Chief Challenges Business of Today Must Face

Getting operations off the ground is a daunting challenge. Yet, it is just the beginning of a series of trials and tribulations: the process of navigating the market and outmaneuvering the competition. The pace of economic and technological change has never been greater. Great uncertainty and volatility loom over entrepreneurs. It is never easy to discover what customers want and do a better job at delivering that to them than the next company.  This can only come through long-term strategic planning and the ability to solve dynamic challenges on the fly.

Cash flow management

Cash is the king of the business realm and maintaining a steady flow of itis the lifeline of any business. Running dry is always a risk in a less-than-ideal lending climate we operate in, which is to say that businesses need to come up with a rock-solid financial plan. What is more, money management and bookkeeping may require them to hire professionals versed in dealing with financial tasks and obligations, including accounting, taxes and invoices. This can help businesses acquire enough capital, pile up reserves,and anticipate downturns and emergencies ahead of time.

Finding your audience 

Barriers to entering the market are as low as ever. That may be a good thing, but staying in the business long-term is a different ball game entirely.Companies are facing immense competition and consumers are enjoying a wide selection of products and services across different industries. Hence, it is extremely difficult for a new business to find and carve out a profitable niche. What gives you a real fighting chance is extensive market research. It paves the way to a highly-focused approach to catering to people’s wants and needs (your target market).

Marketing on a budget

Marketing wilderness out there is getting rather complex and incredibly crowded. A new channel or tool comes to life almost every day. The bulk of modern brands have an online presence and they are trying to make waves in social media and other booming hubs. Well, the key challenge is to pull it off without breaking the bank or spreading oneself too thin. In other words, you need to figure out which channels hold the biggest potential to arrest and retain the attention of consumers. Then, you craft optimal brand messages to build trust and cultivate loyalty.

Building the right team

People are the glue that holds companies together. To harness the full workforce potential and assemble the best possible team, you have to create a sound recruitment policy, your road map. Look into, but also beyond just skills and experience. Make sure candidates fit your business culture and relate to your vision. Find out what drives them and foster a positive and healthy work environment. Offer enough perks and benefits to attract and retain talent. Keep the engagement, productivity and motivation going.

Reducing the overheads

Expenditures tend to quickly add up and they can melt the budget in no time. The best way to prevent this disaster from shattering your entrepreneurial dreams is to keep the spending in check. So, calculate exactly how much money is coming in and out of your business. Next, identify major problem areas, where you can make savings. There is no shortage of tactics here: working from home, outsourcing instead of hiring full-time, improving power quality to trim electricity bills, buying supplies in bulk, increasing water conservation, etc.

Sow the seeds of success

If you really mean business, you have to compete on more than just price or product quality. Never succumb to the temptation to cut corners or fight on all fronts at once. Take your time planning and fleshing out strategies. Assess risks and tackle problems before they spiral out of control. Get to know your audience and adapt to rapidly-changing preferences. Keep up the pace technological advancements and market trends. You should be able to tap into a steady stream of cash and propel your whole organization forward. 

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and latest business trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Getting Help with Your Finances

Most of us are in debt. We’ve got credit cards, loans, overdrafts, store cards, and car financing plans. Some of us even owe money to our utility providers and landlords. Even those of us that aren’t are cutting it fine. We want to save, we even open savings accounts, but find ourselves struggling to put any money in them. Many of us want to set up businesses and build home offices, but our financial situations won’t allow it.

But, just as many of us are doing nothing about it. We’re getting by paying the minimums back on our debts.We’re letting any savings that we do have just sit there, instead of finding ways to make them grow. We’re living paycheck to paycheck without taking the time to improve things.

This is often because we’re embarrassed. We don’t want to admit that we need help or that we’re in debt. We don’t want to ask for advice on how to save or make our money grow because we are ashamed to admit that we don’t know already or that we’ve been wasting our money up until this point. We are afraid of speaking to an accountant only to find that we’ve been recording our profits incorrectly and our small business accounts are in a mess. We bury our heads in the sand because we are embarrassed and afraid. But,there’s really no need to be. There’s plenty of help out there, and plenty of people that need it. You just have to make that first move. Here’s a look at some of your options.

Visit a Financial Advisor

If you’ve got debts, you might find that their repayments are crippling. That you’ve got very little disposable income each month because paying off your debts is eating it all up. It doesn’t need to be like this, but it’s so hard to see a way out when it’s your money.

