Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

Can You Fit Serious Studying Alongside Your Day Job?

The internet is one of the most incredible learning tools that we have available to us. It’s an amazing way to study unique skills and there’s plenty of educational content out there that can transform our lives. However, most of us simply don’t have time to study while we work a full-time job.

At least, that’s what many of us believe.

In reality, you can achieve great things by studying alongside your day job. Making time for it is all about gathering the motivation to stay focused and also managing your time so that you don’t feel like you’re on a strict schedule every day. So how do you fit study alongside a full-time job? Here are some tips to help you out.

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Pick a course that fits your schedule

First, ensure that your study time doesn’t overlap with your job. Ideally, you should keep these things completely separate. For example, don’t try and watch a lecture while you’re at work doing something else. Trying to multitask like this isn’t going to end well because it just stresses out your brain. You’ll get mentally fatigued much faster and you’ll just end up having a bad time.

Choose something related to your full-time job or study

While a full-time university course isn’t considered a job, it does take a similar amount of time. If you want to learn something alongside your day job or your full-time studies, then you’ll want to try and pick something that is closely related to it. For example, if you want to enhance your clinical skills while working on your degree in medicine or physical therapy, then you may want to choose an online course that shares a similar subject. This will ensure that you’re not bouncing between two completely different sets of skills all the time. Granted, there are some people that would prefer this, but it does require a lot of focus.

You have to dedicate time to it

This might sound obvious, but you really need to dedicate some time to your studies if you’re trying to fit it alongside something else. This means you should actually take out 2-3 hours of your time a day and focus that on just studying. Don’t treat it like something you can do for 30 minutes before and after work and expect to progress at a fast pace. Yes, this does mean that you’ll eventually need to give up something else in your schedule. However, you may want to alternate your study and relaxation days. For example, you can keep Friday night free to hang out with friends and family members, but you should study the following morning when it’s your day off.

Don’t force yourself–temper your expectations

It’s not easy to study for 3-4 hours each day after an 8-hour workday. That’s just way too many hours that your brain needs to focus. You’ll eventually get fatigued and will need to take a break. Take it easy and let your mind relax, and don’t get upset if you find it hard to stay focused for a long time.

4 Things You Need To Start Your Own Cafe

If you’ve got some great cooking skills, a desire to keep people happy with your amazing food and a sense of entrepreneurship, then starting your own cafe or restaurant might be a great idea for you. If the idea of a restaurant seems too intimidating, why not try your hands at a cafe first? It’s more casual, you can have lesser items on the menu (and more of the snacky variety as opposed to mealtime dishes) and the expenses will also be less. 

So, if you want to start your own cafe, here are four things you need to consider.

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  1.  A Venue

First and foremost, you need a venue to start your cafe. Based on what your bigger plan for your cafe venture is, you could look for a venue on a high street, in a park, in a retail area or in a mall. Of course, you will also need to consider your budget. But choosing a venue is the first step on your journey to opening your own cafe. 

  1.  Investment/ Capital

Next, you would need a certain amount of investment or capital to kickstart things. First and foremost, you would need the money to either buy or rent the cafe premises. But that’s just the start – you will also need to set up the cafe and that includes the kitchen appliances, raw materials for cooking, tables, chairs and other pieces of furniture. You will also need to think about other expenses such as electricity and water bills and employees salaries etc. So make sure you budget for everything beforehand.

  1. Theme and decor 

You might have a rough theme in mind for your cafe – for instance, if it’s by the beach front you might want to make it all about the ocean; or if it’s in a country park you would like to have a more rustic, natural look. Likewise, if it’s a more upmarket cafe serving high-tea and the like, you would like to be a bit more grand. 

The decor would depend on your theme obviously, and when you are looking for commercial cafe furniture online or in-store, you will instantly know when you like a particular table or chair or set; it will just click. You can either have a table and chairs set or different chairs and tables – again, this decision will depend on your overall decor. Make sure your furniture matches the wall paint, else choose your furniture prior to painting the venue. 

  1. Have a USP

While starting your own cafe might sound very exciting, you must realise that it is not a niche business – in fact, you will often find a line of cafes on any high street or town centre. So, if you want to make your cafe truly stand out – have some sort of USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Of course, your food will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether customers come back a second time (quality is key); but having something else that attracts them back or attracts new customers is a great idea. 

