Key 21st Century Tech For Your Business

It doesn’t matter whether your small business is focused on importing the latest aerodynamic ball bearing, providing accountancy services to SMEs or building an eBay empire, you will need to move with the times if you are to succeed. One of the main reasons companies fail to expand and instead see their business vision begin to crumble is because they are resistant to change. To thrive, you need to welcome new initiatives, working methodologies, and software. Take a look at these vital pieces of technology that every startup, new or established, should be chomping at the bit to obtain.

The Cloud

Rather than looking up and admiring the cumulus that you see above your head, the cloud that you need to consider is one that will revolutionize your business. Your office should be a digital workplace, where people can upload and download necessary documents, images, and files from the virtual environment; namely, the cloud. This online storage function means that you no longer have to worry about USB sticks or your hard drive. Instead, your staff team can all have access to these documents at the same time from virtually anywhere on the planet. This increases productivity, leads to fewer hardware issues affecting work streams and increases collaboration.

Workplaces are no longer rows of desktop cubicles. They are open plan, foster teamwork and water-cooler moments, and are designed to encourage collaborative ways of working. It makes sense that technology would echo this ethos.

CRM Software

While you are keen to utilize the millennial’s platform of choice and have a well maintained Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram grid, how well do you know the customers that you drive to your site? CRM software or Customer Relationship Management, analyzes the traffic to your website. It will focus on their buying habits, the products they look at most on your site and the referral that led them to your company. This can aid you in constructing a nuanced and targeted marketing campaign when launching a new product. CRM software is the perfect technological solution to try and maintain customer loyalty and expose your brand.

Payroll Automation

While it may seem a little random to include a piece of software that completes a business function that you can do yourself, the automation of payroll can free up a ridiculous amount of your time. At least half a day can be spent on this mundane administrative task. Working out 401(k) considerations and tax allowances can be mind numbing. Instead, you could invest in a software package that periodically sorts out payroll for you. This leads to fewer chances of human error, looks more professional and allows you to work on more pressing areas of your strategic vision.

Being your own boss is thrilling, and you want to become a market leader in your field. The effort you have put into launching your company cannot go to waste. Don’t be one of the eighty percent of startups that fails within the first eighteen months of trading. Welcome change and embrace new technologies and your business will thrive.

Steps to Choosing an Outsourcing Partner

When you run a business, there are so many different specific areas which you need to concentrate on that it can be difficult to keep up. And you only have so many hours in the day. One possible solution is to hire staff members, but this can end up getting particularly expensive. The other main step which companies take is to outsource to a firm that specializes in a particular field. However, it is not always easy to choose the right partner who is going to fulfill the needs of your company. So, here is a bit of guidance on choosing one.

Choose the Most Pressing Areas

The first areas which you need to consider outsourcing are the ones which are most pressing to your business. Perhaps you are nor properly in control of your finances and need an accountant to sort out the situation for you. Maybe you desperately need a marketing campaign to generate increased awareness of your company. Otherwise, it could be that you need something highly specialized such as https://www.consultingradiologists.com/teleradiology-services/. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it is not something which anyone else can decide for you.

Check Experience Levels

Now that you have decided on the specific areas which you would like to outsource, the time has come to check the experience levels of the vendor. Some of the measures that you can use include a number of projects successfully completed, types of clients, and measurable statistics. You can also check the experience levels of everyone on the team who will be working with your business.

Ask for References and Work Samples

Just like you would if you were conducting interviews for possible staff members, you should ask for references and samples of their work. Of course, you may have to respect the confidentiality of the clients which they have worked with, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t give you an overview of what they have done and the results that they have achieved in the past.

Establish Good Communication Channels

One of the most important aspects of working with partner organisations is the communication. For example, how readily available is the company for support? Do they operate in the same time zone as you? What are the preferred methods of communication? Do you have a single point of contact which you will be going through? These are all questions which are worth clarifying before you go any further down this path.

