Guide to Running A Location Independent Business

Digitization and job mobility are reducing the number of conventional office-based jobs and giving rise to a dynamic new ecosystem. There is a growing number of location-independent entrepreneurs and digital nomads roaming the world, following their dreams and better lifestyle.  They explore the planet and work from anywhere with an internet connection, be it a deckchair in a beach bar or a hotel lobby. Yet, this kind of life is not without challenges and hurdles. It is certainly not a constant joyride. Here is how to make sure you accomplish your goals and have a smooth ride.

A comprehensive roadmap

Location independence can be an utterly rewarding and fulfilling career path. However, to make it work, you need to plan correctly, well ahead of time. You might be eager to escape the tedious corporate world, but you still need structure and organizing skills. This is to say it is crucial to understand the risks of leading such a life beforehand and create measures to mitigate them. One of the main lessons digital nomads have to learn is that the combination of work and travel is a volatile mix. If you fail to strike a fine balance, it could blow up in your face.

Never out of touch

Furthermore, you do not have a steady workforce to rely on. Most likely, you are sort of a one-person-business. Beyond everything else, this means that success revolves around digital skills you have to offer and your commitment to honing them. At the same time, you have to keep in touch with your clients across communication channels like social media and apps like Skype. Finally, establish fruitful relations with complementary professionals and businesses. For instance, if you are in Australia right now, hire a digital agency from Sydney to carry out stellar online marketing campaigns.

Reaping benefits

Let us now address the fact that operating in a gig global economy has some unique benefits. Namely, mobile and agile businesses are able to save a lot of resources on payroll, benefits, training, and office space. You hire on a freelance basis and outsource to experts that would be too expensive to have as regular staff. You work from wherever you live at the moment. This kind of business is best suited for those entrepreneurs who engage in technology-heavy services. Others could struggle to keep up the pace in a fast-changing and competitive landscape.

Online presence

Ensure you have constant access to the online marketplace and a steady stream of work coming your way. Establish a strong online presence and use the right platforms. Showcase your competencies and expertise.  It is a good idea to put together a portfolio website that includes all your past projects and completed tasks. Additionally, use service providers like Upwork and Freelancer to branch out and land more remote work. Always ask for referrals to bring your network wherever you go. Link an inventory of leads to your website.

Location matters

Know that your dream destination may not be the most realistic target right away. Find something that is on the cheaper side and has a good internet connection. Some of the most popular hubs for digital nomads are Buenos Aires (Argentina), Adelaide (Australia), Cape Town (South Africa), Lisbon (Portugal), Vilnius (Lithuania), and Budapest (Hungary). It is preferable to have the locations close to one another: that way, you can minimize travel expenditures. If you are still in the market research phase and you are not sure where to locate your business, consider renting serviced office like this one in Melbourne. Entrepreneurs who are not keen on hiring remotely should keep an eye on the size and quality of the local talent pool.

Money management

Money keeps businesses afloat and it is the main fuel for your globetrotting business escapade. Going broke during a prolonged work holiday is not an option. Therefore, make an effort to assess living costs in the new area every time. Ballpark figures do not cut it— always come up with accurate calculations of your profits and expenses. Make financial projections and forecasts. Bring six months’ worth of living and operating expenses with you. This will act as an emergency fund. Like it or not, when going around the globe, unexpected situations arise.

Hit the road

Office-based jobs are declining and making way for the new mobile, gig-focused economy. You have a chance to embrace a worldwide lifestyle of freedom and build a profitable business in the process. So, embark on a journey of constant learning and growing, both personally and professionally.  Keep tabs on the online market and stay connected. Commit to growing your customer base and maintain cash flow to support your business endeavors and lifestyle. Take your time figuring out your next suitable location. Research and due diligence can take you far.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

4 Ways to Stop Your Business from Negatively Impacting the Environment

Becoming more environmentally friendly is something that more businesses are considering. Taking these steps will help to reduce the amount of waste and the impact to the Earth. Here are some of the ways that your business can change their practices to become more environmentally conscious.

