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Be Smart: How to Invest in Your Business

In business, you need to spend money to make money. There’s no denying it. If you do not pay for the right employees, technology, marketing or even office space, your business may be more likely to fail. However, when starting up, spending too much money could be just as damaging. How do you find the balance, though? Harmony in business can be tricky to figure out. Sometimes it’s trial and error, but too much risk can make an irreparable fault. You need to start small – invest in small quantities – and continue building with regards to your revenue and profit. Once you’re making a name for yourself, your investments can become bolder. Here’s how you can invest in your business – big or small.

Reinvest in the Existing

Start-ups will have invested in employees, technology, office space and certain business processes depending on industry – but in a small degree. Once your business is growing, though, consider reinvesting in these matters and improving what is already working. You can either do this with the profits you are currently making, or you can use companies such as Betterfunds for a small business loan.

Examples of reinvestment could be: expanding certain teams such as marketing or content, providing better, state-of-the-art equipment, and ironing out and creases in your business’s infrastructure.

Digital Marketing

Traditional and digital marketing are essential, however, digital marketing is always a smart investment due to the shift in priorities. Nowadays, people are most likely found online. While TV or magazine advertising can still be effective, social media, content and SEO are the real money makers. However, digital marketing needs to be executed properly, otherwise it can be detrimental to your business’s success. Hire those who fully understand how to track online trends, and those who practice white-hat SEO. You need to invest in employees who are social media savvy, and you need to invest technology and software that will allow them to perform their best.

Location

Entrepreneurs can rarely afford the perfect location for their business, and so they have to settle on ‘the next best thing’ which may not be ideal for your employees or even yourself. However, once you’ve generated more funds and are starting to build a solid empire, you can consider relocating to a more preferable location and office space. If you want to expand your team, then you’ll need an office which can withstand the extra desks. If you try to squeeze too many people into too little space, then your employees won’t perform to the best of their ability. Additionally, moving to a better location, whether it’s closer to transportation links or in a town or city, means you’re more desirable to anyone who may be applying to your business.

Yourself and Your Team

Invest in your, and your employee’s, knowledge and skill set. Hire mentors and coaches to come in and provides wisdom to your company; provide training and expand your employee’s skills in their own fields and complete new ones. If you expand your horizons, then you can improve your chances of building a budding empire and even grow into different sectors. Also, your employees will be happy to acquire new skills because it shows you care about their work – increasing their productivity while improving their loyalty to your business.

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4 Common Mistakes Remote Workers Make

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3rd party post

Remote work is becoming common for freelancers and full-time employees alike. It is also becoming a cause of conflict in the workplace. Here are four common mistakes remote workers make and steps to take to avoid making them yourself.

Ignoring the Legal Issues

If you handle company data on your personal computer and there is a “data spill” with restricted information processed by your computer, will you have to have your personal computer wiped or private internet history reviewed by the company? If this isn’t acceptable, either use a company provided device when working from home or use a computer you would be able to work without if the company confiscates it for a digital brain wipe. Another issue you need to discuss is data retention policies, such as the need to document and store any messages you share with the company or customers. How does the company want you to back up these messages in the manner they are legally required to follow? If your device is bricked, will the company pay for an iPhone data recovery service to recover both personal and corporate data?

Never Disconnecting

Companies are embracing remote work when it results in 24x7x365 support, such as the ability for their best IT staff to work a 10 PM to midnight maintenance window from home and respond to problems on a Saturday afternoon. One of the biggest mistakes remote workers make is never disconnecting from work. Employers and customers will consider you always connected and reach out to you anytime they want to if you don’t set boundaries. A common problem is remote workers putting in more hours than when they worked in the office and having work interrupt family time and down time, increasing stress without resulting in higher pay. Make sure you disconnect from work, silencing the phone, sending emails and instant messages to a folder that you’ll read later. The word for people always on call is servant, not employee.

Relying Only on One Communication Channel

One major mistake remote workers make is relying on one communication channel. Baby Boomers tend to rely on phone calls with some email. The forty and fifty-something workers tend to rely on emails. Those in their twenties and thirties tend to rely on instant messaging and text messaging. This can result in segregation of communications, leaving out whole sections of a team because they don’t follow the conversation in that medium. Remember to shake things up and call a customer to discuss issues too complex for an email or send an instant message to IT for a quick issue instead of a longer email that may take them a few hours to check.

Forgetting a Backup Plan

Remote workers often fail to have a backup plan. What will you do if the power goes out in your apartment? Do you have a backup battery that would allow you to keep working for a few hours or at least a five-minute reserve from a UPS so you can save your work? Do you already know somewhere you could move in case your personal internet connection is down, whether a coworking space or the library?

Conclusion

Determine your legal obligations and risks before you start remote work. Disconnect from work even if connected to the internet personally to protect work-life balance. Don’t rely on a single communication channel and use the medium that works for that person and type of message. Have a backup plan in case utilities or internet goes out at home, but understand how the environment you relocate to impacts your work.

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4 Ways to Add the Personal Touch to your Business

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In business, it can be very tempting to focus on profits and company growth. When dealing with so many numbers, it is hard to remember that you are also dealing with people. However, in order for your business to succeed; remember you must! Some of the most successful businesses out there ensure that however big they grow, they do not forget the value of the personal touch. You may have heard the phrase: it’s not personal, it’s business, but for you, it must be both. Clients, employees, and even investors are repelled by the cold and the clinical. Instead, try to inject some warmth into your business. Below are 4 ways for you to do this.

