Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

How A Short Term Fix Can Boost Your Business

Sometimes the only thing a business needs is a short term boost to catapult it into success. Sometimes these boosts seem out of mind and reach but they’re there and available for you to use. You just need to be able to find them and realise the potential. Business is all about risk. The key is taking on the right amount of risk. Hedging yourself against any unwanted fallout is a must. Yet, if you look at all the top businesses out there you’ll be hard pressed to find one or two which didn’t ever take a risk. Here are some things you can do which can boost you to success.

Get The Asset In Fast
Sometimes you just need that piece of machinery and quickly. Whether it’s to fulfil an order to a client or stand in during an incredibly busy time. You may need to find it quick and it doesn’t mean finding it cheap but make sure you do the sums to work it all out and the work the asset allows you to do could end up covering the cost of the asset and leaving you with a profit. Sometimes, as you would already have a lot of business loans or an overdraft with the bank it can be hard to get things short notice. But, using a trucking firm for example, there are bad credit truck leasing firms out there who can help. You just need to do the research and you’ll find the right person to help your business. Again, you just need to make sure you do the sums to ensure the benefit of bringing this asset in outweighs its actual cost.

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Temporary Staff
Say you work in an event business, or a manufacturing business, you need the staffing to match the supply. There’s no point hiring people permanently if they’re going to end up sitting around doing nothing and costing you money. This is where temp staff can be a godsend. You can scale up and down as you see fit. This can allow you to fulfil those orders and peaks. There is a caveat to this though. Make sure you get the staff from a reputable firm. One which properly vets and trains the workers so you don’t have to, thus saving you more time to devote to your business. If they aren’t vetted they could end up making mistakes which cost you in either monetary terms or reputational damage.
Money Boost
As a business, there are lots of options out there to ensure you get a boost of cash at the right time. Your first option should be your bank. They may lend at a better rate because you’ve got prior form with them. There are other options though. One could be investment. If you’re doing well, think about bringing someone else on board. If you find the right person their skills and knowhow could really outweigh the equity you lose. Asking close friends and family is another option but you need to tread carefully. You can look into revolving credit facilities, business overdrafts or loans from other banks too. Try to keep the repayment terms as short as you can. This way you can minimise the interest and keep more capital coming into your business. If you’re unsure don’t forget there’s tons of advice out there and a lot of it is free.

Profits Plummeting? 5 Areas to Address

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When profits plummet in business it can be extremely stressful. Finance in business is always a fine balancing act, and if you’re not making enough not only will you be losing out on profit but you can quickly get into debt with your suppliers and things can take a downwards turn in a short space of time. If you’re in this situation, here are five areas to address.

Increase productivity

Sometimes plummeting profits can be a simple productivity issue. If the work isn’t getting done fast enough in your business, then it’s easy to fall behind, miss deadlines, upset clients and lose opportunities for new work. Increase productivity by setting goals, check in with your employees and make sure they have everything they need to do their job properly. For example, if slow systems or old manual methods are taking too much time then upgrading to good business software could see an instant boost in productivity.

Look into price monitoring

One issue many retail type businesses can face is their products being re-sold, with seller price wars hurting your margins and even counterfeit goods masquerading as your own stealing your customers. Speak to a price monitoring company who can keep tabs on all of these things, ensuring that unauthorised listings on other websites and ecommerce sites are spotted and removed.

Improve customer service

Customers expect the best service when shopping with a business- if they don’t receive a service that’s up to standard then they will simply go and shop elsewhere. If this happens you lose your repeat customers which are an important part of the sales funnel for many types of companies. Make sure complaints are dealt with politely and efficiently, implement a ticketing service in email and on social media to ensure that all customers are replied to within a reasonable timeframe. Customer service staff should be trained to deal with any complaints and issues they come up against in a friendly and professional way.

Boost marketing

Marketing in business is so important, it doesn’t matter what you do or sell- you need to be reaching the right people. If your marketing efforts aren’t up to scratch then you’ll most definitely notice a decline in profits. Speak to a professional marketing agency who will have the skills and experience needing to improve your visibility, utilise blogger outreach and improve your ads. They will help you create a buzz and interest around your business that will get you the sales you need.

Check reviews

Finally, if your profits are plummeting but you aren’t sure why, checking your reviews is bound to give you some insight. It can be frustrating and upsetting to see negative reviews of your business but these can give you an idea of what to change. Maybe the materials your manufacturing plant are using aren’t up to scratch, perhaps delivery times are too long or maybe customers feel you’re overpriced. Go through reviews as well as reviews of your competitors, see what can be done to improve business and make those sales again.

How Well Protected Is Your Business?

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There’s no doubt that your business is going to be incredibly important to you. After all, very few people would set up a business without a strong desire to see it succeed. And yet, in spite of that, it’s incredibly common for a lot of business owners to treat the safety and security of their business as something of an afterthought. Unfortunately, it’s this kind of attitude that leaves businesses more and more vulnerable to outside forces trying to get in and make life as unpleasant for you as possible. With that in mind, here are some ways to make sure that your business is as well protected as possible.

Brand protection

Your brand IS your business in the eyes of a large portion of the wider world. Businesses spend a great deal of time and money making sure that their branding is as strong as possible. That’s why it can cause so many problems when someone else tries to either piggyback off your brand or gives it a bad time. Brand protection means that you don’t have to worry about that happening. That way your business’s image is as well preserved as possible and you’re not going to end up with an undeserved negative reputation.

Legal protection

No business is looking to get in trouble with the law or get sued. In all likelihood, you would never do anything knowingly illegal but the reality is that mistakes get made every day and without the right legal protection those mistakes could well end up costing your business dearly. Not only that but if someone else is trying to take advantage of your business or defraud you, the right legal protection gives you a much better chance of fighting that kind of thing.

