Ways Almost Every Business Owner Can Save Money

If you were to take a close look at just about any business, you would probably find ways that the business could save a ton of money. Businesses both big and small should be concerned with saving money. Even if you have a steady flow of cash coming in, you never know when you might go through a dry spell. Plus, the money you could be saving in certain areas could be put to better use in other areas. It makes sense to look at the places you can save money and then work towards them.

Here are some pointers that just about every business owner can use to save money:

Becoming More Eco Friendly

Becoming a more eco friendly business reduces the impact you have on the environment, and makes you more attractive to clients who are concerned with making the environment a better place, too. You’ll also save a lot of money, even if you take baby steps to making your business more eco friendly. Here are some ideas you can use to begin working towards a more eco friendly business right now:

  • Cut back on paper before going completely paperless
  • Buy from eco friendly, sustainable companies. You can get recycled paper and ink, for example.
  • Only use sustainable product packaging
  • Swap your light bulbs for more eco friendly light bulbs
  • Use more natural light rather than artificial light
  • Ensure everything is switched off before leaving the workplace at night

The above are just a few suggestions that will help you to become a more sustainable business.

Getting Rid Of Dead Weight

It might seem harsh, but you may have some dead weight in your business that you need to let go of before you can save money and move forward. Of course you should give people a chance to improve (plus this is what the law will state in most places), but if you have meetings and give written warnings and nothing improves, you may have to let employees go. Finding employees that are engaged and passionate about the work is important, but remember that your own leadership skills make a big difference too.

Creating Better Relationships With Suppliers

Creating better relationships with your suppliers is always a great way to save money. Whether you need cone bottom tanks for your warehouse or you’re looking for companies to provide you with stock to re-sell, creating relationships is the best way to save money.

Making Virtual/Temporary Hires

You don’t always need to hire a brand new employee when you have a lot of work on. Virtual and temporary hires can be just as effective, less expensive, and you have fewer responsibilities with them.

Allow Workers To Work From Home

Have you considered allowing employees to work from home every now and again? Not only is this more eco friendly, as you aren’t powering a whole office or getting your employees to drive into work, you’re going to save money on your overheads and other costs associated with working. It could even be a bonus for employees and make them more loyal to you.

Flex time: The work perk employees can’t get enough of

There are all sorts of things you want more of at work. You might want more pay (of course!) and maybe more experience. Maybe you even want more chances to manage others and move your way up in the company. But we’re diverse in what we want—most of the time. The one thing that many of us are not diverse in in wanting? Flex time. Turns out the majority of us just want it, period. We want to be able to set hours that aren’t standard 9 to 5. We want to be able to work at home, maybe. And we want the freedom to have work-life balance if it’s important to us.

 While the desire for flex time is more important to more employees, then the reasons are diverse. Some people don’t enjoy the politics that seem to come with an office culture. Some simply don’t like their commute. What else? This graphic gives some thoughts.

 

Empowering Your Employees: It’s The Ultimate Investment

You’re one in a million! Few people would have the gumption and self determination to quit the rat race and carve out your own niche for yourself in the fast paced and ultra competitive world of modern business. Moreover, none could do it with the same flair, panache and expertise that you have. Yet, amazing as you are, you’d be the first to admit that you can’t do it alone. Your fabulous employees have been with you almost every step of the way. When things have been at their worst you’ve always known that you have a fantastic team that you trust and can fall back on. You respect, love and appreciate your team and you want to make sure that you keep them. But while you enjoy their respect and admiration, these alone will not prevent them from straying into the arms of your competitors the moment they stop feeling valued.

This is why employee empowerment is so important to SMEs. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to make them feel more valued and empowered. Some of it is simply a matter of good practice, like ensuring a safe and pleasant working environment for them some will require some upfront investment. But while entrepreneurs tend to be a little gun shy when it comes to racking up overheads, empowering your employees is an investment that will continue to pay dividends for years as your employees take you to dizzying new heights.

Give them the flexibility they need to achieve work / life balance

Some employees will have young families. Others will care for sick or elderly relatives. Some will have disabilities which you need to bear in mind. For many reasons you may need to be a little flexible in your working practices to enable them to work remotely from home every once in a while. This can be done fairly easily and with a modest outlay thanks to solutions like Vertex who offer Cloud Computing Solutions For Businesses. This empowers your employees by giving them a cloud based desktop filled with secure copies of their emails, apps, and data to enable them to do their job anywhere. Allow your employees the opportunity to do their job well while honoring their other commitments and they’ll reward you with loyalty.