A financial advisor can take a look at your situation and help you to find ways to improve it. They’ll look at your income and expenses and recommend consolidation loans or other options that could help. They can even help you to create a budget to manage your money.

Most banks offer a free financial advisor service. But, remember your bank is only likely to recommend their own products. You may have to pay to see an independent advisor, but you could be offered a wider range of options.

Get Help with Investments

Investing your money is a fantastic way to watch it grow. But, it’s complicated and confusing. If you’ve never invested,you might worry that you can’t because you don’t know enough. The good news is,you don’t even need to meet an advisor in person, read https://budgetboost.co/etrade-review/for another option that’s great for beginners and novice traders.

Hire an Accountant

If you run your own business or work as a freelancer, you might try to manage your own finances to save money. But, it can be all too easy to make costly mistakes. Hiring an accountant can actually save you money. They’ll ensure you are claiming any tax deductibles that you are able, and they’ll make sure you don’t face a hefty fine because you’ve either missed your tax return deadlines or made a mistake in your working out.Read more about deducatbles at https://www.raymondbenn.co.uk/services/businesses/detailed-list-of-tax-allowable-expenses.

Why Encouraging Diverse Representation Will Help Your Business Grow

Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic for business owners in recent years, changing from a novel idea to a necessity for success. Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes; differences in age, gender,economic background, race, and cultural differences are just some of the ways your business can focus on representing a diverse workforce.

While not always easy to achieve without dedicated time from your hiring team and management, when done successfully encouraging diversity at your business can actually help you reduce turnover, increase innovation, and help your business grow overall.

Improved Market Share

One of the most crucial parts of having a successful business is understanding your products and services and who your target audience is. Only employing staff from similar backgrounds in the name of ‘culture fit’ limits your understanding of other markets and ways your business could grow and succeed when marketing to these diverse groups.

By hiring employees that come from a wide variety of backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, genders, age groups and spending habits, you are gaining insight into the market groups you want to learn more about. This allows you to create products and services that are sustainable. for them more effectively and it enhances your chance of capturing a wider market share.

Increase Innovation

Not surprisingly, an increase in difference of opinions, experiences, and ideas can lead to innovation in your business when a safe space is created to share such ideas. A study by NC State’s business school looked at 3,000 of the largest publicly traded companies and found that those with a diverse workforce were better at developing innovative products and services.

This is especially helpful for those companies working in global markets, which tend to evolve more quickly and compete with other businesses who also hire diverse workforces. It is important to emphasize that your staff must feel that their differences in outlooks are respected and they are encouraged to express these differences to their coworkers to maximize your potential for innovation.

Recruit and Retain Talent

Finding talented workers can be a difficult task for a business, especially as you compete with other jobs that may be able to offer better benefits or pay. One easy way to do this is by hiring diverse employees. A company that embraces diversity is automatically throwing a wider net to applicants of diverse backgrounds, letting a larger audience know they would be welcome and fit into your company culture, increasing the talent pool you will see.

A recent study from Atlassian found that 80% of respondents believed diversity and inclusion to be important in the workplace, and companies like B Corps, who openly are rated on their employee happiness and diversity are highly sought after by top MBA students. Tiffany Jana, CEO of TMI Consulting, a B Corp, stated that, “I can barely keep up with the droves of highly qualified, passionate, values-aligned millennials who want to work for TMI. I no longer search for high-potential staff; they now come tome.” As you bring in a more diverse staff and focus on employee well-being, you will see a positive impact on your reputation as a great place to work.

When it comes to retaining employees, diversity can also help. It does this by communicating to employees that your business is open-minded to different ideas and ways of doing things, which research shows greatly increases employee happiness. When workers feel a sense of autonomy in daily operations, meaning they have a say in their own goals, responsibilities, and creative process, they perform higher, have a better moral, and tend to stay with that business longer.

It also communicates to your workers that you do not practice workplace discrimination, which again increases workplace morale and trust in you as the employer, leading to longer retention rates.

Increased Profits

Another benefit of having a diverse staff is an increase in profits. If your employees are helping you improve your market share, increasing the level of innovation at your business, and you are recruiting highly talented workers and are able to retain them, it is easy to also expect an increase in profits for your business. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that diversity increases the bottom line for companies,especially when that diversity is in the board room. 

Of the 1,700 companies surveyed, those companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams reported 19% higher revenues than those companies with below average leadership diversity, with innovation cited as the reason for increased revenues. 