Digital security

We live in a digital technology dominated world in the modern age and the world of business is no different. Because of that, you need to be sure that your digital security is up to the highest possible standard. From fully updated firewall and anti-malware software to ensuring that you and your employees are using safe and secure passwords, keeping the digital side of your business secure really is one of the most important and valuable things that you can do in the modern era.

There are plenty of reasons why the protection of your business might fall by the wayside. The most common is simply that it’s something that a lot of people fail to think about. They focus so much of their energy on the positive aspects of their business that they leave themselves vulnerable. Not only that but it’s all too common for business owners to take the safety of their business for granted, assuming that nothing could possibly go wrong. Being able to keep your eye on the areas where your business might be at risk while also focusing on the positive aspects of it isn’t always easy, but it is always incredibly valuable.

3 Common Ways New Businesses Waste Money

Your first priority as a new business should be managing your costs effectively. If you can’t keep your spending under control, you will spend all of your money before you start bringing enough in and you’ll struggle to stay afloat. It’s the most common reason that businesses fail early on. The problem is, a lot of new businesses make simple mistakes with their finances and they end up wasting a lot of money for no reason. If you’ve just started a new business of your own, it’s important that you are aware of these common ways that businesses waste money, so you can avoid them.

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Outsourcing Too Many Areas

Outsourcing is a tricky subject because, in some cases, it’s very beneficial to your business. However, a lot of new businesses go overboard and outsource too many tasks, and it’s not very cost effective. There are certain tasks that you are not qualified to handle yourself and should be outsourced, like IT management or accounting, for example. It’s a good idea to outsource those areas because they’re important to the company and you may not have the resources or expertise to handle them yourself. Some new business owners decide that it makes life easier for them so they will just outsource as many areas of the business as possible. It does make life easier to start with, but when the bills start piling up, they run into cash flow issues. When you are deciding what you should and shouldn’t outsource, you need to think about which areas of the company you can realistically handle on your own and which areas you cannot.

Poorly Managed IT Systems

When implemented correctly, the right technology can actually save you a lot of money. The problem is, a lot of businesses don’t manage their IT systems effectively and they end up wasting a lot of money. This is one of the areas that you should be outsourcing a company that can offer managed IT services (like this one at https://www.redkeysolutions.com/) if you want to avoid waste. People make simple mistakes like spending money on software that they don’t need or keeping outdated hardware that costs them a lot of money in repairs. Your risk of cyber-attacks is also greatly increased if you don’t know how to protect yourself and the fallout from that is incredibly expensive. Unless you are an IT expert yourself, you need to be outsourcing your IT, otherwise, you’re going to waste a lot of money.

Badly Targeted Marketing

You already know that it’s important to invest money in marketing, but if you aren’t reaching the right people, you’re wasting a lot of money. Targeting your marketing efforts towards people that are actually likely to have an interest in your product is the only way that you’re going to see a return on that investment but a lot of businesses fail to do that effectively. It’s important that you do market research and identify your target market, and understand how to reach them specifically. If you don’t know how to do that, read this guide on https://marketingvision.co.uk/simple-steps-to-reaching-your-target-market/ to help you out.

These are all common ways that businesses end up wasting a lot of money and if you’re not careful, you could fall into the same traps with your business too.

How Do You Think Big In Business?

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We all start off the same way – with big dreams and buckets of ambition. Anyone who has ever had the vision and the drive to start up their own business and grow it into a fully-functional operation is not someone who is short of vision. But pretty sppm, somewhere along the line, you can lose that initial hunger. You wake up one day and there are endless unpaid client invoices to chase, that difficult conversation with an employee, the negotiation skills with a reluctant supplier, and before you know it, you’re so bogged down in the day to day administration that you’re losing sight of the original vision.

Experience has weighed you down, and become the factor that is stopping you from dreaming big. The good news is that you’ve done it once, so you can dare to dream again. Whether it’s your ambition to leave an indelible legacy like Steve Jobs, master your personal brand like Richard Branson, impact the physical world around you like Aubrey Ferro or change the lives of others, what you need to retain is your ability to think big. And yet all the mechanics of corporate life seem geared against this – compliance, politics, risk-aversion, the perfection myth – these are all strong components of modern corporate culture, and they are all diametrically opposed to maintaining vision. However, it isn’t impossible to retain your ability to think big while progressing in business, it just requires staying aware of obstacles, making proactive changes and staying true to your principles.

The Idea Generator

We define a big thinker as someone who comes up with sweeping ideas, the kind which reshape the possibilities of the landscape around them. However, these ‘eureka moments’ generally don’t happen spontaneously. In fact, you’ll find that most idea generators are quite systematic in their approach to it. They may schedule in time during their day just to think and process ideas, or they may set themselves a goal of coming up with one idea a day.

Marketing guru Seth Godin blogs one idea per day. The key is to accept that all these ideas don’t have to be world-changing and in fact, most will come to nothing. The process is more important than the output. Once you get the ball rolling and the process in place you are paving the way for the bigger ideas to happen. It’s also important not to wait until an idea is fully formed before you create some movement on it. You should have a workable concept, but it’s better to leave some wiggle room for things to develop as you share your idea with other people. At least twenty per cent of any concept needs to be collaborative. Accepting that perfection doesn’t exist and that it’s okay for an idea to have flaws that can be worked on is essential.

Blockers To The Big Idea

Most of us are conditioned into over-analysis, fear of failure, and self-criticism. Letting go of these is the crucial step in being able to think big. We must learn how to tackle procrastination, which is usually a fear of a less than perfect execution, as it stifles our creativity. Defensive thinking is entrenched in a lot of companies, and it can be damaging if it stops the progress of ideas. You should start multiple ideas running at once, instead of just focusing on one, but accept that all of those idea ls won’t necessarily make it to full development – and that’s the point. Some of them may spin off into other things, some will fall by the wayside – but that’s big thinking in action!