Keep your distance, yet always be there when they need you

Nobody likes bosses who are relentless micromanagers, always standing over them, scrutinizing everything that they do. Not only is micromanaging dangerous and a potential impediment to productivity, it’s rarely the best use of your time. Give your employees some space yet give them the guidance and support they need when they need it and they won’t disappoint you.

Give them a voice

A hearty “thank you” is good. A competitive incentives structure is even better. But there’s a difference between making your employees feel like valued collaborators and making them feel like well paid slaves. Make sure that they always have a forum in which to voice their ideas, suggestions and objections. This can be anything from a suggestion box to a Facebook group.

Deny them an opportunity to make their voices heard, however, and they’ll wonder how much you really value their input.

Checklist for Starting Your Home-Based Business

Starting a home-based business can fill you with a full range of emotions. On one hand, you may be thrilled to get the chance to be your own boss and work from home, but you may also feel intimidated or even fearful about the unknown aspects of the process. While there are no guarantees that your venture will turn into a profitable success, thinking about a few important points up-front can help you to better prepare yourself and your home for the days ahead.

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Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/write-plan-business-startup-593333/

Assess Your Qualities

As amazing as working from home and running your own business can seem, you need to be honest with yourself about your traits, work habits and abilities. Not everyone who wants to have a home-based business has what it takes to succeed. Spend ample time honestly answering these questions before you take any further action to launch your business:

  • How much money can I afford to invest?
  • How much time and energy can I invest?
  • Will my family and friends be supportive?
  • Are my goals realistic?
  • Do I think I can realistically run a successful business from home?
  • How will my strengths and weaknesses affect my home-based business?
  • Is there space in my home to set up a dedicated office area?
  • How will a home-based business impact family life?

In addition to analyzing honest answers for these questions, take a closer look at your skills and personality traits. The successful home-based business owner has personal drive, is self-motivated and is very disciplined. In addition, this person has exceptional time management skills, loves to work independently, enjoys solving problems and is eager to continue learning new things. Being tech savvy is also a beneficial trait for entrepreneurs who work at home.

Take Care of Legalities

After you have ensured that you have what it takes to be successful with your venture, you should reach out to a business lawyer to address the legal aspects associated with running your own business.

You will need to register your business name and determine what entity you will run the business as. For example, will you start a partnership, a corporation or another type of legal entity? Your lawyer may also help you to walk through the steps required to obtain a business license and will review business compliance requirements with you personally.

Prepare Your Workspace

Now that you have taken care of the necessary up-front work for your home-based business, you can start setting up your home office. Select a workspace carefully. In most cases, choosing a removed area of the home that is quiet and that can be dedicated entirely to your business activities is smart. However, if clients will visit your home office, setting up an office in the front of the house is a better idea.

After you have decided where to set up an office, make a list of all of the equipment, supplies and furnishings that you will need. Properly budget for these items, and measure the space so that you ensure everything fits properly. To save money, you may be able to buy some items on consignment or used. However, all items should be high-quality and functional. For example, you need to have a good task chair that is comfortable to sit in for long hours each day, and you need a fast computer that meets your requirements. Lighting is also a critical element to pay attention to. Your home office ideally will have a combination of task, ambient and accent lighting.

Remember to spend ample time exploring options for technology, equipment, supplies and more before you make any buying decisions.

Analyze Your Finances

In many cases, a home-based business owner’s personal finances will be directly affected by business activities. You must understand your personal financial situation. Running a business out of your home is a cost-effective way to keep overhead low while you are starting out, but there are plenty of other expenses that will affect your financial situation. This includes one-time expenses, such as office equipment and furnishings. It also includes recurring costs, such as accounting fees, insurance, supplies and more.

Estimate how long you think it will realistically take you to break even and to turn a profit. You should have enough personal funds available to make ends meet until your business produces enough income to support your personal lifestyle. If not, consider lining up funding through a partnership, a loan or another financing option.