Invest in Recycling Programs

Recycling is an important step that your business can take to stop your impact to the environment. Many things that are utilized each day can be recycled instead of going into a landfill. Electronics are becoming easier to recycle in many communities. Some buyback programs are even offered because of the value of the metals. Another thing to consider is purchasing recycled materials. Being more environmentally conscious in the workplace can make your employees see the benefits for their homes.

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Turning lights off that aren’t in use is a big cost saving measure for businesses. Another one that you may not have given much thought was the HVAC usage. You can reduce your businesses usage by investing in a more energy efficient roofing system. For example, foam roofing provides more insulative qualities than a typical roof. This can be especially beneficial if you live in an extremely warm or cold climate. You can increase your overall energy efficiency by reducing your greatest area of waste.

Look Into Green Scaping

Water runoff can present problems for the environment. Erosion and other issues can occur when large parking lots lack the proper drainage system. Green scaping or soft scaping can help with this issue. Add catch basins for the runoff from your parking area to help with erosion. Invest in landscaping that is more tolerant of your climate. You want to limit the amount of water that is used to keep it in good condition.

Create an Action Committee

Another thing that you might want to consider is creating an environmental action committee. This committee can keep up on the latest trends in how businesses can help the environment. Some of their solutions may even be able to save your business a little bit of money. There are always new gadgets and technology that appear on the market. If you’re unaware of these things, you may not be helping the environment as much as you could.

Businesses have a social and ethical responsibility to do their part to help the environment. You can set a good example for your employees by taking these actions in reducing your carbon footprint.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Starting a Product-Based Business? How to Save Money on Shipping Costs

If you’ve got products you need to ship, you can save a lot of money by doing things the right way. Shipping can be one of the biggest costs of your business so learn how to save money shipping things.

Calculate it Right

Make sure you always calculate the shipping price right. Make sure you charge your customers the right price for shipping so you can get an accurate idea of what you need to ship things the right way. Never offer free shipping unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t lose money on it.

Ship it Yourself

If you think about used trucks from places like Arrow Truck Sales, you can actually save money on shipping. If you have a big business and are selling a lot of products, it might make more sense to ship the products yourself and then have them go to a distribution center. This may not be the best idea for very small companies, but purchasing a used truck can really make a huge difference for the growth of your business.

Consider Shipping Services

There are many shipping services that might help you. Things like Fulfillment by Amazon may help you save money on shipping. You’ll have to pay to ship your products to the center, of course, but you can save money shipping it to your customers. If you’re selling on a platform, always find out if they offer fulfillment services. This is usually the easiest way for you to save money on shipping costs so you can make sure you’re doing everything the right way and doing things that make it easier on your business.

Compare the Prices of Shipping

Always compare the costs of shipping with different companies if you plan on using a shipping company to get your goods out. If you’re going to help people see the things you have and if you’re going to ship directly to everyone, you need to compare your costs. Choose the company that not only has the lowest price but also has the best service for you to try and use.

There are many ways you can get your products to your customers. Think of all the different ways and don’t be afraid to get creative with the ideas for shipping. Always consider all your options and think about combining some of them to help yourself get more from the options you have. It’ll help you treat your customers better while also growing your business.

How to Set Up Your Own Hair Care Brand

When you are setting up any business, you need to make sure that you have the basics in place before you begin. The hair care industry is dominated by several large businesses but there is still plenty of room for smaller businesses to enter the market, especially if you are planning to create organic products or have another niche in mind.

All industries go through particular trends and the hair care industry is no different. Keeping an eye on the trends is a good way to work out how to pitch your own products. For example, you might notice that there are lots of products using coconut oil recently and decide to join the fashion with your own coconut products. Alternatively, you could look at the current trends and find a gap to fill instead.

Product Design

The beauty industry – and the personal care industry by extension – is often all about marketing the best version of your customer to themselves. Your products are there to make them feel fabulous and look amazing and so the product needs to do exactly as promised.

Where most products just need to be functional, yours will also need to look and smell attractive to your customers to persuade them first to buy it and then to use it on their hair and body. Your product design may also be affected by the niche of the market you are targeting. For example, if you are going for the organic market, you may choose not to add colorings to your product or may only use natural colorings.

You should also think carefully about where your product is most likely to be placed in a store and how it will look on the shelf. This is important because your customers will have expectations based on where they find your product in store and will be able to make a comparison with other similar products.  This is where packaging comes in.

