Fine-Tune Your Business With These Tips

Sometimes we can find that our business can run away with itself. As an entrepreneur and business owner, there always seems to be plates to spin, and with that comes the added pressure of keeping them all balanced just right. But, we are only human, and of course, there will be times when these things are going to slip. So what can you do make things easier? Fine-tuning your business and looking at ways to help take on the burden are just some of the things you can do. Here are some suggestions to help you do it.

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Look at ways to outsource

One of the first things you may want to do is consider looking at ways that you can outsource. As previously covered, you cannot always do it all, and if you do, you may not be able to do it all to the best of your ability. There is only a certain amount of hours in the day, so it could be worth it to you to look at options where you outsource things. Think about websites such as https://www.safebitsolutions.com/services/it-support-consulting for IT support, using social media freelancers to help be consistent and present online, or even hiring help with accounts to ensure that you keep things running smoothly. Outsourcing can free up time for you to focus on the areas that you can make matter.

Run social media ads

Social media can be exhausting, even for the best of us who manage to promote and be online consistently. So why not choose to use the advertising tools available within specific applications? Facebook can run ads across their newsfeeds and on Instagram easily enough, and this can be a great way to promote to people, even when you are not sat on the platform or promoting it physically yourself.

Keep your cash flow in check

One of the best things you can do when it comes to your cash flow, is look at ways to ensure that you keep it in the black, rather than in any debt. Making projections and forecasts of where you want to be is a great idea, but it can also be important to ensure that you pay for things when you need to, and make provisions for any invoices that you may have sent out.

Make goals

Finally, you need to ensure that you have goals for your business. This is so you can work towards them in the new year ahead. The goals can be big ones, and then set yourself targets that are more actionable to help you achieve them. Even though your business may be running smoothly, there will still be ceilings you are wanting to smash when it comes to the success you want for it. So how far can you go? Having the goals helps you to stay focused on what is important for you and your business.

Let’s hope these tips help you when it comes to fine-tuning your business.

Things To Consider If You Want To Open Your Own Medical Practice

Opening your own medical practice can be a rewarding, and profitable, experience. There is arguably nothing better than helping people, particularly when it comes to their health, and knowing that you’re doing the best that you can, and creating the perfect environment yourself, will make you extremely proud of what you have managed to make. However, there are some things to consider before you make the plunge, and we’ve made a list here to help you begin your journey.

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Get the qualifications

Ok, we presume that you wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t already begun your journey towards getting your qualifications (or were at least considering it). This can be a drawn out process, so starting your studies as soon as you can is key to getting your own medical practice. Though it takes quite a number of years to secure, it is surely worth the time and hard work, so look into medical schools if you haven’t already.

Get the funding

If you want to open your own practice, you’re going to need quite a bit of funding to get it off the ground, especially if you’re going solo. You can get a small business loan if you’d prefer to, and there are a lot of other companies who will help you with funding if you’re looking for a bit of financial help. Look elsewhere before you go straight to the bank and take out a high interest loan, when you may not need to.

Get the medical equipment

Ok, so you’ve got the qualifications and the money, but you’re going to need a lot of equipment to get the most out of your practice. There is a lot of modern technology now, to help with an easier diagnosis and more efficient medical exams. This ranges from an ultrasound machine to robotic check-ups, and the more technology you can bring in, the more efficient your care will be, so invest wisely!

Get licensed

One of the most important things to do is to get licensed, so that your practice follows the relevant regulations that are in place in your state. This is a no-brainer, or there would be people walking around with botched medical jobs everywhere, and it’s a relief that this isn’t the case. You need different licenses to provide medical assistance and to provide the actual medication – and you even need a separate license if you’re planning to have an x-ray machine – so this can be quite a long-winded process.

In short, there are many things to consider when it comes to opening up your own medical practice, but you’ll be giving so much back to your community that it is undoubtedly a worthwhile endeavour. Get the qualifications that you need in order to begin your career, get the funding, and get all of the medical equipment you need to make your practice a success. And lastly, get licensed. Then your practice will be open for business, and you can get on with helping others. Good luck!

Tips to Keep Your Business Afloat when Times Get Tough

If your business is going through some tough times, then you will understand more than anyone how annoying this can be. You may feel like nothing you do works, and you may be worried about losing everything that you have worked for as well. If you want to try and prevent all of this from happening then there are a few things that you can do about that.

Make Prudent Reductions

When making cuts and reductions, make sure that you don’t cripple your business for the future. You do need to reduce operating expenses but you don’t want to do it to the point where your business can no longer function. Of course, if you need some help then it may be worth talking to a professional accountant. When you do this, you can then feel confident knowing that they can help you with anything you need.

Overtime Pay

If sales are way below budget then you should really not be paying your employees overtime. If you are in a bind then you may need to reduce your hours for your employees and you may also have to ask your team to take a salary reduction for the short-term as well. Decisions like this aren’t easy to say the least, but they are certainly a better option when compared to bankruptcy.

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Look Into your Pension

You may think that you need to reduce your pension payments if you want to save money but this is not always the case. If you only have a few years left of your business then you will want to pay as much as possible. This will give you the boost you need to your income and it will also help you to make the most out of what you have. It may also be worth you looking into fidelity solo 401k as this will really help you out.

Consider Refinancing

Restructuring your debt can really help you to lower your monthly payments. If you can increase the term of your loan, or if you can decrease the interest rate then your monthly payments will reduce. Refinancing any assets that you have can also put some cash in your pocket.  This can really help you out if you analyse the deal that you are going to get so it is well worth taking into account. You might also be able to get some advice on the internet.

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Ask for Concessions

If you have been assessed then it may be worth asking for your penalties to be waived. It is also worth asking to see if you can have some extended terms as well. You really do need to make sure that you don’t hide from creditors. They may be willing to work with you if you work with them and this is especially the case if you are thinking about declaring bankruptcy.  A lot of businesses are worried about their image and this is especially the case if they seek professional help, but this should never be the case. In fact, sometimes it can be the only way to keep your business afloat.

Delving Into Derelict Offices: Bargain Or Bust?

More people are now starting enterprise at their kitchen tables or in home offices. It’s a blessing of the modern age which means you don’t need a fortune to start something new. The trouble is, the time will come when these meager beginnings are no longer enough to sustain you. At some stage, you’ll need to consider employees, and provide somewhere for them to work, too. When this time comes, you’ll need to kiss goodbye to working at home.

You’re then left with two choices. You could either rent a commercial space or buy one. A rental is a tempting option, as it ensures a commercial space for little money. The downside is that it could end up costing you more over time. Buying an office, however, means you can secure your commercial future in one payment.

The issue is, you don’t have much behind you right now. Those swanky new office blocks are so far out of your price range it’s funny. But, that doesn’t mean buying needs to be off your cards. If you couldn’t afford your dream home, you would buy a fixer-upper, right? Lucky for you, there are plenty of derelict offices out there waiting for a little love and attention. Even better, the majority of them have reasonable price tags. Before you get carried away, though, you will need to consider the following to ensure this is the option for you.

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Is the structure sound?