Maybe you could have a special weekend brunch, or a coffee-and-cake deal, or perhaps serve a speciality coffee you can’t get elsewhere? Think out of the box on this one.

Recruiting After COVID-19

The pandemic has turned everyone inside out this year. Jobs have been lost, businesses have shut down permanently and the number of people relying on the help from the government has increased enormously. The past few months alone have been a huge challenge, and for those businesses reopening their doors and getting back onto their feet, looking ahead into a working world post-pandemic is a tough one. No one can foresee any difficulties brought on by the pandemic, and every business has to adjust themselves to fit the new world, too. It doesn’t matter whether your business is hiring right now or not, you need to understand how the changes to the recruiting landscape will affect your business.

It’s always been the case that you want to hire the qualified people who want to work hard in a job. It’s essential to your success as a business and in order for this to secure the future of your company, it’s important that you have the right processes in place. Your HR Consultant should be on board with your plans to succeed in hiring new experts, and you should have things in place to make your business COVID-safe before you even advertise anything new. Below, we’ve got a few things that you need to know about recruitment in a world where a pandemic has occurred.

Man Wearing Black Polo Shirt and Gray Pants Sitting on White Chair

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  • A new company culture. The one thing that people are looking for when they apply for a job is a company with an excellent company culture. If you want to build a new team, one that’s committed to the vision and mission you have, you have to bring on people who are ready to buy into that new culture that incorporates safety in the office. You have to showcase what your business can offer, and you can do this when you hammer out an answer for those who ask why they should work for you.
  • Change your trajectory. As a business, if you’ve always had people in the office working for you and alongside you, it may be time to change up your trajectory and allow remote working. You will be shocked by the number of employers who believe that they should go back to a world where they won’t allow remote work, but it’s happening. Don’t be that employer. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us all it’s that we can adjust to working from home, making your business far more accessible than it ever has been before!
  • Add benefits. We’re moving into a post-pandemic world, but we’re not past it yet. You need to offer benefits relating to the pandemic, such as time away from the office to work while quarantining if necessary. You should also consider paid time off with families and comprehensive health cover that goes beyond what you may have offered before. You can even offer better wellness programs and parental leave.

There are far more perks that you can offer now than you could have before the pandemic. Taking advantage will help you to bring the best towards your business.

Keep Your Employee Retention High

If you are keen to do all you can to make your business a success, you should spend some time considering how you are treating your most important resource and asset of all: your people. As long as you are making sure to take care of your employees, you are much more likely to find and secure success in the long term, and you will find that it is a lot easier to make this happen, so it’s something that you are going to want to think about. In this post, we are going to take a look at some of the things you can do to keep your employee retention levels as high as possible.

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Keep Managers In Check

The managers are very important in any business, and you need to make sure that yours are doing their job as they should, not as they want to. If you find that you have one or two managers who are known to get a little unruly, then it might be a good idea to try and keep them in check in whatever way you can. That means making it clear that they are just as susceptible to the rules as anyone, and not allowing them to treat other people unfairly.

Provide A Safe & Healthy Workplace

If your workplace is not quite up to scratch, then this is going to result in a lot of your employees ultimately deciding to go elsewhere, so you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to provide the safest and healthiest workplace you can. That means primarily keeping the place clean by hiring a cleaner to come once a day and deep clean once a week at least. It also means keeping the air clear with a good AC system and 24 Hour AC Repair on call when you need it. All that will help in keeping the place safe and healthy.

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Hire The Right People

In simple terms, you are not going to have to fire people as often if you make a point of actually hiring the right people in the first place. You can’t always tell what is going to happen with your employees, but as long as you hire the very best you should at least find that you are much less likely to have to see them go at some point down the line. So make sure that you are putting a lot of effort into recruitment.

Offer A Competitive Salary

At the end of the day, money is important to people. If you are offering a decent rate to your people, then you can make sure that you are doing all you can to keep them on board for good. Offer the most competitive salary you can to all your people across the board – this is really going to make all the difference in the world, and it is easy to do as long as you have the means. Actively encourage people to ask for a raise too.

A Guide To Giving Your Workspace A Makeover

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As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have granted your employees the opportunity to work from home. This is a great way of helping minimise the spread of the virus and ensuring that your employees and their family are safe during this difficult time. However, it also means that your workspaces are sitting empty for long periods of time.