Packaging

Your packaging design is the most important asset you have to tempt customers to step away from their usual products and try yours instead. If you have poor packaging, it doesn’t matter how good the product inside is, it will take a long time to persuade people to try it. This means that once you have an idea for your product, you need to figure out what will be highlighted on the packaging to sell it.

Many shoppers don’t really think about what they are buying; instead, they work around the store picking up the things they usually get and are attracted to bright colors and interesting shapes much more than they are fancy descriptions. Knowing this should certainly impact the way you package your product and you should be able to describe your brand to a 5-year-old successfully.

Hair care products come in all different shapes and sizes but it still takes a good eye to identify the kind of bottle that will stand out for all the right reasons. This time last year, Dove, an international beauty brand based in the UK discovered that their 6 new bottle designs based on female shapes were an idea better left in the boardroom than transcribed to the store shelf. While their aim was to promote body diversity, they came across as patronising instead of motivating.

However badly the PR stunt went for Dove, what they did show was that a different shape could stand out a mile on the shelf. Perfume bottles are another great example of how this works and could be a good source of inspiration for your own design. Once you have an idea, talk to a company like C.L. Smith about creating a mockup and seeing how the design works practically as well as aesthetically.

Create a Business Plan

Now that you have your product and packaging, you will need to create a business plan to figure out how to progress your business. The perfect business plan is your opportunity to prepare yourself for the future and figure out what you are all about. Writing a snapshot of what your business goals are and how you plan to achieve them will really help to focus your mind and keep track of your progress.

Costings are certainly one of the most important aspects of your business. While mock-ups and samples can be quite expensive, ordering in bulk will often drive the cost per unit down – you just need to be certain that you will be able to sell everything you make. You should factor in all your expenses including office space, supplies, staffing, marketing and even basics like transport to ensure that you understand how much you need to earn to keep the business running.

You should also think about how you are going to fund your business to begin with. Setting up a service business might be quite a cheap operation (especially if it’s literally just you and a laptop) but running a business that sells products is much more costly to set up. Not only will you have all the costs above, but you won’t have any income just yet to cover those costs as you will in the future. You will also need to factor paying off your loans into your profit margins.

This is also a good place to start working out what your marketing strategy will be including costs and projections. Your marketing campaign at the beginning of your business will be very different to the campaigns you run when you are better established. With this in mind, you might like to run the costs of a few different ideas to allow you a more dynamic approach to your marketing strategy in the future.

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Image Credit: Stock Snap

Marketing

The initial purpose of your marketing campaign is to raise awareness of your new brand. This means that rather than persuading people to buy, for now, you are just persuading people to have a look and get familiar with your branding. For most businesses, social media marketing is one of the best ways to do this as it allows you to target lots of people you think will be interested and encourage them to follow you in some way.

Competitions are a great way to encourage people to share your social posts and can be a very cheap method for raising awareness. For example, you might ask people to submit before and after photos of their hair after using your product to win a prize. They will then share their picture (with a related hashtag for your brand) and all their friends will see it. The more people you can persuade to join in, the more brand awareness you will achieve.

At this stage, the more impressions you can get, the better so you could also think about giving away some freebies. Samples are a great way to give people a taste of your product in the hope that they will like it and choose to buy more. Lots of hair care companies team up with magazines to distribute samples but you could also go to events or set up on a busy high street to get similar results. Just make sure that your branding and packaging is all recognisable so that your customer know exactly what to look for next time they go shopping.

Once you are a little more established as a brand, you can start shifting your attention from brand awareness to conversions. Content marketing is the ideal way to do this as it sits in the middle of the two giving you a chance to get in front of more people while persuading them to buy. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to show off your knowledge and establish yourself as a brand leader.

A blog is the easiest and most obvious way to start your content marketing and you should think about the kind of things that your customers will be interested in reading on your site. For example, they might like to know how to use your hair mask or whether cold water is really better than warm with conditioner. You could also create video tutorials that can be shared around social media – especially on Instagram. The more content you produce, the more likely it is that people will keep coming back to your site and the more entrances they have too.

Setting up a hair care business and brand is never going to be easy in such a diverse and crowded market. However, if you have a great and original idea that could be just what the market needs, you should follow your passion and set it in motion.

