How To Communicate Effectively With Your Customers

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What’s the most important thing that your business needs to succeed? You may be tempted to say money or awareness or innovation, but you’d be wrong. Because you could have any of those things and still not succeed. The sole thing you need to succeed is customers. Without customers, you won’t be going anywhere.

A lot of the time, businesses will focus on what they need to do to win more custom or increase their sales. But this can involve reeling in new customers that don’t stick around for long. And that’s not the aim of the game. Instead, you need to be able to work on creating a lasting relationship with your customers. That’s the secret to winning at business. But first, to better understand your customers, you need to be able to communicate with them.

Understand Their Needs

It’s this idea of being able to understand your customers that is going to make or break your business. If you’re targeting the wrong audience, if you’re not really uncovering what your customers want, and you’re focusing on your own assumptions, you’ll lose. Instead, you need to work on understanding what your customers need – and not just from your business, but overall. Because this holistic approach will help you to communicate with them more effectively, and show that you’re a business they need to buy from or work with.

Listen And Take Action

The most important part of that process is going to be for you to listen to them, and then take action. The listening part is something that, if you can do it well, will make your business work. Really take in what it is that they need, work with feedback, and then react. Make changes based on what they need or want from you. Then your business will be able to better serve their needs.

Use The Right Methods

But at the same time, you do really need to ensure that you’re using the best ways to communicate with your customers and your audience overall. Think about the methods you can use. Ask yourself are faxes secure or will email work? Maybe telephone is more direct or will they prefer social interaction? Here, feel free to experiment, as you’ll only ever know what works best by trying different ideas.

Focus On Ease

Next, you’re going to want to think about the most easiest ways to reach them. Yes, trialling different methods is a good idea, but don’t overcomplicate things. Texting might work and so could direct mail. Just think about what will be easiest for your customers, and how they will prefer to communicate with you.

Don’t Forget Face To Face

And don’t underestimate the power of face to face interactions with your clients and customers. Yes, everyone is digital these days, but it’s not your only option to get results. In fact, putting a name to a face can work more in your favor. So try to take things offline as well as engaging in a digital setting.

Why Unbeatable Digital Skills Will Boost Your Career Massively

Your skills are what make your employable, but which skills are most important of all? Everyone likes a team player, and you’re going to have to be able to do the basics of the job right. But it’s increasingly the digital skills an employee has to offer that matter more than anything else. If you’re not yet prioritising these skills and emphasising them heavily when you apply for a role, that’s something that should change. Here’s why it’s so very important right now.

Digital is the Here and Now

Being able to build websites and use things like a modern drag and drop landing page builder are exactly what’s needed right now. These are the things that clients take for granted, but they have be completed by someone. Digital matters come first; they’re the here and now. If you can impress people with these things, you’ll pull ahead and impress the people that matter.

Employers Want People Who Can Help Them Engage With Youth Markets

Right now, the youth market has never been more important, so you need so show employers that you know how to tap into that particular demographic. If you can do that, bosses will want you working for them because it’s a rare skill to have. Young markets centred around digital issues are drifted away from many established businesses at quite an alarming rate, so now is the time to improve yourself.

It’s a Simple Way to Bolster Your CV

It remains the case that a good CV is the first time that will make your stand out from other candidates. And your list of skills is one of the things on that CV that employers will really want to see. To improve that list of skills in a serious way you should be adding digital skills to it. It’s simple but it matters more to employers than you realise.

It Can be a Way of Beating More Experienced Candidates to the Job

Sure, you might not have the experience that can boasted by other candidates going for a big job, but you might be able to compete and ultimately win when it comes to showing off digital skills that are able to cut through. Experience only matters to people if it’s in the correct areas, so don’t downplay your digital skills.

The Demand for Your Skills Will Only Increase

In the years ahead, digital skills are only going to become more important. And that means means that you’re only going to become more in demand. So don’t sell yourself short; the future is in your hands. You can decide where the future lies and who gets to take advantage of your skills.

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The digital skills you currently possess could really help you to make waves in your career, so this is something that you should start to look into ASAP. The sooner you can build up your portfolio of digital skills, the sooner you’ll find that your career starts heading in the direction you want it to.

