Packaging Considerations For All Businesses

Developing an effective and beneficial product is only part of the process. You then need to market it and sell it in the best possible way. This involves packaging the product in an attractive and informative manner. With that being said, continue reading to find out more about important packaging considerations for all businesses.

Practicality comes first -We often tend to get wrapped up in the process of looking for vibrant and striking designs. While it is important to create packaging that looks amazing,this should never come at a sacrifice of practicality. After all, at heart, the primary job of your packaging is to make sure the product is protected physically. It can also act as a security aid, protecting against theft,depending on the nature of the product. You should never lose sight of this. Don’t ditch resealable plastic bags for bags without a seal simply because they look better.

Find a way to add some pizzazz – Once you have dealt with the practicalities, you need to make sure that your bag has the wow factor. After all, packaging needs to stand out from all of the other packages used. So, you need to choose something that makes your product seem better. Not only this, but the packaging you select can have a massive impact on the perceived retail value. This is something you shouldn’t overlook. You could easily add a dollar or two to the price with good packaging. All businesses need to consider the value when it comes to the packaging they select.

Make sure your packaging is informative – Aside from the points that have already been mentioned, you need to remember that your packaging is essentially an information-delivery system. It needs to tell the prospective buyer exactly what the product does and what it is for. While you need to keep things concise and ensure you don’t write anything unnecessary, living out imperative details is even more criminal. Moreover, think about where the eyes divert to first.

Telling a story– Last but not least, the final consideration you have when it comes to packaging is the story it tells. We don’t merely value products. We value the stories that go with them. This is something you really need to keep in mind when you are assessing different packaging options for your products. This is something that Apple do really well with their items, so it’s worth looking at their efforts for some inspiration.

As you can see, there are a number of different considerations when it comes to product packaging for your business. If you contemplate all of the pointers that have been discussed above, you should be able to come up with something that is right for your brand and your products.

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.

Why You Should Invest in Business Technology

With technological innovations influencing every single part of our lives, there is little doubt left whether it should take its rightful place in the business sphere. Yet, some businesses are still reluctant to invest a considerable portion of their income in technology, and might need a bit of a push. So in order to help you understand why this is not a choice but rather a necessity, here are some essential reasons why you should invest in business technology.

Improved productivity

There is no argument that all businesses are striving towards an improved productivity. And in today’s business world most of it comes from technology. It is no wonder that 81% of business executives in Europe believe AI will impact the overall business functioning in the next four years. And this involves all aspects of business, from manufacturing and distribution to customer support and data entry. According to Forbes, manufacturers will invest $267 billion in IoT by 2020 to improve their product development and manufacturing efforts. This types of automation enabled by the technology will allow for employees to be less burdened by the everyday routine tasks, thus freeing their time and allowing them to focus on resolving more complex issues.

Higher levels of communication quality

The days of fax machines are long gone. Now you can send data and establish communication with just a click of a button on your smartphone. Of course, having a well connected office space is essential for maintaining a higher level of intra-company communication. This is why a lot of businesses turn to trusted providers like Orange for getting company phone networks along with the actual phones.This is just one of the ways to increase and speed up the communication within the company. It is also imperative to acknowledge the value of smartphones, and the effect they have on the speed and quality of communication when it comes to businesses. So it is important to consider investing in both if you want to have clear, undisturbed lines of communication not just with the respected customers but also with your employees.

Better sources of information

Investing in technology can lead to better sources of information when it comes to your customers. This in return leads to improved services and products and increased customer satisfaction which is clearly translated into a higher ROI. For example, big data analytics and real-time data tracking are helping management make informed business decisions. This means that you will be able to provide your customers with products and services tailored to their individual needs, and technology is there to tell you what those needs are. And not only that, it is also important to consider that technology allows companies an unhindered means of communicating with their customers, thus enabling real-time reaction monitoring, which in return can speed up the process of adjusting a certain product or service to the needs of the customers, resulting in a far better response and customer satisfaction.