Overall, improving your workplace diversity can help you attract and keep talented employees, increase creativity in your workplace which can help you better understand your markets, and increase the profitability of your business. But despite the overwhelming evidence that diverse workplaces help your business grow, many businesses still struggle to implement changes that are sustainable. Check out this list of easy steps your business can take to make sure your business is successful at encouraging diversity and reaping the benefits.

Sam Casteris is a small business owner and freelance writer operating out of Phoenix, AZ. You can find more of her work on Contently.

How to Set Up a Home Office on a Tight Budget

Working from a home office is many people’s dream. The idea of waking up and walking mere footsteps, instead of driving miles and miles, and being able to work in your pajamas, represents the height of living and working flexibly.

And while working from home offers many benefits, there are quite a few changes you’ll to which you’ll need to adapt. Specifically, you will be responsible for setting up your home office. This means not only finding the right equipment, but paying for it all, which can get expensive quickly.
But building a good home office doesn’t necessarily need to mean spending thousands on a high-end desk and premium computer equipment. You can set up a home office that can be a bastion of productivity even if you’re on a tight budget. And here’s how

Make It Separate

This is a way to save on your home office that might not be felt right away but that will still help lessen the burden on your pocketbook. Essentially, by making sure your office is completely separate from the rest of your home, and designating it as strictly an office, you will be able to claim this space on you tax returns, helping put money in your pocket at the end of each year.

However, before you get too excited, know that there are some stipulations involved with this deduction, especially after the new tax reform law that went into action in 2018. Essentially, you can only claim a home office if it’s your primary or sole place of business. So if you work for a company and they let you split between working from the office and working from home, then you might not be able to take this deduction. But if you run your own business, or work full-time as a freelancer, then you probably can.

Consider enlisting the services of tax accountant, as they can help you figure out if you qualify and also how much you can deduct. Typically, it will depend on how big the office is in comparison to the rest of your home. So if you have an 800 sq. foot home, and your office is 80 sq. feet, you should be able to claim 10 percent of your living expenses as business expenses, and these can be deducted from your taxes. However, it’s not always this black and white, so make sure to consult a professional before signing your name to any legally binding documents, i.e. your tax returns.

Find Used Equipment

A more immediate way to save when setting up your home office is to opt for second-hand or used equipment. While it might look nice to have brand new mahogany furniture, this will set you back quite a bit, and it might be best to wait for these luxuries until you’ve had the chance to save some cash.

But this also goes for computers and A/V equipment. It’s often nice for those working from home to have a separate monitor so that you can keep track of all the tabs and programs you have open, and these can usually be found second hand for rather cheap. A quick Google search for “used” or “second-hand office equipment” will reveal countless places where you can get what you need at great prices.

And if you’re in need of a new computer, ask yourself if you really need a brand new, $2,000 Macbook. For most of us, the answer is probably no, especially since you can find other options for much more cheaply. For example, shop around on manufacturer’s refurbished catalogues. These devices come with full manufacturer’s warranties, and they are often better buys than something brand new, as any issue they might have has already been detected and addressed.

Choose the Right Room

Working from a home office will require you to use more utilities than normal. For example, if you live in a colder climate, many of us are used to turning the heat way down during the day; it doesn’t make sense to heat an empty house. But when working from home, this might change. You may need to run heat or A/C all day, and you may start using more electricity. And while in the beginning this might not seem like a big deal, these expenses can add up quickly.

To work around this, spend some time to choose the right room in your house. Try to find a place that receives a good amount of natural light, as this will not only help reduce your need for lamps and lighting, but it can also help enhance your mood and productivity.

If you live in a warm climate, try to pick a room, though, that doesn’t get blasted by direct sunlight, as this will make it hotter and increase your need for A/C. But if you’re in a cold climate, this can help heat things up and reduce your need to turn on the furnace or baseboards. Rooms that face north tend to be a good happy medium as they will get light from outside but will not severely alter the room temperature of your office.

Opt for Free Services

There are countless services out there all claiming to help you manage your home business much better than you can on your own. And while this may be true, the expense of these services can add up quickly. So don’t discount free services. Google Drive can do everything and more than Microsoft Word, and it’s getting better every day. Trello can help you manage projects, Skype can work as a phone, and PayPal allows you to send and pay invoices for free.

Of course, there may come a time when it makes sense to pay for a service, such as when you want to make use of marketing automation or CRM software. But the key is to save elsewhere so that when you do need to incur these expenses it’s not as dramatic.

