8 Simple Motivational Tips to Get Ahead in Business

When I started my first online business – self motivation was a bit of a problem. I hadn’t been someone who’d had problems meeting deadlines or getting work done in previous jobs when I was working for someone else – but with no clear deadlines in place for a lot of what I was going to do – it became harder. Self-motivation is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to setting up your own business – but if done right, it could help you take a step up to the next level.

If you’re looking to get motivated so you can make your business-life a success, hopefully these 8 simple tips will help you like they did me.

1. Do the hardest task first

A lot of people start small to build up momentum. While this can work, I found that I was often really just putting off the hardest, most important tasks. Do them first, then they won’t play on your mind for the rest of the week, and your other (easier) tasks should fall into place.

2. Find a dedicated workspace

It’s all very well working from home – but try not to work in front of the TV or in a room you use for loads of other things. That’s an in-built distraction factory you could do without. I actually started renting a little remote office-space in my local area. I didn’t use it all the time – but when I knew I needed to completely cut out distractions I’d work from there. It made it feel like I was going to work again, which I think gave me the will to act a bit more professionally and get more done.

3. Have a clear plan

Plans are important. If you know exactly what you’ve got to do that week – you’ll be able to stick to it much more easily. Don’t simply do tasks as and when they come – not only is it easier to forget things, it’s also easier to ignore important stuff.

Work through your plan in order, even if you don’t really feel like doing one of the tasks when you get to it. Doing it and not putting it off will actually make you feel better and increase confidence, making the next tasks even easier.

4. Take regular breaks

Working solid through the day isn’t a great idea. Give yourself a break to walk around and get a drink. Just make sure the break isn’t something like watching a bit of TV, where a few minutes could turn into a few hours of procrastination. Grabbing a bit of food and a drink is fine, but don’t use your breaks as an excuse to do something major that’s going to take more than 5-10 minutes. When you’ve built up a head of steam in your work, you don’t want to lose that because you’ve been doing something else for too long. But you also don’t want to burn-out through being too overworked.

5. Avoid distractions

This one kind of ties into a couple that we’ve already looked at – but distractions are bad news.

I used to take my laptop to the local coffee store and do some work there. While I thought the change of environment and extra caffeine was helping me – I was wrong. There was always something going on, something to look at, and something to interact with – and plenty of noise, too. Coffee shops might be fine when you’ve got a few light and easy tasks – but not if you’ve got serious work that needs doing. Leave them as a treat towards the end of the working week when you tie up some loose ends, rather than a regular thing.

If you’ve got a roommate – make sure they know when you’re working so they don’t disturb you. Switch the TV off, and avoid social media. If you use it for work, fine, but there’s a fine-line between productive social media marketing and an excuse to procrastinate. Don’t log-in to your personal accounts.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Tell people what you’re going to do so that they’ll hold you to it. Since you don’t have a boss – give yourself other people to make you accountable to.

7. Listen to music at the right time

You probably don’t want to be listening to music if you’ve got something important to think about. But if you’re on to your easier tasks and what to lighten the mood and give yourself a change of pace – some music could do the job. But don’t let the music become a distraction.

8. Meditate before you get started

5-10 minutes of light meditation at the beginning of the day really helped clear my mind from distractions and get me in a relaxed mood for working. I was no meditation expert – I just looked up a couple of newbie guides online – but it helped get my head in the right space for work and it’s something I continue to use regularly. Give it a try for a week or two, even if it’s not something you’d normally go in for.

 

About the author

These tips were by Keith Elton. Keith has years of experience in the business world and enjoys sharing his motivation tips with those new to the industry. He also recommends looking up some motivational quotes online if you’re looking for even more inspiration.

6 Steps to Starting a Lucrative Home-Based Business

Running a home-based business is the opportunity to work comfortably doing something you enjoy. As your own boss, you set the hours, make the rules, and keep all the profits. You can even make time to spend with the kids. That is why more and more people are considering starting a home business.

However, when starting any type of business, you have to prepare thoroughly: make a business plan, find investors and potential clients, appropriate workspace etc. A home-based business is no different – besides the workspace part, you’ve got that taken care of. In order to make it a successful one, there are steps you need to take before the opening day.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

Make a Wise Decision

There’s a difference between talents and skills. Talents are traits, like creativity. Skills are things you learn, such as coding apps or building fireplaces. It’s the combination of the two that translates to a business.