Don’t Let Your Customers Be Your Business’ Undoing

Even when they’re not standing right in front of you, they’re never far from your thoughts. They’re the reason you get up in the morning. The reason you do what you do. They’re your business’ life’s blood and without them it would all come crashing down around you. You love them and you hate them. You can’t get enough of them, and you can’t do enough for them. They are your customers. You deal with them every day each and every one has the capacity to either make or ruin your day. Now more than ever, customer service should be your highest priority.

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Of course, customer service is nothing new. For years and years, businesses have scratched their heads trying to find new and innovative ways of not only nurturing their relationships with the customers they have, but keeping a steady influx of new customers coming to your business. The digital age, however, presents businesses and entrepreneurs with a new and unique set of challenges. In an age where competition is rife, customers can afford to be fickle, and thus we need to take greater and greater steps to ensure that they keep coming to us rather than straying into the open arms of our competitors. The age of social media also makes us more accountable than ever to our customers. With a well placed and extremely public complaint on social media, our customers can leave a big black mark on our brand which can be difficult to wash off. Here we’ll look at some ways in which you can keep your customers happy and loyal and prevent them from being your business’ undoing.

Stand by your brand

Your brand is so much more than a flashy logo and a catchy slogan. It’s more than just a color scheme and an eye catching landing page. It’s a set of values, and it’s a promise that you make to each and every customer who walks through your door or scrolls through your homepage. Thus, it’s vitally important that you stand by your brand. It should be a banner which you rally your employees behind. The values and attitudes that make up your mission statement should be the guiding force behind every customer interaction and every front facing procedure, which brings us to…

Always be training

As passionate and invested in your business as you are, even you can’t be everywhere. Moreover, micromanaging your business can be extremely counterproductive. You need to ensure that each and every employee under your roof will handle a customer in the exact same way that you would. The surest way to achieve this is through regular training.

Training not only helps you to communicate and maintain the values upon which your brand is based, it also helps to keep your workforce energized and motivated. It prevents employees from resting on their laurels and keeps them striving for perfection.

Build value into every purchase

When starting out in business, many nascent entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that they need to undercut their competitors on price in order to poach their customers. The trouble with this mentality is that while it may generate a brief influx of customers, it starts your business off on the back foot with low profit margins. When, inevitably, you need to up your prices again, there’s no guarantee that customers will remain loyal.

Rather than cutting down price, make efforts to build up value. Research has shown that customers are generally happy to pay more if they feel that they are getting exceptional value for their money. Therefore, make sure that every discount and freebie is clearly stated on your invoice. Make sure that customers are aware of any loyalty schemes you may operate, or make a point of how your superior quality of product justifies a higher price tag than that of your competitors while giving them value for money that your competitors can’t match.

Limit your liability

What happens if a customer slips and injures themselves in your store? What happens if one of your products ends up somehow injuring your customers? This could be a crippling blow to your reputation. While there are certainly ways in which you can mitigate the damage this causes, you’ll see from perusingh Equifyllc.com that insurance is one of the 5 key principles in making a business stronger. This means not only that you have Commercial General Liability insurance (also known as Public Liability insurance) but that you insure against liability issues through adhering to strictly defined quality control procedures and strictly maintained health and safety standards.

Handle complaints quickly and decisively

As much effort as we may put into each and every customer interaction, complaints are an unfortunate inevitability. We can either bury our heads in the sand and hope that they blow over or we can take the bull by the horns. The most important weapon in your arsenal here is an official complaints procedure which you and your employees must adhere to. This is vital in not only ensuring that complaints are dealt with effectively but that your workplace culture sees complaints as an opportunity to improve and not a threat. The longer you let a complaint go unanswered, the more potential damage it can do. Show your customers that you care by acting on their complaint quickly and decisively, working collaboratively with them to ensure that they get a mutually satisfactory outcome.

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Make it personal

Did you ever wonder why the baristas at Starbucks ask you your name before they prepare your coffee? Granted, there’s a practicality at work here; the barista needs to make sure that the right people get the right drink. It’s primary purpose, however, is that it’s an easy way to build value into the drink through the appearance of personalization. Just the act of writing your name on the cup helps to make it more than just a cup of coffee, it’s your cup of coffee!

