3 Important Things A Developing Business Should Outsource

If you’ve been running your small business for some time, then you’ve probably used all the modern tools at your disposal. The web is full of helpful workflow and process automation tools which can take a large chunk off of your workload as a CEO, but automation will only go so far. If you’re looking to free up a lot of your time and reduce some of your overhead, here are a few things you should consider outsourcing.


First of all, your bookkeeping. Right now, keeping track of all your business’s finances; how much you need to allocate for equipment, investments, taxes and so on, might seem like a breeze. It can stay nice and simple, but only if you want your venture to stay the same as it is right now indefinitely! As you expand and grow, there will be more and more financial factors which you’ll need to think about. Trying to juggle it all on top of your other duties can lead to costly mistakes, and eat into your productivity. You can prepare for the shift right now by looking around at bookkeeping services such as RS to take care of your back-office duties. You’ll get the experience of professional bookkeepers, and have more time to focus on the things that will keep your business moving forward.

Next, your web design. As I’m sure you’re aware, a company’s website is among the most powerful marketing tools they have in their arsenal. You may have a fairly decent site up at the minute. However, if you want to reach your full potential then 'decent' isn’t enough! Hire a web design service like CandidSky, and you’ll only have to sit back and wait. You’ll not only be able to save a huge amount of time but also know that you’re benefiting from a massive pool of expertise. Web design companies are always on top of the best practices, new or emerging technology, and all those nitty-gritty coding details that make your brain hurt when you read about them. Furthermore, if you find one that meshes nicely with your brand, it can be the start of a highly beneficial partnership. You’re going to have to review and tweak your website a lot in the future, so it’s good to have someone you can rely on.

Finally, your scheduling and administrative tasks. When you’re operating as a self-employed sole trader or a particularly small business, then you can probably do all your admin and diary keeping in your head. However, like the finances in your business, it can’t stay this simple forever. As a business owner, it’s your duty to ensure that you can focus on the processes at the core of your venture. This isn’t so easy when you’re constantly buried under a pile of admin and scheduling work! Hire a personal assistant in your local area, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. By paying a fairly small salary, you’ll be able to wash your hands of sorting through emails, complex appointment-setting and various repetitive tasks.

 photo NEW.png
* collaboration *
Follow

Fight For Your Success | How To Challenge Online Competition

The internet is fast pushing business away from small sellers. People seem to be more content to purchase online from the comfort of their own homes than to head to the shops. On the one hand, the internet is great for businesses. It means that your customers can easily find out your shop’s location, opening hours and phone number. They can make inquiries which can be answered quickly and customers can leave reviews of your products. However, the internet also poses a massive threat to businesses. The problem is that huge chains can offer lower prices. That’s how business works. They can buy in mass bulk amounts and consequently receive considerable discounts. They can then offer their goods at lower prices.

The huge chains compete against one another. Lowering prices again and again. The prices that they offer on mass produced items can’t be challenged by small businesses. After all, a local corner shop isn’t going to sell ten thousand packets of Walkers crisps and half a million bars of chocolate on a daily basis. It’s unfeasible, bulk buying isn’t possible on the same scale and thus prices have to remain higher than those offered by monopoly giants. They also don’t have to fork out for store rent, bills, visual merchandising or any of the other things that come hand in hand with a physical store. Often, customers will browse physical stores, see something that they like and then check up for a cheaper deal online. All within a few seconds. Chances are they were able to order the product that you’re offering from Amazon and it will be delivered to their door within a few hours.

So how do you compete?

Service

One thing that online shopping can’t offer is face-to-face service. So this is where your business really needs to excel. Good customer service is down to good staff. So what should you look for in a staff member?

Traits

Confidence. Confidence is important in sales and customer service. Your staff need to be confident in approaching customers, answering queries and suggesting alternatives.

Friendliness. People can tell if someone is innately friendly or putting on an act. You need people who are naturally friendly, as they will create a positive atmosphere in the workplace and positive feelings among their coworkers.

Flexibility. Everyone has a life, so don’t push too hard with this one. But you should prioritise staff who have more free time on their hands to pick up extra shifts during busy seasons and cover shifts if a colleague calls in sick.