Increase Your Sales In 3 Easy Steps

If you are a newbie retailer, whether you specialize in ball bearings, hydraulic systems or clothing, the chances are that you are keen to boost your sales. It’s all too easy to begin your startup to great fanfare. With a great digital marketing strategy, you can generate an online buzz about your wares before you even launch your venture. This means that you can hit the ground running and have an influx of sales initially. However, it is hard to keep this momentum going, resulting in a lull in sales. There are ways that you can rediscover that high volume of sales once again.

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Your Market

You need to hone your specific market. Often, you may target a generic age group such as 25 – 34 year olds. Within the demographic are hundreds of mini-markets that you could tap in a more specific way. Consider drilling down into your market and adapting your messages and marketing to go for that new niche. For example, if you design custom made tee shirts for teenagers, why not aim for teenage girls who have a hipster and fashionable edge? Or why not consider expanding your range to meet the demands of younger children? Your market may fluctuate, but your business goals must remain the same to improve your chances of increased sales.

Change Your Sales Strategy

As a retailer, the chances are that you focus on the end user. This is the market where you can make the most markup on every unit that you sell. However, you could also consider the business to business market rather than the business to customer model. By looking further into b2b sales, you can sell at a much greater volume. While the profit you make on each unit may diminish a little, the sheer quantity of units that you sell should make up for this. Consider the best b2b order management system for your business model. This could be Shopify or it could be Magento. Each has its own qualities and niches that can help enhance your sales forecasting.

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Get Online

Sometimes your sales may dry up as your momentum lessens. This can happen because your online presence is no longer as prominent. It’s time to be proactive and get updating your Facebook page, your Twitter feed and your Instagram photographs. Exploit your social media channels and use them as a platform to relaunch your startup. Consider your customers wants and needs and hone the way you market your products to fulfill that need. Be solution minded. Consider what problems your potential customer faces and make your product solve that problem. Utilize Instagram and show your product in action, making it clear just how imperative it is that any follower of yours must head to your website to buy your item.

Increasing your sales is no easy task, especially in the current volatile economic climate. However, by honing your market, exploring b2b sales and utilizing your social media capabilities, you can have buoyant sales figures once again.

Smart Ways to Buy Specialist Business Equipment

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Businesses often require specialist equipment to carry out their day-to-day activities. Knowing where to source what is needed and how to get the best deal is important for securing the best quality and price. If you want to buy the equipment that you need without  any trouble, you should know where to purchase it and how you can negotiate the best prices. There are various ways to buy the equipment that you need, apart from going straight to the main retailer. Take a look at the following options for sourcing the equipment that your business needs.

Use Auctions Online and Offline

Auctions are often a great way to source specialist equipment for your business. You can find auctions designed for your industry with plenty of options to help you secure what you need. Online auctions make it easier to buy equipment from anywhere, but offline auctions also give you a chance to see what you’re buying up close. If you attend in person, what do you need to bring to an auction? You may need to have a cash deposit to bid in an auction, as well as the means to pay for anything that you buy. Make sure that you know the terms of the auction before attending.

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Contact Other Businesses

Sometimes specialist equipment can be tricky to find, especially if you want to try and save some money. One method that can sometimes be helpful is to get in touch with businesses similar to yours. You can ask them if they have any equipment that they are considering selling, or perhaps that they would like to rent or share. Sharing resources could be beneficial to both of you if you also have equipment that they would like to borrow. Buying used equipment directly from another company could help you save money and give you the chance to negotiate the price.

Look at New and Used Sellers

Be sure to look at sellers of both new and used equipment when you’re looking to make a purchase for your company. Both options could present the right choices for your business. Used equipment can help you to save money, but it won’t last as long as new equipment. However, it’s not always possible to source the equipment that you want new. You could be looking for a particular model that is no longer manufactured, so you have no choice but to look for it used.

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Buy Government Surplus

There are some occasions when it can be a smart choice to buy surplus equipment from the government. It can help you to save money and you can find many items that you need. There are various websites that you can look at to find what you need, including the govsales.gov site, Military Surplus, the US Treasury Seized Vehicles Sales and more. You might be surprised by what you can find and how much you’re able to save.

Source the specialist equipment that your business needs from appropriate places and you can find quality equipment at great prices.

How To Reinvest Your Profits Into The Business

It can be a great feeling when you first make a profit in your business, however, to continue its success, it’s important to make sure that this morning is going back into the company to develop and strengthen its rate of growth. Here is where to reinvest your profits into the business.

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Staff Training

Keeping your staff happy and more importantly, trained well is going to benefit the company massively. Your staff are the individuals who are likely making your company money and so it’s  important to invest some money into training and development for your staff to utilise when needed. It’s great for them to learn more and to expand their knowledge and skillset which is all beneficial to you as well. You’ll like to save money on having to hire more staff because perhaps you’ll already have the staff available to you.

Improving The Quality Of What You Sell

Just like Apple and its many versions of the iPhone, they’re constantly developing and improving this make of phone and that should be the same for any product or service you sell. Whether you manufacture a wafer frame to an online task management software, everything has the scope to be improved and perfected. Whenever you have the money to reinvest, look at the process you go through to get the finished product and work on those areas that likely need a bit of tweaking to be more successful.

Technology

With technology already being a major feature in many businesses, it can help aid a lot of our daily working lives. There are still updates and upgrades to newer systems and software developments happening constantly so when it comes to technology, it’s always a good idea to reinvest your money into this area of the business because it helps quicken and improve what we do each day.

The Working Environment

For the clients who come in for meetings to the staff members who work in the space five days a week, the working environment is something that certainly needs focus. Look at how to improve the space to make it a more pleasant place to work and in the same instance, you want to create a space that’s inviting and has a level of professionalism that you are clients will see. A few tips when it comes to improving the working environment is to organize and declutter the space. Storage is certainly king and the less you have on the floor, the better. Think about lighting and how that can affect the mood of those who work in the space. Increase productivity levels through warmer and natural lighting, colour for decor and indoor plants to raise the mood and to present a cleaner atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

Every business owner wants to succeed and reinvesting your money, especially at the beginning of the company’s existence is important to maintaining its success. So follow these tips within your own business and you’ll be sure to find a continued success for years to come.