How you which you can build opportunities for personalization and customization into your products and services will depend on the nature of your business. From building bespoke packages of products to suit the needs of individual customers to to using 3D printing techniques to allow customers to tailor your products to their exact specifications, the possibilities are practically limitless.

The Cost Of Sickies In Australia

I previously blogged that some people are more committed to being sick than successful. Admittedly it is a provocative position to take – but read the article to fully grasp the perspective presented.

Sick leave costs small to medium sized businesses lost productivity and revenue each year has an impact on the economy overall but when employees are sick they do need to take time off. Implementing practices to help alleviate the effects of illness can assist businesses reduce the number of lost hours as well as financial impact on the business.

For the average Australian employee an increasingly busy life leads to longer hours and more demanding work, which can translate to increasing levels of stress and health problems, negatively affecting employees’ work attendance and productivity. That means more sick days that costs businesses money and make it more difficult to turn a profit in an ultra-competitive market.

The following statistics shows the impact on businesses as a result of ‘sickies’:

  1. In NSW, the average SME loses $26,536 in productivity a year due to sick leave. In Queensland it is $20,510, in Victoria the average loss is $16,406, in South Australia it is $15,612 and in Western Australia it is $5103.
  2. Direct Health Solutions (DHS), a nation leader in absence management, put the cost per sick day at $350; DHS’s 2016 Absence Management Survey found that on average employees took nine sick days per annum and that the total cost per employee was roughly $3,608.
  3. Since 2010, the rate of absenteeism across Australia has risen by 7%, while as much as 5% of the Australian workforce calls in sick on any given day. The annual cost to the Australian economy of lost productivity through absenteeism is a staggering $33 billion, with a total of 92 million working days being lost through unexpected absences.
  4. A large number of employers almost accept this level of absenteeism, rather than showing firm leadership and tackling the issue. As many as 3 out of 5 organisations do not record absences properly, with up to 25% of absences going unreported. A common theme across Australian workplaces is that of an ‘entitlement culture’, where employees view absenteeism as a right to take, rather than a privilege to fall back upon when needed.
  5. According to DHS, absenteeism costs the Australian economy more than $33 billion in wages and lost productivity every year. In 2016, absenteeism increased by 0.9 days to 9.5 days per employee, at an average cost of $3608.
  6. 92 million work days are lost in Australia per year. This lost accounts for 8% of payroll.
  7. Industries with the most absenteeism:
    • Travel, Tourism and hospitality – 11.9 days per year
    • Transport & Logistics – 11.6 days per year
    • Telecommunications & Utilities – 10 days per year
  8. Absence levels in banking, finance & insurance increased significantly to 9.7 days. The contact centre industry experienced a 14% reduction in absence levels, to 9.7 days per employee per annum, down from 11.6 days in 2015.
  9. More than 70% of absenteeism is as a result of “entitlement mentality”
  10. A survey, conducted by research agency RAND Europe, revealed Malaysian employees lose 67 days a year to absenteeism or presenteeism due to poor health and fitness (Presenteeism is when an employee works while sick, causing productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion and workplace epidemics). The average yearly cost of health-related absenteeism and presenteeism per organisation is estimated at RM2.7 million.
  11. According to the 2017 Absence Management and Wellbeing Survey, conducted by Direct Health Solutions, employees in the private sector took an average of 9.5 days sick leave, while public sector workers took a considerably higher average of 11.4 days leave. Some 40 per cent of organisations said they experienced an increase in workplace absences in 2017, while a third (33 per cent) said levels had remained steady.
  12. When organisations take into account the indirect costs of absenteeism, such as replacement labour, lost productivity and increased risk, absenteeism can cost organisations up to 8% of total payroll costs.