Patience. Anyone who has worked in a physical store will know that you need the patience of a saint to deal with some customers’ requests and complaints. It’s paramount that your staff never lose their temper with a customer or show hostile feelings.

Proactive. You need proactive staff who show initiative. They can’t be following you around like a lost puppy constantly. Find someone who is comfortable finding tasks for themselves and staying occupied without having to be asked.

Empathy. Seeing through the eyes of the customer is invaluable. You need individuals who can detect how others are feeling and what they might be thinking. Whether that be cheering up customers who have had a tough day or talking with customers who are notably lonely.

How To Find Them

First of all, send out a job advertisement. Advertise in your store window or post a call for staff online through job sites and social media. Have individuals bring their CV's into store. It’s much easier to judge character in person than through reading a cleverly worded CV. Whittle the selection down to 20 potential employees at the most.

Hold a group interview. Some people may prosper in solo interviews but be utterly socially inept when it comes to dealing with others. A group interview will see how these individuals interact with strangers. At the end of the day, this is what you’ll be employing them to do. Set up tasks and activities. Your focus shouldn’t be on the result of the activities themselves. What you should look out for is the individual’s communication and articulation skills. Also watch their demeanour around others.

After this, choose your favourites and have solo interviews. This will be the potential staff member’s opportunity to really sell themselves. Ask them about their previous experience, how they’d cope in certain situations and why they’d like to work for you.

Training

You can have great staff, but without sufficient training, they won’t be much use on your shop floor. It’s absolutely necessary that you train your staff in all areas. Whatever a customer might need, your staff should be able to produce it. Train all staff in first aid. This could prove vital in emergency situations. Health and safety should also be taught. For example, courses on how to properly lift heavy objects, hazard awareness in the workplace and the importance of being clean on the job. Make sure that there is a strict fire protocol. Carry out routine drills to keep your staff at the top of their game.

Beyond basic health, safety and first aid, there are other things that your staff should be trained in before starting on the shop floor. This should include knowing how to deal with more difficult customers. All staff should know how to maintain their temper, when to pass a customer on to the store owner or manager and how to deal with complaints.

The Physical Store Space

If you have a beautiful, well presented store, people are likely to enjoy spending more time browsing and purchasing from you. They’re also likely to return. Customer loyalty is important. So how do you keep them coming back besides good service? Well, when you shop online, you click here and there, hope that what you see is what you’re going to get and check out. That’s that. When you shop in a physical store, you receive an experience. You interact with staff. You get to touch, feel and try out the merchandise. You can request different colours and sizes of products. You know exactly what you’re getting. This is where you’re going to win loyal customers.

Shop Front

Your store sign and window display are the things that get customers from the street and into your store looking at your goods. So how do you make your store more appealing than all of the others in the road? First, focus on your sign. Huge chains have simple signs, as they need to be fairly cheap and easy to reproduce hundreds or thousands of times. Take advantage of the fact that you only need to decorate the front of one store. Invest in it. You will want a sign that stands out from the rest. How do you do this? Look into professional sign writing. Laser light detailed designs can be intricate and complex. They’ll look much more impressive than standard signs that you see plastered all over the place. Also consider lighting. Pretty back-lighting will make your shop stand out at night. Even if it’s closed, an effective sign will make people look twice and they’re more likely to check in the next day or later down the line.

Your window display is equally important. Let’s start with the windows themselves. You can have designs etched into the windows themselves with lasers. This is particularly impressive and unique. If you want a cheaper alternative, you could have an arts student or a professional paint your windows with intricate, pretty designs. Make sure to change your window display regularly to keep it interesting. Showcase your best new products to keep customers streaming in.

Interior Design

Most stores look the same when you enter them. A few mannequins scattered about. A few items hung around. Maybe a few pieces of merchandise displayed on shelves or stands. This is expected because chain stores need to be consistent and uniform and the easiest way to do this is with minimal designs. Make yours complex, extravagant and excessive. Have highly decorated displays. Alternative lighting won’t go amiss. Vintage cashiers and check outs will draw attention and create conversation. Have your staff in a uniform that fits the look and aesthetic of your store.