Underappreciated Marketing Ideas You Should Try

When it comes to marketing, there should be no limits on your horizons. It’s vital to ensure you’re making the most of any and all opportunities out there. If those techniques can advance the interests of your business and help it to grow, they should be embraced. All that brings us onto the marketing techniques that remain far too underappreciated. There are so many ways of marketing your business and many of the best techniques get a little overlooked. Find out about them below.

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Giveaways

Giveaways are great because they make people want to engage with your brand. And as any digital marketer will tell you, engagement is the most important thing of all when it comes to promoting your brand on social media. It’s no coincidence that so many brands use giveaways to engage with their audience and get people interested. You just need to make sure that you give away something that people want.

Video Content

Video content is truly king so if you want your business to get ahead of the curve, now is the time to embrace it. All evidence shows that people prefer engaging with video content over other forms of content and that’s something you can make the most of. Your videos should be relevant to your audience because that’s how you’ll get people interested and coming back for more. And how you create these videos and the approach you take will depend on your business.

Events with Networking Potential

Events offer you great networking opportunities and you should embrace these. By promoting your brand directly to people who matter and who have influence, you’ll be able to achieve more. It’s something that so often gets overlooked but a personal touch can make a real difference to how you connect and spread awareness of your brand. It’s something your whole team can work on too.

Radio Marketing

Radio marketing is all too often written off as a thing of the past but that’s not really true. This post called How does radio marketing help small businesses? helps explain why and how that’s the case. People still listen to the radio a lot and there are lots of opportunities to spread the message of your company if use radio marketing in the right way. You certainly shouldn’t write it off completely.

Billboards

Billboards also seem to have become less appealing to businesses, but why? There are no fewer people in towns and cities or driving on highways than in the past, so the audience for this kind of advertising is very much still there. Make the most of that and embrace what billboards can offer you. There’s no reason not to give them a chance.

These marketing methods are all known and proven to get results when they’re used in the correct and proper way. It’s up to you to make sure you implement these strategies successfully but if you manage to do so, you’ll find that you get the results you’re looking for.

Outsourcing: Is It The Best Option For Your Business?

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We all go in with the best of intentions, whether to make sure that we would stick to our finely-tuned business plan or we decided that we would take a more human approach to getting the right people, sometimes these best-laid plans don’t go the way we want. As such, the idea of outsourcing begins to creep into our consciousness. But when we start to weigh up the pros and cons of it, we can wonder if it’s doing our business a disservice. But, let’s see if we can dissect whether outsourcing works for a young business.

How It Saves You Money

As we look to cut corners and see what makes the business work better, we need to look at it from a financial perspective. As our money is always going to be tight, especially at the outset, we need to find out if outsourcing will be an essential component to transcend to the next level. Saving money is vital, but we’ve got a look at it from the perspective of expertise. Having the right people on board is going to benefit the business more than having people in-house. And this is where the IT industry makes a significant impact on any business. Through companies like Vertex and other IT service providers, by having the best people for the job, rather than focusing on having everybody in-house, this means you can save money by hiring the best person. Even if it’s a contractor, so be it. It’s the business that needs to benefit at the outset.

How Workers Can Benefit

Having teams contribute to the business away from the office can result in savings across the board. As more people are being encouraged to work remotely, this doesn’t just benefit the financial components because there isn’t so much need for office space, but it caters to the modern employees need. From a perspective of morale, having workers contribute to the business from a remote setting, or in a manner that suits them, you will see the culture improve. Many businesses are target focused, and we need to undertake a more holistic approach. Outsourcing can mean we take a more relaxed approach to find the best person for the role, but at the same time we have still got to provide security for our permanent members of staff.

Is It Always A Better Option?

With all of the financial benefits of outsourcing, it doesn’t always prove to be the better option. Outsourcing comes with additional costs in other areas, which don’t always occur, but it can still prove to be a major issue, especially in established businesses. Outsourcing can seem to be the equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face. As such, this can feel like you are selling off your business piece by piece. But outsourcing is something that every business does now, primarily because it’s about ensuring your skills are being put to the test. Having the right people on board to complete the appropriate tasks means that you are getting the best person for the job, regardless of whether they are on-site or not.

Secrets To A Good Shop Display

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When you finally make the decision to open

Your first commercial store it can be a great thing. Being able to sell your items on a new platform to a whole new audience is a privilege and it can make a huge impact on the success of your brand.

Of course, it is important for you to make sure that your store stands out from the crowd and this is why you need to think about the display you create to entice customers to the store. Today we are looking at some handy ways to make your shop stand out.

Use unique items

As well as your standard store display fixtures, it is always a good idea to use something which is a little more unique to you and which helps bring across that element of personality you always want. For example if you were to think about displaying plants, you could use hanging baskets from the ceiling instead of placing them on racks. Using creative displays will draw more attention to you and people will love it.

Use seasonal themes

During the year the design tone your store takes on will be wildly different from before. During the year it is important for you to use the seasons and create an atmosphere which fits the right time of year and mood of the customer. For example if you were selling in summer you might open up the front of the store and bring in some

Plants and breezy elements to the space. In winter you might light candles and have fairy lights.

Use mirrors

Mirrors will soon become your best friend when you start to run a store, because they create the illusion of space as well as reflecting light around their surroundings. Light and space are two things which customers love and this will help them to feel more comfortable in your store and therefore stay for longer to browse your selection.

Be unique

Think outside the box. Not every display has to be product focused and in fact, a display which is something different will attract more attention and will draw people into your store. For example Lego have a habit of placing sculptures of characters such as Harry Potter and Gandalf in front of their stores and although it does show of the Lego bricks, it is more about the spectacle. See what you can do to make a fun spectacle this year and have fun with it all.