  13. The cost of absenteeism to businesses also includes:
    • •    Loss of production
    • •    Increased production costs
    • •    Increased workloads
    • •    Low moral
    • •    Increase in overtime costs
    • •    Frustrated managers
    • •    Poor product quality
    • •    Increased management and supervision costs and stress
    • •    Adverse opinions held by customers
  14. According to PwC UK workers took 9.1 days of unscheduled absence over the past year, Canadian employees took 9.1 days, up from 8 days in the previous year, Irish workers took 6.4 days of unscheduled leave, and US employees used 4.9 days. In Asia, the average number was a comparatively miniscule 2.2 days, while in New Zealand, workers took just 4.5 days.
  15. In Australia, the high rate of absenteeism led to 88 million working days being lost to the national economy at a cost of $33 billion in sick leave costs and lost productivity. The cost to British businesses was even higher: they are losing £32 billion per annum – that’s the equivalent of almost AU$70bn. In the US, it’s estimated that the direct cost of total paid time off as a percentage of payroll stands at 8.1%.
  16. Studies indicate that indirect costs reflect co-workers are 29.5% less productive when covering for unplanned absence days. An overwhelming 90% of respondents indicated that unplanned absences added to the workload. With 61% saying that this increased stress, while almost half said it hurt workplace morale. Two in five said that covering for others reduced the quality of their work.
  17. A report, led by Monash Professor Alex Collie, shows that 786,000 workers accessed income support from a private or government source in the 2015/16 financial year, in addition to at least 6.5 million workers who used sick leave. The total direct costs amounted to $37.2 billion for the year.
  18. The Australian HR Institute (AHRI) conducted a survey in 2016 which found that while 80% of respondents believe absence levels in their workplace could be reduced, 79% said their workplace did not record the cost of absence.
  19. On average, Australian employees take 8.8 unscheduled days off per year. This costs employers approximately $578 per employee per absent day, with the annual cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy an estimated $44 billion per year.
  20. 87% of employers believe that at least one employee will call in sick after a major sporting event.
  21. Employees reasons for absences:
    • Minor illness – 93%
    • Family/carers duties – 76%
    • Recurring illness – 30%
    • Mental issues – 21%
    • Alcohol/drug related – 5%
  22. In the UK workplace absence costs businesses an estimated £29 billion each year, the average worker takes 6.6 sick days and the approximate cost per employee is £550 each year.
  23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or $1,685 per employee.
  24. According to the Harvard Business Review, more employees are working when they are sick, costing employers about $150 billion to $250 billion or 60 percent of the total cost of worker illness. Additionally, chronic diseases, a rapidly-aging workforce and factors like stress, fatigue and depression all affect employers’ revenue.
  25. The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index conducted a survey of 94,000 workers across 14 major occupations in the U.S. Of the 77% of workers who fit the survey’s definition of having a chronic health condition (asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity), the total annual costs related to lost productivity totaled $84 billion. According to the survey, the annual costs associated with absenteeism vary by industry, with the greatest loss occurring in professional occupations.
  26. Annual cost of lost productivity by major U.S. occupations (in billions):
  • Managers/executives               $15.7
  • Service workers                         $8.5
  • Clerical/office                            $8.1
  • Sales                                            $6.8
  • School teachers (K-12)            $5.6
  • Nurses                                        $3.6
  • Transportation                         $3.5
  • Manufacturing/production    $2.8
  • Business owners                       $2.0
  • Installation/repair                    $1.5
  • Construction/mining               $1.3
  • Physicians                                   $0.25
  • Farmers/foresters/fishers       $0.16

