Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

How to Make Technology Work for Your Business

Running a business is a challenging task for many. You will need to make sure that you are able to increase the efficiency in your organization and make use of the technology available, or you will be left behind by your competitors. There are plenty of things you can now simplify using technology; mobile, cloud, or specific to your industry. Staying competitive in a crowded market is not easy, and that is why you have to dig deeper into different solutions and make your employees’ and clients’ life easier. Below you can find out more about what you can achieve in your business using technology the right way.

Track Your Inventory

Keeping track of your orders and your deliveries individually might be a little bit old school. You want to give your customers instant answers, instead of asking the relevant department and making them wait. There are plenty of great connected inventory management systems that will allow you to get up to date information on what you have coming, when it will arrive, and whether or not your suppliers are going to make the delivery on time. If you connect your own systems with your suppliers’, you will be able to serve your own customers better.

Monitor Your Employees

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It is also crucial that you are able to track the performance of your employees and make sure that they comply with the regulations. As an example, if you are in the construction industry, you will need to ensure that all your workers are doing the job as well as they should and are making progress, without the need to be present on site all the time. While you can appoint supervisors, it is possibly a good idea to allow your workers to report the progress using their mobile systems, so you can monitor the project and identify problems early. Communication is a good way of improving your services and getting rid of bottlenecks in your processes.

Identify Risks

While most companies in the construction or engineering industry are required to regularly carry out risk assessments and update their policies, it might be a good idea to monitor the risks constantly and make sure they are identified on time. As a part of Lean organizational management, you will need to constantly look out for areas of improvement and risks that can cause damage to your business or your clients. From implementing a pressure monitoring system to remotely checking the temperature of different machines, there are several ways you can reduce the risks in your business.

Collaborate Remotely

It is important that you collaborate with your suppliers, but working with a larger team also poses challenges. You will need to make the most out of your technology and ensure that you are able to improve the communication between teams and individual members. Let’s say that some of your staff is working on site, and the client calls the office for an update, or wants to know whether or not they can change the layout of the room you are completing. Instead of spending time and money on traveling, you can share data and even measurements to answer the question immediately.

Improve Productivity

No matter if you run a consultancy firm or a delivery company, you will need to ensure that you are able to improve the productivity of your workers every day. You can implement automatic quality checks and measure every stage of the process to identify bottlenecks. For example, if you have a process map and want to reduce the delivery time, you will have to find out which element is holding you back and improve that area, instead of redesigning your entire supply chain and spending too much time and money

Measure Waste

If you would like to embrace Lean principles in your business, you will also have to focus on waste. You can use an advanced cloud based software that will allow you to measure and reduce waste, so you can save money and make your company more sustainable at the same time. From measuring water usage to monitoring the energy use and the temperature in your premises, there are plenty of ways you can reduce waste; time, resources, and raw materials.

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Deliver Training

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Cloud and internet technology can also be used to deliver staff training and share knowledge. You can sign up for online sites that will allow your employees to learn at their own pace from home or the office, without having to travel to a training venue. Another advantage of delivering training through the cloud is that you will get performance reports, and the systems will highlight your employees’ individual development areas and further training or coaching needs.

Automate Your Social Media

No company can survive the competition without increasing their digital presence. If you don’t currently have a marketing team, and would rather not outsource your content creation, chances are that you will need to find a technology that allows you to automate your updates and distribute your content without having to spend hours trying to brainstorm ideas. Social media automation will help you increase awareness and build a strong brand.

Map New Processes

If you want your employees’ help in delivering better services, you might want to find out more about the it shared services model. It is a great way to encourage collaboration between teams, and can be used when your company is embarking on a journey of mergers and acquisitions. You will be able to create a process map of transitioning different roles and tasks, simplifying processes, and improving the value you are providing for your customers, while reducing your human resource expenses and general waste.