Use your skills as business ideas, but eliminate anything that’s wrong for your lifestyle, such as spot-welding in the living room. You can also disregard your corporate skills like “office manager” if you’re planning to work on your own.

You will need talents like initiative, innovation, discipline, and a sense of organization. If you can’t work efficiently and overcome obstacles, you won’t be in business for long.

Find the business concept that best fits your abilities. Whatever choice you make, it should be something you feel passionate about: you’ll have to invest a lot of time and energy into making your business a lucrative one, make sure you enjoy that time.

2. Legalize It

While you may have new-found freedom in your work, federal, state, and local authorities still require accountability. Find out what your business requires for proper licenses and permits.

Inquire about your tax obligations. As a sole proprietor, you’re responsible for your company’s taxes and debts. Compliance with tax law, licenses, insurance, and federal or state regulations can be complex. It’s always a good idea to consult with a business attorney to find the right solution for your business model and goals.

3. Set up the Office

Before setting up the home office, check if local ordinances allow you to conduct your business from home. Then, as you start planning, consider the surroundings. If you’ll meet clients there, both you and your house need to make a good impression: wearing clean clothes isn’t enough when you work at home. Your property must be well-maintained, clean and comfortable. A neat workspace tells clients that you will also take care of their business in an organized and dedicated way.

Even if your business is conducted mainly online, you’ll want a dedicated spot to work in. A separate room is best for minimizing distractions. If you don’t have one, set aside ample space in the living room, bedroom, or kitchen. You have to set boundaries with your family members to avoid distractions. A physical barrier is the easiest way to achieve that – if you don’t see each other, it will be easier to resist the need to hang out. In a separate room, you can be completely dedicated to work during working hours and give all your attention to your family when you close the office door.

4. Mind the Security

Don’t assume that homeowner’s insurance is enough to cover your business assets. You may need a separate policy rider for designated business assets.

To secure these assets, consider burglar alarms and surveillance cameras. You should always have a home-wired smoke alarm and fire extinguisher in your office. If you’re expecting to receive packages, a post office box might be a better idea to reduce the risk of theft.

Digital security measures should include firewalls, anti-malware, encrypted messaging and data storage, and strong passwords. Be sure to back up critical data regularly to devices like external hard drives or flash drives in the event of power outages or computer viruses.

5. Get Acquainted with Technology

In addition to security, you should become familiar with business technologies. Every task you can automate or streamline improves productivity. For example, stick to digital documents rather than paper ones to reduce office expenses, wasted effort, and clutter.

An effective technical strategy might include cloud services, business software and apps. You’ll find free online storage, but you can also invest in affordable paid apps that provide more features. Expense-tracking apps will help you keep organized records. Some include features like identity theft protection and data breach alerts.

You should also have a company website that serves your customers 24/7. Take the time to find the web hosting, site layout, and content that works best with your brand and your market. Consider using apps to track your social media efforts so you can determine which platforms and posts are working best for you.

Take advantage of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) solutions as a cheaper, higher-quality alternative to traditional phone exchanges. You should be able to add useful features like video chat, audio recordings, and automated menus to improve customer interaction.

6. Develop a Work-at-Home Attitude

In some ways running your own business is harder than working for someone else. It takes self-discipline. For instance, it’s harder to get up and start work each morning when you always have the option of sleeping late.

Regard running your home business as you would working for another company. Try to keep to a productive work schedule and ask family and friends to respect it. Establish priorities and keep a daily to-do list. But allow yourself some time to unwind or your stress levels will keep climbing.

In conclusion, a home-based business could be a great opportunity. Just be sure you have the right business idea to suit your particular skills and talents. It’s important that you can stay motivated and be productive. While there are a lot of elements required to start and manage a business, working profitably from home is possible through thoughtful planning and developing good work habits.

 

Author Bio:

michelle_lauryMichelle Laurey is a freelance writer who enjoys fitness, relaxing in the fresh air, trying to live a healthy life and daydreaming about visiting new places (and actually visiting them). Her best ideas and problem solutions appear while she’s riding her bicycle. You can reach her via Twitter.