 

Safety Features That All Businesses Should Have

No matter what kind of business you run, it’s important to ensure that everyone included in the running of your business is safe. Afterall, materials and other things can be replaced, but human lives cannot. That’s why each and every business owner needs to take care to make sure that their members of staff, customers, and themselves are safe at all times. If you’re not sure where you start, read on to find out the safety features that all businesses should have so that you can begin implementing them in your business.

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Insurance

The first thing that you should be looking into for your business is taking out insurance so that if anyone becomes harmed on your premises or because of work that you’ve carried out, you can deal with the consequences. Not only is it important to make sure that everyone involved is safe, but the reputation and financial status of your business hangs at stake too.

There are many different types of insurance that you could choose to go for, but the best option is always fully comp because no matter what you will know that you, your business, and anyone else involved will get everything they need.

Safety equipment

If your business requires you or your members of staff to use specialist equipment, you need to make sure that you’re providing the right safety equipment for the job to prevent any injuries or even worse, death. Even features like safety swing gates are important so that people or goods that you’re carrying aren’t going to fall, and no one is going to get injured.

While all of this might cost you a pretty penny or two, it’s imperative for the safety of you and your staff members. Remember that will all equipment and machinery you need to be providing extensive training so that no one can accidentally misuse it and hurt themselves.

Rules and regulations

In any workplace, the main reason for rules and regulations is to simply keep people safe from harm. If you haven’t already made some, consider these ideas to create your own set of expectations:

  • If anyone is handling heavy machinery or using something that could be potentially dangerous, you must work in pairs of two for supervision and also help if anything goes wrong. The same goes for if you’re working in a dangerous area like a construction site.

  • Don’t handle machinery or equipment that you don’t know how to use.

  • If you don’t feel safe carrying out a task you’ve been given, then speak to management or your supervisor.

  • If you notice someone cutting corners and putting themselves and others at risk, report it immediately.

  • If you’re not sure on something, always ask.

  • Be aware of other people around you.

  • Always alert management if you’re taking medication or anything else that could impair your judgement.

There are many other regulations that you may want to add, but there are some ideas to get you started. Make sure that everyone has easy access to it and it’s never not on show.

Surveillance

Safety doesn’t just mean the risk of someone hurting themselves because of something you haven’t done. It also includes the risk of armed thieves and terrorists that may try and put you at risk. Install some surveillance around the premises of your work so that you can rest assured that you are able to see everything that’s going on. If your business is at high risk of attacks because of what it sells or what it’s worth, it might be an idea to hire some security guards to help handle and diffuse situations too.

Online safety

Finally, it’s not just in person that you can be harmed from, it’s the online world too. It’s now easier than ever for people to hack into what seem like secure systems and get hold of personal data or money to use at their own will. Make sure that you’re using the best cyber security programs within your business so that you’re not exposing yourself and inviting hackers.

Keeping everyone safe is a big job, but it’s one that must be done so that you don’t end up with a lawsuit, or even being harmed yourself. Apply these features to your business and stay safe!

Effective Ways To Improve Your Business And Increase Sales

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Whether you work alone or are in charge of a huge workforce, it’s always important to ensure that your business keeps improving and growing. If you fail to do this, then you won’t keep up with competing businesses, and will eventually go under. Unfortunately, making improvements to your small business isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish, as you have to consider many different variables before making a solid decision. Despite this, there are a few things that are almost always useful to small businesses. Here they are for you to consider.

1. Set Achievable Goals

As a small business owner, it’s essential that you’re always setting your business targets and goals that it needs to meet within a certain time frame. This helps to keep your business moving, improving, and growing and is vital when it comes to keeping yourself and your employees motivated. However, you must make sure that these goals are achievable, as there’s no point in stressing yourself and everyone else out trying to accomplish the impossible.

2. Use A Better Marketing Strategy

When it comes to marketing, there is almost always room for improvement. More often than not, business owners spend way too much money on marketing that isn’t very effective, which not only wastes the money but precious time too. Before you invest a lot of money into a marketing tactic, try it out for a short while and see if there is an increase in sales. Only once you know this, should you add this tactic to your overall strategy.

3. Improve Your Product Or Service

As great as you think your product or service is, there may be something that you could do to improve it, which would bring in more customers. To find out what this is, you need to conduct market research. This could be something as small as adding date paste from http://www.globalfoods.uk.com/ to your energy bars or offering package deals for your coaching services. Whatever the improvement, you need to speak to customers to identify it.

4. Keep Your Staff Motivated

Without your employees, your business wouldn’t be able to go on and would quickly go under, so it’s essential that you do what you can to keep your employees motivated and working their best. When most people think of motivations for employees, they think of money, but this isn’t usually necessary. Often, staff work harder for employers they like and respect, so make sure your employees know that you care about them.

5. Improve Your Customer Service

As it says at http://smallbusiness.chron.com/, great customer service is essential for keeping customers once your marketing has got them through the door. If you don’t have good customer service, then customers will leave and shop somewhere where they feel respected and cared about. There are many ways to improve your customer service, but one of the most effective is providing staff with customer service training.

If you want to improve your business and increase sales, then consider some of the methods mentioned above.