Keep it simple

A good display for your product isn’t too busy and it won’t distract away too much from the product and the purpose it serves. A good example of great product displays would be homeware, where a company will create a model of a real home and place their products inside to show what they would look like in a real space. It’s a simple idea but it is effective and it will help you sell your products effectively and to the right people.

7 Quick Tips for Business Owners

We know that you work hard and want your business to be the best business that it can possibly be. Which is why today we are sharing with you 7 quick tips for business owners, many of which you can apply this very week.

Look for the ‘new’

What might you be able to try differently this week? This can be in absolutely any aspect of your business, and perhaps it is an idea that you have been toying with for a while. Find something new to try or develop and start working on it now.

Be inspired by others

Get yourself to a local networking event and chat to other business owners in the area. Find out what’s working well for them and work to make connections. Online, join in with industry relevant forums and try listening to an entrepreneur podcast for fresh perspectives.

Go back to the drawing board

Always take the time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm fresh ideas. If something isn’t quite working, go back to the root of it to think about how you can alter it. If something is working brilliantly, go back to the beginning and analyse why it is so successful as it might be something that you can replicate elsewhere in your business.

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Lead and manage honestly 

When you have your own team, you need to be an authentic leader and be yourself at all times. They need to feel that you are approachable and that you are there to motivate and support them. Share with them the whole picture and let them in on any successes.

Freshen up your premises

You see the same four walls day in, day out, and so does your team. It can be easy to become blind to them, so try to look at them anew. Change things up a little to add a spark to the office, perhaps a splash of colour on a wall, new furniture, fresh flowers, or just get some lovely aromas going – coffee, cookies or candles work well!

Ask for customer feedback

This is one that you will want to do again and again. If you have yet to do this at all, do it today, do it now. Your customers are the only reason that your business is going, so you need to ensure that you are delivering to them consistently. Chat with them, gather feedback, ask for them to share their experiences with you. By seeking customer feedback you are conveying to your customers that you value their opinions and you are refining the product or service that you offer based on genuine and useful advice.

Put a treat in place

If you have a great team, then put a treat in place for them this week. Create a fun system to reward top performance, either individually or as a team, and share it with your team. You will find they will be more motivated this week and it should bolster the team spirit.

Fun Product Packaging Ideas For A Successful Launch

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One of the most fun parts of the Apprentice to watch is when they have to come up with a new product and create fun packaging for it to sell to retailers. A lot of us have probably say there in or living rooms thinking that we could do much better, and a lot of the time we probably could.

That’s why today we are delving into the world of product packaging as we take a look at some of the wackiest ideas to make your product stand out from the crowd.

The box

A box is a box. It can be painted, doodled on, labelled with Product Labeling Services and even left alone. If you want a simple and iconic piece of product packaging this year a box might just be the best idea you have. Especially if you add no labels on the outside and paint it black… the mystery can be fun!

The sachet

If boxes are a little bit too boring for you, you don’t have to stick to it. You can instead think about creating a small sachet which your product can be placed inside and this can be labelled and decorated with something bold and fun!

Nothing at all

With the world being much more conscious than it once was able plastic, the best option for you to use might actually be the nothing approach. This can include a small label pinned to the item and nothing more or less than that.

Artsy

If you have a brand which is into art, and you enjoy selling items as gifts to people all over the world then this next idea is great for you. You can hire local artists every month to create a product packaging design for you in their own unique style and then you can sell your product in beautiful boxes and bags. Birchbox does this and it works beautifully.

1 colour to rule them all

A lot of product packaging is full of colour and patterns and it can be a great way to grab the attention of the consumer, however it is also something which can distract from the elegance of a piece. Instead, why not choose a 1 colour box such as a brand like Apple would do, and work from there.

Tell a story

A product could be even more fun if you share some of the story behind it within the packaging itself. For example you should shape your packaging like a book and this could allow you to literally tell your story as the customer opens up the packaging to see their product. It is a fun touch and will add some personality.

Recycle it

There’s nothing better than being good for the environment and you can use a mashup of materials such as boxes from different items and old newspapers to wrap up your product and show that you care.

The wine bottle

A wine bottle shape does not only have to contain that wonderful nectar, It can also be the home of a whole host of things. You could have showergel, sweets, chocolates, and even makeup products in a wine shaped case for fun.

Dare or be square

Square is the standard shape for any product packaging but seeing box after box can be a little boring on the shelf. Why not mix it up a little with a hexagon or a triangle shape and this can make your product immediately stand out from all of the others on the shelf.

5 Signs You Should Sell Your Business

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Starting a company from scratch and operating a successful enterprise can be a challenging, fulfilling and rewarding experience, but knowing when to sell your business is vital. Although selling a business can seem like a wrench, there are numerous reasons to sell up and move on to something new.

1. Changing circumstances

Depending on the nature of your business, a change in lifestyle can prompt a sale. If you need to travel regularly for work, for example, but you want to spend more time with your family, selling your business may be the only way to balance these competing objectives. Alternatively, if an older family member, such as a parent or grandparent, requires an increasing amount of care and support, you may choose to sell your company in order to increase your availability.

2. Increasing risk

Some industries are more resistant to risk than others, but all sectors are subject to a certain level of risk at some point or another. If your industry is evolving, and the changes are likely to have a detrimental impact on your firm, now might be the right time to sell. Getting out before your income suffers will ensure you get a good price for the business, and it could help you to save a significant amount of money in the long-term.

3. Additional business value

If your company is performing well, the increased value of your business may encourage you to sell. When your firm is maintaining a good customer base, bringing in a high turnover and making a considerable amount of profit, you can attract a higher price for it. It follows, therefore, that selling during a peak performance time could help you to get the best deal possible. With expert help from transition strategies, such as https://professionaltransition.com/, you can get the assistance you need to sell your business successfully and get the best return. Using niche companies to help you with this will help to find the right buyer quickly so you can get on with life asap.