Millennial Trends: Create a Workplace That Works for You

When people talk about Millennials, they see them as a generation dependent on cell phones, always on the go and very aware of environmental issues. But realistically, this description is applicable to almost anybody in the modern, civilised world. What distinguishes Millennials from others is the fact that they know how to use the new technologies to their advantage and they use the availability of the vast knowledge online to be informed and involved in important issues.

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Thus the workplace has evolved not only to suit their needs but also to be a better environment and more oriented towards the human factor.

Work and fun go together

It’s not unheard of that you can have fun in the workplace. But usually that means that you do the job you love, and more and more it means that you need some time to relax and reset during work hours. Many companies practice this way of thinking by having recreational areas where workers can play board and video games, read books and other literature in the specially designed nooks and use some of the stress-relief techniques, such as barefoot walking on the grass, gardening or yoga. Some companies even have masseurs on staff and psychologists.

Flexible work schedule

If your company can allocate the time and resources, try implementing flexible working hours. If it’s too much trouble, then try a flexible start of the workday. For example, if you usually work from 9 a.m., then allow for employees to arrive between 9 and 11. Not everyone is a morning person and this flexibility can contribute to a great extent to the productivity of your workers and their satisfaction with their job.

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Listen to their ideas and opinions

As a generation which uses the Internet for research and to be up-to-date with happenings in the world, their ideas might bring new perspectives and approaches. Sometimes they can even suggest strategies which will help you recreate your image and brand, being that they follow the newest trends when it comes to their interests and education. They are the generation that is competitive by trying to be the best in their field of expertise thanks to their diligence and dedication. So their opinions and ideas, no matter how extreme or far-fetched, are usually based on extensive research and observations.

Be transparent

Every employee wants to know what the goals and objectives of their employer are. Also, they would like to know where they stand in that organisation and how their work contributes to the company’s success. But the difference between Millennials and other employees is that they are going to leave if they think that you are doing something behind their back and at their expense. The fact is that you should expect nothing less from the generation growing up in an evolved society which is well aware of all the violations of human rights and is not afraid to voice their disagreement and outrage.

Technology

Millennials are very well educated on what technology you need and how it operates, and they can be a positive example to other employees how to modernise their everyday workload and provide better results. Another aspect of Millennials’ work habits is that they don’t waste time and energy on everyday verbal communication, but preferably stay in touch with all their co-workers and team members via software like Skype, for example. This way the place is not a problem for performing tasks and work-related activities, and therefore the productivity doesn’t suffer.

Office design

Millennials attribute great value to the look of their office space since they are supposed to spend a big portion of their day there. Their ideal office is collaborative with no walls, open and promoting interaction between employees. This doesn’t mean that privacy should be excluded or replaced. Also, Millennials are more prone to bright places, but will always choose windows with direct sunlight protection such as custom made curtains made by Eiffel for example, since they don’t like anything preventing them from doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

In the end

It’s important to recognise everything listed here not as something Millennials need in order to work for you, but what you as an employer must have to achieve maximum productivity for your company. A happy employee is a productive employee, and having Millennials on staff can only motivate others working for you to perform their duties to the best of their ability as well as to exchange knowledge and thus find the best approach to execute an old task in a new, more effective manner.

What Professionals Working Remotely Need to Know About Marketing

Self-employed workers and freelancers have long enjoyed the affordability and convenience of remote work. To begin with, they reclaim the hours that they would otherwise daily spend commuting to and from a corporate office. As a result, they have more time to spend with their family and friends and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Now, professionals who work for companies or corporations increasingly also can work from home and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

Meanwhile, clients and employers increasingly embrace remote workers as a way to cut costs. For example, companies that utilize remote workers require less office space and, therefore, can reduce their rent, insurance and energy expenses. Additionally, clients and employers can access talent from practically anywhere in the world. Furthermore, home-based workers offer high levels of productivity and efficiency.

As a professional, your opportunity for working from home has no limits. Thanks to technology, you can collaborate and communicate with people and work with teams regardless of their location. You must, however, have a productive office environment to work in as well along with a well-defined and promoted personal brand. Here, you will learn about the important considerations you must make and activities you should engage in to build a successful career as a home-based professional.