Keeping Track Of An International Office

Going international is something a lot of businesses dream of doing, both big and small. It means your product and service reach is going to bigger than ever, and you’ll have to cope with less and less astronomical shipping costs associated with the online world. However, it’s never an easy thing to do. Another country has different values to your own, in all walks of life, and thus you might not be so relevant in your chosen market on the other side of the world.

When it comes to expansion, there’s a lot you have to keep track of in your business, and that can be incredibly daunting. But if you’re one of the few people who are able to get another office up and running, especially if it’s in another country, you’ve got another set of problems on your plate. Here’s a couple of tips to get you started in your international office making plans.

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Know and Adhere to the Laws

If you’re operating in another country, you’re going to need to understand the laws regarding business and employment to even try and get started. If you don’t, you’re not going to survive in the foreign market for very long, and that’s never going to do anything good for your reputation. And sometimes things can fall by the wayside when you’re not around to keep an eye on things; try to hire experts within your chosen country to run the office for you.

Approaching a situation like this is hard when you don’t know where to start to find the information necessary, so try to get a contact in the country you want to expand into. Usually someone who works in finance, although a lawyer wouldn’t be too bad for this position either. Depending on the expansion budget you’re working with, of course. Or you can try to go it alone; you’re going to need a good amount of time for researching this, and your international calls charges might just be through the roof. But it can be done, nonetheless.

Keep Your Offices Digitally Connected

Your offices can’t quite communicate effectively via mail, and because of that you’re going to have to automate any messages you’re going to need to pass on. Thankfully, the digital world exists to help you. Having an internet connection is always going to be saving grace in this situation, and because of that you’re going to need a cloud server shared between your two or more offices to make sure you all have the same data.

Or you could head to https://www.templafy.com/digital-asset-management/ to invest in more of a streamlined management tool, specifically tailored for your needs. Sometimes the cloud just doesn’t suit the purpose of storing an entire business’ data, and there’s a lot of information out there about how the most common cloud storage servers can be unsecured.

Namely, keeping track of everything an international office does is difficult. But it’s not impossible, and a good move for business.

Win The Skills Game: How To Ensure Your Staff Training Is A Success

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Devising and implementing an effective employee training programme is one of the cornerstones of success when it comes to business growth. Training should never be an afterthought, because it has so many positive effects in the workplace, such as improving employee retention, keeping processes and people efficient and profitable, and ensuring the quality and consistency of output is right. Ultimately, good training can benefit your business bottom line – increasing margins and ensuring that customers come back for more.

Training needs to be a holistic approach, with modules for each stage of the process carefully planned. Approach matters like a learning professional and you can have a real impact. So whether you want to improve and standardise processes or upskill your staff, the right approach will help you to get the most from a training investment. Here’s how to make sure you hit the mark:

Plan Your Training The Right Way

A haphazard approach is not going to produce the result you want, and is likely to be a waste of valuable time. So start with a business needs assessment before booking in any coaches. This should start with a review of your business plan and goals – what are your short-term aims for the coming year? Next, perform a kind of gap analysis by taking stock of the current picture. How far away are you from your goal? What are the barriers preventing your company from getting there? These barriers will inform the type of training you need to provide. Link them to your overall business strategy, and set specific KPIs – outcomes that you want to be delivered as a result of the training. Share these with your employees at the start of the training, and then give them a chance to feedback at the end of the session on whether they feel that the training adequately met those needs – especially if using an external training supplier.

Match Training To Specific Roles In Your Business

While hugely worthwhile when done right, training is undoubtedly an upfront consumption of resources, so be very clear about exactly what the business requirements are. Take the time to discover from them what it is about their roles or the systems they use where they feel that they need support. Whether its business-critical certifications such as food handler training certification, broader skills such as customer service and dealing with complaints or even systems-specific areas, you need to scope out the requirements and communicate them clearly to the provider. Many staff members may use the same tools – for example, a CRM system – to perform different functions, so being very specific about what is needed will help your training to achieve its maximum ROI.