While you may be looking forward to getting back into the office – there are plenty of things you can do to capitalize upon this time. For example, an empty workplace gives you the opportunity to give the office a complete makeover ahead of your employees return. Here are some tips you can use to get started! 

  • Remember that both the interior and exterior of your workplace are important – especially if your company is client-facing. You have to give customers and staff a reason to want to come in through the doors. For example, you can dress up an outdoor terrace by adding some stylish balustrading
  • Before you get started, address any major issues you may be facing. For example, it may be time to get rid of old, outdated or otherwise malfunctioning equipment – as they only stand in the way of efficiency and could even be the cause of an injury. 
  • The first step towards transforming your workspace is a thorough clean – and workspace cleanliness has never been more important than it is right now. Therefore, you should begin by deep cleaning your office. While this may seem like a big task, you can spread the work over several days. Start small and work your way through a room at a time. 
  • Over time, the walls of your office will likely obtain the odd mark or scratch. Therefore, it is important that you give them a fresh coat of paint once in a while. Opt for a sleek and simple colour that won’t be too distracting – such as white – but don’t be afraid to add in a pop of colour elsewhere in the office space. 
  • Fluorescent lighting was once a staple in offices across the world. However, it is also the cause of frequent headaches, and can even have an impact on your mood. If you want to create a warm, welcoming space where your employees can thrive – focus instead on natural light. 
  • Swap out heavy, bulky curtains for blinds. Not only do they appear more modern and stylish, but they are also less likely to gather dust – meaning that it will help keeping on top of your cleaning much easier. 
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a break room. Your employees need a space where they can relax and unwind during their breaks – and it needs to be just as well maintained as the rest of your workspace. This can have a positive impact on both their mood and productivity. 
  • Diversify your workspace as much as possible to meet the needs of your employees. For example, some will prefer to work at singular desks away from others, while others work better when sat with others so that they can share ideas. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! 

Things That Are Commonly Overlooked That Lead To Business Failure

If your business is beginning to falter and is heading down the wrong path, then this could be due to one of many reasons. What is important is that you identify the cause and stop the rot early. There are several things that companies and business owners often overlook when identifying the pain points in their organisation, so here is a quick run-through of the factors that could be leading to your business’ failure. 

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1. Cybersecurity

Small business owners often overlook the risks of cybersecurity because they don’t feel like their business is well-known enough to be targetted. Don’t allow your I.T team to let your business down with lax privacy settings, unsecured networks, and not being up-to-date with the latest software updates. Good cybersecurity is a business basic in 2021, so don’t be caught out by delaying getting this sorted. Great businesses can fail even with just one cybersecurity lapse.

2. Customer Service

Customer service is crucial for client retention and repeat business. If you find that your customer turnover rate is rather high, then you may want to rethink your customer service strategy. Are your staff friendly, pleasant, and helpful on the phone and in-person? If not, this may be reflecting badly on your business and set you on the path to failure. Get your team up to speed with a quick online course to ensure their customer service skills are at the very highest level. This is frequently overlooked and we’re not sure why as great customer service often results in brilliant reviews and referrals, which is exactly what a business needs to survive.

3. Product Quality

Ensuring your product or service is being consistently delivered at a high-quality level is crucial for business success. Manufacturers, in particular, will quickly end up on a path to failure if they overlook this important point as defunct parts and poor quality output often instantly deter customers from doing business with you again. For construction firms, sometimes it can be something simple as ensuring your builds aren’t going to suffer from metal corrosion to secure their longevity. Whatever is that your business needs to do to ensure its product is top quality, make sure you do it because customers remember this more than anything.

4. Cash Flow

Keeping your books in order is key to ensuring your business doesn’t falter due to cash flow issues. If your outgoings are starting to supersede your incomings, then you will need to act fast to ensure you can continue to pay your staff’s wages at the end of the month. If the numbers are starting to look a bit off, sit down with your accountant and work things through. One solution may be changing your payment terms on your invoices. If clients are taking too long to pay you, then it might be time to change tack. 

Ultimately, there is far more that could be going wrong within your business than the issues that we have highlighted here. Some may even be more obvious that what has been suggested. What is important is to ensure you aren’t overlooking the factors that sometimes go amiss.