Like any other business, the hair care industry requires plenty of research, detailed planning and excellent marketing to ensure that you stand out and get noticed. However, you will also need to have lots of flare and passion for this competitive industry and be certain that what you are planning to offer can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a tough ask, but if you get it right, the rewards will be amazing.

Always Wanted to Open a Brewery? 4 Steps for a Successful Start

Have you always wanted to open a brewery of your own? Well, before you do, there are a few things you need to accomplish beforehand. Here are the four most important steps to take to open a successful brewery.

Make a Solid Business Plan

The very first thing you should do to open a successful brewery is to make a solid business plan. This will ensure your finances and foals are in place to run your business as efficiently and successfully as possible. Your business plan will also include market research to make sure your business will do well in the area it’s operating in. Additionally, it will also contain a contingency plan in case things go awry when running your brewery. After making your brewery’s business plan, it’s time to follow the rules.

Understand the Rules

Before opening your brewery, it’s important you understand all the local and national regulations your business will have to follow. For example, every community has different wastewater regulations that you’ll have to follow. After all, not everything can be simply poured down the drain. As the business owner of a new brewery, you should contact local officials and agencies about regulations that you’ll need to follow closely. Also, keep in mind, you’ll need to obtain a federal and state license to legally operate your brewery. So, before starting anything, it’s important you fully understand the rules of the trade and keep yourself in check with every single one.

Obtain the Right Equipment

Next, you will need to ensure you have all the right equipment to begin brewing your beer. There is a lot of gear you will need to buy for each step of the process including mashing, fermentation, cooling, cleaning, and packaging. Some pieces of equipment you will likely need include kettles, kegs, boilers, fermentation tanks, storage tanks, refrigeration equipment, cleaning gear, bottling equipment, and more.

Keep It Clean

You will also need a plan to keep your equipment and your facility clean. This is a vital and often overlooked part of getting your brewery ready for business. Otherwise, you may be in violation of some rules. Be sure to have stainless steel overscreens on hand so you can keep unwanted contaminant out of your beer. Purchase the necessary cleaning equipment for the facility as well. Check out Saniclean Strainers for high-quality strainers as well.

There are a number of things you should keep in mind when opening a brewery. From making a solid business plan to obtaining the right equipment, there’s a list full of things you’ll need to do before running operations. Hopefully, with the help of the tips above, you can get a head start on your brewery and run a successful business.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Everything You Need To Know About Shipping

For any commercial business one of the main things which you will want to think about doing is sorting out your shipping method. When you start a small business, shipping may not be the first thing which comes to mind, however, after a few months, you won’t be able to handle simply packaging every item yourself to send off through the post.

Logistics and shipping can make up a very large part of your business, and therefore you need to understand as much as you can about local and interstate transport services for your business. Today we are going to take a look at the basics of shipping and teach you about what to do when shipping your items to your customers.

Rates and methods

When you start looking into the shipping products for your business you will need to take a look at the prices of your items, the shipping prices and the methods you will use for shipping. For example if you are a company who sells small items you can get away with using regular postal methods to deliver your items, however, if you are selling larger products you may need to use a large truck or van for the job. Your rates will likely depend on the type of item you want to ship as well as the weight of the item.

Weights

The heavier your item is, the more it will cost to sell to your customers. This will, of course, determine the cost of your shipping to your customers because the weight will increase the price of shipping by a hefty amount. This is why you will often see very expensive shipping on items like kitchens or furniture.

Type of packaging

You can usually order free packaging from large shipping firms if you decide to use them for all of your product shipping. If not, you will want to decide whether to use plastic bags or boxes to ship your items. This will, of course, depend on the size and the type of product you are selling.

Offer free shipping

If you want to get in your customer’s good side and make them want to continue buying from you, you can offer free shipping to any order over a certain price. This is a strategy which companies like Amazon use successfully all the time, and it stops you from abandoning your shopping basket halfway through an order. If you ordered $15 worth of items and you needed $20 to get free shipping, you are likely to carry on shopping to see if you can find an extra item.