Assess Financial Stability

Obviously, you want to be working with a company which has a decent level of financial stability. When a complete business function is being outsourced, it makes sense that the vendor provides you with some assurances that they are going to be able to continue offering you the services that they had promised.

Choosing outsourcing partners is a task which should be completed with the same level of scrutiny as selecting members of staff to work at your business.

Recruit The Best Staff With The Help Of Modern Technology

Companies are constantly finding new ways to attract the best talent and improve their hiring process. Here are some cutting-edge ways in which you can use modern technology to help source the best new employees for your company.

Advertise beyond online job boards

Whilst online job boards like Indeed and Monster are some of the most popular places to attract applicants, they shouldn’t be the only place that you advertise. Advertising on other platforms can increase your chances of attracting more applicants. Social media is now a big place for advertising jobs – you can run ads and promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as posting news of your vacancy in community pages. You can also create web ads for search engines such as Google to help people stumble across your ad. Don’t forget to also use LinkedIn, which is great for scouting out talent.

Create online tests and surveys

You could also try creating your own tests or surveys for applicants to complete – these could be used to make a better judgement of someone’s personality or they could be used to test someone’s knowledge in the field. You can post a link to a survey in your job ad. There are many sites such as SurveyMonkey for generating these surveys.

Keep the application process organised with software

If you’re getting lots of applications coming through, it could be worth using an applicant tracking system to help stay organised. Being able to read and reply to applications in an organised manner will prevent you from overlooking a CV or failing to reply to an important question.

Consider hiring virtual employees

If your work is entirely computer-based/phone-based it could be possible for you to hire employees virtually rather than requiring these new staff members to come into the office. There are many advantages to hiring staff virtually. You can firstly cast your nett wider and employ staff members on the other side of the country, who otherwise would live too far away to commute. Hiring a virtual team could also prevent you from having to expand your office – if you currently work from home and are taking on your first staff members, it could prevent you from having to buy an office altogether. Studies have also shown virtual employees take off less sick days, are able to concentrate more and are generally happier.

Interview applicants via video-communication

Applicants don’t even need to come to your office for the interview – many employers are now conducting interviews via video-communication. This allows you to still have a face to face conversation with the applicant, whilst saving them the cost and hassle of having to travel to your office. Start considering this tool whenever you interview people.

Design and Storage Tips to Make the Most of Your Small Office

Working in a small office doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort and space. If you organize everything according to your needs, you’ll be able to achieve all your tasks easily. The true secret behind being successful in a small office is in using every corner you have – by giving every inch a purpose, you can transform even the smallest office into a proper work area. It will provide you with enough storage space and different zones for every part of the working process. Keep in mind that most startups were created and ran from crowded rooms or basements, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same.

The color psychology

Even though you may think that plain white walls are the best solution, there’s more to that than you think. You’d be surprised with the effect that green and blue have when it comes to productivity and efficiency. These two restful colors can really boost the creativity in the office and help you tackle more tasks.

You should avoid white, beige, purple and gray because they can seriously affect your mood and even create some gloomy feelings. During working hours, you don’t want anything less than full productivity, which is why you should stay away from bright colors because they have a tendency of being disruptive.

Choose the furniture wisely

Every piece of furniture needs to be carefully picked because you’ll have no room to spare. For starters, you’ll need some comfortable office chairs and practical desks. Apart from that, if you work with clients, you’ll need an additional seating area for meetings. To avoid crowding up the space, just add two additional chairs to your desk and you’ll be able to work and have a meeting at the same time.

Working with tight space means you need to be creative when it comes to furniture, so foldable desks are all right, while those large L-shaped ones are definitely not. You don’t have room for huge furniture and everything needs to have a real purpose, not just an aesthetical one.

Think about storage

The best way to be sure you’ve utilized all the space you have is by thinking beyond the common storage space options. Many people use vertical spaces for additional storage units, and this can be a solution for small offices. Besides giving you more space to work with, these units can be a great way of keeping items close to your reach. Apart from that, you can always use your desk and add additional drawers around it which will come in handy for all your documents.