9975623096_4e43e3778b_b.jpg

Refreshments

Offer customers refreshments as they enter the store. Many will decline, but the offer will be appreciated. Also have functioning toilets for customers. This will keep people in store for longer, rather than rushing off because they need to use the toilets or they are hungry and thirsty.

Alternatively, if you have a larger store space, have a small, independent barista hire a corner. They can set up a little work station and a few tables and chairs. Guests can stop by for tea or coffee and cake. Some people will enter your store solely for the purpose of picking up a coffee and might spot something that takes their fancy on their way out. This will build a broader customer base and make your store a hot spot for people who want a nice afternoon out.


 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration * 
Follow

Health | The Essential Guide To Get You On Track

It’s that time of year where we can feel a little lethargic and zapped of energy. All we want to do is curl up on the sofa and hibernate. But we all want to feel and look healthier. So if you want to achieve a healthier you at this time of year then this guide will help you get on track.

food-salad-healthy-vegetables-5.jpg

Think about what you eat

Either we are denying ourselves something or overindulging on bad things. This is where it is important to develop a healthy balanced diet. Eating too much of the wrong thing like junk food or sweet treats can cause us to put on weight. Which in the long term could affect our body mass index and make us overweight, junk food can zap the energy out of us, which can also make us feel lethargic and down. Relying on a diet is not sustainable for the future. This is where you tend to deny yourself something that is important to your body like a carbohydrate. The best advice is to stick to a balanced diet where you give your body what it needs. Doing this can help aid your immune system to fight against common illnesses like colds or flu, and sickness bugs. Which are rife at this time of year.

Think about how you exercise

There are some major benefits for moving more. One of those being that it can help to increase your fitness. Moving more, in general, can aid weight loss as well as help with general health. There are many ways you can actively move more. One of the things you could consider is just to start walking. Or if you fancy something more energetic then join a Zumba dance workout class for fitness. Many people take great enjoyment out of it. Even switching up the music at home and having a dance around will increase your heart rate.

Consider your mindset

Thinking positively can be the first step to changing your mindset. It won’t be easy at first. Your mind will be so used to thinking negatively that it can be difficult to break that habit. So you have to think about every situation and thought more positively. Just until that develops into a new habit and the negativity is a thing of the past. At first, if you find yourself drifting into a negative thought, turn it around to be more positive.


drinking-87155_640.jpg
Drink more water

Drinking more water will always have amazing health benefits. Firstly, it’s a natural detox. So it naturally flushes your body of bad toxins. It can also increase energy levels and reduce tiredness. You will also see an improvement in your skin tone as water is a natural remedy for clearing your skin and reducing spots. It will also encourage your children to develop the habit of drinking more which will serve them well in the future. For adults that are looking to reduce their weight, increasing your water intake can be a great aid to this. Alongside all of that it can even help you sleep better. Overall, drinking more water can help you throughout your whole healthy process.

I hope this helps you get on track.


 photo NEW.png
*collaboration*
Follow

Stationery for Every Stage of Your Life


We seem to use technology for everything nowadays: from the way we learn, to the way we make lists, right the way through to the way we communicate with our loved ones. But there’s still a place for stationery. In fact, there’s a place for stationery at every stage of your life, and for many of us, it holds a sentimental and functional value – whatever we’re doing! Not sure what we mean? Read on to delve a little deeper into the role that stationery plays…

Early Years 

Between the ages of 0 and 5 years old, your brain is learning a lot. A key part of this learning and development is played out with stationery, such as huge sheets of paper and pots filled with chubby crayons and craft materials. Not only does using stationery spark your imagination and flex your creative muscles, but using it at this age actually, strengthens your fine motor skills and develops your hand and eye coordination too: key skills that are vital for success as you grow older.