Create Balance Between Work and Family

A home-based business can affect the entire family in different ways. One area of the home may be off-limits to your family members. Your family members must be respectful of your work time and remain as quiet as possible while you are working.

Try to set up a home office and a regular work schedule that decreases the impact on your loved ones. You may also discuss the business and your needs with your family members. By doing so, you could identify and address concerns up-front.

In the End

Remember that these are only a few of the many factors that require your attention before launching a business. For example, you also should prepare a thoughtful business plan, crunch numbers related to business operations and more. Your preparation in each of these areas can help you to lay the groundwork for a truly successful home-based business.

Author Bio: Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, Joe enjoys spending time with his family, reading about latest tech gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters 

How to Launch a Startup From Your Home Office

Home offices used to be an anomaly. Today, they are quite common. Constant development in tech and the digital economy has created many remote jobs. Professionals can work online, full-time or part-time, from any location.

Startup at Home

What was once a home study has now developed into a functional office. Working from home makes sense: low expenses, no commuting, no dress code and in many cases, flexible working hours.

Many startup businesses have discovered the perfect HQ location within the comfort of their founder’s home. But, it’s not something you can do in one click. Launching a startup from your home office is a step-by-step process.

Let’s walk through the basics. Learn about each step you have to take, and don’t any shortcuts, because that can make or break your business.

To understand your business, know your clients

What sort of startup are you launching? Are you leading a team of app developers, producing a new gadget, or offering creative services? More importantly, who are your clients?

Knowing your clients base is crucial. It defines the nature of your startup as much as the type of business that you conduct. You need to know who you are addressing.

Find out as much as you can about the type of clients you are targeting. Age, income, location shopping habits, online habits – learn the demographics of your client base. If you are presenting your startup to the wrong people, there’s no way you can become profitable.

One of the best ways to discover the characteristics of your clients is to look at your competition. Those businesses who are closely related to your own.

Who are their clients? They are most likely the same people who would be your clients. Find out what they love about your competitors, and what they wish was better. That way, you can gain a market advantage from the get-go.

Plan out everything. Create a business strategy

Set your goals in advance. Not just your ultimate goal, but smaller ones you need to achieve on your way to your end goal. No startup can reach its maximum right off the bat, which is why a growth plan is necessary.

What should you do on the day of your launch? How does your startup have to look like after a month, or two months in business? To take the pressure off, consider each step an achievement you have to unlock, just like in a video game.

These can be small tasks that have to be completed, or bigger assignments. Each time you ‘unlock’ an achievement, you can move forward. By using this method, your startup will have a stable growth.

Get the right people for the job

Your startup needs a team. You need to get the right people on board. Depending on the size of your office, you could have others working at your side, a remote team, or a combination of both. Either way, you’ll need to recruit team members.

Recruiting can be difficult process. Searching for reliable freelancers who are willing to work in a remote team is a good idea. Most likely, you’ll need developers, but also content writers, marketers, accountants and more.

Luckily, the Internet has made recruiting employees much easier. Sites (and their accompanying apps) like Guru or LinkedIn can help you find the perfect people. Additionally, you can conduct your search on social networks, specialized forums or even larger communities, such as Reddit.

This has to be emphasized: Your screening process has to be thorough. Interview each potential candidate and test their skills. Never hire anyone you can’t completely trust. Your team has to care  about your startup as much as you do.

Your home office has to be like a corporate office

Sure, you’ve heard success stories about businesses that were started from someone’s basement or attic. But, that probably won’t work today, especially for startups who face incredible competition.

If you are launching a startup from your home office, it’s a given that your office is fully equipped and functional. That means you have already found the best spot in your home for an office, and it is in use.

It has everything an office needs: gadgets, IT support,  a reliable source of energy plenty of light. Can it host more people than just you?

Even if it is a small space, big enough for you and maybe one or two associates, it still has to function like a corporate office. No distractions from the rest of your home! Yes, a home office is a more relaxed setting, but it has to be productive.

Apart from typical business tasks, you still have to manage the appearance of your office. Don’t allow clutter to dominate your work space. Clean up, do regular maintenance, make sure everything is tidy.

Make sure you have the right apps and software

We’re talking about software solutions and apps. These days, you can find an app for any task. Those team members we were talking about earlier? Some of them can be replaced by apps. Additionally, you can also find an app that can help you manage a remote team.