If you would like to make technology work for you, it is important that you first identify the development areas in your business and map the processes to find the bottlenecks that hold your productivity back. Once you have found the problem areas, you can use the above technologies to make your business more efficient.

Building Your Construction Business To Be As Safe As Houses

While most people who are considering the bright lights of self employment think about the freelancing, consulting or small services realms, there’s nothing to say that you cannot take a foray into the world of construction. If you are a highly skilled tradesperson, you’ve been working on building sites for years, and you know a few things about leadership and management, then why not branch out on your own. Being the foreman and project managing construction sites so that they run like well oiled machines is a real talent that requires exceptional organizational skills. If you think that you have what it takes, read on to find out the key things you must consider.

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Legislation

The most important aspect of your business planning will be legislation. Construction is heavily licenced and legislated for obvious reasons. The dangers of working in hazardous environments and with heavy machinery require an element of health and safety provision. Ensure that you have the relevant permits, surety bonds and insurances required to operate legally.

When you consider your health and safety plans, make sure that you set up training sessions for your staff. Ensure that every single person on site is following the same protocol and demand to see evidence of relevant certification. If you are working at height, make sure that you invest in safety railings, warning signage and adequate safety scaffolding. Your sites need to earn a reputation for being safe and well managed so ensure that you have given enough emphasis to this within your business plan.

Funding

As with any business, you need to ensure that you have enough startup funding to launch your startup. You could choose to go to your bank manager and pitch the qualities of your construction firm to him or her. Or you may choose to source a business angel who can aid you financially as well as with their industry contacts and knowledge. Either way, you must create a presentation that convinces them of the worthiness of your business plan. Ensure that you know your financial figures inside out. You must know your gross and net profit forecast for at least the next three years and consider the risks you might face and how you will mitigate them.

It’s vital you have enough cash flow and initial funding before you launch. Without a buoyant cash flow, you may find that your supply chain stalls and jobs don’t get completed.

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Make Contacts Now

If you are already working on building sites, start networking. Get to know the best plumbers, electricians, tilers, decorators and gas engineers. Tell them that you are looking for a well organized and flexible team to complete work to a high standard. If they are busy, then you know they are good! Take their details and hit the ground running when you are working on your first construction project.

Working in a field that you love is a luxury. Ensure that you set your construction company up the right way so that it is as safe as houses.

Using Technology To Improve Your Business

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Every business owner is looking for ways to improve their company and a lot of time these days that will involve making the most of technology. The role of tech in the workplace cannot be underestimated in the modern era of business and with that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the ways you can make the most of the digital landscape in your company. The ideas discussed here are all centred around the prospect of growing your business and improving working practices.

Marketing

We are going to start by looking at how marketing has been affected by technology over the past few decades and what you should be doing to attract customers and clients. The focus of our marketing section is going to be on making the most of social media and search engines in order to drive users to your website with the lowest amount of expenditure. There are many ways that you can use technology to improve your marketing campaigns including banner advertising and mass production of offline materials. But let’s take a look at the options we have outlined above.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

First of all, we should establish what we mean when discussing SEO. Well, this is the practice of preparing your website or web pages for internet visibility, with a particular focus on appearing in organic search results. In this case, the word organic means unpaid because there are paid options for appearing high in search results, referred to as sponsored posts. However, for the purposes of what we are discussing we are going to look at organic results.

In order to ensure you are optimised for search engines, you will need to research what the current algorithms of the major websites in this field are using. However, some of the must-dos before diving too deep into SEO is to ensure that you have the right keywords appearing on your web page, that the loading time of your website is quick and there is high-quality content enhanced by your reputation via backlinks.

The first of these, keywords, is possibly the easiest to work towards. Using free tools like Google’s keyword planner, you can see what words and phrases are most commonly linked to the product or services that you sell. You then need to make sure they feature prominently on your website so that the search engine recognises you as relevant when a user searches terms related to your business.