You can also use storage units to fill in the empty space beneath the window, behind the door or underneath a coffee table. It goes without saying that decluttering goes hand in hand with creating designated storage spaces. You need to throw away everything you don’t plan on using and make room for the things you’ll actually need.

Get organized

Keeping everything organized starts from your desk, and it needs to be impeccable! Create different zones to be able to keep track of every step of your working process instead of feeling lost. If you’re dealing with lots of papers, use binders to keep them separate and all in one place.

It’s inevitable to always struggle with the lack of space, so try to use the additional seating area to make phone calls, drink coffee or schedule meetings. That way, you won’t be distracted from the actual work and will always know where everything is. Also, use modern technology, start going paperless and stop piling up so many documents – maybe you don’t really need them at all and you just waste time and space on storing them.

Small spaces can be turned into the most functional and inspiring offices if you use a little bit of imagination. You don’t need a large office to be productive and finish all your tasks on time when you can do the same in a much smaller space. Being a successful entrepreneur is more than having a cool office – it’s all about finding the strength and willingness to work in any kind of conditions. Only the people who manage that end up running the most successful businesses.

Emma B. Joyce is a blogger based in Australia. She is a true home decor and DIY fanatic. Emma is interested in music and also is a big reading enthusiast. Finding new designs and patterns is her daily task. She is a regular contributor on https://smoothdecorator.com.

Business Growth: 5 Tips to Meet Demand When Interest Is High

Consumers in today’s fast-paced world want their products as quickly as you can supply them. As a business owner, you need to be agile and ready to make changes that allow you to meet a spike in the demand for your products or services. We’ll provide you with some tips below that may help you satisfy the needs of your customers when everyone is interested in what you have to offer.

Focus on the Basics

Focusing on the core aspects of what you do is one of the easiest ways to keep up with the high demand for your services. It may seem like trying to do more in less time is a way to increase efficiency. However, trying to do things in which you don’t specialize can cause a lot of errors and waste quite a bit of time or money. Offer the basic services you know your company can provide to its customers and use all available employees efficiently.

Use Slow Periods to Get Ahead

Interest in your products or services might be high right now, but it will fluctuate with time. When a customer’s interest starts to wane, you can plan for the next high-interest period at your leisure. You should use this time to stock your inventory or get secondary services ready to provide what your customers need.

Find New Technologies

All industries find big advantages in using technology to meet the high demands of customers everywhere. Technology can help you keep up with demand and even flourish or expand your business. Robotics can help you create better products, statistical data can help you follow trends, and industrial boilers manufacturers can bring meet your energy needs.

Try Scalable Resources

Scalable resources may be able to help your business meet demand when interest is high and help you cut back on costs when that interest shrinks. You may benefit from using an agency that can connect you with extra employees during the busy season or from finding a transportation company that offers flexible shipping options. We recommend looking into affordable ways to store your extra inventory as well.

Try to Gauge Demand

It may seem impossible to gauge just how many resources you’ll need to meet the demands of your customer base. However, you can use your experience, statistical data, and response systems that might be able to give you a good idea of the trends you’ll be looking at during your next busy period.

It is always great to have periods of intense demand for your products and services, but these moments come with their own sets of challenges. You may be able to use some of our tips to prepare for your next busy season and minimize costly errors.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

6 Catastrophic Mistakes An Entrepreneur Can Make In Their Business’ First Year

What makes a great entrepreneur? There are numerous theories on the subject. Is it their hard work, dedication and commitment? Is it their invention, imagination and ability to think outside the box? Is it their ability to parse metric data and use it to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want and need? Or could it be their ability to motivate and rally their employees; helping them to work with gusto towards a shared goal. Ultimately, these are all extremely important but it’s arguable that the most important quality of entrepreneurship is…

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Image by Pixabay

Just start.