How to Go Green At Work

Being environmentally aware as a business is a responsibility that you cannot let go of. It’s easy to just run your business in the way that you want and ignore the world around you, but people prefer to do business with a responsible leader, and if you are considering the world around you properly, you’re going to appeal to clients. It’s vital that you do everything that you can to be the sort of business that will practice sustainability.

From the water pump by Slater Pump that you use  your commercial garden, to the fact that you are using more efficient lighting, your business is going to benefit financially, and all of your employees are going to be far more loyal to you as a result. Everyone has to do their part to take action against climate change, and if you can ensure that you are running your business in a greener manner, everyone benefits as a result. You can get involved and make your office a more sustainable place to be with the tips that we have for you below.

Unrecognizable women with bicycles in city park

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  • Implement a policy in the workplace that all electronics, lights and more are switched off every evening. The only things that should be left on should be the servers that are required to stay on, and the security system. Everything else is taking up electricity unnecessarily and it’s going to cost you!
  • Talk to your local environmental charities and see how you can start raising money and awareness for them. You can ensure that the whole office is involved when you do this, and this will also give you a chance to give back. Not only is this great for the charities you could support, but it’s good for staff morale to know that they are doing things for a good cause.
  • Contribute as much as you can with your business towards supporting the right fuels. If you can show that your business is supportive of renewable energy, you’re going to be favored by your clients and they will then let others know this about you.
  • Implement ride to work and ride share schemes. Add incentives such as keeping the bicycles that they use and giving cash bonuses to those who contribute to collection and delivery of their colleagues! This will give your staff more of an incentive to give back and get involved in these types of schemes. You could even buy bikes and have them branded with your business name!
  • Put a green rep into place at your business as a volunteer. They can be in charge of ensuring that your business is run in an environmentally friendly way. Encouraging this with your staff will make a massive difference to the way your office is run – and having one person taking care of it will encourage others to get involved and take a little off your plate.
  • Continue a workplace recycling scheme and buy water filters for the faucets – saving you money on large water drums!

Keeping Your Office Working Smart, Rather Than Hard

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The working environment is where you can fine-tune everything to benefit your business. It’s vital that you stay competitive but it’s not just about ensuring that you have the culture or the facts and figures in place. It’s important to ensure that your working environment is conducive to productivity. We have to remember that our employees need to work smart, rather than hard, on occasion. And when we start to incorporate ways to help our employees improve their abilities, we will see it directly in the business. So what are the things that we can incorporate?

Promote Organization

Officers can struggle if they don’t have an adequate system. But it’s not just about ensuring that the files are in the right place, you need to guarantee that organization is a through-line in your business. This means you’ve got to practice what you preach but you also need to make sure that your employees don’t need to worry about keeping everything in a certain order, but rather, is automatic. You can employ offices cleaning services to take the pressure off, of course, but you also need to think about how your office is laid out. Everybody has their own approach to work, and it’s about getting that fine balance. Some people thrive better in a group, but others need to work in a solitary environment. When it comes to your office, ensuring you have a combination of options will help. This guarantees flexibility among your employees.

Incorporate Time Management Tactics

We can lose a lot of time moving from task to task. Because we are forcing our brains to switch gears, this exhausts our reserves. Managing your time is crucial and when you think that multitasking is the best way to keep on top of everything, you’ve got to re-evaluate your attitude to your work. The fact of the matter is you may be enforcing a certain attitude towards working. Now would be a better time to incorporate smarter ways of working and managing your time. For example, when you are completing a top priority task, you need to avoid answering your emails. There are the things you can incorporate, such as the Pomodoro Technique, which works to help retain focus while also having a break. In addition, there is Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. When you start to think that 80% of your results can come from 20% of your efforts, this can seriously reinvigorate your approach to how you tackle your work, but also everything else in your life.

The Importance of Shortcuts

Another key component of working smart, you need to incorporate shortcuts into your life. Whether this is starting to dictate documents rather than typing, when you start to see how much time you can save by incorporating shortcuts, can reinvigorate your entire approach. For example, you can save 21 days a year by typing fast. And so while it’s not easy to learn how to type fast, you can still use shortcuts on the keyboard to speed up your work.

There are many things to consider, and these are but three. What does it take to get your office working better?

What is tone of voice and why does your business needs one?

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Developing and maintaining a consistent tone of voice is important. What you say 

and how you say it will determine how people view your brand. So what is tone of voice and why is it important? 

What is tone of voice?