When viewing properties like this, always ask yourself whether the structure is sound. You can cover a whole load of sins with decent interior design, but you can’t paint over structural issues. Look out for any signs of damage here during your viewing. If you’re keen to go ahead, you would even benefit from getting an outside company to do a structural survey. That way, you can make sure you aren’t wasting money on a building which will never serve your needs.

Are utilities possible?

When an office has been out of action for long enough, things like water and gas are usually cut off. In this instance, you’ll need to phone the necessary utility companies. In the best case scenario, those companies will be able to flip the switch to get things going again. Even if no providers are associated to that office as it stands, an easement survey from a company like www.cochraneng.com could show you whether a utility company can gain access later. If neither of these options are viable, it may be best to strike that office off your list.

How much would renovation cost?

Think, too, about the cost of renovation. You may be saving on that initial purchase, but extreme work will still leave you out of pocket. You should head to sites like www.buildingjournal.com to estimate costs before putting an offer in. That way, you can be sure that your profits can cover getting started here. The last thing you want, after all, is a derelict office you can’t afford to spruce up.

Ethical Business Practices For The Modern Firm

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It’s essential for all firms to adapt for the trends of the modern market, but also to look ahead and develop for the needs of the future. This can, in some circumstances, also remain bundled with the universal needs of business, that which is yet to fade and once established will likely remain the norm. In this case, we’re talking about the habit, policy arrangements and developments regarding ethical business practice.

This can help any firm sustain their reputation surely, but also have a positive impact on the world around them. All firms, small and large, have a responsibility to the world around them, particularly in industries that use plenty of resources to generate a product. For this article, we are going to assume your business is moving from a small to intermediate size, and that you wish to handle this growth with the best moralism and practical changes you can make in order to ensure your presence is one that has a net positive effect on the world around you. For this effort, you can only be admired. Consider the following:

Dedicated Staff

Dedicated staff, as in those who are primarily focused on vetting your ethical processes, on inspecting the methods your business takes, and of researching the best ways to go about things can help you avoid missing the important factors when it comes into consideration. For example, using analysis and projected data, an employee might figure out that actually, giving back and the marketing attention that receives can potentially completely offset the cost of doing ‘good thing X,’ and applying that to your firm might become something worthwhile to do. Even if you only have one or two staff members focused on your best practice, this can really help you avoid making any missteps or not quite vetting processes as they are applied.

It’s very well and good to wish to implement an excellent strategy, and it’s quite another to do so in the most informed way possible. Ethical parameters can often be quite ambiguous, and so hiring a practical planner, or giving someone on your team the role of implementing these considerations can help your firm continue to take positive steps forward, and will hopefully mean everything you try has a form of merit behind it. For example, this staff member might feed your marketing team relevant statistics and information about why this move is so important, or look into the history of a charity you’re hoping to support, or figuring out just how much waste you have compared to the competitors in your industry. With just these three considerations alone, it’s easy to see why this might be a full time job. Perhaps a luxury one yes, but one that can work wonders for your PR.

Vetting Suppliers

Suppliers are important to vet. It might be that you have a longstanding relationship with a firm, but you haven’t inquired into how materials are sourced, or you have yet to question just why their prices are lower than anyone else’s. Of course, this is quite an on-the-nose analogy to make, and something that sounds only like the beginning of a thriller movie. But in many different ways, it might be that you wish to consider your suppliers more carefully, or try to cement your relationship with them further.

It might be that a firm has a great product, sourced ethically, with nothing but pure transparency about their methods. But then, through mistake or some other form of idiocy, a racist remark of some sort is posted to their twitter, perhaps even in light jest in response to a customer. Continuing to trade with a supplier like that can show a condoning of that statement, if shoddy context or an explanation is given. This might sound like you simply taking measures to protect your image, but it can be more than that. The suppliers you work with are often seen to be a statement that your firm trusts theres, and that connecting the two is important to do. Again, this example is heavily on the nose, but it suggests that there are matters more complex to consider when vetting your suppliers.

Of course, you might not take issue with every small thing that you find, as your firm might not have the cleanest trading history. But in order to be better you have to connect yourself to better, so this could be a great place to start in the first instance.

Specialist Services

Specialist services can be extremely important to integrate with, especially if they have exceptional processes when adhering to a certain standard. From construction aids such as Eastern Plant Hire to the catering services you use, it’s important for them to submit to the environmental and health protection laws and even take steps to optimize how they stay within legal guidelines. This can help you, during the large expansions and growths of your firm, to continually do so within a smart framework, and to give your firm more breathing room. There’s no reason as to why expanding your firm should only mean you add toxic and wasteful processes to keep it afloat. If you focus, and make deliberate decisions, your firm can become much more streamlined as it grows, causing nothing but potential for all those involved.

Champion Causes

It can be worthwhile to champion causes, ideally those that are affected by your business operation. Of course, ensure that the cause is worthwhile and intellectually sound first. For example, while LGBT causes should absolutely be championed and celebrated, it’s quite an obvious tactic, some might even say exploitative, in order to gain marketing. Consider how many people celebrated and purchased Coca-Cola when it sported the rainbow flag on its bottle. All it took was a day of graphic design to celebrate a massive boost in sales, without much in the way of actual charity or development in any fields. Some might say the exposure was enough to get people talking and accepting, but some might also say this is a predatory method of profiting from the social issues people live through. For this reason, whatever you choose, make sure you choose practical means. Marketing is fine, but it mustn’t be the only intended result.

With these tips, applying ethical business practices for the modern firm is sure to be worthwhile, and keep you in moral business.

5 Ways to Raise Money as a StartUp

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One of the greatest challenges for any entrepreneur starting their own business, whether the business is ‘for profit’ or ‘not-for-profit’, is that of raising enough capital in the early days to turn their idea and vision into a reality.

In many ways it can be likened to how hard it is to first push a huge boulder, the effort required is so much greater to get it moving than to keep it moving, and in this sense the one thing you need to start pushing that boulder and transforming a good idea into a business concept with traction, is capital behind you, as just like a jet taking off at an airport – without jetfuel, you’re simply not going to get very far.

The same is true if you choose to start a nonprofit, you still have the exact same obstacles as a business, and whilst your cause might be greater than that of turning a profit, it can be harder to find people willing to invest in a nonprofit due to the fact most investors are focused on turning a profit themselves… of course, there are many altruistic people out there, that are happy to help – but connecting with these people can be much easier when you already have traction and a track record of getting results.

In this sense, if you are starting a nonprofit, what you will really need is a captivating positioning story that captures the hearts and minds of influential people to back your cause – as when the funds are low, creativity must be higher.

Indeed, setting up a nonprofit or for profit business on a budget can be very helpful in terms of future development and success as “throwing money at the problem” is not the most efficient way to do business, and therefore, it can be a blessing to be struggling to raise money in the early days as you have to adopt the paradigm of ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.  This builds grit, resourcefulness and problem solving skills – all of which are required to take your concept to the next level.

However, when launching a project, money is a lot like oxygen, in the sense that it is absolutely vital – at least some money.  Therefore, in this article, we’re going to look at 5 ways to raise money as a startup.