Better security options

Some might say that the use of technology such as cloud computing and IoT exposes your business to additional treats. But at the same time with the right security plan it can be argued that theses things actually keep your business safe. With cybersecurity being the number one priority, investing in technology related to this aspect of doing business is of absolute priority. This is one aspect that you can’t overlook or put on the back burner, recent statistics have suggested that the average cost of a data breach at a larger firm is £20,000, but  the damage is actually much bigger if you take into consideration the effect a breach can have on customer trust. Now with hackers getting more and more sophisticated, it is important that a company keeps investing in this type of security so as to be able to guarantee the safety of both its data and the data of their customers.

Now, these are just some of the reasons investing in technology is essential for any modern businesses. Apart from increased productivity and communication, the information gathering and data safety present an imperative for any business owner who strives to succeed in this technologically driven business landscape.

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.

How Agile Changed Project Management for Good

Depending on who you ask and how liberal with your definition of Agile you are willing to be, agile project management has been around for centuries, perhaps even millennia. Simply put, the common sense tenets behind agile project management are just too common sense to be limited to just one industry, country or era.

However, when we talk about agile project management today, we mostly see it in terms of agile software development with a bit of lean manufacturing that directly preceded and influenced agile.

In that sense, we really can talk about a more direct and obvious way that agile changed project management in the last 20-odd years, with far-fetching consequences, both good and bad.

Agile branching out

Agile project management, as discussed today,was born in the software development industry as a way to address certain inherent problems observed when trying to deliver better, more valuable software. A number of methodologies, frameworks and approaches developed over the years, with many of them already having large numbers of proponents when the term Agile was actually chosen to denote this new approach to handling software projects.

Due to the positive effects of agile project management on the quality of software being delivered by the teams and companies that adopted it, agile slowly but steadily started to creep into other industries and it is currently present in industries and fields such as healthcare, manufacturing (where its roots lie), marketing, HR and even sales.

But, what is it exactly that makes agile project management so interesting and beneficial when done the right way?

Improved adaptability

One of the biggest benefits of agile project management over more traditional PM approaches is the improved adaptability, a true cornerstone of agile. Namely, agile accepts uncertainty and change as an inseparable part of any project and actually welcomes it. Planning done in agile is kept to a realistic minimum and the project is allowed to inform itself, so to say. The team estimates, inspects and re-estimates every aspect of the project as it is going on, making them more adaptable and reducing waste.

Emphasis on communication

The value of constant communication is one of the main themes in agile, extending beyond just communication within the team.Communication in agile entails communication with customers, other organizational groups and individuals, partners, suppliers, end-users and anyone else that could be considered a stakeholder. While all agile approaches preach this, some of them, such as Scrum (the most widely adopted agile framework)even prescribes events that are aimed at boosting communication.

Empowered teams

Another way in which agile changed project management is that it re-introduced the world to a very common sense concept – grown-up people do not require round the clock babysitting to do their work. In fact, they will be much more efficient and innovative if they are treated like adults and given autonomy. Agile project management therefore promotes self-organized teams that make decisions on their own, pull in work as they feel comfortable, but also adopt a shared and more pronounced feeling of responsibility for their work.

Better customer outcomes

At the very core of agile is delivering a superior product (originally a piece of software). In other words, we are talking about a product of high quality and high business value to the customer. The points we covered above all lead to this – adaptability which ensures the end product/service makes sense in the marketplace; communication with the customer and other stakeholders which also informs a valuable product and empowered teams that see this product as their own and do not just ‘put in 8 hours at the office’.

A few considerations

Agile project management has become an ecosystem of its own, with its own theory and the inevitable debates, its various approaches, certifications, roles and specifically developed Agile tools.If you are interested in adopting agile for your company, you would do well to learn more.

Also, you should remember that it takes some time and a lot of effort and dedication for agile to work. Just saying you are agile does not mean that you are – it is a huge shift in the way your business does things.