4. Retirement

Running your own business and being your own boss allows you to step away from the corporate grind and make your own rules. Whatever your age, selling your company could give you the opportunity to retire, as you can see at https://www.businessknowhow.com/money/exitbubble.htm. Whether you want to use this time to invest in other business opportunities or whether you’re looking forward to spending time with family, taking up new hobbies or traveling the world, retirement is one of the most popular reasons for business owners to sell up.

5. Avoiding burnout

The constant stress and pressure of running your own enterprise can lead to burnout, and your physical, mental and emotional health could suffer as a result. Whilst some people thrive under unyielding pressure, it isn’t a viable long-term working environment for many individuals. If managing your own business isn’t giving you a functional lifestyle, or is having a harmful effect on your health or your relationships, making the decision to sell could be in everyone’s best interests.

With so many reasons to consider selling your business, owners and entrepreneurs should always keep the possibility of selling in their minds. By choosing the right reason and the right time to sell your business, you could increase your returns and make positive changes to your lifestyle too.

Perfecting Your Startup’s Business Plan

Launching your very own startup and becoming an entrepreneur isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Sure, you’re now working for yourself and you’re the master of your own destiny, but you’ve also given up a whole host of company perks, excellent promotion prospects and a steady wage. It’s vital that you hit the ground running with an organized approach to your startup. This means creating a nuanced and focused business plan that will help you realize your business venture’s potential. This should be a well thumbed working document that you have with you at all times. Make sure that you cover these business functions when writing your plan.

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Online Presence

It’s crucial that you work out your online marketing, SEO and branding strategy before launching your startup. In the weeks and months preceding the launch, you should be engaging with potential customers via your blog and social media channels. This online marketing strategy needs to be detailed in your plan. What are your goals? Do you want to drive traffic to your website, or complete a series of pre-orders? Consider employing a web design agency to bring more expertise to your online presence. Specialist web designers are able to create search engine optimized content for your site, link to your social media accounts and help you achieve your online goals. Outsourcing this aspect to your business will be money well spent.

Funding

Perhaps the most pressing issue for your startup in its early days is funding. You need to ensure that you have enough capital for your overheads as well as ensuring that your cash flow remains buoyant. As such, you need to explore bank business loans, business angels and crowdfunding as a means of financial assistance. All of these options have their merits and it’s up to you whether you go down one or multiple funding routes.

As well as funding, you need to make sure all of your other financial ducks are in a row. You need to know your projected revenue and profits for at least the next three years. When you are delivering a pitch to a potential investor, they need to have confidence in you. Not knowing your gross from your net, and having little knowledge of how you will mitigate financial risk does not inspire confidence.

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Recruitment

If you are needing staff immediately, you must detail how you plan on creating your perfect team. Will you construct your own advert or will you opt to enlist the services of a recruitment agency. These individuals have a wealth of talent on their books ready for you to tap. You simply tell them your detailed requirements and what you are looking for in a candidate, and you interview the shortlisted individuals. This saves you time on long listing, assessment days, and Skype interviews. Be bold and think about the expansion of your business and how many staff members you foresee your startup having.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but it is rewarding. Follow this guide and be prepared before you launch your business venture.

4 Little Things That Can Make a Big Impression on Your Customers

You have big ambition, big ideas and lofty ideals for your business. And that’s great! But did you ever notice that sometimes it’s the little things in life that make all the difference? The mint under your pillow when you stay in a hotel. The smile on your barista’s face when she hands you your morning coffee. When someone tells you to “have a nice day” and they actually mean it. All enterprises are deeply invested in their customer care. They know how competitive the business landscape is. They know that in a digitally informed age, customers are growing increasingly fickle. And they know that if they don’t make their customers feel valued, they’ll have no compunctions whatsoever about crossing the road and doing business with your competitors. We’ve already talked at length about big changes you can implement to improve your customer service. Yet while these are all powerful improvements that any business can make, one mustn’t forget how powerful an impression the little things can make on your customers…à

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Eye contact

You can give your employees the most beautifully written script, but when it comes to communicating with customers, words will only ever get you so far. One of the most important aspects of communication, and one that’s sadly neglected in many industries, is eye contact. Unless you look a customer in the eye, they’ll always doubt the sincerity with which you speak to them. Eye contact makes customers feel heard, understood and valued. Neglect it and your customers will, in turn, feel neglected.

Make it easy for them to do business with you

There was a time when convenience was a luxury commodity. Today, however, it’s considered a necessity. We live in an era where convenience is like oxygen… It’s only really conspicuous when it’s absent. Thus, you’ll always be on the back foot if you don’t make it easy and pleasant for customers to do business with you. Being able to accept credit cards is good, being able to accept Apple or Android pay is better. Having a website is good. Having a mobile app is better. The easier it is for customers to do business with you, the less inclined they’ll feel to take a chance on your competitors.

Remember something about them that’s nothing to do with your transaction

Customers like to know that you value them as human beings, not as someone who is handing you their hard earned money. Take the time to get to know them and they will reward you with their loyalty. This is where your CRM comes in handy. Your customer mentions that their eldest daughter has a big exam coming up? Jot it down in your CRM. The next time you see them you can ask how she got on. Your customer just got married? Jot it down in your CRM so that when you next see them you can ask them how the honeymoon went. Maybe you could even give them a little extra something to say congratulations, which brings us to…

Don’t be shy about using GLUE

Who doesn’t love getting cool stuff for free? Customers love getting freebies, so long as what’s being given is of value to them. As such, don’t be shy when it comes to using GLUE or Giving Little Unexpected Extras. Allowing customers to earn points and loyalty bonuses is one thing, but giving them something extra that they’re not expecting is something else. The rewards you’ll reap in loyalty and goodwill will more than make up for the tiny overhead cost.