Social Media

It can seem like everyone and their dog is on social media these days, and that is because most people are. Whether that means sharing their daily updates on Facebook, engaging with trends on Twitter or sharing their photos on Instagram, there is social media availability for everyone, and that includes business. You should make the most of these free channels to grab the attention of potential customers through engaging content and being part of the conversations that are relevant to you. However, one word of warning when it comes to social media and business is to ensure you are using the networks that are right for your company and industry. A big mistake is wasting your marketing time on social media channels that your target audience are not using.


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Productivity

In the same way that improvement is vital to business, as too is making sure the company is operating at its most productive levels. Thanks to the rise of technology there are now more ways than ever before to ensure your workforce are operating at optimum level and wasting little time – without having to be a domineering manager.

Applications across the board are helping companies get the most out of their teams. Communications software, for example, allow you and your teams to manage parts of the business that were once divided in one simple hub. Apps can give access to social media platforms across an entire team so that you can assign updates to different parts of the company, as well as allow for greater communication via video chat or instant messaging. Where there was once a need to gather teams for regular meetings, you can now provide updates via various apps so that your employees are up-to-date with the goings on of the company, their daily workload and the markets you are working in without having to stop working to converse or be otherwise distracted from the task at hand.

4 Things Not To Forget In Your Business Budget

Starting a business comes with its own challenges, and one said challenge is dealing with the business expenses that you need to budget for when you go for financial assistance. If you took the risk to start your own business, you already know that it takes money to make money, and when you’re starting out, there are a lot of overlooked costs that you will forget to put into your budget.

There are some expenses that are obvious and that are appropriate to business. For example, you can find hospital scrubs at a discount and buy them in for a healthcare business, but you may have forgotten to add these to your expenses list. If you are running an IT business, you need to ensure that you’ve paid enough for support and cloud storage. These expenses are often forgotten as they are supportive and not ‘main’ expenses. There are some other costs that are overlooked and here are some of them:

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Research Expenses. When you start your business, you need to conduct research in the industry and of your customers so that you know that your business idea is a valid one. Research expenses help to pay for the time that you are dealing with consumer reports and knowing who your customers are going to be. If you don’t budget correctly for it, you end up with a business that is lacking in its knowledge and won’t survive.

Business Insurance. It’s something that should be at the very top of your list of expenses, as the number of types of business insurance is fairly big:

  • General liability insurance

  • Medical insurance

  • Worker’s compensation insurance

  • Commercial vehicle insurance

  • Professional liability insurance

General liability insurance protects you from disasters and worker’s compensation covers you for the full-time staff that you have on full time. Insurance can get expensive, but it’s a necessity and you can shop around for the best deals. You can talk to your legal team about the insurances that your particular business will need, and they can advise you.

Borrowing Costs. Even those businesses that go for bootstrapping still require some kind of capital to get them started. There are two ways that you can get more capital for your business: equity financing and debt financing. You can raise capital in exchange for stock in the company and it may be a good idea to attract investors this way, but you have to be willing to let go of some of the control of your business to do it.

Staff Expenses. If you have hired or are planning to hire staff, you need benefits. Wages, bonuses, healthcare, dental, training – all of these have associated costs that add up. If you don’t budget for these expenses, you’re going to find yourself well out of your depth and out of luck when you can’t hire anyone. When you don’t have benefits on your books, you cannot attract the right talent.

Don’t forget these key costs with your business, and you will be able to run a company like the boss you are.

Farm Your Way To A Profit With These Brilliant Tips For Agri-Businesses

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If there is one industry that continually bucks the market trends and expectations, it has to be agriculture. This sector of business wasn’t as hard-hit by previous financial crises as some industries and sectors, and even when farms have gone through difficult financial periods, they’ve always been able to bounce back. Most of that is all down to the perseverance of farmers and their complete knowledge of their profession. However, even if you are one of the most experienced farmers in your region, you might still find that it’s difficult to grow your business and add even more to your profits.

It doesn’t always have to be such a struggle to make your farm even more profitable, though. These tips should help you turnover big revenues in the future.