There are lots of people out there, right now, slaving away in jobs they despise who have a great idea for a business. They have spotted a gap in the market, devised a concept for a product for a product or service that neatly fills that gap and they have a clear vision in their heads of how that can be extrapolated into a living, breathing, working SME. They may have cobbled together something resembling a business plan in their free time. They’ve had some preliminary thoughts about what their business’ mission statement might be and how it would be reflected in their branding. They might even have crunched some numbers to create a reasonably accurate cash flow forecast. But they never reached the point where they reached out to sources of funding or even registered their business’ name. Why? Because they were paralyzed by their fear of the unknown. This perfectly natural and perfectly human impulse may be understandable but it can keep potentially successful entrepreneurs stuck on the path of wage slavery; languishing away in jobs where they’re underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued when they could be at the head of a thriving enterprise.

By far the most crippling of fears when it comes to starting a business is the fear of failure. After all, the numbers are not on the side of nascent entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard that 50% of SMEs fail within their first four years and we’re paralyzed by the fear of what will happen if we fall within this damning statistic. But here’s the thing…

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself

If you have a fantastic idea for a business that would benefit your local high street, create jobs, fill a gap on the market, benefit the local economy and liberate you from a job you despise, it behooves you to overcome your fear of failure and at least attempt to make your business a reality. Very often, failure in small business is not the end but simply a blip on a long learning curve. At worst, you will be made bankrupt (although this is certainly not an inevitable consequence of failure in small business). But in most cases bankruptcy is not the end of an entrepreneurial career. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been made bankrupt at least once.

That said, failure is never an appealing prospect. If we can forego the expense and emotional turmoil that come with failure in small business, so much the better, right?

Learning from the mistakes of others

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we have unparalleled access to a wealth of information which can give you and your business the inside track. As well as learning from our own mistakes (an inevitable and necessary part of small business) we can benefit from the mistakes of other nascent businesses. While there may be no surefire way of avoiding failure in the world of small business (if there were, everyone would be running their own SME), there are certainly commonly made mistakes that you can sidestep when you plan your operations and strategy around avoiding them. Here we’ll look at some of the commonly made mistakes made by businesses in their first year and how you can prevent your business from replicating them…

Under investing to insulate profit margins

When many entrepreneurs start out, they do so with one goal in mind… turning a profit. So long as the numbers are in the black month or month that means the business is going well, right? Well, not necessarily. As important as it is for small businesses to guard against irresponsible, reckless or vanity spending, it’s also vital that they avoid under investing in their enterprises. Under investment in personnel, capital investments like software or equipment, or maintaining / renovating your premises can impede your business’ growth. Unless you’re prepared to invest in better infrastructure for your small business it will only ever stay small and its scope will be limited. While you should certainly learn to walk before you can run and it can be counterproductive to set out with growth in mind before you know how to facilitate that growth sustainably, you should avoid the temptation to under invest in your business for the sake of insulating your profit margins.

Small businesses need to be agile and adaptable and if you fail to invest adequately, you may fail to capitalize on opportunities that come your way and your competitors will leave you in the dust.

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Image Credit

Dipping into personal funds to finance aspects of the business

Separating personal and business finances can be a real learning curve for nascent entrepreneurs. When you have a lot of passion and personal / emotional investment in your business it only makes sense to put your money where your mouth is… but this can be a serious mistake. Not only should you have separate accounts for your personal and business finances, you should take pains to ensure that one doesn’t bleed into the other. Otherwise you could find yourself on a slippery slope.

Trying to do a grade A job with grade B materials

In your first year of business, the name of the game is reputation. With such a plethora of competition out there, prospective customers need a reason to choose your business and not the legions of others who do exactly the same thing. This means that your reputation must be beyond reproach. While a big part of this is in how your employees deal with customers and the experience that your customers can expect, let’s not forget that you can’t do a grade A job with grade B materials. If you work in the construction industry, for example you know that you wouldn’t compromise on materials or make rush decisions when building the foundations of your project. You’d go to HelitechCCD.com and invest what you had to in materials that are right for the job. Otherwise, the whole thing could come tumbling down and take your reputation with it. Whether you’re in construction, catering or content the principal remains the same.