So, when you’re thinking of how to overhaul your customer service policies, don’t forget the importance of the little things!

Why More Women Are Becoming Interested In The Science Of Business

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STEM subjects have been very much a male dominated sphere. However with the emergence of science and business becoming interlinked with James Dyson and other inventors making money from their scientific knowledge, more individuals are heading to college to study physics rather than business management. Combining the two can be a worthwhile strategy if you are eager to make money using your natural aptitudes. Only in recent years have more women decided to enter the science, technology, engineering and maths based fields of study to then go on and set up their own STEM based businesses. Why is this?

Role Models

If we look back twenty years ago, the cutting edge of science was seen as a geeky, spectacle wearing fifty something gray haired male dominated environment. The geek chic concept hadn’t yet emerged, and those young girls growing up with a penchant for science chose to squash their natural talents in favor of more arts based careers. There were no female role models. Nowadays, governments are seeing the potential of science and are recognizing the untapped talents of a whole gender yet to be discovered. The female role models are now emerging. Joy Crisp is an exceptional astrophysicist, Silvia Macia is a world renowned marine biologist, and Kay Tye is a neuroscientist. These women are empowering younger girls to take the plunge and give the male dominated world of science and technology a go.

Work Experience Programs

Young girls are being encouraged to shadow other women (and men) in real life work situations. If a sixteen year old high schooler is showing a natural talent for physics, a school can now apply for her to go into the workplace. She may get a chance to measure the thin-film temperature of a thermal processor in a manufacturing plant. She might get to measure a comet’s distance from Earth. Or she may carry out some research into the development of MS in young patients. This hands-on approach can engage and motivate girls to make science their career.

Business Acumen

As with any millennial, young women are keen to make a name for themselves in the world. This often means going entrepreneurial and setting up their own businessees. With the acumen of role models, women are choosing to head into the world of work, before utilizing the experience they have learned to set up their own science and technology based businesses. These women can then become the future role models of girls in schools, showing them how successful they can be in a male dominated sphere. This is momentum that needs to be followed through, so the young female scientists of tomorrow can be discovered.

Women were once stereotypically pigeonholed into roles more suited to their gender. Housewife, mother and cook are no longer the roles of women in the twenty first century. There are so many more opportunities for girls. Men and women are seen as more equal (although there is still a way to go) and people are free to follow their passions and talents irrespective of their gender.

Exhibitions That Work

Whether you’re an old hand or new to the world of exhibition marketing, one thing stands: the world of exhibitions is unique. Get it right and you will help to launch your brand into the stratosphere. Get it wrong and you won’t only miss your mark, you’ll also run the risk of damaging your brand with customers and competitors alike. That’s why it’s crucial to get it perfect, right from the start. Even if you’ve done the job many times before, don’t let that make you take your eye off the ball, not for one second. Instead, let us take you through this handy guide and get that list checked off and that exhibition up and running.

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Background

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to take a look at the venue. You don’t have to take the very first site you’re offered. Instead have a look at where you are in regard to the entrance and exits. Importantly you’ll also want to know where your nearest competitors are too, so ask for a list of the exhibitors who are already signed up and see if there are any advantages of being close enough to keep an eye on the competition or far enough away to get on with your own thing uninterrupted.

Ensure that the exhibition is the right one for your company. Will it attract your customer base and does it represent a good investment? Don’t carry out marketing for the sake of it, stay focussed and attuned to your customers and their needs.

If you’re able to, take a look at the site first hand and see how easy set up and take down is going to be, if you can drive onto the site and so on. You might want to see how easy it is to get to as a visitor and how close public transport is, to get an idea of footfall. Sitting shivering in a large, empty space is no one’s idea of fun and does nothing to promote your brand.

Material

Once you’ve decided to take up a stand, the hard work begins. You’ll need to liaise with your design team, either in-house or an outside source to come up  with some pull up banners and media boards that look fresh and attractive, standing out from a sea of other stands.

If you’ve been using the same old material for the last few years then now might be just the time to freshen up your look.

Besides the media material, you’ll also be looking at two further elements: your print material and your promotional merchandise.

Keep your print to a minimum and only produce paper documents that are strictly necessary. This will keep the cost down, save having to carry boxes of documents and boost your green credentials.

When it comes to merchandise, you’ll need to think about what makes your customers’ tick; what’s going to appeal to them most and bring them to your stand and more importantly, stay at your stand for you to properly engage with them.

Look for a Dynamic Gift that sets you apart from your competitors. This might be some clever tech, like glow in the dark USB leads or a camera lens that attaches to your phone. It might be slightly more high end such as a USB speaker or you might opt for something more traditional such as keyrings or pens.

You also have the option of clothing and accessories, from sweatshirts and caps to tote bags. There’s so much in the way of choice. Your decision, however, will be customer-led and will depend entirely on your customer research.

By the time you’re at this stage of your marketing work you will have a great idea of who your customer is. You’ll have created an avatar for your ideal customer, with a name, age, hobbies, interests, political leanings and so on. It’s this information that will inform your publicity and your promotional items.

Get the message out to customers and companies who you’re in contact with that you’re on the road and looking forward to meeting them in person. Let them know where you’ll be and what they can expect from you from visiting your stand. Reward loyalty where you can.

Before the big day, or days, you should start drawing up a list of objectives that you want to achieve over your exhibition. You might be looking to capture a few hundred email addresses or you might want to have made face-to-face contact with ten big customers in your industry. Whatever your goals, make sure they are realistic and can be monitored effectively so you’ll know if you’ve been successful.

On The Day

Get everyone on the team fully briefed bright and early. Make sure everyone is fed and ready to go. Have a task list set electronically, perhaps with some sharing software that allows you to tick off tasks as you go along. This will also show everyone back in the office how you’re doing and how many goals you’re checking off.