Invest In Good Tools And Equipment

It will really pay off if you utilize the best possible tools and equipment on your farm. Really good equipment and machinery can help you do a better job in all things practical. That can help you grow better crops and keep all your livestock in better conditions, which will help produce better meat. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to buy good tools and equipment – you can always consider hiring it.

Research The Best Livestock And Crops For Your Climate

You might have noticed that farms and smallholdings in certain regions all tend to produce the same kinds of crops or rear the same breeds of livestock. There’s a very good reason for this – they will find that certain crops and livestock breeds flourish in their region. This is all down to the climate. For instance, Highland cattle won’t be suited to living on a farm in Florida as the weather will be far too hot for them. So, it’s always best to research the best-possible livestock and crops for your year-round climate.

Always Plan In Advance

All of the best farmers out there have planned their crop rotation and livestock care well in advance. If you use a tool like Precision AG by MKC Coop, then you should find that it becomes even easier to plan things like crop rotation. It’s really key to plan this kind of stuff in advance so that you can make sure that your land is always working for you no matter what time of year. It also ensures that you don’t suffer from long fallow periods in which you won’t be making any money at all.

Find Some Hands-On Help

Running a farm is certainly hard work and trying to do it all yourself could leave you extremely stressed and on the cusp of burning out. So, it’s always best to hire some hands-on help if you need it. I’m sure there will be plenty of willing farm hands looking for work in your local area.

Your farm should never be a drain on your bank account. If anything, you can ensure it’s helping you bring in as much cash as possible with all the tips above.

The Ultimate Guide To Agricultural Machinery

All farmers heavily rely on machines. If you are to run efficiently and reap maximum profit, acquiring the right machinery is imperative. There is certainly a lot more to this than meets the eye. After all, there are a lot of tasks that must be complete on a farm, yet you cannot purchase agricultural machinery for each and every one of them. You need to be selective and savvy with your decisions. This post is here to help you do so.

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First and foremost, let’s take a look at some of the most popular machines in the world of farming. Of course, there is only one place to begin, and this is with a tractor – the general machine each and every farmer needs to purchase. Yet, aside from this, what else is beneficial for your business? Diet feeders are extremely popular nowadays. They mix the feed effectively and ensure all animals receive the right amount of nutrients. This helps to guarantee your farm is running as efficiently as possible. It will also aid with the transportation of the feed as well. Aside from this, dual spreaders are extremely popular. They have improved dramatically over the past few years and can be used in a variety of conditions and on the trickiest of terrains. Other popular machines include solid feeder units, composting machines, trailers, and discharge spreader units.

Acquiring the right machinery is not the only decision that must be made, the next thing you need to determine is whether to purchase or rent the machines. A lot of farmers prefer to buy machinery outright so they have something to show for their money. However, not everyone can afford the large start-up costs that are associated with buying agricultural machinery. Because of this, leasing is a more viable option. This grants you temporary usage of the machine over a fixed period of time. This is especially helpful if you only need the machinery for a short lease. All you need is to pay to borrow the machinery and for Red Diesel to power it. You will have to pay the company in question either on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. There is no right or wrong solution. It is all about finding what works for you. There are companies who offer a rent to buy option. In this instance, you would lease the machine, and then after the fixed period, you can decide whether you wish to buy it or not. If you do want to make the purchase, the amount you have paid so far for leasing will come off the price of the machine.

Last but not least, no matter whether renting or buying, there are some key decisions you need to make when obtaining any machine to ensure it is the right one for your farm specifically. You need to make sure the machine is the correct size for your farm. You don’t want anything too big, as you will fail to run efficiently, yet if you select a machine too small you will struggle to cope with the demands of your farm. In addition to this, make sure you purchase from a credible company and read reviews that have been left by previous customers to determine whether they have been happy with the machine in question or not. This is the best way to be certain you are buying a machine of quality.

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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