Primary School

Fast forward a little to primary school, and stationery takes centre stage. You’ll fondly look back on this time as one where you rummaged through your pencil case to pull out handfuls of colouring pencils, gel pens and dusty pencil sharpeners. A desk drawer filled with stationery is essential for completing exercises in the classroom, and you’ll find that your teacher’s seemingly unending supply of stationery can be used to create masterpieces for school displays.

Secondary School
At secondary school, stationery still has an important role to play. Suddenly, protractors, compasses and calculators are knocking around your bag for those intimidating maths and science lessons, and you might even have graduated to a fancy fountain pen with disposable ink cartridges.

University 

Despite the prevalence of laptops in lecture theatres, stationery is still essential at university. Sheets of lined paper bound within empty notepads are indispensable when it comes to jotting down the wise words of professors delivered in complicated lecturers. 
And you’ll get well acquainted with the benefits of highlighters, sticky notes and labels when you’re revising for your final year examinations. Just don’t forget to bring a pen and a couple of spares when it’s time to enter the exam hall: you don’t want to fall at the last hurdle!

First Job

Nothing welcomes you to your first job like a collection of brand new stationery on your desk. You’ll get to know your colleagues and figure out your new role while drawing on the usefulness of sticky notes, staplers, and – of course - a pen to twirl in each meeting.

Engagement

Finally, stationery seems to follow you through to life’s major personal events too. Perhaps you’ll end up writing your own wedding invitations on beautiful paper before popping each one in the post. Without a doubt, you’ll end up scouring the house from top to bottom looking for a pen to write the hundreds upon hundreds of ‘congratulations on your first home/baby/wedding/anniversary’ cards for friends and family. 

So, do you see? Stationery is practical, functional and sentimental: a constant presence in our lives and one that’s not going away anytime soon.


 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration * 
Follow

Tips || Why Your Video Content Isn't Working


Video content is pretty inescapable these days. Since the internet saw its last major boom in popularity, businesses, Vloggers and humble social media users have all been posting their own videos in a seemingly endless stream. You probably know that video content can be an extremely powerful tool in the scope of modern marketing. What you may not know is why your content is failing! Here are some of the common issues you may be up against.

The first mistake you could be making is scrimping on the production values of your video content. Like many of our readers, you might be the owner or executive at a fledgeling start-up, with countless great ideas but very little resources at your disposal. Because of this, you may have decided to look for a cheaper solution to your video content, giving it to an amateur in the office or a freelancer with little credentials. Now, it’s important to remember that all great filmmakers start off as amateurs, hoping to start their own firm or get hired by a larger one like Rocket Productions. There may be some great ones out there. However, it’s also important to remember that video production is a very challenging learning curve and that you’ll usually get what you pay for when you outsource the job to professionals.

Another big mistake you could have made is going into the project with little in the way of a purpose or focus. Some business owners falsely believe that simply having video content out there can be a good thing. It gets your name and logo seen by more people, right? While this is true to some extent, any kind of content without a set goal in mind can be a massive waste of time and money. Once you have a specific goal you want to achieve, you need to make sure the video content itself has a clear focus which coincides with the quotas you’re trying to meet. All too often, I see inexperienced or headstrong marketers trying to cram their video content with every little bit of information they can. When you have a single message driving the whole thing, you’ll always see better results.

Finally, releasing videos that are too long. For a large chunk of your target market, life in this digital age is going to be very full-on. The next time you have an opportunity, have a peek over a millennial’s shoulder at their phone. You’ll probably see countless tabs open, full of sites and social apps which you’ve never heard of before. The modern consumer has countless little things they want to get back to, and they’re not going to have the time to watch a one-hour documentary on how your company was founded. This ties in closely with my point about your videos having focus. You need to grab your audience’s attention with one small part of your enterprise before they’re going to be interested enough to find out any more. Get back on your editing program and make some cuts!


 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration *
Follow

Business | Run A Shop, Avoid Stress, Make Money!

How difficult is it to setup your own shop? Actually, it’s surprisingly easy, and it won’t take much thought or effort at all. The first thing you’ll need to consider is what you want to sell. This could be anything from food products to clothing. But remember, your shop will need to be setup to accommodate for whatever you are stocking. Some things are easier than others. For instance, if you are selling food, you will need some sort of cooler facility. I recommend selling clothing as this is one of the easiest shops to set up. You just need some hangers, rails and the store is ready to go. I know I promised you a stress-free business venture and I bet you’re wondering how that’s possible. Well, there’s one solution I recommend.

