Staying Ahead Of The Game When You're Self-Employed

Do you work from home? Are you a business owner? If so, it’s essential to stay ahead of the game. When you’re self-employed, it may not be as easy to keep an eye on the competition. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t be forward-thinking. You may have to be more resourceful. But there are ways of standing out from the crowd and rising above the competition.  Here are some top tips to help you get ahead when you’re self-employed.

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Invest in training

When you work for a company, they often provide you with training opportunities. Courses and seminars are designed to further your career and develop your skillset. You may work for yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of training and learning opportunities. You may have to pay for courses yourself, but they often prove worthwhile. The more skills and qualifications you have, the more attractive you’ll become to clients and investors. Often, courses last a day or two, and you can make use of your new skills going forward. If you’re interested in specific areas, for example, web design or social media marketing, do some research online. You can find out about local courses and options like Adobe learning resources from Training Connection.

Move with the times

In business, a day can seem like a lifetime. What was avant-garde yesterday is old news today. It’s important to think ahead and have one foot in the future. Keep up to date with trends, and try and be as adaptable as possible. Read as much as you can, and apply what you learn to your business model. Marketing is one of the most important sectors. It’s also one of the fastest-moving areas of commerce. Use data analysis tools to see what’s working currently, and think about how you can make your strategy evolve. More and more businesses are turning to social media. You may already have social media accounts up and running. In this case, consider how you’re going to stand out from the crowd and attract new clients in an increasingly competitive market.

Keep in touch

When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to float off into your own little bubble. However, in business, it’s essential to be well-connected. It’s likely that you’ll need to work with other firms, such as suppliers or distributors, and individuals. Make use of modern technology to stay in touch, and make an effort to be sociable. Attend business events, and take advantage of chances to network. If you’re in the loop, you’ll have a better idea of upcoming opportunities, and you can keep tabs on the competition.

If you’re self-employed, it can be tougher to make strides in business. Many of the large companies have clout when it comes to making and breaking deals and attracting clients. Just because you run a smaller venture doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed. But it is essential to try and stay ahead of the game. Don’t underestimate the importance of training and continual evaluation. Keep your ears to the ground and your eyes on the prize. Focus on what you’re doing, but make sure you’re aware of your competitors. Maintain contact with business colleagues and stay in touch with the wider world. Read up on the latest trends, and be prepared to be a leader rather than a follower.

Good luck!

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Don't Want to Get Sued? Then Fulfil These Employer Responsibilities

Let’s give some of these employers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they got confused and thought they were legally allowed to pay a given employee less than the minimum wage. There are, after all, several types of employees that can be paid below the minimum. They include self-employed freelancers, people under the age of sixteen, and some trainees. However, it’s important to clarify whether someone you believe is self-employed is actually a worker. Review the contract to ensure they’re not technically an employee. Not all trainees or interns can be paid less than minimum wage, either.


In the United Kingdom we have a little thing called the Equality Act of 2010. There were equality laws in business way before then, but this was the most recent and comprehensive Act. The Act, as you can probably guess, protects workers from discrimination. Employers should be completely familiar with the Equality Act and its implications. They should also be wary of what kind of discrimination can result when the Act is ignored.

There are plenty of ‘characteristics’ that can result in discriminatory behaviour from employers. In fact, the discrimination may even occur without even being hired. (In the case where you haven’t hired someone on the basis of that characteristic). They include some of the age-old discrimination targets such as sex, skin colour, or age. Newer laws take into account people who may not have been necessarily treated fairly by the law previously. Sexual orientation, transgenderism, and disabilities are all protected against discrimination by the law.

Expenses and benefits

This can be a fairly tricky area. A lot of employees believe they have the right to a number of benefits, to be provided by their employer. However, this isn’t actually the case. Employee benefits are definitely something you should consider. They can help boost satisfaction and, thus, productivity, after all. But you’re not actually obligated to hand out a bunch of benefits to your employees. Company cars, travel and entertainment expenses, child care, health insurance... These things aren’t promised to an employee by any policy or Act.

However, if you do offer benefits, then there are some things you need to keep an eye out for. This isn’t something that many employers take into account, but it’s important that you do. When you’re offering an employee a particular benefit, it’s going to cost you money. A gym membership, for example, will be paid for by the company. (And do make sure it’s actually paid for by the company. Otherwise, it’s not really a benefit!) But whenever money exchanges take place, what else takes place? That’s right: taxes. Some employers have been caught trying to charge the taxes of those benefits to the employee. This is generally done by an automatic deduction from their salary. However, employers have an obligation to pay the taxes owed due to benefits as well.

Health and safety

Perhaps the most important responsibility you have to your employees is that of keeping them safe. When you hire someone to work at your office, you’re effectively making them stay at a given location for hours on end. And if they have to stay at a location for at least eight hours a day, their rights dictate that the location must be safe. And seeing as you’re the boss, it’s up to you to make sure that it is safe!

Maintaining health and safety in the office may seem fairly easy to a lot of employers. Some of it seems self-explanatory. Make sure there’s antibacterial hand wash in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Ensure all spills are cleaned up. Make sure all the exits are clearly marked and free from obstruction. It all seems easy enough, right? Of course, it depends on where you work and specific work you do. But whatever the case, there are always extra steps you can take to ensure worker safety. One of these extra steps could be helping employees (or yourself!) become more aware of these health and safety aspects. You could look into health and safety training services by Peninsula Group, for example.