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1) Build A Landing Page

Like any business, you can use the internet to promote yourself so that the companies and clients that need your services can find you. By creating and publishing a simple, easy-to-navigate landing page, you can showcase your experience and talents. In many ways, your landing page should function as a business card and as a place where clients can schedule and pay online for your services.

Important elements of your landing page include the title, primary tagline and description. You should also carefully choose your keywords and tags. Of course, the main content of your page should concisely introduce you and explain why businesses should choose to use your services.

2) Pick Your Apps and Online Services

Place a high priority on choosing the applications and services that best support your business. As you search the internet, you will find myriad options that seem attractive, but you should resist the temptation to try to use too many applications and tools because they can become a distraction. Use customer reviews and free trial periods to narrow your selection and only choose the ones that contribute to your productivity and efficiency.

Tools and services for task management, web page creation and SEO, project management and accounting are categories of apps and services that almost every home-based professional will need. Additionally, you might need to look for tools and services that support the creation of documentation as well as those that facilitate copyrights and trademarks.

3) Be Serious About Your Social Media Game.

Social networks continue to attract millions of users, making it the perfect place to promote your professional services. Furthermore, you can use social media to connect with other professionals, influencers and vendors who can contribute to your business. Still, social media can become a liability if you fail to properly manage it. For example, if you never engage users, you might damage your reputation just as severely as you would if you communicated with the wrong vocabulary or attitude.

Although you might feel tempted to open accounts on every popular social network, you should focus your efforts on only one or two of them so you can minimize the drain on your time and avoid management complications. Also, place social media tools on your landing page so that your website visitors can easily follow you as well as “like” and share your content. Additionally, you should always respond to comments and questions left for you on social media and consider using social media to post articles and display your work.

4) Create A Productive Home Office

As has been noted, your home office should rank near the top of your priorities. For the most part, alternative arrangements such as working on your bed or at the kitchen table will not allow you to achieve high levels of productivity. Instead, choose a little-used section of your home and remodel it as your office. Make sure that it has boundaries so family members can avoid encroaching on your space and vice versa.

Your office should have ample lighting and easy access to power outlets. It should also host essential equipment such as a printer, networking and video conferencing gear, a telephone and office supplies. You should also equip your office with an adequate amount of storage space and work surfaces. After all, clutter can lead to wasted time and confusion and destroy your creativity and enthusiasm. Also, you should make sure to do home maintenance tasks, just like you do with the rest of your home.

5) Give Without Asking Anything in Return

Offering value to people with no strings attached can effectively promote your business and build the authority of your brand. To demonstrate your communications skills, you should use social media to converse with users. Similarly, you should share content posted by other users to emphasize your commitment to the community. Furthermore, you can emphasize your expertise by publishing tutorials and holding question-and-answer events.

In many cases giving back to the online community can extend beyond simply sharing information and solving problems. For example, giving away useful freebies that include your contact information can promote your brand and demonstrate your generosity. Organizing contests with meaningful prizes give people an incentive to return to your profile and stay actively engaged. As you give, however, always ask for feedback regarding your ideas, designs and strategies. Such free guidance can become invaluable as you fine-tune your brand and messaging.

BONUS TIP: Use Influencer Outreach

After tending to the basics of building a home office, creating a presence on the web and social media, and interacting with your audience, start connecting with influencers. This group of people might include politicians, professors, celebrities and business icons as well as other popular people. Such people can influence the decisions people make, including choosing to use your professional services.

When you make contact with an influencer, try to make a deal where they give you exposure to their large audience in exchange for reaching yours. For instance, you can offer influencers guest-blogging opportunities on your website and ask them to endorse you as a professional. Every time you get an influential person to recommend you or associate with you, their audience takes note and will naturally turn to you when they need your talent and skills.

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Working at home as a professional helps you benefit from the modern trends in employment. Increasingly, people are working from home and therefore enjoying an improved balance between their work and personal life. By choosing the right apps and services, creating a productive work environment and building a landing page and social media presence, you lay a solid foundation that will help you provide high quality work to a steady stream of clients.