Set Your Home Office Up Today

While setting a home office up on a budget might make it look a little less glamorous, it will not affect its functionality. And by working to save wherever you can, you’re going to increase the margins on whatever you’re using the office for, boosting your income and turning you into a savvy remote worker.

About the Author: Kevin Conner is the founder of Broadband Search, a service dedicated to helping people find the right internet package for them. As an entrepreneur and a long-time home office worker, he’s always looking for ways to help others raise margins and boost productivity.

The Importance of Staying Hydrated While Working at Home

Working remotely from home is often as mentally consuming as working onsite, but it gives you more control over your working conditions, timing and breaks. For this reason, you have to make sure you manage your food and fluid intake in order to stay productive. Research conducted at the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences shows that only 2% of dehydration will negatively affect cognitive functions like short-term memory, reasoning and hand-eye coordination, although they also state that a mere 1% is enough to lower your intellectual performance.

How to drink enough water at home

Remote workers have to mind their fluid intake in order to prevent mild dehydration, which can be difficult because it’s easy to become absorbed in the work and forget about everything else. Many use the old trick of placing a bottle or a big cup of water by their computer or on their working desk, in order to remember to drink some every now and then. This is a good idea, just make sure to use a capped bottle or a cup with a lid on if you are working with materials that could be damaged by an accidental spill, such as blueprints or cardboard models.

Some workers opt for tap water, while others stay they prefer mineral water or spring water because it is healthier. In fact, bottled water tends to be safer than tap water, but the main downside is that it is more expensive. Since the suggested daily water intake is 9 glasses for women and 12 glasses for men, buying spring water is an expense you have to consider when planning your monthly finances. Mineral and spring water also have ionized minerals that help improve your cognitive functions.

Best drinks to order when working at a cafe

Many remote workers and freelancers like to step by their favorite cafe – or a new one every day if they are traveling workers – and spend a couple hours working there. Some actually focus better and produce more when working at a cafe, and ordering a large cup of a nice beverage helps them stay hydrated. Now, not all of them know that some drinks are better than others for their hydration. Coffee, tea and sodas have a high percentage of water, but many have caffeine, which acts as a diuretic (a dehydrating agent). So decaf drinks are more recommendable in these cases. Also, juice fruits and milk-based drinks tend to have a lesser percentage of water than infusions, so they are not as good in that regard.

Food that hydrates you

Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated. Many foods are very rich in water, so if you eat them at lunch or during your breaks, you can add up to your daily fluid intake. Fruits such as grapes, watermelon and grapefruit are among the most hydrating aliments you can eat. Soup and Jell-O are also big sources of water. Interestingly enough, many types of meat such as beef and chicken, have up to 60% of water, so a hamburger at lunch or a nice hot pot for the winter can be just as great as a glass of water.

Staying hydrated is not as difficult as you may think, but it’s certainly very important to keep you at the top of your game. Make sure to drink enough water and use these hydration hacks to keep yourself productive, awake and making the best out of your remote working hours.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

7 Main Reasons Why Rental Properties Are the Best Investment

Although investment options is the term usually associated with the business circles,the truth is that this genie has long since left the bottle and ventured among the laymen. Recent economic crises have taught the older workforce that guaranteed jobs no longer exist, while the Millennial generation has developed a growing obsession with retiring as early as possible. A solution to both these problems lies in using the earned money to establish other ongoing sources of wealth. Here are seven reasons why rental properties should be your number one option.

You can purchase properties using leverage

In other words,even if you’re not able the pay the upfront price of the investment, you can secure the missing funds by borrowing the money from the bank, which is not the case with other popular investing options such as stocks. Of course, this means spending some time using returns to repay the debt, but time is your ally here. Because of the inflation,the price of the properties is constantly on the rise. Even if you are not making new investments, at some point, you will be able to raise the rent.

You are investing in a tangible asset

Investing in a business leaves you with a risk of ending up with nothing if the business fails. Properties are much different. Sure, you may face occasional value drops, but there’s no real way properties can fail because no matter what happens you still own a valuable asset you can later resell. This tangible, real-life value makes rental properties a very forgiving first-time investment for all newcomers that have yet to sharpen their business teeth.