1. GET A BUSINESS LOAN

The most traditional route with regard to setting up a business, particularly, a small local business, is that of obtaining a loan from a bank or finance company.  This is usually the most simple and straightforward way to fund your idea, yet it’s also one of the most risky, and is only available to those with ample credit, or equity within their home.

An option some people take is to actually set up their business on a zero percent credit card, as this way, the funds are instant and there’s no “selling” required in terms of creating a business plan and pitching it to the bank manager.

In any event, if you source your own line of credit, the good news is that you keep all the control of your company – unlike having to split profits with external investors – that said, you also shoulder all the risk… and if your business doesn’t work out, but you’ve secured your finance on your home, this can be a very stressful and precarious situation to the point it can lead to bankruptcy – so be very careful in terms of going down this path and make sure you consider all the risks.

2. FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Perhaps the most ideal place to look for financing your dream are the people that know you best; your friends and family.  Of course, if you already have savings, that would be the first place to look, though chances are you wouldn’t be reading this article if that were the case.

The prospect of borrowing money from a wealthy friend or relative can be very appealing, but consider what happens should your venture not be successful – not just financially, but socially… as the amount of strain owing money can put on relationships is enormous and you might want to work out whether this particular relationship can take the strain should things not go to plan… and put something in writing, in terms of what would happen to the money invested should things not go well.

This way, there is at least clarity and a mutual respect gained from the certainty of knowing what would happen if the venture were not to be successful.  This might seem like an onerous and perhaps over-responsible thing to do, in the dreamy early days of visionary success, but it just might save your relationship.

3. CROWDFUNDING

A recent trend in raising startup capital is that of crowdfunding.  This is where you pitch your idea on an online platform and people (often strangers) offer cash to back your idea… either for a slice of the profit, a discounted reward, or to support a noble cause.

Crowdfunding sites are particularly good if your project has an element of social value about it, not that it has to be a non-profit social enterprise… but a sense of “giving back” as people are keen to back projects with a compelling social story.

The core advice, with Crowdfunding, therefore, is to endeavour to focus on the story behind your brand and your mission, rather than just the financial forecasts and unique selling points – as these aren’t savvy investors from Wall Street.  They are average people that like the idea of “giving back” and perhaps getting something back in return for their support… therefore, connect and be human!

4. CONTESTS

There are many contests available for startups with ambitious plans that can provide much needed funding.  In this sense, a business incubator such as Y Combinator is somewhat of a contest – in that you are competing with a number of other entrepreneurial businesses to win a place on the incubator.  Business incubators tend to offer a small amount of seed capital, along with space, contacts and mentorship – indeed, the most valuable aspect of a business incubator is often found in the mentorship you will receive.

Business incubator’s tend to put on an investment event where you are able to pitch to relevant investors and support you in getting more substantial funding; making them a supportive stepping stone that is very useful in the early days.

5. GRANTS

There are a number of grants available for both nonprofits and for profit ventures.  Usually, you have to tie in to a particular theme or tick a few boxes, and therefore shape your grant proposal to the needs of the grant provider; but with a little creativity and hard work, you can certainly find grants.

There are grants for certain causes, within the nonprofit sector, and within the business sector there are grants for particular sectors (e.g. renewable energy and personalised medicine).

The challenge, with the more scientifically focused grants, however, is that they tend to be more academically biased – in that they often go against the grain of many entrepreneurs, but if you come from a research background and are looking to create something particularly innovative, these would definitely be worth looking into.

In summary, the five main options available to you are likely to be found in raising money from friends and family, getting a business loan, crowdfunding your idea, getting a grant, or applying to a business incubator or winning an entrepreneurial contest.

No matter which route you choose to follow, the most important thing to remember is that where there’s a will there’s a way and the more you do the more you get, in the sense that the more doors you knock on the higher your chances of obtaining what you seek becomes.

More Than Modest Growth- Can You Actually Build A Big Business From A Home Office?

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For anyone starting up a business that we intend to go places, those early sacrifices can throw up a multitude of Sophie’s Choice-style outcomes. For example, when we are looking at a productive working space, we could feel that a commercial property is the only way to go. After all, the benefits of having one have been shown to increase productivity, the company culture, and the list goes on. But when it’s just us, and we are at the very beginning, by ourselves, with one computer and a dream, can we get by with a home office? And specifically, can we build a massively successful business from a modest home setting?

The Growth Factor

At the very beginning, all we need is a small setup, and while it’s simple enough to keep us afloat, especially as we don’t have to pay out for a office space, how realistically can we grow a business from home? When building up a big business, even from within the comfort of our own home, we still have to work hard at that professional imagery. No doubt you’ve been on many business websites where you think that they don’t really care about the image they present, not just because they work from home, and clearly it’s a very unprofessional setup they’ve got, but the website looks shoddy, and there’s no sense of effort in any of the imagery or content. When working from home, the address we have has to be on our contact details. But when you have a residential address on your correspondence, this may very well communicate to potential clients that you aren’t that professional. Instead, invest in a mailbox service. There are many virtual offices that provide these services for a monthly fee, and this is a very tiny example of what the little things can do, as far as increasing your professional aesthetics is concerned. We have to remember that in growing our business, we still have to keep some sense of rigidity and professionalism. Because we are growing a business out of our home, it means that we shouldn’t get complacent. Blurring our work and life together can be easily done in the home office environment…

The Work-life Balance Dilemma

In many ways, a home office can be limiting, especially when you envision the sky being the limit. What we have to give weight to is, when growing a company from our own home, that we don’t succumb to some form of complacency. Working at home, as has been discussed before, can be very difficult, but for those people that have to clock in and clock out in an office setting, find that the environment can stifle them, and they would want to work at home, purely because they would want to have a lie-in, or laze on the couch. This is not an option for us when we are working at home; we have to set up a working environment, and we have to stick to it. And while there are so many positives to working at home, if we begin to embody that working at home mentality where we can complete a task whenever we want to, this is not going to result in steady growth. When it’s just you working, you have to motivate yourself.

Do We Outgrow Our Home Office?

It depends on the growth of the company, and what you really want to communicate to your clients and customers. For many businesses, this home-grown aesthetic becomes part of the USP. The small manufacturers of food based products that boast natural ingredients are all about the home-grown imagery. But if this isn’t part of your master plan, and your company is increasing at such a rate that you have to go up to an office space, this is a natural part of the journey. But when you’re hiring other employees, this can prove to be a big drain on your finances, no matter how fast you are accelerating. In which case, a home working set up is vital. There are many businesses that do this successfully, and it’s a fantastic way for you to keep track of the pennies, and while anxieties may arise as far as communication is concerned, you can get a comprehensive provider like Optimum that can cater for every communicative aspect. It provides your telephone, your internet, your streaming, and it’s all going to help as far as managing these remote employees are concerned. In this respect, a home office is all you need.

There are plenty of examples where people have started businesses out in their garages or spare rooms, but for those that made a success of their endeavors, it wasn’t just about the hard work, it was about that idea of being professional, regardless of the environment. We can all feel excited about growing a business from our home because we don’t have to commute or pay extra money, but this is only one piece of the puzzle.