Accounting? There’s an app for that. It’s up to you and your budget to decide whether you need an app, or a hired professional. But, there is much more that you can do with the help of apps.

Talk to your team with an app like Slack or Trello, share and save files with an app like Dropbox. You can manage your social media accounts with HootSuite, and handle electronic documents with PandaDoc.

But, don’t overuse them. Get the ones that you think are necessary, based on the features of your startup.

Build a landing page for your startup

Every business – even freelancer working solo – needs a landing page. It’s your online starting point. And it has to be designed in a way that will hook first-time visitors into staying on your page and learning more about your startup.

Remember, when browsing online, people have a very short attention span of only ten seconds or so. That’s the time you have to showcase what your startup is about. Your landing page has to explain everything instantly, but also look professional.

There are many ready-made web design services that offer great landing pages. If that’s your industry, you can design one yourself. Or, if your budget allows, hire skilled web designers to deliver what you need.

Present your business in a couple of words and pin that to the top of your page. Use keywords you want associated with your startup. Make sure your contact options are clearly visible to visitors. Everything has to be one click away: blog, more info, your about section and social media pages. Keep it simple and functional.

Maximize social media presence for better exposure

How can your potential customers find you if they don’t see you on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Having a landing page is necessary, but so are social media profiles.

Unlike landing pages, social media profiles need a more personal approach. This is where you need to showcase your startup as if it had a personality of its own. Ask yourself: If my startup was a person, what sort of personality would it have?

Based on that, create a ‘voice’ for your startup. A voice you want to be heard across social networks. A personality that will communicate with fans and followers. Interact with your audience, ask for feedback, participate in discussions.

People love feeling as if they are a part of something, and they react to brands that have online personalities. That’s what you need to utilize. Remember – you need to be consistent. Post content on social media based on a previously determined schedule. You have to be in your fans’ newsfeed regularly.

Ready? Go!

What started as simply working from your home office has grown into a potential startup. You don’t think you have what it takes? Take it one step at a time, as presented here, and you’ll discover that you too can launch a successful startup from your home office.

Author byline:

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

Self-Employed Game Designers: A Reality?

Game development is a lucrative business that attracts a huge range of consumers. Triple A titles like the Call of Duty series can pull in millions of dollars without much innovation at all.

Game developers – the people behind the keyboards creating these interactive blockbusters – are in huge demand. With the big developers already full of talent, however, many may be looking to develop their own products. Whilst the methods to creating a home business are well established, the question is what do modern game designers need and is it possible to be successful?

The Foundations

For most people, becoming a game designer isn’t much more than having a passion for video games (or even just creating worlds), a creative edge and dedication. Game development was once the pastime of those with creative or computer skills with little professional recognition. However, many colleges offer games design courses nowadays to provide bespoke qualifications to those looking to get into the industry.

Having the correct equipment to match your ambitions is crucial, too. Higher end titles will require a powerful computer to complete rendering tasks. The less graphically intensive ones, less so.

Success Stories

Self-employed game developers often resort to the indie – independent – games market to get their products out there. Platforms, such as Steam, allow users to upload their games and offer them to a rating system, whereby enough positive feedback will get the game onto the fully paid store. These indie games are often lauded for combining creative storytelling with friendly and accessible interfaces.

Independent games can be a huge success story. One of the most popular video games in the world, Undertale, is an indie game, and has sold 1.2 million copies.

Modifications

Games like Undertale, Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress have become incredibly popular and made their owners a lot of money. A huge part of their success has been providing the people who have purchased the game with a lot of power to modify and craft their own games from these source products, often whilst collaborating with carefully nurtured communities.

The Future

Big companies have had their heads turned by the advent of self-employed developers and indie gamers and are now trying to muscle their way in. Microsoft paid $2.5bn to acquire Minecraft and its parent company, MoJang. For the developer him or herself, the big institutions of the video industry and becoming involved in development scheme. Sony SM are nurturing developers on a no obligation basis, for example, offering skills to those promising enough.

Game development is a big business with a huge pull for programmers and creative minds everywhere. With the opportunities offered by the internet such as online publishing, would-be developers need not turn to the big publishers for their break. Self-employed game design is today.

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.