Make sure your team are all wearing something that clearly identifies them with your stand, such as some branded clothing.

Setting up and running exhibition is a huge undertaking. Staffing it on the day is merely the culmination of weeks of hard work getting ready. But it’s this build up and preparation beforehand that is absolutely crucial to your success.

Research your audience and know exactly what media is going to appeal to them. In the same way, take a good look at the venue and insist on a pitch that works perfectly for your layout. Make sure you’re just the right distance away from your industry rivals.

Then all you have to do is switch on the smiles and get talking to your customers face-to-face. Drumming up new customers and cementing relationships with the old, make sure you’re ready and raring to go.

Follow these tips today towards exhibition success that takes your business to new places.

Making The Restaurant Business Dream A Reality

A lot of people have dreams and aspirations to start their own business. The inspiration can come from all sorts of areas. It might be that you have experience in those chosen area, it could be you spotted a gap in the market, or maybe you just love the idea of the industry and working within it. A lot of people like the idea of creating their own restaurant, and again this can be for a variety of reasons. A background in the industry such as working as a chef or in the front of house department. It might be because they have a love of a specific cuisine, or a background in a culture that could be implemented into a restaurant environment, or maybe they just like the idea of it. Whatever the reason, this dream could become your reality.

A lot of people struggle with where to start when it comes to a business concept such as opening a restaurant. It isn’t just as simple as having a location, creating some magnificent food and having customers enjoy it. There are lots of little elements that are needed to get you to this point. So here are some of the things to consider.

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Find the right location

One of the first things that you need to do is to ensure that you find the right location for your restaurant business. Ideally, you will want a street or area where there is a lot of footfall or traffic passing by. This gives you the chance to use the restaurant as a way of advertising, as well as other methods like online and in the press. However, a prime high street location may cost you a fair bit, so sometimes compromising in other areas can get you what you want or certainly help you to get the best of both worlds.

What is your theme?

The next thing you might want to think about is the theme surrounding your restaurant. Of course, a lot of it could be dictated from the type of food that you plan to serve. But you may also want to think about being a little different to the standard stereotypes that can be formed. To start off with, if you are planning on serving authentic Spanish cuisines, then you don’t need mediterranean style decor. You could be ultra modern or a little vintage. The same can be said for British classics, it doesn’t mean that the decor needs to resemble a pub or a country cottage. You can go against the norm and choose something you like, letting the decor and the food speak for themselves in different ways.

Advertising and social media strategy

Like any business, you need to attract customers, adn a great way to do that is to consider how you are going to advertise your restaurant. Your location may already be doing that for you, with people physically seeing your restaurant, but what about everyone else? Social media is a great outlet for this, and you could share pictures of food or the decor, or even customer opinions. An online booking system could also make it really easy for customers to book a table. Advertising could also be done locally, and many communities have their own magazines where you could advertise, or taking advantage digitally and dropping information into Facebook groups or on different pages.

Getting the business elements on point

The business side of things is often an area that gets overlooked, but it is an important aspect of running a restaurant business. You need to be able to see that profit and loss are also important factors. From the buying in of ingredients to ensuring that distributors and producers of them are using food industry erp software to keep things on track, even things like working out profit margins on meals and how much you can make as a business. There is a lot more to it than just serving up great food.

Hiring the right staff

Your staff members are an asset to your business, so you will want to make sure that you get this right first time. From talented members and chefs for the kitchen to having friendly staff in your dining area. This is because the customer experience in a restaurant is vital. From the food they eat to how they feel.

Hard work and patience are key

Finally, hard work and patience are two key areas to consider when starting up your own restaurant, success in this field does not happen overnight. Once you realise this you can focus on the important aspects and make it a success.

Let’s hope these tips help you to turn the restaurant dream into a reality.

Finding A Suitable Location For Your Manufacturing Line

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When starting a business, we are often expected to build everything ourselves. Businesses are not a given afterall, but something we must work to justify year after year. For this reason, it’s important to make the larger decisions accurately, reasonably, with an eye for both the short term consequences and long term effects. This is especially true when you consider the loan or startup funds that some businesses take in order to establish themselves and pivot to a position of predictable revenue and success.

Finding a suitable location for your manufacturing line is important for obvious reasons, but sometimes a great deal might look like it on the surface while unfortunately lacking in some areas. This is where your discerning mind for business need come in, and how you should assess all angles when you have this opportunity. After all, a manufacturing line is often something expected to last for years, and so you really cannot afford to ‘trial run’ certain environments only to pick up and move again.

Our advice will help you with this process:

The Road Layout

It’s likely that you’ll wish to purchase an excellent industrial property, but before you do you should consider how the roads and entrance lanes might help or hinder your firm. Large deliveries will likely be a must, and that usually signifies large trucks will enter your property. Not only that, but you may need ample parking for your staff, and the ability to drive other transport vehicles around your premises. You may need to secure certain entrances, and divert the flow of traffic at peak times around your firm. Not only that, but you may need to begin a logistics network here, which potentially means a need for many trucks to park, among other necessities.

Security

It’s of course essential to secure your manufacturing premises, because this is an area that will be handling, storing and preserving many of your important assets and prototype design information. For that reason, it’s important to consider how the access to the industrial estate is metered. Could you implement your own security solutions, or could you sign onto a service in the local area that will provide this? What effect will security have on the inflow and outflow of important products and services to your line, and how might you secure the interior as well as exterior?

Cost

Electrical bills, heating bills, and preserving certain items for sensitive storage can all assume that you have the most relevant setup possible, and much of that is determined by your location, the amount of rooms, the empty space, the potential need for installing your own equipment such as ventilation safety gear, and also the cost in training staff to interact with your building. Factoring in all these variables can help you ascertain if a location is worth it or not, or if you simply need more time to find something more on-budget.

With this advice, we hope you’re more than able to find a suitable location for your manufacturing line.