Are You Ready to Launch Your Restaurant? Interior Design Tips to Help You Started

If you have been watching the TV shows or Gordon Ramsay, you might have already realized that the interior design of your kitchen and restaurant has a huge impact on the turnover and the popularity of the place. If you would like to create an inviting and practical space that will inspire your staff and engage with your guests. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started with designing your restaurant.

Make It Look Unique

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No matter if you have a theme or just a couple of colors in mind, you will need to find a way to make your restaurant look special and inspire your staff and your guests. You might want to consult with an interior designer who can create period pieces and decor items that will soon become a talking point in your town. Alternatively, you can make it modern and practical, using sleek design and smart contrast.

Natural Light

When you run lunch and breakfast service, as well as dinner, you will have to let natural light in. There’s nothing more depressing for guests than not being able to see what they are eating. Most people will want to take in the food with all their senses, unless you are offering a “dining in the dark” service. Open up the space as much as you can, so your guests will arrive and eat in better mood.

Practical Considerations

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Your tables and chairs need to be arranged in a way that they are easy to see from the kitchen and the bar, and your servers can identify them easily. No matter if you are buying or renting a commercial space, you will need to adjust it to your needs. At the same time, allow enough space for walking around, and for people pulling their chair out. There is nothing worse than trying to have an intimate conversation with a partner and knowing that the next table can hear everything.

Easy to Clean

Your dining and cooking space also has to be practical. You want to avoid soft furnishing as much as you can, as it can be tricky to dry clean them every week. Surfaces should be easy to wipe clean, and you must take care of the flooring. Find the right balance between practical and pretty by installing decorative concrete floors that are simple to clean and give your dining room a modern look.

Create Intimate Corners

Of course, you will also have to provide some nooks and corner tables that people can use for business meetings or dates. Your interior decor should include a few tables that are more private and allow your guests to have a conversation, discuss business or private life. Offer these tables for the regular guests and business clients arriving for lunch, so they can enjoy their time without distraction.

When you launch your restaurant, you will need to take into consideration your target customers’ needs and preferences, as well as practicality to make your staff’s job easier.

How To Operate A Business Through Emergencies

In truth, there are very few things in the professional world that count for ‘emergencies’. They are few and far between which is only natural as disasters cannot occur unless you’re running a two-bit operation. Most of the time they are not of your own making entirely and something always happens on the outside of your business to catalyst major malfunctions. However, it’s not always about things and something occurring such as a blackout and no way to run your business due to no power. It can also be about people, who suddenly need to have a break from work and therefore leave you holding the bag as it were. Where do you shift responsibilities in such a scenario where you key team members are unable to work? What if there is an economic crash and it was unforeseen like in 2008, how will you cope or have a plan to survive? These are just a small example of the various kinds of emergencies that can affect your business, but how do you broadly prepare for them?

 

Fly in the ointment

Depending on your circumstances, you may need stop taking the power your office receives for granted. Those that are startups and have to share offices because they can only afford such a style of workspace are at the mercy of their landlords essentially. Usually in new high-rise buildings the owner of the building will lease out to office space per floor and, then someone is likely to buy a long term lease in order to rent it out to startups and entrepreneurs. Already, you have a double layer of people who you are relying upon to make sure your office is always powered and things run smoothly.

Responses to mains shortages are often slow and can take more than 2 working days to get fixed or even more. The problem may be solved on your floor quicker if you could call out a commercial electrician that deals with professional environments such as offices and commercial buildings. They can handle pretty much any repairs and can help with emergency lighting systems so your staff can continue working without the ceiling lights working as they normally do. This is great for late nights at the office, during the winter time when sunlight hours are minimal and generally speaking helps people to see what they’re doing better.

 

Replacing a project leader

When a team leader is no longer able to perform their duties late on into a project, it can spell disaster for a business. There are many reasons why this could happen to you as one thing is for sure, there aren’t ever any shortages of those. One of the more common reasons why suddenly a team leader cannot come to work is they are sick. And during a crucial time such as giving a presentation to investors or pitching to potential business partners and clients is maybe the absolute worst time this can happen. The other reasons could be, they simply cannot handle the stress when the moment of truth arrives, they are no longer supported by their team members and a mutiny occurs, they are injured such as in a car accident and maybe even they jump ship and are hired by someone else.

Regardless of what the reason is, you as the business owner should plan for this. Don’t just think about who in that team could take over, because they know the project and seem to be supported by the other members. A project leader is a very important position and you need someone that is savvy to your wider aims. Essentially, picking someone who is just competent is not enough, you need to choose someone who is going to have the bigger picture of your business aims in mind. This could mean giving that team a leader from outside the circle of members, however this may be the proper option when you aren’t so close to an important event. This is so some kind of personal relationship can form with the team and the team in turn trust them and respect their authority. If it does come to a head and you need someone to take charge quickly, you should have already made you second and third best options at the time you chose the original leader. Therefore, the next in line takes over and you have a meeting with the entire team to patch things up.

 

 

The expendables

There’s a line in the famous action movie ‘Heat’ when the main antagonist says “never get involved with anything you can’t walk out on in 30 seconds”. For business that’s incredibly extreme but in certain aspects it’s the truth. In case of an absolute emergency whereby the economy is collapsing and trillions of dollars are being flushed down the drain, companies are going bankrupt and consumers are retracting from spending their money, you need to slim and trim down.

There are parts of business that are not essential, they just make life easier. For example, virtual assistants and virtual mailboxes make life easier for small businesses and make them look larger and more international than they actually are. You can and should drop these services when economic times are tough. Other things can be dropped quickly when you’re in business is cloud storage services. You should already be backing up your vital data onto hard drives thereby having two copies of things like customer data and accounts etc. Even certain luxuries like a free meal service or coffee for workers may need to be axed when things are getting tough. It may not seem like much, but these things tend to add up when you could be spending that money securing your future.

When the bottom drops out, a business will either drown or learn how to swim. As the business owner, you need several different plans ready for almost any scenario in case the economy flips upside down, a team leader is no longer in a position to lead and when you need to make any and all kinds of cutbacks. Emergencies come when you least expect them, but a clear plan b and plan c will save you from collapse.

Finding the Right Commercial Property for Your Small Business

Setting up your own small business or expanding from working at home to working in an official and professional commercial space is by no means an easy feat. But by securing the right commercial property to suit your needs straight off the bat, you can save yourself a whole lot of hassle and stress. So, to help you along the way, here are some sage pieces of advice that could help you to learn the perfect commercial property space without a problem!

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Office Space

First, let’s focus on office space for small businesses. Now, securing appropriate office space as a small business is notoriously difficult. Increasing numbers of commercial property owners are requesting that you agree to a longer lease in order to reduce their own costs in regards to regular re-advertising. However, small businesses can be relatively volatile, and you don’t want to sign up to a long term contract in the early stages of your business. You never know when you might decide to call it a day, or when you might have to move to a larger office space in order to accommodate success and expansion. The commercial spaces that are on offer in desirable locations also tend to be extremely expensive, which can be difficult if you have a limited budget. A good solution when it comes to securing the perfect office space for your small business is Novel Coworking. Novel coworking aims to unite two or more small businesses in a desirable office space. Essentially, you would share your office space with other unrelated professionals and businesses. This means that you can all benefit from lower commercial rent costs at the same time as setting up in a high-quality, productive environment.