Finally, sometimes agile simply isn’t the best approach due to the nature of the work your company may be doing, your customers or the makeup of your organization. However, even in those cases, agile principles can be a welcome addition, if only in the company culture sense of the word.

AUTHOR: Jug Babic is a marketer at VivifyScrum, a company behind the eponymous agile project management software. You can find him on Twitter – @BabicJug.

3 Ways the Internet Can Make or Break Your Home-Based Business

The internet has absolutely transformed how companies do business and how consumers purchase products. This transformation has been dramatic and has affected all sectors of the economy. If you ignore how the internet has changed commerce, you will likely be left in the dust of competitors that have implemented the internet to expand their reach to consumers.

However, despite the benefits of the internet for businesses, selling your product online from your home isn’t necessarily easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of common mistakes you need to avoid. With that in mind, below are three ways the internet can make or break your home-based business.

SEO

One thing that can make or break your home business on the internet is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO includes the strategies that are utilized to obtain a preferable ranking on the major search engines like Google.

Google processes about 1.2 trillion searches a year. It’s how nearly everyone on the planet finds what they want on the internet. If you have poor SEO, it can certainly hurt your bottom line significantly. Definitely make fine tuning your SEO a priority. You also need to adjust your SEO over time since Google is always tweaking its algorithms.

Downtime

However, there are other issues apart from SEO you need to worry about. One of them is downtime. Downtime refers to times when your website can’t be loaded by visitors or refuses to operate properly. Downtime is a serious issue that causes businesses to lose millions a year. Most often, the cause of downtime is a higher volume of traffic than what a website’s hosting account is designed to handle. Make sure to search for web hosts and internet providers that will grant you the bandwidth you need to ensure that your website is always online and available to customers.

User Experience

Lastly, even if you obtain a high ranking on Google and avoid downtime completely, you can still fail. Part of this may be the fact that your website’s user experience is poor. This may happen, for example, if your website is hard to navigate. Today, most people surf the web on their smart phones. If your website scrolls from left to right instead of just up and down, most smart phone users may get frustrated. Make sure to test your website’s user experience on multiple different platforms.

Overall, running a website for your online business isn’t easy. Your success isn’t guaranteed. However, if you make sure your website has strong SEO, is always online and produces a good user experience, you can significantly increase your chances of success.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

7 Tactics to Improve Office Morale

One of the most important aspects of any company is employee morale. If you get unhappy workers, you will get a depressing, inefficient company. That’s why you, as a manager or boss, need to give your all if you want things to improve. Below you will see a couple of tips to do just that.

Avoid and shut down workplace drama

The first thing you should do is avoid, and put an end, to any office drama. Any infighting, arguments, or bad blood should be resolved as soon as possible. If you don’t, it can get much worse, and really heat up. Either talk to the people directly, or direct them to HR.

A big part of is avoiding any office gossip. It should be discouraged as often as possible, and really makes the entire company seem unprofessional.

Learn how to communicate more effectively

It’s not just enough that you have good intentions. You need to know how to get your point across in a way that people will actually listen and care. We suggest you learn how to communicate more effectively. Focus fully on the person that’s talking to you. Never interrupt and try not to judge.

Understanding how to present yourself is important. Focusing on reading body language is a big part of this, as is practicing it yourself. Watch your tone. Even if you mean well, some people just react differently. Some like loud people, others are intimidated. Humor is also important. Sarcasm and irony can be light-hearted and completely innocent, but some simply won’t get the joke and may end up insulted.

It’s all about understanding yourself, how you present yourself, and other people and how they react.

Show that you care

Now, we don’t mean bribing them with donuts and Starbucks every day (though that would be appreciated). We mean actually not letting them stress about their bills, medical coverage, and other bureaucratic nonsense. Keep all that nonsense in check. Have a cleaning lady over regularly. Keep the fridge and toilet supplies stocked. If the AC breaks down, get a repairman there the very next day.