 

Jeff E. Brown Photo
Guest Author, Jeff Brown, is a freelance writer from Oregon with a knack for lifehacking and DIY projects. Based out of his home office where his two dogs keep him company while he types, Jeff loves writing about home improvement topics, teaching others all the tips and tricks he has learned since he moved out of an apartment and into a house. When he’s not writing, he loves organizing barbecue parties in his garden.

Technology Tips To Improve Your Business

Let’s face it: these days, technology is absolutely the future. We work using our phones and tablets, we can do a whole day’s work from our beds or our sofas or even on trains or planes, and more and more businesses are based online even now the dotcom boom is pretty much over. Even if your company isn’t completely based around technology, there are absolutely ways that you can use technology to improve the services that you provide. Here are some tips to help out…

Go Paperless

Going paperless is good for the environment – and it’s also good for you, for a number of different reasons. A lot of offices are huge simply because of storage – and if you go paperless, then you have a lot less paper to keep safe in filing cabinets, so you can pay less rent and go for a smaller office. It’s also important to make sure that your business is as green as it possibly can be. A lot of people consider eco credentials when they’re figuring out who to work with, and if you’re as paperless as possible, this will be a huge plus for you.

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Create Back-Ups

If your business relies heavily on working online, it’s important that you have back-ups for everything. Technology is largely reliable but we all know that nothing is perfect, and if your servers go down then the people who use your site will want to know that you have back-up servers to continue to provide the service even when you’re experiencing technical difficulties. You should also go for some preventative measures like power inductors which will ensure that your tech stays in good shape for as long as possible.

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Improve Your Site

One of the most important things about business is that you have to keep getting better. Don’t rest on your laurels – keep developing your site until it runs as quickly as possible and it’s also as intuitive and user friendly as it can be. Even if your site is mostly just there to give out information instead of providing an actual service, make sure all the pages are clearly labelled so that people can navigate it as easily as possible. Ensure that all your contact information is up there, including your phone number, email address, and postal address.

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Work Remotely

Finally, one of the absolute joys of technology is that it will enable you to work remotely, meaning that you can be as flexible as you possibly can be with your employees – and with yourself. A lot of people who are balancing their work lives with their home lives find flexibility to be one of the most important aspects of the jobs that they’re searching for, and the ability to work remotely in the evening after their kids have gone to bed is something that a lot of busy working mums are searching for particularly. The ability to work remotely will mean that you get a higher calibre of staff applying for positions at your company.

Are You Disciplined Enough to Work from Home?

The dream of many employees is to sit around their homes in their pajamas and work off of a laptop. Okay, while some may have different visions of how working from home will go down, you get the picture.

If you’re someone with an offer to work from home, will you take it? Whether working for someone or running your own home business; avoid distractions.

For many individuals, the biggest distraction in working from home can be themselves. No matter how hard they try, they find a way or ways to distract them. As such, the work never gets done.

In order for you to be a productive home worker, what will it take?

Being Disciplined and Focused

So that you are able to get the most out of your home working opportunities, remember these tips:

  1. Discipline

Above all else, can you stay disciplined enough to work out of your home?

For instance, what if you live blocks from the beach or downtown? Will you tempt fate to go off and relax under the sun or explore the shops and other businesses?

Staying disciplined means your work will always come first no matter what temptations. Remember, it is that work keeping a roof over your head in the first place.

Once you’re done with your work for the day, feel free to go out and relax and explore as much as you want.

  1. Focus

Staying focused while working from home can be tricky at times.

Among the disruptions you can have:

  • Children wanting your attention
  • Your significant other is also demanding your attention
  • Having work done on your home or apartment all the time
  • Unwanted phone calls

As for those unwanted phone calls, you do have an option or two there.

One trick is doing a reverse phone search.

Such a search allows you to find out where that call or calls originates from. Often, it may be telemarketing, something you likely do not have time for.

It is also important that you let family and friends know that work from home is not a joke. Some people feel as if those working out of their homes have all kinds of time for things other than their jobs.

In a nice way, be clear that your work time is important to you.

  1. Hours

Finally, the hours you set at home are important.

While you may very well have flexibility with those hours, try and keep as close to a 9-to-5 schedule as possible. This is even more so if those are the hours you worked for others in the past.