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Retail

Another common form of commercial property is property where you can set up a retail store. These properties are drastically different to office spaces, as they are purposefully designed for accommodating large quantities of stock, as well as showcasing stock in its best light. When you look for retail properties, you should consider the following factors very carefully if you want to experience as much success as possible.

Location

Location is key when it comes to retail. You need to look out for properties in a prime location with plenty of traffic and footfall passing by. This will mean that you expose your brand to more people and that more people are likely to pass through your doors, browse what you have to offer, and perhaps make some purchases. Sure, prime locations may come with a higher price tag. But generally speaking, the investment will be more than worth the results.

Window Space

Your retail store should have plenty of window space. This will allow you to create eye-catching window displays that can draw potential customers or general passers by into your store. Without a window display, people won’t be entirely sure what products or services you have to offer and will walk on by into the arms of a competitor.

Out Back

Sure, you might find a store in a prime location, and the front of a store may look perfect for your needs, but you need to make sure that everything out back is ticking your boxes too. Every retail property should have plenty of storage space where you can keep your stock. You’re never going to be able to put all of your stock out on the shop floor. Instead, you should have examples and then draw different sizes or options to purchase from your stock room which should be located away from customers. You should also ensure that there is some sort of office space where administrative tasks can be carried out, a small room where you or staff members can take breaks comfortably, and a bathroom for your use and staff use.

As you can see, there’s a whole lot that goes into securing the right commercial property for your small business’ needs and there are also plenty of differences between areas of importance in office spaces and retail spaces. But hopefully, the above advice will help to guide your way effectively. Remember to take your time when browsing potential properties and to not let yourself be rushed into a deal. However, if you see something and find that it is practically perfect, it’s worth snapping it up before someone else does!

Why Does Exterior Business Customisation Matter?

In the current business climate, it is more important than ever before to distinguish your business from the competition. One of the ways you can do this is with exterior customisation. Even when there is a need for considerable investment in the overall look of a company, it can be easy to turn to basic design elements. However, it is imperative that your design is unique to your business and considered carefully. This is how you can edge out the competition. With that being said, read on to discover more about why exterior customisation matters for all businesses.

Your brand gets you noticed – There is only one place to begin, and this is with the fact that your brand is what is going to get you noticed. It is likely that you have already spent a considerable amount of time and money when it comes to putting together your own brand. This is now what you are recognised by. Therefore, you need to make sure this brand image is present in everything you do, which is why the exterior of your business needs to perfectly match other important points of identification, for example, your signage. This seamlessness is what creates an approachable and professional business feel.

Stand out from other businesses in the area – Another reason why you should invest in exterior business customisation is that it enables you to stand out in the local area. In recent years, the high street has come under fire due to large shopping centres that are located out of town. To combat this, you need to make sure you reclaim an identity of your own so that you entice people to your store. Blending into the background is never a good idea for any business, no matter what you sell.

The visual impression you provide is what your business is assessed on – The third and final reason why exterior business customisation matters is because you are providing a visual impression, and this is what your customers are going to be assessing you based on. By investing in commercial landscaping and ensuring your company’s exterior is clean, professional, and well branded, you can ensure you give off the right impression. If you don’t take care in what your business looks like, people will assume that this lack of care applies to the rest of your operations.

All in all, it is not hard to see why exterior customisation matters for your business. Not only does it help to tie your brand together effectively, but it ensures that you stand out from the other companies and stores in the area. Do not underestimate just how important this is, especially in today’s competitive economic environment.

Boosting Your Business With The Power of Niche Marketing

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The majority of small business owners have already heard the wonders of niche marketing being shouted from the rooftops, as almost everyone is starting to shape their offering to a more niche focused crowd… yet perhaps, due to the fear of limiting the size of your market you might have opted to play it safe with a more generalist positioning and value proposition to ensure you don’t exclude key market segments.

This article explores the power of niche marketing and why this is often a wise alternative to being a generalist provider.

WHAT IS A NICHE?

A niche is a focused subset of a particular market group.  If you were to think about cat food, for example, we could chunk that down to dry food and wet food – but this is still a very broad market that is essentially the same target audience.  If, however, we were to look at gourmet pet food that is organic with pieces of proper meat, such as chicken breast, then this could be considered a niche market as there’s a select portion of the market that would be interested in a premium product like this vs. the more cheap and cheerful standard options.

A further example within the same category could be cat food that is designed for specific issues, such as poor eyesight, heart conditions, or joint conditions – this way, with just a few tweaks of the actual product itself, for instance by adding a few different supplementary nutrients to the same base product you have created a special interest product that solves a particularly problem for a particular set of people.

In that sense, a niche is very simple – you are solving a particular problem, or scratching a particular itch for a specific group of people that are seeking a solution.

WHY HAVING A NICHE IS IMPORTANT

In broader markets (e.g. pet food) you are up against competitors with massive marketing budgets and global brands, therefore to launch a generic product such as cat food, your best option is to compete on price or quality.

Unfortunately, big companies have the purchasing power to undercut your prices, so there’s little point entering into a price war, whereas the one place most will aim to differentiate themselves is quality – and this, in itself can be somewhat of a niche.

The largest challenge facing most businesses, however, is that of people finding out about your products.

Often, broad markets are very crowded and well established meaning people have buying preferences based on habitual patterns the big companies have worked very hard to condition.  In you coming along, as a like for like comparison against a well known brand, the majority of people aren’t keen on trying something new – they need a compelling reason to give something else again; often the compelling reason most people respond well to is special offer discount pricing… yet a more sustainable option would be to position your product within a niche category that means you’re now appealing on a different metric – relevance!

See, when you are more relevant to a consumer in terms of meeting their specific needs, or solving a particular challenge, people will try out your product and are often happy to pay a little extra due to the alignment in place and the relevance to their lives.

If you were to then think about this from a marketing spend perspective, you clearly want to get the greatest return on investment possible, and in spending money on digital marketing the cost per click for an advert relating to something broad (e.g. dog food) is going to be much greater than something more niche focused such as “organic dog food” or “dog food for arthritis” because the search term is less competitive and less dominated by the big players.

It also means people clicking on your advert are likely to be more relevant in the sense that they are specifically looking for your particular solution, as what you don’t want are hundreds or even thousands of uninterested people clicking on your adverts, which costs you money each time.  You only want qualified prospects, and the more niche focused your marketing is the better the conversion rate will be (i.e. people that go on to buy and become customers) thus the greater the return on your investment.

This is particularly relevant in terms of search engine optimisation; as it is entirely possible for a small business to get featured on the front page of Google yet you need to follow a good strategy in order to achieve this… indeed there are a number of ways to boost your online business that become much more accessible when you focus on a particular niche, as you can have a specific cluster of focused terms and keywords that you become known for by the search engines… meaning they will start to naturally and organically present your product or business to people looking for the solution you provide – without you having to spend tons on adverts.