Select The Right Format

The range of different channels and methods that can take place these days are vast, so as well as being sure about the content that needs to be delivered, it pays to think about the method of delivery. Training can sometimes be offered in-house by a skilled staff member, or even yourself if you have a small operation, but it can also be delivered by an external supplier – often this route can be useful for a session that requires participants to think openly about their own roles, such as conflict resolution. Make sure enough time is allocated for the session to cover everything, or if there are several levels of expertise at play with your staff, perhaps split the training into a beginner, intermediate and advanced level. If you want to develop existing staff, coaching can be a great way of getting individuals upskilled. While for new employees, induction and job shadowing may be more effective. Courses can be available via distance or e-learning online, or can be delivered at workshops. Whichever channel you decide suits, make sure all employees can access it. This can be a particularly important consideration if you have people working from home, part-time or any disabled employees.

Work With The Supplier

If you have chosen to go with an external supplier, selecting the right one is half the battle. Find a good provider and it can be the start of a productive long-term partnership, so take the time to select the right one. Trade associations and professional bodies are a great place to start if you’re seeking skills that are specific to the industry you operate in. They will understand what current training needs are prevalent in your sector and what skills are going to be needed in the future. They may have approved training suppliers on record, which will save you a search. Or some may even offer their own training courses. This can be especially important if the training is part of a programme of CPD (continued professional development) that your employees will need to retain accreditation. Make sure when you speak to providers that they understand your own objectives and the demands of your sector. Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients who would recommend them? What feedback do they gather to ensure their training is being received in the right way? And what outcomes do they expect to achieve for your investment? What will happen if these targets aren’t met?

Closing The Feedback Loop

After the training has taken place, you will need to evaluate the goals that you put in place before the course and ensure that you can see the positive impact on the business. There are lots of ways to measure success with training, and combining a few usually gives the best overview. Firstly, look at the quantitate results – these are the tangible metrics within your business that show success. It could be sales, output, staff turnover, or productivity – linked to what training took place. But it’s also important to evaluate success qualitatively – using better teamwork, fewer complaints or more innovative processes as your yardsticks. Ask your employees if what they received was relevant to their roles and level of expertise, what will change as a result of what they’ve learned and what they thought of the method of delivery – this can be anonymised for greater clarity. This process should be completed soon after the training to ensure accurate recall.

With a little careful thought beforehand, training can be the best thing your business will ever do. Get it right, and you could be ahead of the competition in no time.

Getting into Contracting

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The contracting sector is one that is evolving at a rapid rate as more and more people are wanting to take advantage of the benefits of flexible working. And businesses of all kind are also looking to hire people on a less rigid basis, so the demand is growing as well. Contractors often have the advantage of earning significantly better rates of pay, as well as being freer to choose when they want to have time off. So, if you are looking to leave the workforce and strike out on your own as a contractor, here is some advice to get you started.

Quit Your Current Job

Contractors tend to have enjoyed a great deal of success in their current field, so if you have the skills to offer, you are more than likely to find someone who is in need of them fairly quickly. Contracts tend to come and go pretty fast, and you are likely to get started within a short space of time. Of course, the decision to leave your job is a big one, so make sure that you are totally comfortable with your choice and you are in a secure enough position to do so.

Secure Your Contracts

There are two main ways that contractors tend to secure their contracts. The first is approaching the client directly, and the second is going via a recruitment agency. The latter tends to be the most common way of getting started unless you have extensive contacts within your field who you can call upon to give you work. Scour through the online job boards to see what sort of positions are available. Keep your online profiles updated and visible so that people can find you if they want to.

Build Your Connections and Suppliers

You need to build up momentum in order to really get the ball rolling in the world of contracting. This means working hard to build up your connections. Depending on what sector you are getting involved in, you may also need to build up some suppliers so check out this website if you are entering an industrial field. Over time, it should get easier and easier as you start to learn your profession and make a name for yourself.

Decide on a Payment Structure

Payment structures tend to come in two main forms. The first is that you become a director and shareholder of your own one-person company, while the second involves working for an umbrella organisation. Bear in mind that limited companies incur accountancy fees, and you may find that hiring your own accountant pays off.

Getting into the world of contracting is likely to be a route that more and more people go down as they search for that all-important work-life balance. So, if this is a path that appeals to you, these are just a few of the things that you can do to get yourself started in this fast-moving and competitive area.

 

It’s Time to Chase Your Own Dreams Rather Than Building Someone Else’s!