Spending too much time “at the coalface” and too little time on strategy

Entrepreneurs tend to have a proactive and hard working nature and when they see their employees struggling, their first instinct is to roll up your sleeves and join them at the coalface. But while noble in its intentions, this approach can be counterproductive in a number of ways. It can make your employees dependant on you at best or at worst turn you into the kind of relentless micromanager that employees hate to work for. Moreover, this is rarely the best place for you to invest your time and efforts. As the CEO of your business, your time is better spend in your office, concentrating on the strategic running of your business rather than day to day operations. It’s your responsibility to analyze your performance metrics and use them to influence your operational strategy month by month.

Having a resistant approach to new technology

Technology these days moves at a blistering pace. Investing in your technological infrastructure is rarely cheap and often requires an investment not only of capital but of time and effort as you and your employees get to grips with the software and hardware that your business needs to succeed. Thus, when equilibrium is achieved between a business and its tech, it can be extremely tempting to resist technological change. But technological change is an inevitable part of doing business in the 21st century. You need to maintain an agile approach to tech and be prepared to throw out the rulebook when a technological advancement necessitates an overhaul of your operations. If you resist technological change you could end up a dinosaur in your industry, like Blockbuster video in the age of Netflix. If this involves a prohibitively expensive overhaul of your IT or tech infrastructure, you may wish to consider outsourcing your IT operations. Not only will it insulate you from a lot of the cost of staying current, but your tech solutions can be scaled up as your business grows.

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Image by Flickr

Failing to keep an eye on the competition

As important as it is to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eyes too closely on your own work can be counterproductive. Your business does not operate in a vacuum and competitor analysis is an essential component of any sound business strategy. If your competitors offer something you don’t, run a promotion that you don’t or offer the same services at a price you can’t match you can’t assume that your customers will remain loyal to you.

Steer clear of these common pitfalls of first year businesses, however, and you stand every chance of laying a firm foundation for success.

 

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Company On-Brand at all Times

Working toward brand excellence is so important as a small business owner, and this is something that you should be striving for every day when running a business. There are some excellent ways of enhancing and boosting your brand, and there are plenty of things you can do to help you make the company a little more on-brand as much as possible.

The best way of impressing your customers and taking your business further is to make sure you are always on-brand. Your company will have an ethos, and a way of doing things, and your daily activities must exude this at all times. So, these are some of the best ideas you can use that will help keep the company on-brand at all times!

  • Never Compromise

You must never compromise from what makes your business and brand what it is. You will have plenty of business ideals that you want to make sure are important parts of the business every day. Never compromise on your beliefs, your plans for the company, or how you want the business to come across. It is important that you stick to your beliefs and ideals, and always make sure they are a focal point of the business, as this is one of the great ways of staying on-brand.

  • Keep Your Marketing Consistent

Another way of ensuring that you keep the company on-brand at all times is to make sure your marketing is as consistent as possible. The best way to keep the business branding on the right track is to make sure you improve your customer service, and that the marketing has the right focus. Too many companies seem to have a disjointed marketing strategy, and this can be detrimental to the company.

  • Cohesive Content

One of the most important things when it comes to staying on-brand is making sure you have cohesive content. So much of the time, your content can feel disjointed and not representative of the way you want your brand to come across. This is the sort of situation in which you need to use sites like https://www.templafy.com to get the correct sort of document and content management. This is so important in ensuring you are able to keep things cohesive and on-brand.

  • It’s Easy to Describe Your Brand

You know when you have kept everything on-brand when it is easy to summarize your brand in just a few short words. This is the most important thing to remember, and you need to put yourself in the place of your customers. Can your brand be summed up in just a few words? If the answer is no, then you need to make sure you work on improving your brand identity and make sure you better understand how to get back on-brand.

This is such an important thing for your business, and you have to do what you can to ensure your company is going to improve and thrive as a result. There are so many things to consider when trying to keep your business on-brand as much as possible.