Email

It is important to remember the value of creating an email list. This is a great way to ensure that you are consistently in contact with all of your clients. It will make sure that they don’t forget you and look elsewhere. It will also help to make sure that they feel valued and not as though you are only interested in them when they have money to spend. Not only this, but building an email list will give you an idea of how many people your company is able to reach. This will help you make targets for the future in regards to how many people you would like to be in contact with.

Create a database

Another way to keep track of your clients is by creating a database. This is standard practice for most businesses. However, you can take this a step further by adding a section for general notes. This will mean that everyone who has access to the database will be privy to important information regarding your clients. They will know if they have every made a complaint, a specific request, or a recommendation. Consequently, your employees will be able to demonstrate an awareness of the client’s specific needs if they are ever required to interact with them.

Stationary

Remember to take the time to personalize your stationary. Clients will certainly be impressed by the effort to add the personal touch to your documents. If you can’t even begin to imagine yourself knowing how to make a letterhead, then have no fear! You can do everything online, meaning it’s both easy and for free!

Live chat

Live chats are a great way to receive feedback from your clients. They are free to host and add that personal touch. Instead of sending out surveys or online forms, live chats ensure that your customers understand that they are really being listened to. If handled correctly, they can deal with any complaints or queries a lot more effectively than other methods of communication. Live chats can also be a great way for you to receive constructive criticism in relation to your business. Just imagine how impressed your clients will be if they see their advice being taken on board. Say they critique your logo and then you make the changes - the client who made that suggestion will immediately become invested in your company’s future.

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How to Hire Freelancers

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When you first start a business, you will quickly find that you can no longer cope with the workload as your business begins to expand. At this point, you have two options; you can hire someone to help you, or you can hire a freelancer to take on some of the work.

To hire an additional, full-time employer, you have contracts, paperwork and additional costs. Acquiring a freelancer can be more cost-effective, save you time, and you only have to use their services when the time asks for them. If you are considering adding a freelancer to your team, this is how you should go about it.

Where to look?

Hiring a freelancer is not as easy as it might sound, as you still have to interview them to some extent; ensuring they are the right person for the job and understands the tasks at hand. The two biggest freelancing sites are Upwork and People per Hour, who between them, have a huge number of freelancers with all manner of talents, ranging from content copywriters and graphic designers, to admin and accountants.

With these sites, you will need to set up and advert. Freelancers will then bid on the job you have set up. You can then review the application, pick a few to chat to, and find out more about them.

Experience

Hopefully, the potential candidates will have attached examples of their work for you to look through and consider. Although it can be a good indication of their ability, don’t take it as absolute proof. Some people may not perform how you expect them to.

A few extra qualms you should consider are language barriers, whether their time zone aligns with yours, and if they are willing to stick to deadlines regarding these problems.

Although they may be cheap to hire, you do not want to hire someone for that reason alone. They may be cheap because they have a poor track record, and they might also not have the level of experience you need, so you will have to be willing to coach them.

Your set-up

How will you liaise with your new found freelancer? Applications such as Skype and Hangouts are useful for conferencing, but you need to decide how the work will be viewed and completed.

If you do not already have one, you can set up with a host to upload all your documents to the cloud. You can then get access to a virtual desktop that both you and your freelancer can use wherever you are. Migration costs to the cloud can be non-existent.

It is by far the easiest way to conduct business and share documents, plus they can access your emails and arrange diary entries if they are hired for admin tasks. There are companies such as Umbee Hosting who offer such services; for more information on hosted desktops, read their product descriptions and what they have to offer.

Using freelancers to help with your business is a great way to save money but still get the work completed the way you want it to be. If you are using a freelance website, make sure you read all the rules and guidelines beforehand, so you know the process.

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Like a Ninja

 Getty Images

Getty Images

He was a ninja, a drink warrior, making his way through the crowded bar, like a hot knife through butter. His memory was impeccable, as if the drink and food orders he took we paramount to national security. He repeated the orders we barked at him over the din of the bar crowd, seemingly reading our lips. It was probable he was even reading our minds. He somehow knew we were short on time, and long on hungry as we stood shoulder to shoulder in the crowded space. We were in need of a quick meal and libation before taking off for our 7PM call time at the theater.

His memory was impeccable, as if the drink and food orders he took we paramount to national security.

Richie has been a favorite employee at GrillMarx Steakhouse and Raw Bar for several years, patrons know his name and he knows theirs. He remembers orders, pays special attention to all details, past and present, and provides a level of service where every need is responded to properly, quickly and with a positive attitude. Uncharacteristic of many runners in the food business, Richie gets it. He understands exactly what exemplary performance is all about. He is a top notch employee, with the attitude of an owner.

What do you do like a ninja? Are you returning calls, emails and messages quickly, accurately and with a positive attitude? Are you on time, every time, and do you provide solid advice, anticipate your customers' needs and follow up consistently? In the entrepreneurial world, these are the traits of a ninja. Take a lesson from Richie, and be a ninja warrior, with a side order of awesome.

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