You have direct control over your investment

Another thing that should be interesting to less experienced investors is that, as opposed to stocks and various trusts, properties give you full control over the fate of your investment. Here, finding a hot property is the hardest part of the job,and people who don’t have years of experience in the market should probably ask for the professional property investment advice.But, once the papers are finally signed and keys are passed to new owners,managing the assets is considerably easier.

A place to live is a basic necessity

Ever since the dawn of mankind, people always needed a place to live. And the number of living people is constantly on the rise. These two facts make properties more worthwhile than even the most lingering industries in the history. Tech trends are rising and falling, and even the fossil fuels are slowly going out of business. On the other, the number of people who will need affordable housing until they have enough funds to buy their own properties is only going to grow as the time goes by.

You are using a proven business model

Investing in rental properties is a business practice used by countless generations before us. There’s been more than enough time for us to discover all the possible dangers and learn how to avoid them. Today, the job of an average landlord is pretty simple and straightforward. The rules are already laid, and all the contracts are already written. Because of this strong foundation, new investors have a much easier job making their rental fortunes.

An opportunity for diverse investments

Unlike some other industries where finding an access point is very hard and buying a way in impossible for people with shallow pockets, the rental market is much more accessible and has to offer something for everyone ranging from small landlords to real estate barons. Single-family houses, multi-family properties, high end and low-end apartments, office buildings and office spaces… the list goes on and on, and even the lower tiers of the market are stacked with investment options with potential for great returns.

Freedom to establish other income sources

Finally, rental properties require very little actual maintenance, or any work whatsoever. As a matter of fact, aside from major remodeling that comes every couple of years, landlord’s monthly routine can be performed in a matter of hours, leaving you with more than enough time to commit yourself to a full-time job or another more time-consuming investments.This makes rental properties a perfect option for people looking for an early retirement.

As we can see, buying a rental property is very affordable,forgiving and accessible way for people to make their first investments. More adventures businessmen will probably be turned off by the fact that rental fees produce very stable, but also very slow returns, so this is definitely not the place for the sharks looking for overnight fortunes. But, for all those who seek safety rather than high turnarounds and need more free time to branch out to other fields, the rental market is more than worth checking out. 

About the author: Mike Johnston is a home improvement and business blogger from Sydney.He is a regular writer at SmoothDecorator and contributor on several interior design, real estate and eco-friendly blogs. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.

Defending Your Reputation When The Knives Come Out For You

When you own a business of your very own, your reputation is everything. It’s what makes your clientele choose you over your nearest competitor. It’s what engenders a sense of trust in the brand you have created and in you; the guiding hand behind it. Thus, when the knives come out for you and others seek to besmirch your good name it can have disastrous consequences for your brand and your business. You must defend your good name with every ounce of might you can muster. This is a battle on several fronts. You must not only be reactive and deal with threats to your reputation as and when they appear, you must also lay a firm foundation to limit your liability and protect your reputation from damage. Here are just a few of the measures you can take…

Hire a lawyer with a sterling reputation

No matter the size of your operation, it behoves you to find a sterling legal team. If someone accuses you or your business of malpractice, the outcome in court is more than likely to spill over into the court of public opinion (which can be notoriously unforgiving). A good legal team will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf and ensure that the truth comes to light. See Brian Zeiger for more information. Of course, prevention is always the best cure, which brings us to…

Make sure that you have the right insurance

If you have a physical place of business, it goes without saying that you need some form of public liability insurance to protect you if a customer or client injures themselves on your business.However, businesses are increasingly investing in reputation insurance to insulate you against a wide range of risks to your reputation and to help employ potent damage control measures. While entrepreneurs can be gun shy when it comes to the prospect of more overhead costs, the right insurance is absolutely essential in protecting your operation and your reputation.

Deal quickly and decisively with social media complaints

Every customer service policy should have a comprehensive and effective customer complaints policy at its core. However, in the social media age, people are much more likely to air their grievances in the public forum of social media than submit an official complaint.

The longer a complaint is left undealt with on social media, the more potential damage it can cause to your reputation. It’sup to you to deal with these types of complaint quickly and decisively. Set up a Google alert to help you to respond quickly. Address the complaint publicly. Be sure to apologize and demonstrate your willingness to make amends.

Know the needs of your target market

While you may enjoy the regular custom of your target demographic now, make no mistake, they will turn on you if they feel that their needs are being neglected. Lose focus and you may find yourself the focus of negative buzz which will almost certainly result in a loss of sales.

Take the steps to guard your reputation and you will not be pushed off the path to prosperity.