All successful brands have their own distinctive voice, whether it is serious, friendly, or quirky. Your tone of voice should be evident on everything from your letterhead to your social media posts. 

What you say and how you say it needs to be decided on at a company level. Though there are times when you might have to change your tone slightly, especially if your usual brand is quirky or whimsical. The industry you are in will also have some bearing on your tone. For example, if your company is in IT consulting, you want to reassure customers that you are knowledgeable and professional, while still also having a personality. Responding to a serious story or similar requires a more measured response. 

Why do you need one? 

Engage your audience – a well-defined brand tone encourages people to engage with a brand

Build trust – having your company values front and center can attract customers who share these. 

Increase the bottom line – having a consistent tone, alongside a well thought out marketing strategy, can increase sales and revenue. 

Anchors your brand image – tone of voice, alongside other tangibles such as logo, brand colors, and slogans improve brand recognition in your target audience.

How to create your tone of voice

Settling on your brand’s tone is a delicate balancing act between your company and its values and your target audience. You’ll want to look at the tone of voice of your competitors too, but this should be as part of wider research, not to mimic. 

Research your target audience thoroughly. What brands do they like, which platforms do they prefer, how do they talk to each other. A study by Econsultancy revealed that over 50% of consumers felt that communications from brands weren’t relevant to them. You can’t afford to leave that kind of business on the table. 

So, if you haven’t narrowed down your buyer personas, you need to do this as a matter of priority. All of your communication, product development, and marketing will be influenced by this. If you don’t know if you’re targeting boomers or millennials, you’ll end up reaching no one. 

Once you’ve pinned down your target market, you can start aligning your brand values. Openness and transparency are the keys to consumer buy-in. Over 90% of consumers said that they would be more likely to maintain loyalty to a brand that is transparent in their communications and wider business dealings. 

So you know what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Now distill this down into your mission statement. Tell your audience who you are and what you stand for. This should be communicated both internally and externally.

When deciding on your tone of voice, decisions will need to be made on whether you want to sound serious, formal, friendly, casual, or quirky. 

Each way of speaking has its own pros and cons and these can change from sector to sector. 

The Perils Of Received Wisdom In Business

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It’s not uncommon in the business world to use quotes by great thinkers to inspire yourself and others. There is a certain comfort in speaking the words spoken years ago by philosophers, presidents and prophets and using them to make your point. In the right circumstances an inspirational quote can be extremely beneficial, too. If you want to move minds and bodies to outperform their competition, then a familiar, evocative statement can be effective.

What needs to be remembered is that there is a time and a place for quotes and received wisdom, and a danger can arise when they become more than a line. If you live by received wisdom, it is possible to make mistakes that can be catastrophic for your business – because the simple truth is that there is no quote, no maxim that is universally applicable. Some statements, when applied to business, can actually be directly injurious – and a look at the following statements bears that out…

“The harder you work, the luckier you get”

That’s just not true. Luck is, by definition, a fortunate happenstance behind your control and you can’t magic it into being by spending more time doing what you usually do. In fact, working harder can at times be detrimental to your chances of success, as burnout can leave you unable to produce anything of merit. Those who spend more time at work may have more opportunities to capitalize on luck – but spotting those opportunities and properly maximizing them doesn’t depend on working your fingers to the bone.

“It’s the bigger picture that matters”

Any business needs to have a rounded approach to succeed, and over-focusing on details is, without a doubt, detrimental to the whole. Nonetheless, it’s almost never going to be the case that you can solve acute problems with a broad-brush approach. Some areas will always need more attention. If you don’t put money and effort into getting the best IT support, for example, that will affect the whole business before too long. Streamlining processes is good – but you need to be able to have a selective focus at times.

“We can cross that bridge when we come to it”

Although the above statement about focusing on what’s in front of you is true, it also needs to be understood that it refers to acute issues that need immediate address. Kicking foreseeable problems into the long grass because they’re not “now” problems is a terrible way to work. If you are aware of the existence of a “bridge” up ahead, you’d better at least have the outline of a plan to deal with it. Otherwise you’re just working through an existing bottleneck to put yourself in front of another, which may have become more complex since you last brushed it off. Your present-day solutions can incorporate a strategy for future problems – and they should, if they’re to be in any way effective.

Received wisdom can be fascinating and when properly applied, it can certainly help your business – but it needs to be analyzed just like any other advice, because it does contain some flaws.