WHY YOU WON’T LOSE CUSTOMERS

A common concern amongst business owners when looking into the power of niche marketing is that it can feel counterintuitive to limit your market, by focusing on one specific group, particularly if you’re offering a service that has broad market appeal (e.g. hairdressing or personal training) as surely you don’t want to limit your market when both hairdressing and personal training could be relevant for pretty much everyone.

It’s a valid point, but think about specialists within the medical profession.

You have general doctors that are there to cater to everyone, then you have specialist consultants, that focus on a particular niche and as a result charge much more for their time.

In focusing on a particular niche (e.g. a certain type of cancer), yes they limit themselves to not treating any of the thousands of people with other illnesses, but they create a massive pull toward their offering to the select group of people that are specifically seeking out a solution to the specific problem they face!

In doing so, the consultant is positioning themself as the go-to-expert and this is something you and your product can do too.  See, when you align your product, service or knowledge base so strongly with a particular audience, this audience are magnetically attracted to your ‘specialist area’ of expertise.

Remember, the whole premise of marketing is that people have problems and they seek solutions – if you can position your product, service or business as offering a more relevant solution to their specific problem than a more broad competitor, they will choose you.

In marketing, relevancy is everything and one of the best ways to make yourself stand out as a relevant service provider is to use niche marketing to your advantage.

CAN YOU HAVE MULTIPLE NICHES

A question that often gets asked is whether you can have multiple niches, and the answer would appear to be yes – presuming they are congruent and form an overall branded suite of related niches.  A good example to look at in this context is Tony Robbins. His main niche is to help people transform their lives and condition peak performance, yet, like a spider with eight legs he has different channels for different people.

For instance, he has a business mastery program that is specifically relevant to entrepreneurs whilst he has a relationship program that is specifically relevant to those seeking to improve their relationships; two completely different products, operating in their own individual niche, each with a completely different marketing strategy – but with a common theme, that of transformation and optimising one’s life.

Today, it has become a lot easier to manage multiple niches due to technology, for instance, you can create a number of microsites that each deal with a specific category and come with their own phone number as 1300 numbers cost has become much more affordable in recent times.  This service has the benefit of allowing you to do business anywhere, but more importantly for the purpose of managing multiple niches, is that you can have a different phone number per niche – making it appear, for instance, like a personal trainer only helps clients looking to improve their posture, or get fit after having a baby… meaning, technically, you can offer a number of services whilst still appearing to be a very niche provider.

Even if you offer a broad service such as “personal training” it is wise to focus on a particular group of customers (e.g. new mums) and market to those specific needs.  At the base of everything what you’re really looking to do is connect with your audience on their level and in a way that is benefit driven to their unique requirements.

In summary, niche marketing makes you more relevant to your target audience which means people will start being drawn toward you as the go-to expert, as your product, service or business is so relevant to their lives that they will seek you out rather than you having to chase after customers or incentivise them with discount offers.

Relevancy is everything when it comes to marketing and there’s no better way to be relevant than to start utilising the power of niche marketing.

The Resources Every Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

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There is more to running a business than knowing how to sell your product or service and there are some things that every potential entrepreneur should have if they are to succeed.

Commitment

To have a successful business you have to be fully committed to it. It has to come before anything else for quite a while. You have to be prepared to work long hours, go without holidays and possibly not even pay yourself a decent salary to start with.

When you are running your own business you lose the safety net of being an employee and not having to worry about how many sales have been done, or how the bills will get paid. Most new business owners have to go through this, and they are more like to make a success of their venture if they give their business priority.

Other Traits You Need

Running a successful; business needs more than commitment. It needs you to have the desire for success and the drive to achieve it. You may have brilliant business ideas but are you able to see them through?  You should be able to solve problems and not give up at the first hurdle, as you will face many challenges along the way. Discipline and determination are what will help you succeed with your new business venture.

Skills You Will Need

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No one will sell your product or service as well as you do, but there will be other skills you need. Really, with these, you have two options. You can take part in online education classes to learn how to do accounts or manage your website, for instance. If you have had an education that includes things like this then you may not have the need to learn any more.

But if you do need to know more about the other skills involved in running a business, online education programs, like these Business,  RN to BSN and SEO Marketing courses, are a great way to learn. They are more flexible than attending a physical school and you can fit the studying in to suit you. They usually allow a longer time period to finish the work, as it is recognized that you will be fitting classes and study in between the other things in your life.

The alternative is that you employ people to do these jobs for you. You can usually find bookkeepers, accountants and web designers that work freelance so that you only have to pay them for the work they do.

Support

As a new business owner, you will need the support of friends an family. You will need someone to discuss problems with or to run your ideas by, as often talking through these things solves them. The solution can become more obvious when you discuss matters with someone else.

Talk to other business people and find out how they coped. You may be surprised some of the hassle some of them have been through to achieve the success they now have.

You should also chat to professional people who have helped others in the past. They will have experience that you might not find among your family and friends, but they are usually very willing to help and advise you all they can.

Good luck!

5 Things All Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Doing

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If you have ever looked for online advice about life as an entrepreneur, you will have noticed a trend— almost all of the advice tells you what you should be doing. You can find endless articles about managing your time more efficiently; learning to pitch to clients; expanding into new markets… and so on and so forth.

However, what about the things you shouldn’t do? It’s all well and good to know what you should be doing, but sometimes, you need to know the things you avoid; the things that you absolutely need to stop doing.

So, let’s dig into those right now; the behaviours, habits, and ways of doing business that all entrepreneurs should stop doing as soon as possible…

#1 – Taking your work home with you

As an entrepreneur, you’re likely far more committed to your business than you were ever committed to any standard job you performed. However, that doesn’t mean you should completely sacrifice your independence and your downtime. Taking work home with you — or continuing to work outside of normal business hours, if you work from home — is guaranteed to raise your stress levels and could potentially even edge you towards burnout. It’s fine to do this on occasion, when you’re working on a big project or to a tight deadline, but don’t let it become a habit.

#2 – Performing non-essential tasks yourself

Replying to customer emails; dealing with enquiries from potential B2B partners; going through order details; constantly updating your schedule… these kinds of administrative tasks will truly clog your schedule as an entrepreneur. As soon as you possibly can, hire yourself a PA to take care of these kinds of tasks for you, or hire a virtual assistant who works out of virtual headquarters to support you. Your mind needs to be focused on achieving all you can with your business, so outsource the management of admin tasks as soon as your budget allows you to do so.

#3 – Comparing yourself to your competitors

You have probably heard the saying that comparison is the thief of joy, and this is particularly true when you’re an entrepreneur. While you cannot ignore what your competitors are doing — you have to keep an eye on your competition for the good of your business, after all — you shouldn’t spend too much of your time on this task. If you start to compare your own business to your competitors, then you run a very real risk of become disenchanted with your own efforts.