Charge a fixed rate

Most companies use the method of charging one fixed shipping rate no matter what the cost or weight, and a lot of the time this works out as a great method for you to use. For example, if you are a homeware retailer and you charge the same money whether someone buys a kettle or a fridge, it can make a big difference to your customer and they will be more likely to stay shopping with you in the future.

Packaging

You will notice that these days many companies put their efforts into creating attractive packaging for their products. This can be anything from a cute logo to slapping your brand name all over the surface. From a marketing point of view, this can work out brilliantly because it not only makes the brand known to you and your family but also the postal workers and delivery drivers who come to bring you your items. It makes the brand more recognisable and ensures that they stay in your mind for longer.

Types of packaging

One of the decisions you will want to make when shipping your items is the type of packaging you’ll use to keep the items safe and sounds during transit. The most popular type of packaging to use is a box, however, this is not the only type of packaging you can use for your products. Many companies opt to use small bags lines with bubble wrap for their products. And this usually allows parcels to be delivered through the mailbox instead of worrying about missing your package and running to the depot to pick it up.

Keep it light

As you will know, the cost of packaging your items and shipping them off is based on the weight of the parcel. If you already have a large item to package, you will want to reduce your packaging costs as much as possible to stop you from having to pay extra. Try to cut down on fancy packaging and any extras which will make the parcel heavier than it needs to be. Remember to protect the parcel in transit, but other than that you can stay pretty lightweight to reduce your costs.

Tracking

If you are selling high ticket items and ones with a lot of value you may want to add a tracking service to your shipping policy to allow you to track your parcel and let the customer track it too. This will give you the peace of mind to know that it is well looked after, and it will allow the customer to have an estimate on what day and time their parcel may arrive.

Shipping is a huge part of your business and forms the beating heart of your strategy. It is crucial that you make sure you plan for the most efficient, cheap and quick shipping method you can for not only your business but for your customer too. A good shipping time and cost can make a big difference in your customer base and if they think it is better to go with you, they will. Take the time to research every type of packaging, every type of shipping and every company you can to ensure that you can provide the best possible service to your loyal customers. If you can provide a good service your customers will always come back to you.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Company for the Summer Months

With summer right around the corner, now is the time to get your company ready for these warmer months when many people have slower schedules and more daytime hours to kill. When your building is pleasant, your employees are comfortable and your customers are well-served, you can reap dividends on all the time and money you put into this investment. By following these five preparation tips, you can increase your company’s popularity during these months and increase customer traffic, leading to improved sales and results all year long.

Prepare for Changes in Customer Traffic

Consider whether you expect customer traffic to go up or down during the summer months based on your service provided, your location and your typical customer base. Consider vacation times, freedom from school and warmer weather as you plot potential traffic. Next, plan how to keep traffic high with marketing campaigns or how to respond to high traffic with increased employee hours or longer business hours.

Plan for Fun Times

The summer can be a hard time for employees to be cooped up in a building when what they really want to do is enjoy the beautiful weather. Plan for special staff meeting times and parties that allow coworkers to network outside the office. Also, see if there are ways to let the fun times into your office by creating outdoor break spaces or by offering flexible work hours during the summer.

Keep It Cool

Nothing makes for an uncomfortable office quite like hot temperatures do, and discomfort can cost you and your employees productivity. Not to mention it might drive away customers. Before summer weather hits, ensure that your HVAC system or your commercial air conditioning unit is up to the challenge by scheduling maintenance.

Install a Smart Thermostat

To further help with the warm temperatures, install smart thermostats throughout your office space to keep employees comfortable while decreasing cooling costs during the hours when no one is in the building. A smart thermostat can be programmed to cool the building to certain temperatures at particular hours of the day. Not only can it keep employees happy, but also it can decrease your company’s costs.

Include Landscaping

Nothing sets the tone for a first impression of your business more than the look of the outside of the building and its entrance. By focusing on installing beautiful landscaping and by taking the time to maintain it, you will show your customers that you believe even the little things are important. Plus, your employees will feel proud to work there.

Some of these tips have to do with how your building looks and feels while others have to do with keeping up employee morale and good customer traffic. Ensuring that you have a mixture of each of these tasks will keep your company well-balanced and ensure good results on your investment. Be sure to start now to ready your company both inside and out so that when summer arrives, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.