The last thing you want to do is veer off course of what you’re used to for the most part. If working for someone from home, remind them you are not a doctor on call 24/7.

Some employers might think that to be the case since you are working out of your house.

The same holds true if you run a business out of your home. You do have other things to do on your non-work hours.

Remember, earning money for your business is what keeps you solvent.

Whether the work from home is for your employer or for you as a self-employed individual, make it count.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

5 Ways the Internet of Things Will Affect Your Business

As a business owner or manager, it may be difficult to overlook the increasing prevalence of the Internet of Things, or IoT, in society. In fact, you may hear about it in everyday conversation both in work and in your personal life or read stories about it online.

The Internet of Things is a term that describes the connectivity of various items to the Internet, such as wearable devices, garage door openers, cars, headphones and more. These are items that have software or sensors embedded in them so that they have network connectivity.

As a business professional, it is imperative that you think about how IoT will impact your business in various ways in the near future. Here are some points to consider.

Access to Data

Increased connectivity may provide you with enhanced data about your consumers, and your marketing and advertising efforts can dramatically be improved because of access to this data. Consider that your consumers are connected to various devices that essentially can be used by your business to gather and collect data.

You can track this data to better analyze consumer data and trends. Through this analysis, you can enhance your products and find new and creative ways to market your products and services to your customers.

On an internal level, increased access to data through the IoT can tell you more about how your employees work and how to improve operations. If you want to prepare for the incredible influx of data that you may have available at your fingertips soon, you need invest in new data analysts and visualization software.

Inventory Management

If your company keeps inventory on hand, consider that the Internet of Things can enhance how you track and manage inventory on a regular basis. You may currently use a standard bar code tracking system to manage inventory, or you may ask your employees to spend their time and energy using remote scanners to track inventory and to keep tabs on equipment and machines.

The Internet of Things could potentially improve this process by connecting your inventory, equipment and more into a single network. Your employees could, therefore, spend their valuable time on more productive activities, and you may even be able to decrease your workforce.

An improvement in your inventory and equipment tracking efforts could minimize loss. More than that, you would have real-time inventory figures at your fingertips on demand.

Remote Work

Companies are increasingly implementing telecommuting policies which allow their workers to work remotely at least one or two days a week. Studies have shown that remote workers are more able to balance their work-life responsibilities. They are also happier and show enhanced productivity in their positions than those employees who do not work remotely.

However, there are technological challenges associated with remote work activities. Thankfully, the Internet of Things incorporates cloud-based technology so that tablets and laptops can be used from any location with a wireless Internet connection.

Remote workers may also be able to access your connected equipment at work, such as an office printer or copier or even machines located on a factory floor. Ultimately, this can help you to enjoy a more productive and efficient workforce regardless of where they are located at.

Speed

In a business environment, time is money, and you simply need to find more efficient ways to complete tasks if you want to stay as productive as possible. The Internet of Things can help you and your customers speed up their daily processes in various ways.

The IoT also gives consumers easier consumer research options and faster buying methods. This decreases the length of your company’s overall sales cycle. Because all of the vendors, such as supplies and logistics providers, who you work with, will have access to this same level of technology, you will find that the entire business process speeds up. This may yield happier customers and increased profits.

Productivity

While time is critical, it is also important to consider how much you can accomplish within that period of time. Your consumers may benefit from instant gratification with a fast buying cycle and your company will benefit from improved productivity and efficiency. On a large-scale basis, your team can complete many tasks more precisely and in less time, and this includes data management and analysis and more.

You may even be able to trim down your staff while increasing productivity. Decreasing overhead while increasing productivity is a top goal for many businesses, and the Internet of Things enables this. You should be prepared to pay for the technological upgrade associated with connectivity. However, in exchange for this up-front cost, you can benefit in the long-run through improved productivity.

Final Thoughts

Technology has rapidly evolved over the last century or more, and it has continuous affected the way companies do business. The connectivity associated with the Internet of Things is the latest wave of technological advancement that is changing the business environment. As a business owner or manager, you should begin exploring different ways that you can use this technology to your benefit, and you should begin implementing its use soon to enjoy those benefits.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.