So don’t do that to yourself. Check in with your competitors, but then move on, and focus on your own business. Constant comparison is not beneficial, nor is it necessary, so don’t fall into a trap of endless, unfavourable comparisons.

#4 – Neglecting your mental and physical health

Struggling with a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression is relatively common for entrepreneurs, while many business owners work so hard they neglect their own physical health. While it’s great that you are focused and dedicated to improving your business and meet your entrepreneurial dreams, there’s little point in doing so if you’re not going to be well enough to enjoy your success.

We touched a little on how to prevent burnout in the first point of this post, but realistically, avoiding burnout is the bare minimum you should be doing to protect your health. Make sure you take time off from your business every so often, and fill your working week with time that is specifically set aside for self-care. You might want to work hard, but you have to see that hard work must be balanced with taking care of yourself— if it isn’t, you run the risk of working so hard, you eventually can’t actually work at all.

#5 – Focusing too far in the future

Of course, entrepreneurs have to focus on the future in some regards. You have to be able to see what might happen in your industry, and to plan effectively for the potential for business growth.

However, looking into the future constantly is a bad idea. Sometimes, you need to draw your focus back to the present; to the here and now that is influencing the everyday running of your business. Having plans for the future is good — essential, in fact — but not to the point where it distracts you from what’s happening in the present.

In conclusion

By ensuring you stop doing the five things as listed above, your life as an entrepreneur — and the success of your business — should be able to flourish.

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How to Improve Your Brand’s Image Fast

In case you have just started a business and would like to get the word out about what you have to offer and how it can benefit customers, you might want to get creative and start planning your branding campaign carefully. From raising awareness about your company and offers to allowing your potential customers to interact with you, there are plenty of ways you can start connecting with your market. Find out more below.

Branded Clothing

You have to present your logo and main messages in every channel. This means that you and your employees might want to wear clothing that displays your logo and your headline. If you have a company car or van, you might also get it branded, so people know that you are there. Make sure that you choose a slogan that sticks and display all the important information, such as website address, physical address, email, and phone number.

Gifts

Sending out corporate gifts can also be a successful way of branding your new company. You will have to find some creative ideas that will represent your business or industry, and will be used by your potential customers. Check out www.fancyinc.co.za for some great ideas for corporate gifts, including pens, calendars, and other items that will help you brand your company.

YouTube

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If you already have a brand but it doesn’t stand out, you will have to do more than sending out some leaflets. To overhaul a bland brand, you could create your own YouTube channel and create videos for your potential customers. Intro videos are great to communicate what your brand is about and what your unique selling proposition is. Branding videos or “behind-the-scene” funny content can go viral and get shared hundreds of times, giving you free exposure in your local community.

Social Media

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No business can survive today’s competitive market conditions without using social media for branding. As a minimum, you will have to create a business page on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, if you are in the creative business, you might want to take advantage of Instagram and Pinterest marketing as well. Video and image content and straight-to-the-point messages will do better than long-winded content on social media.

Review Sites

To boost your reputation and image, you will need to be present on more than one social media sites and review sites. To make people trust you, it is important that you allow them to find out more about how you work and what other people think about your product or services. Whenever you get a new customer, ask them for a feedback, and get them to vote for you. A five-star review on a local business directory can increase your brand’s exposure.

New companies often struggle with creating a buzz about their brand. Today, thanks to social media, it is possible to get the message out without having a huge branding budget. Create a powerful message, and use every channel available to connect with your target market on a personal level.

Branding Blunders To Avoid When Choosing A New Business Name

As I previously blogged, coming up with a great business name is not easy. Especially now that we have to deal with other businesses from around the world that might be using the name. With the Internet, we need to think globally instead of locally.

I followed up my original blog article with a 9-point checklist of branding blunders you want to avoid when choosing a business name. It was published on the Internet’s #1 domain registrar, GoDaddy.com.

GoDaddy.com is a great resource for checking and buying domain names (URLs) for your company’s online presence. I’ll blog about that soon, how you need to protect your online corporate identity and branding, but for now, let’s stick to avoiding the most common mistakes to finding a great business name!

 

 

 

 

Selecting A Business Name That ‘Sticks’

Bland To BrandIf you are a subscriber to this blog, you know that I have covered how to go from Bland To Brand by creating A Persona That Precedes You with ample real case studies and successful examples.

I just recently published an extensive article on the Internet’s #1 registrar GoDaddy.com. GoDaddy is a great service I have used right from the very early days of the Internet, more than 20 years ago.

Click on the URL -> to learn how to come up with business naming ideas that stick!

Why Customisation Is Key For Business Success

‘Customisation’ is a word that gets used a lot in businesses of today. It almost feels like every company is trying to find as many ways as possible to customise themselves. There’s custom this and custom that, but why is this idea so important for business success?

In many ways, it’s the key to setting up a successful business. When you off customised experiences, you’re tailoring them for your customers. People can choose specific things based on their needs, and this leads to increased customer happiness. Everyone ends up with exactly what they wanted, not the same thing as a load of other people. Not only that, but customisation can help you and your employees as well. In reality, the best way to illustrate all the benefits of customisation is to talk about some of the main areas of your company you should customise, and the effect this has.

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Custom Services

Firstly, we start off with something that’s already been mentioned; custom services. By offering a service that’s fully customisable, your customers have greater control over what they purchase. You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that this is a highly positive thing. Customers like being in control as it helps them know they’re making a good decision. No one enjoys spending money that they end up regretting. Immediately, you build trust with your customers because you give them the ability to take control. Furthermore, the chances of someone being dissatisfied are now lower than before. After all, if someone has customised a service to suit their needs, then it generally means they’ve got what they want. You’ll deal with fewer issues, fewer refunds, and complete more sales.

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Custom Software

Stepping inside your company, and you’ll undoubtedly have ways of doing your general work. Orders have to be logged somewhere, employees have to be managed, and finances need to be worked out. Now, you can make life easier for yourself if you create custom software for some of these processes. All you need to do is find the best software development companies around, and talk to them about your idea. With custom software, you can use something that’s specifically designed for your company, and your company only. This has a massive impact on how your employees work, as they use something that’s tailormade. With a lot of business software, you end up with a big package of things that you rarely use. You might only need one feature, and the rest is there as a distraction. When you have custom software, it’s all relevant, and should be easier to use. As a result, you can boost productivity and improve your work output.

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Custom Website

Everyone knows how important a website is for businesses these days. It forms the basis of your whole online marketing strategy. However, there are different approaches to website design and development. You’ll find website building tools online that offer a quick way of creating your business site. Many companies choose this route because it’s cheap, provides a professional looking site, and doesn’t take a long time. But, there’s one major downside; your website can look very similar to other sites. It may have the same template, use similar design elements, and so on. This is one of the reasons I believe a custom website is the better option for businesses. With a custom site, you automatically set your company apart from everyone else. You use a unique design that doesn’t copy other templates, and this helps strengthen your brand. There’ll be no confusion between your site and similar business websites. Everyone will know the site belongs to you! As well as this, you can customise every element of the site to properly reflect your brand values. No stone is left unturned, and you can full align your site with your brand.

In summary; every business should try and offer a service that’s customisable in some way. Even if you sell products on an online store, you can offer custom delivery slots or a choice to customise designs, etc. Alongside this, your business needs to use custom software to help speed up processes and streamline your work. Finally, a custom website is beneficial when it comes to solidifying your brand and standing out from the rest.

When you combine all of the benefits of customisation, you start to see how great it truly is for your company. You end up with happier customers, employees that can do their work to a higher standard, and a thriving brand that people will recognise. So, if you run a business and are looking for new ways of improving your success, then think about customising certain elements of it.

Important Ways For Small Businesses To Protect Their Reputation

The trouble with any business is that people only see the window dressing. If you run a restaurant for example, they only see the pristine table cloth, the napkins and the glittering silverware. They don’t see the turmoil going on in the kitchen, the care attention and effort that goes into each and every dish or the years of hard work and personal sacrifice from all parties that went into making the business what it is today. A good business is like a swan. It must be elegant, graceful and beautiful on the surface while a striving mass of activity beneath the surface. The trouble is that even the most elegant of swans can flounder every once in a while, or encounter something above the surface that ruffles its feathers.

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If you own a small business, you know that your reputation is everything. It’s what brings customers to your establishment rather than your competitors and what keeps them coming back to you again and again at the expense of all others. Every day in business, entrepreneurs face challenges that can damage their reputation from disgruntled customers to angry ex employees to tardy suppliers. If you’re to effectively manage your reputation, especially in your early years when your small business is vulnerable, you need to be proactive and assemble the infrastructure that will enable your business to keep its head held high at all times.

Lawyer up!

It’s important that your legal interests are protected should someone make a claim against your business. This will help to settle matters quickly and decisively without impinging on your business’ reputation. Thus you should have numerous attorneys on standby to protect your business in the key areas in which they often find themselves vulnerable. These include asn employee law firm like Ogletree Deakins, a business transaction lawyer and a tax attorney. By investing in the right legal representation you are well placed to protect your business’ reputation.

Always be training

Outstanding customer service is the key to ensuring that your reputation isn’t damaged by angry tirades from disgruntled customers on social media. While you can mitigate the damage caused by this (which we’ll get into shortly) your first line of defence is your customer facing employees. As such you need to invest in regular training and incentivize outstanding customer service with challenges, competitions and rewards.

Keep that cash flow healthy

Nothing will derail your business more than insufficient stock or cracks in the veneer of our physical store that just scream “underinvestment”. As such you need to ensure that your business maintains a healthy cash flow so that you can pay your debtors on time and ensure that you never experience lapses in normal service. Of course this is easier said than done but here are some pointers on maintaining healthy cash flow.

Be responsive and decisive on social media

Social media is a great tool for consumers to hold businesses accountable to them, but it’s important to manage interactions with customers on social media effectively. Ensure that someone is responsible for monitoring social media platforms for comments that could be damaging to your reputation. Deal with them openly and responsively on those platforms and demonstrate your willingness to make things right. Most customers can be turned around if you give them a platform to let you know what you can do to repair that relationship.

Cooking Up a Storm: Rules for Restaurant Success

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Starting a restaurant is one of the most popular business ideas for budding entrepreneurs, but it is also a field in which it is very difficult to make a profit. You need to have a watertight business model, put in a lot of hard work, and have food that gets people talking about you. Don’t expect to be an instant success as it takes a long time to build up the reputation that you are looking for. However, once you establish yourself in the restaurant sector, it is an area that provides rewards both financial and professional. Here are just a few rules for restaurant success that you can follow yourself.

Stand Out from the Crowd

There are so many restaurants out there these days that you can’t expect to go down the middle of the road, open a generic eatery and get the attention that you are looking for. Instead, you need to aim to create a place that gets people talking. Just like starting any other kind of business, ask what your unique selling point is. Perhaps you are offering a new take on some already established classics. Maybe you are simply serving up some hearty favourites using high-quality local produce. And as well as the food itself, the decor and atmosphere will play a part in the overall impression that you leave your customers with. On top of all this, you also need to put a lot of thought into the branding and marketing. As you can see, there is an awful lot to think about!

Choose Your Location Wisely

Once you have the idea for your restaurant firmly in mind, the next thing which you need to consider closely is the location. Obviously, a place with high foot traffic will allow people to stop and come into your restaurant when they are passing by. However, the price of renting the premises will be higher and you are unlikely to be able to offer parking spots for people coming from further afield. Choose a place outside of the city and you are going to have to work much harder to build a reputation for yourself, but it is likely to be cheaper and you will probably be able to offer parking.

Refine Your Menu

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You are much more likely to achieve success by carving out a particularly niche for yourself rather than trying to please everybody with your menu. Concentrate on doing a limited number of dishes with skill and panache. Customers tend to get overwhelmed when they see a huge menu, and it is also assumed that you can’t possibly do all those dishes fantastically well. When you are trying to stock so many different ingredients, it also becomes extremely difficult to stock fresh ingredients, so you are left cooking food which turns out to the sub-par.

Consider the Layout

Obviously, the more people you serve, the bigger the profit that you will be able to make. But that doesn’t mean that you should just pack as many chairs into the space as you can. Perhaps you are aiming for the kind of big communal atmosphere that you get in German beer halls, but if you are looking to create something that offers a sense of intimacy, you need to think about spacing the tables out properly so people can enjoy their meals with the people who they came with.

Customer Service is Everything

In today’s world of Tripadvisor, Google and the like, a few bad reviews can seriously damage the reputation of your restaurant. And one of the biggest things that people complain about is poor service. So, when you are hiring staff, you need to ensure that they understand the importance of treating customers well. As well as the food, people go to restaurants for the overall experience. If there are any issues, try your best to deal with these at the time in a polite and friendly way. The last thing that you need is for your reputation to suffer online because of something which could have been dealt with at the restaurant.

Plan Out the Logistical Details

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You need to be rigidly organised when you are looking to open your own restaurant, and you should write everything down to ensure that you don’t forget about anything. Just some of the obviously considerations include furniture, decoration, croquery, uniforms, and signage. And then you have the details of partner companies and suppliers that you will be working alongside to provide a full service delivery. These include your food and beverage options as well as waste disposal such as Instant Waste Management professional grease trap services. The more planning you put into the details both big and small, the more likely it will be that you will make a success of your restaurant.

Generate Some Attention

You can’t expect people to simply turn up at your restaurant without generating a buzz about the place. So, you need to ensure that all your traditional marketing activities are done thoroughly. Create and hand out flyers, advertise in the local press etc. But since so much is done online these days, you don’t want to miss out on building a website, creating social media profiles and building up an email marketing list. And once you have that initial excitement, you need to keep this going by hosting events, tying your restaurant in with special occasion, and offering specific promotions. You also need to be attracting attention from online community by inviting bloggers along to build up some attention etc.

As we mentioned at the start, launching a restaurant is always going to be packed with difficulties and a huge number don’t end up keeping their doors open for a long period of time. However, hopefully, this article provides you with some of the basics to give yourself the best chance of achieving the success that you are looking for.