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When it comes to work, we have it so ingrained in our minds that we should work for someone else that many of us never even consider working for ourselves. While we are at school, we gain all sorts of qualifications and are encouraged to take on all sorts of extracurricular activities. When we ask why we need to do all of this, the benefits of learning new skills that could help us in their own right, we are told that these things will “look good” on our CVs. That employers want to see these things before they’ll give you a job. That the purpose of our education is to impress others who should hopefully hire us down the line. Then we are taught all sorts of interview skills to be able to get us through the process of applying to work for someone else. We learn how to sell ourselves, how to highlight our best traits, and how to answer awkward and hackneyed questions such as “where do you see yourself five years from now” or “why do you want to work for this company”. Everything is always about making yourself look good to employers and standing out from the crowd to be taken on. But while being an employee can offer a relatively comfortable lifestyle where your working day starts at nine and finishes at five, have you ever considered that by accepting this, you’re simply building someone else’s dream on their behalf? That you can be extremely limited to your roles? That you’ll have no direct decision in regards to what direction the company you’re working for takes and that you might never receive a promotion that will take you onto a higher wage and position of more authority? While there are benefits to being an employee, there are serious limits too! So, if you have an idea that you think will make you some serious cash and you want a little more control over your life and the direction that it’s going to take, it might be time to start chasing your own dreams. For now, let’s take a look at freelancing as an alternative to full-time employment. Here’s how you can go about it.

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Freelancing

The first career option that allows you a lot more freedom over what you do and who you work for is to become a freelancer. You can be the individual who companies and brands outsource their work to. You never have to be tied down to a single contract and you can have a whole lot more control over the terms you work on. This also comes hand in hand with a regular change of scenery. You can have new contacts and colleagues for every project you work on. Your work will also change on a daily basis, as projects will shift and expectations will change from one client to another. In order to be a successful freelancer, however, you do have a little more work on your hands than a typical employee. After all, you’re going to have to get yourself off the ground by making a good name for yourself to start with and from this point on, you have to constantly be reaching out to new clients, forging new relationships, and securing constant work. Here’s how to get started on the right foot.

Becoming Self-Employed

First things first, you need to register as self-employed. Remember that if you’re working for yourself, you need to sort your own taxes out for the end of each fiscal year. The sums won’t automatically be deducted from your pay in the same way that they might if you were an employee. This means you’ll have to exhibit a little more self-control when it comes to your finances. You should deduct the relevant taxes from your own pay packet and store them in a savings account which you can then access to pay your tax bill when the time comes.

Setting Up Shop

Once you’re registered as self-employed, it’s time to get started on making a brand of yourself. You need to set up shop by taking to the world of E-commerce. Many people mistakenly believe that E-commerce is merely for retailers who want to sell goods online. However, it is an equally important space for people who are offering services rather than wares. Potential customers will still use your site in a similar way as if they were looking for a tangible product. They will take a look at what you have to offer, compare your services to the others on the market, and secure a deal by communicating with you through the contact details or online payment methods that you offer through your site. Consider your webpage an investment. After all, it can make or break people’s interest. If it’s difficult to operate or just doesn’t look the part, individuals visiting are likely to close the tab and look elsewhere, falling right into the arms of your competitors. So bring in an experienced and professional web designer (unless you’re intending on becoming a freelance web designer yourself, in which case it’s time to put your skills to the test and to try out a little DIY). Remember that the journey isn’t over once your site is up and running. You need to ensure that it is well maintained and updated regularly. Magento Technical Support Services will be able to help you with this, managing integrations, migrations, and security patch updates.

Making a Name for Yourself

Now you’ve established yourself as a brand of sorts, it’s time to show what you’re worth. Your first jobs are some of the most important, as they will be where you can get some good customer feedback and recommendations for others looking at using your services. The better your reviews and recommendations, the more likely you will be to secure further business from others. Word of mouth goes just as far as advertising, as people will actively seek other real individuals’ opinions when they are considering trying you out themselves. So, make sure that you complete every job to the highest standard and deliver the best customer service possible at any given time.

If you follow these steps, you should be on the right track towards establishing yourself as a freelancer and breaking free from the trap of working for someone else your entire life!