Run It From Home!

You can run any business from home these days, and that includes a shop on the high street. You don’t have to be in the store to make sure that your business is a hit. You just have to make sure that you hire the right employees who can guarantee the best sales for your new company. If you appoint the right people in management, you won’t need to worry. Instead, you can just watch the profits pour in, quite literally.

If you set up a cloud server for your business all the processes in store will be viewable online. This includes your sales and your stock management. You can manage everything from the comfort of your home, even liaising with different e-commerce companies for supplies. Everything and I do mean everything, can be operated through mobile means. You can even set up wireless security so that you can see exactly what’s happening in your store. Your shop will be in the real world, but you can still be in your sunny conservatory watching the profits come in on your laptop.

Kit You’ll Need

You will need to a few things to get started with this business idea. You’ll need to kit out your store with storage equipment and furniture. You can buy all of this from an e-commerce company online. Make sure you shop around for the best prices and deals on this type of equipment. You don’t want to waste a fortune setting up your shop when you could have been saving.

You will also need the tech for sales, and you don’t want to invest in old tech. Make sure that you are the latest tills, terminals, and devices. A credit card terminal should be completely mobile in 2016. This will make shopping at your store as easy as possible for customers. The easier it is for them, the more sales you will see.

Buying The Online or Offline Store

Purchasing the store physically or online is probably the most stressful part of the business venture. After that, it can be smooth sailing. You need to think about where you should buy and the type of store you want. Don’t save money by investing in a store that is in a poor location. Spend a little extra and get a place that everyone will see on Saturday morning. That way, you can guarantee fantastic sales for your new business.

Are you interested in this possibility? With just a few months setup, you could have the business you’ve always wanted.  

 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration *
Follow

How to properly clean and care for your ring before the big day



Your engagement ring should shine just as bright as you on your wedding day, before it is paired with its equally beautiful wedding band at the altar, which is why it’s important to take good care of it in the run up to saying ‘I do’

 Whether you opted for a band of diamonds, or something simple here’s how to care for your ring before the big day: 

Soak your ring regularly
Try to give your ring a clean each week by popping it in a warm water and dish soap solution and leaving to soak for around 20-40 minutes. This is a great way of removing product build up on the band and stone, such as hairspray, moisturiser and other cosmetics that it might come into contact with every day. 

Clean with a toothbrush
No matter what stone is featured on your ring, you should clean it with a delicate tool such as a soft toothbrush. After a soak, use the soft bristles to get into all the ‘nooks and crannies’, such as the prongs holding the stone in place and the back of the ring. 

Remove when getting messy
Whether you’re out in the garden, painting a feature wall or baking bread, ensure you remove your ring to avoid it getting too messy. Not only will this minimise cleaning time later it will ensure you don’t get anything horrible stuck inside the prongs or behind the stone casing.

David Allen, of 77 Diamonds, recommends also removing your ring when you go to the gym and keeping your ring box by your bed ‘so that when you go to bed, so does your diamond. That way no sleeping mishaps can happen.’ 

Don’t wear while at the gym

Avoid lifting weights, playing sport that requires you to hold an object in your hand (i.e. tennis, squash, hockey) or swimming with your ring on. Some of these can cause damage to the band or the stones can be knocked during the game by a stray ball or another player.

While swimming you could simply lose your ring, as the cool water causes your fingers to shrink and the ring could slip off – and nobody wants to be that person demanding the pool is emptied just for you or having to grab your goggles and dolphin dive to the bottom to search for it.  

Take off when cleaning

Bleach and other household cleaners containing chlorine are not good for an engagement ring so either wear gloves or remove the ring before scrubbing the bathroom or wiping down the sides in the kitchen.

Play by these rules and your engagement ring should look as sparkly and glittering as new on your big day!


 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration * 
Follow