Also, have a lawyer or even doctor on hand (depending on your line of work). Get the best work injury lawyer you can find on retainer if your people deal with dangerous equipment. If you have some specialized equipment, have a repairman on hand as well. Little things like this are a very clear and direct sign of respect. Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.

Feedback is everything

Actually, listen and focus on what people say. Let them know that if they have any problems or issue, they can always come to you. Create an atmosphere of trust, of allowing people to be relaxed. The worst thing for employee morale is being afraid of being ridiculed by their superior.

People like and respect when somebody respects them. Having their thoughts and opinions heard out can really make a difference. Furthermore, you accepting feedback from them goes a long way. Even if you disagree, the very act of accepting it means a lot.

Be empathetic

Empathy goes a long way. Just because you’re at the workplace doesn’t mean it’s all cutthroat, mechanical, turn of the century rat race. No, you should be understanding. It’s one thing if you have a lazy employee. But if somebody’s parent died, or they were sick, or they have any other tragedy in their life, try to cut them some slack.

Try not to judge, you don’t know what a person is going through. Think of your job as you and your employees against a problem, rather than some class warfare at the office.

Find some time for your people

Find some time for your people. Set up schedules, or just have an hour every week where they can come to you and voice your concerns. Advertise this fact, let them know. Have an hour where there will be no interruptions, where the phone is off, and everybody is relaxed.

Be positive

Finally, be positive. A boss or manager who is always on the edge, who is stressed and depressed, is not a good sight. If they see you like this, they will think the company is in trouble, and so, their jobs too. They may even (understandably) think about seeking a new job. Even if things aren’t going perfectly, try to to at least keep appearances until things calm down.

If needed, learn how to regulate your stress better. Know that investing in some time off, or some more leisure activities, will actually end up making you more efficient. You will be a better boss or manager, and a better person in general.

Conclusion

And there you have, an end to office drama and depression. Just because its work, doesn’t mean it has to be this depressing and difficult affair. Just keep all these tips in mind, and we are certain things will improve.

 

btyAlexander Hunkin is an Australian based startup advisor with in-depth experience in growing business. His meaningful and strategic advice have helped in setting and growing many startup companies in Brisbane and Perth. Alexander is also a content creator for different niches including business, career, finance, and marketing. When he isn’t busy working, you can find him cooking exotic meals, scuba diving, and cycling.

Starting a Business: How to Find the Right Technology Solutions for Your Company

Starting a business can be a complicated experience, but it is often rewarding. If you are starting a business, you should consider using technology solutions to make the business run more efficiently.

Use Technology for Time Management

Time management is a necessary part of starting a business. You need to have a timeline, goals for your time and know what you’re doing at all times. If you know these things, you’ll always know exactly when you need to be performing a task or something similar. It’s important to start doing this right away.

IT Operations Matter

Handling IT aspects can be hard especially for someone who has never worked in IT before. Using Managed IT operation services might make it easier for you to handle different aspects of IT. It may also make it easier for you to form connections with the people you’re working with since it can be easier to get started with your business if you handle the technological aspects of it.

Team up for Technology

If there is a piece of technology you really want but just aren’t quite ready to invest in right away, you might want to team up with another company that’s getting off the ground. Split the cost of the tool and then split your use of it. There are different ways you can do this, but the easiest is finding software that can easily switch between different systems or companies.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Technology is all about working smarter instead of working harder. Dedicate different tasks to the way you want to work and make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the tasks easier. It’s important to try different things and make sure you’re prepared for anything that could come in the way of your business being successful.

Research before Investing

Always do your research. The chances are you researched about your business before you invested your time and money in it. Do the same thing with technology you plan to use in your business. If you know what you want, start researching it right away so you can make the necessary changes. It’s important to focus on how technology can improve your business instead of how it could cost your business a lot of money.

Starting a business doesn’t have to be difficult. Even though it takes a lot of work, there are things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley