about ourselves. We need to ensure that our basic needs have been met, that we’re physically and mentally well, and that we’re feeling positive about the future. But after a while, thinking about ourselves begins to feel, a little, well, selfish. When there’s so much inequality in the world, and so many people need help, then we can’t be content just to make sure we’re fine. We need to do something. But what? Below, we take a look at a number of ways you can make a positive impact in the world.

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Jobs That Do Good

The job that we have will probably determine how much of an impact we have on the world. This, after all, is what we’ll be doing for forty plus hours a week — if we’re dedicated to a job that fundamentally makes the world a poorer place, then that’s a pretty big impact. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs that do good in the world. Jobs that are related to healthcare, for instance, have an obvious net-positive impact on the world. It’s not that you need to choose between money and doing good, either, as many of these jobs are well-paying. Future industries that’ll have a positive impact include AI (especially how their introduction is managed) and anything related to solving the problems of climate change.

Supporting Growth

One of the best ways to grow your wealth is to invest your money. Alas, many investments aren’t all that good for the planet — quite the opposite, in fact. They cause more problems. But that’s not the case across the board. Indeed, investing is one of the best ways to nudge the earth in the right direction, providing you’re investing in the right areas. If you want to grow your wealth and see progress in the world, look at working with Alpha Blue Ocean, an alternative investment firm created by Pierre Vannineuse. In so doing, you’ll be helping industries that improve the world, such as healthcare and technology, to develop further.

Volunteering Your Time

Of course, sometimes you don’t need to dedicate too much thought and energy to improving the world. It doesn’t have to become a personal mission. If you have some spare time, you can make a difference just by giving up some of your time to help volunteer with a charity. It doesn’t matter what the charity is, so long as you’re doing something positive in the world. It could be helping the homeless or picking up trash in the park. You’ll be doing good, and feel good too — volunteering has been shown to boost moods!

Be The Best You

Finally, remember to be the best version of yourself. It’s one of the best ways to improve the world, since it raises the standards of everyone else around you. Gandhi advised everyone to ‘be the change you want to see in the world,” and it’s true. Make the world a better place just by being you!  

Master The Art Of Hiring And Firing

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It doesn’t matter whether you are expanding your business, looking to move into global markets or even opening up physical stores or offices, the chances are you will need to hire and fire personnel at times throughout your startup’s metamorphosis. The thought of starting a recruitment drive can be daunting because you want to ensure the right fit for your already established team. On the flip side, firing people who have worked for you is a tricky situation that inevitably ends up affecting lives. However, there are ways that you can master the art of hiring and firing so that you maximize the success of your business in a responsible way.

Recruitment

If you need to take on new staff, you will want to attract the brightest candidates. All too often it can be easy to become seduced by the glowing resume, exceptional degree qualification and decades of experience in blue chip corporations. However, this person may not have the ethos, attitude or personality to mesh well with your team. Having many bright minds doesn’t necessarily make for cohesive and productive working. As such, get the potential candidates that you like the look of into your premises and meet them. See how they interact with your staff, ask their opinions on industry specific issues, and explore their personality.

If the idea of launching a recruitment drive is too daunting, you might want to consider heading to a specialist recruiter such as DSC Personnel who have an array of talent at the fingertips. With many candidates on their books, they can filter through the job seekers to find those most likely to fit your requirements. Invite them to interview and then make your choice.

Job Adverts

If you do take on the process of hiring yourself, you must make sure that your job advert is accurate. If you want a marketing manager, make sure the role and duties are clearly described in a person and job specification. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of a candidate accepting the position and then resigning because the role wasn’t as advertised. This can lead to high staff turnover and low morale.

Firing

When it comes to letting staff members go, you have a number of choices. Legally, you cannot simply give a staff member their notice because you don’t like them, there is a personality clash, or you want someone else to do the role. This is ethically unsound and against employment law. To fire somebody, the role must be obsolete.

If you do need to lay people off for financial reasons or because of a disciplinary procedure, consider the staff member’s feelings. Losing a job is a traumatic experience for most people, even if it doesn’t come as a shock. Make it clear that you will be supportive in their efforts to find a new job, that you will give them time off for interviews and that you will provide a reference. Although it is hard, decreasing your workforce may be necessary for the benefit of your business.

The next time you need to hire or fire, refer to this guide and ensure that you maximize the success of your startup.

Signs You Might Need To Upgrade Your Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy is something entirely personal to your business, what you offer, and what you’d like to achieve. You must remember that you can’t simply copy and paste another company’s marketing strategy and get results. You need a strategy that has been well thought out, that suits your audience, and your vision for the future. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the signs you might need to upgrade your marketing strategy. Take a look!

Your Strategy Is 2-3 Years Old

If your strategy is 2-3 years old, then it’s definitely time you had a look at what could be changed around. As things change so quickly all over the internet these days, you can’t keep one strategy forever and get results. You need to keep a keen eye on changes in your industry and in marketing, as well as the results you’re getting so you know whether what you’re doing needs to change. This is why you need to stay flexible. Many of the best companies consistently tweak and hone their efforts so they are always getting the best results from their strategy.

Your Audience’s Tastes Have Changed

How do you know if your audience’s tastes have changed? Just listen to them! They will no doubt be giving you all kinds of clues on social media and customer support. Your business is for them, so make sure you really pay attention.

You’re Not Demonstrating Your Knowledge

Any kind of company, whether you’re a dog grooming business or a company that sells Kangoo shoes, should be demonstrating their knowledge on the subject of what they do. This means always providing your audience with a fresh stream of content. It keeps them coming back to you and ensures you stay in the forefront of their minds. It also shows that you are credible and to be trusted, and will give people more of an incentive to work with you.

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You’re Not Getting Enough Attention From Your Marketing Company

If you have a marketing company take care of things like SEO and PPC for you because you simply do not have the time to do everything that marketing entails alongside running your company. If you know you haven’t been getting enough information and feedback from your marketing company on how your strategy is going, it could be time to change to one that is more customer focused.

You’re Not On Social Media

Social media is a fantastic tool for marketing, and it’s free. You should be using it to your advantage to reach your audience and build relationships. There’s a right and a wrong way to use it, so make sure you figure this out. Don’t simply spam people with adverts!

You Haven’t Been Checking Your Analytics

Analytics are a must for knowing if what you’re doing is really working. You should have one eye on them at all times! If you haven’t been looking at them, there’s a good chance your strategy does not excite you.

Do any of the above signs ring true for you?

3 Reasons Why Nobody Is Engaging With Your Social Media Posts

Everybody knows that social media is one of the best marketing tools you have at your disposal. It’s very cost effective and you can reach a lot of people with relatively little input. However, a lot of people underestimate just how difficult it is and have an ‘if I build it, they will come’ mentality toward it. But you’re not going to get anywhere if you’re just randomly posting on there every day, it’s a lot more complicated than that. If you’re struggling to build momentum with your social media marketing and your posts just aren’t connecting, you could be making one of these big mistakes.

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You Don’t Understand Your Target Market

Different demographics respond to different things so it’s important that you have a good understanding of who your target market is and what makes them tick. If you’re trying to target the older generation, you’re not going to have much success posting memes on Twitter all day. One of the best ways to really understand who your customers are is to use master data management. First off, what is master data management? Whenever you interact with a customer in any way, you store data about them. But that data is spread across all sorts of different channels. Some of it is in emails, some on social media, some on your sales and marketing software, and some in your accounting figures. Drawing any conclusions from that data can be hard, but master data management helps you to bring all of that disparate data together so you can see real trends. By using that master data you can see what your customer’s buying habits are, which posts they respond to best, and when they’re likely to be active online. Once you know all of that, it’s far easier to create posts that will actually connect with them.

You’re Posting At The Wrong Time

This is a simple mistake that a lot of people make. There is so much information on a social media feed so you need to make sure that your posts go live when your target market is online so they don’t get lost in the noise. If you’re posting at the wrong time, it doesn’t matter about the content because nobody is seeing it anyway. That’s why you need to use scheduling tools to make sure that your posts are landing at the right time. You can use the research that you’ve done through master data to work out when the best time is.

You Aren’t Offering Anything

If all of your posts are just links to your product page, people are soon going to get bored and unfollow you. If you want people to engage, you need to offer them something. Content marketing is great for this because you’re giving people valuable information without the expectation of a purchase. This builds trust between you and the customer and shows them that you’re a trusted leader in your industry. It doesn’t have to be content, a lot of successful social media campaigns run on the strength of their personality, but you have to offer something outside of blanket marketing posts.  

If you’re making any of these mistakes, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to engage with your social media posts.

Four Ways You Can Have A More Productive Workforce

Starting your own business may have been a dream of yours. Taking that leap of faith to finally do it may have took courage and strength, and to get where you are today perhaps is your dream come true. Like many start up businesses, after a lot of work and effort, your business moves forward and gets to the stage where it outgrows you and your working environment. So much so that you expand, perhaps get a business location and hire staff and continue to move your business forward in the direction of success. But you can hit snag points along the way. Now you have other people responsible for different elements of your business, you have the overall responsibility for their welfare and productivity levels. So how do you make sure you get the most out of your workforce? Here are some suggestions.

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Take time to consider their working environment

The place you work can have either a positive or a negative effect on your productivity levels, so thinking about the working environment could help you to make your workforce more productive. It’s things such as ensuring that the rooms are not too hot or too cold. Ensuring there is a place to make drinks or store food for lunchtimes and snacks. Even things like having the right equipment so the job can be done properly or supportive chairs and desk areas so that people can comfortably work in their environment.

Streamline communications and processes

Jobs within your business can get complicated when there are other people involved. There may be people that are required to help with the decisions making process, people that need to authorise certain actions within your business so that other staff canconitime to do their jobs, and so you may find that you need to look at something like a workflow management software to help keep things in check. It might be that having certain processes in place can enable your staff to continue working at a productive rate.

Consider team bonding

The people within your team will be spending a significant amount of time together, and even with you, so you might want to consider team bonding sessions. This coudl be something that you do during the working day, such as team meetings. Or it could be something that you organise as a separate event. There are many things you could try that encourage the group of people attending to work together as a team. Highlighting personality traits and encouraging people to get on better.

Are you a people person yourself?

Finally, it could be you yourself that is the problem within your team. The questions to ask yourself would be whether or not you consider yourself to be an approachable and motivated manager and business owner? If not, then don’t worry, as people skills and the way you react to people can be improved upon. It could be that you talk to people more, get to know people on a personal level and try and get some common ground.

Let’s hope that these tips help you to encourage a more productive workforce in your business.

4 Internet Aspects Every Home Business Owner Needs to Know

Having an idea for a business and setting it in motion is all good and well, but when you’re operating online – either exclusively or in part – then you’ll need to know much more than just about your company’s products and services. The online world has its own rules when it comes to code of conduct and etiquette, and if you’re not aware of/following them, then you’ll be making things extra difficult for yourself! Below, we look at four aspects of the internet you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to the online presence of your home business — they can make a big difference to the overall success of your company!

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The Importance of Style

Everyone makes snap judgements, every single day. While people try to overcome those judgements when it comes to other humans, there’s no such courtesy extended to websites — and with some justification. If your website looks like it’s been rushed, or is overly dated, or is just confusing, then your customers will have doubts about your legitimacy. Don’t give them any reason not to trust you — make sure your site looks good and is easy to navigate, and all they’ll see if your awesome products and services.

How To Be Seen

You’d like to think that if you built a high-quality site, then people would visit. Alas, this isn’t the case. There’s no shortage of alternative websites internet users can visit, no matter what your theme is. To make them visit yours, you need to make sure they see it. Working with an SEO agency is almost as important as your content and other website details — they’ll help to nudge you towards the top of the search engine results page; the higher up you are, the greater the chance that a Google searcher will visit your site. Don’t downplay the importance of internet exposure — it’s critical to your success.

What Annoys Internet Users

There are sites out there that get most things correct, yet which people quickly end up hating — and it’s for the stupidest reason, too. The website annoys the visitor. Things like invasive pop-up ads, autoplay videos (especially those with sound), and manipulative language are enough to make a website visitor move their cursor to the ‘X’ button. There are merits to having all of these aforementioned things on your website, but they’re very often more trouble than they’re worth. Don’t annoy your visitors!

You Can Measure Everything

It can feel like you’re walking blind when you run a website, but this isn’t true. In many cases, you have all the answers you’ll need right in front of you. You can measure all aspects of your website, including from where they came (Google, Facebook, etc.), which pages they visited, and so on. This can all push you towards figuring out the type of content that your visitors like. With that information, you can curate your website to meet the needs and interests of your visitors, and get rid of the rest.

Tipping Your Workplace Scales Towards Rewards Rather Than Punishments

The chances are that you’re pretty quick to jump on employee mistakes. Your business rests on your team getting things right, after all, and there’s little room for error. No wonder, then, that you come down like a hammer on silly mistakes. Spotting weaknesses like these is essential if you’re to stand any chance at success. In many ways, this is how your team learn to do things better. Your efforts would soon come crumbling if you didn’t spot problems like these and take action to prevent them.

The trouble comes when you ONLY call staff up for the things they do wrong. If you’re going to punish people, you need to balance things out by recognising what they do well. Otherwise, you’ll soon have an unhappy workforce. If that happens, mistakes could become far more frequent. You may even lose valuable members of your team. With that in mind, balance the scales by taking the following steps towards recognising the good, as well as the bad.

Make an effort to spot the best work

If you never make an effort to find your team’s best work, they’re going to stop producing it. What’s the point when you don’t notice? They may figure that, as long as they aren’t making mistakes, they can produce mediocre stuff. But, that’s not going to do any good for your business or your reputation. Instead, make an effort to spot those who go the extra mile. Use something like this 360 feedback software to spot strengths within your team instead of just weaknesses. It may even be worth looking through each day’s work to find the best, rather than weeding out the mistakes. This simple switch in your thinking could result in a significant change within your team.

Offer rewards, not just punishments

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We’re always quick to hand out punishments at work, such as probation or reduced hours. But, how often do you hand out rewards? In truth, these can often work as a better incentive than any of the punishments you already have in place. The chance to finish early on a Friday could provide more encouragement than anything else. Even the promise of an ‘employee of the month’ title could be enough to see improvements within your team. You can bet that a focus on rewards like these leads to a more conducive work environment than your current tyrannical approach.

Take your best staff further

To some extent, even rewards will get old. If you’re forever offering the same things to your best staff, they’re still going to get bored. They may decide that the effort they put in isn’t worth that ‘best employee’ parking space. At some stage, then, you also need to take your best staff further. This means recognising continually good work and offering promotions off the back of it. The moment your team see that they can progress, you may find that they all start working better. All because you changed your thinking and focused on rewards instead.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Freelance Life

When you work from home as a freelancer, it can be so easy to put off certain tasks. For example, the admin or keeping record of your expenses can seem quite small and insignificant, but they are things that need to be kept on top of, otherwise it will all add up and be problematic later down the line. It can be easy to just want to get on with your creative side of the freelance business. But letting the freelance business run on autopilot isn’t the best thing to be doing, especially as life can be so busy, and you’re never likely to get back around to do those smaller things. The good news is that improving your freelance life doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. And if it is going to help your stress levels, then it can only be a good thing.

So here are some of the things that you can be doing to improve your freelance business in a way that won’t feel like a big deal and will allow you to keep your sanity.

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Financial Checks

Even as little as five minutes every day (you could even set yourself a timer) to check up on your finances, who has paid what invoice, or what you owe, can be five minutes well spent. If you have late invoices to chase then this can be the time to do it, as well as keep on track of what you need to buy or if you owe money to people that you have worked with. If you have been finding that cash flow is a problem for you, and you’ve been thinking of asset refinance to help your business, then taking greater control over your finances is really important. A few minutes to make sure that your financial side of business is tidied up can help the business to keep running smoothly.

To-Do Lists

As a freelancer, some weeks and days are going to be busier than others, as some work really is seasonal. So make sure that you are making yourself a to-do list so that you can get your work in order and see what needs to be done and what the priorities are. You can then plan what you will do and when, so that it can all get done and get done on time.

Learn To Say No

As a freelancer that is running a business, it can be hard to say no to things. But if you are taking on too much work or doing too many small favours to friends or clients, then it really can overwhelm you and take over your life. Learning to say no really is a skill when you’re a freelancer, so make sure that you try your best to do so when you are taking too much on. You could always offer different things that you could do that wouldn’t take as much time up for you, or things at a later date to help.

How to Have a Happier Home Business and Reduce Stress

All of your friends get so jealous when you tell them that you work from home. They have to drag themselves out of bed each morning and put up with their boring nine to five in the office. When you’re running a profitable home business, it isn’t all fun and games, as some people might think. You put in hours and hours of hard work each day and you can often find yourself stressed and overwhelmed with your to-do list. Instead of allowing your workload to override your feelings, you can start to take control. Consider the following ideas to have a happier home business and reduce stress.

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Clean Up Your Space

One of the best ways in which you can improve your working environment at home, is by clearing up your space. If you are surrounded by belongings, stock, papers and equipment then you aren’t going to be able to get very much done. Look into cheap storage for your clutter. As long as you can easily access it when you need to, it should be the perfect answer to your problems.

Plan Out Your Day

When you work at home it can be very easy to sit back and allow the day to pass by without really thinking about it. By planning out your day step by step, you will be able to achieve much more. Create a daily task list and you will soon start to see the benefits of this during your everyday work life. Make sure you are prioritising the most important things too, because you don’t want to be left scurrying to finish something at the very last minute.

Remove Distractions

When it’s time to get into work mode, you need to learn how to switch on and remove all distractions. It will never be easy to fully concentrate when you’re at home, but with the correct mindset you can to it all. Turn off the television, move your mobile phone into another room and focus on your tasks at hand.

Learn How to Switch Off

Now that you have learnt how to stay focused, it’s important to learn about tuning out of work mode. When you work from home it can be incredibly difficult to simply switch off and relax for the evening. Relax and wind down in your own special way so that you can really zone out of your busy day. Whether you take a walk once you have finished your jobs for the day or you head upstairs for a bubble bath, there will always be a way to unwind.

As long as you can follow some of these ideas you will be set up for a happy and healthy home life. Working in the comfort of your house is a lot easier than it sounds, so make sure you’re not too hard on yourself. People might give you a hard time and insist that you don’t have a “proper” job, but you are working harder than ever to reach your goals. Stay positive and make the relevant changes if necessary, you will soon find the ideal balance for you.

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