Employee records

Record-keeping is pretty darn important in the modern workplace. What’s more is that it’s also much easier than it used to be. After all, you can keep records digitally now. You don’t have to grab a paper form and write out everything. Just use your keyboard, open up some spreadsheet software, and bam. Sometimes it’s not even as complex as that. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure you’re saving generated data to a safe place.

So why are so many employers not doing their best when it comes to keeping records? One of the main problems with this is that it’s an employer’s obligation to keep employee records accurate and safe. When you think about all the documents and data that are generated as the result of an employee? As well as how important they can be to current and even future employment? Then you start to see why it’s such a necessary responsibility. After all, you have payslips, tax declarations, retirement plans, timesheets and worked hours... There’s a lot of data that you should be recording. Make sure you’re making backup copies of all of those, too. If an employee needs to request such information for any reason, you need to be able to provide them with it.

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Ears Are Important Too! | 7 Tips To Protect Your Hearing

A lot of people don’t worry about their hearing until they reach old age. But your ears are just as important as the other aspects of your body. As well as allowing you to hear everything, they are so important to help us keep balance. In fact, they are essential for our safety and communication in our world. However, there are currently 11 million people living with hearing loss in the UK. And this is expected to rise to 15 million in the next two decades. Therefore, it’s so important to look after our ears from when we are a young age. Here are seven pieces of advice to protect your hearing.

Clean them regularly

It’s so important that you clean your ears regularly to ensure you protect your hearing. After all, if you don’t do it, you are bound to get an influx of ear wax. It can end up clogging your ears, causing hearing loss over time. Cleaning your ears will also prevent infection and irritation in your inner ear. However, a lot of people are confused about how to clean their ears. Some recommend using white vinegar, warm tap water, and rubbing alcohol. You mix these together and then pour a few drops in each ear. It will then soften the wax so it can be removed easier. Make sure you then drain the liquid away so it doesn’t cause infection! Mineral oil is also an excellent solution for cleaning your ears. Don’t hesitate to ask at the chemist too as there are several products available to buy.

Reduce your music

We are using devices with headphones more than ever to listen to music. After all, it’s an easy and convenient way to listen to great tunes while on the move! But research has found one billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss because of audio devices.  Therefore, it’s so important to make sure the music on your devices, and the kids, isn’t too high. A lot of people recommend keeping the sound at less than 60% to protect your ears. And we’re not just talking headphones; make sure the music in the car is not too loud. If it’s louder than 85Db, you need to turn it down. Otherwise, your family could be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss if they listen to it for too long!

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Get them checked out

We are a nation who leaves going to the doctor for another day. We think we will recover quickly, so there is no point in wasting the doctor's time. But if you believe that there is something wrong with your ears, it’s so important to see the doctor. An ear infection could get worse and could lead to hearing loss if left untreated. Also, if it’s only one ear, it’s still important to see the doctor. It could be caused by benign tumours on the nerve bundle leading to the brain. As this article says, it should always be investigated as soon as possible as an early diagnosis can affect a positive outcome! And even if it’s your kid’s ears, you need to take them to the doctor. Here’s some advice if your kid is scared of going to see them!

Avoid using cotton buds

A lot of people use cotton buds to clean out pesky wax from their ear canal. But there has been some research which claims they aren’t good for your ears. For one thing, inserting the cotton bud in your ear can damage the ear drum. And also if you get rid of too much wax, it will cause an easy path for dust and harmful particles to enter your ear! Therefore, avoid using them for your ears as much as possible to protecting your hearing!

Remove water after swimming

You might be surprised how many people have issues with their ears after they have been swimming! Bacteria can often get in your ear and cause an infection of the outer ear canal, causing swimmer’s ear. It can lead to pain, discharge, and even temporary hearing loss in your ear. Therefore, you need to make sure you protect your ears when you go swimming. You should make sure you are swimming in clean water to stop risks of infection. Also, you could make sure you and the kids wear swimming caps to keep the water out. After swimming, it’s so important to remove any water from your ears. Shake the water out so that you don’t end up at risk of swimmer’s ear!

Protect your ears when using machinery  

A high percentage of people suffer from noise-induced hearing loss because of their work environment. Therefore, it’s so important to make sure you are protecting your ears with ear plugs when you are using any machinery at work. If you don’t feel protected, don’t use the device as it could affect your hearing. If you do end up getting exposed to loud noise via the machinery, you could potentially end up with tinnitus. You can make a claim against your employer if this occurs; you can read more on And this doesn’t just apply in the workplace. When you are using any form of machinery such as lawnmowers and chainsaws at home, you need to protect your ears!

Manage your stress levels

We all know that stress can cause many health issues. However, you might not realise that stress can cause temporary tinnitus! It’s because stress causes your body to put pressure on nerves and blood flow. It can then travel to your inner ear and cause tinnitus symptoms. Therefore, to protect your hearing, you should make sure you try and control your stress. Find ways to keep yourself calm such as yoga and pilates. And if you are getting any symptoms, make sure you go to the doctor. Otherwise, you could end up with permanent tinnitus!

Also, when you have a cold, make sure you aren’t blowing too hard as this can also lead to an ear infection!

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