Planting the Seeds of Success: A Smart Start Miniguide for Home Businesses

It can be exciting and daunting in equal measure when you are setting up a new business but when you are first starting out, any mistakes you make could be costly.

Here is a look at how to try and set out on the right path to success. There is an overview of how e-commerce often needs to be an integral part of your plans, and why financial management is so vital, plus an insight into setting goals for you and your business.

The importance of an internet presence

Even if you are opening a store in your local area you need to support your bricks and mortar persona with a clicks and mortar profile if you want to improve your odds of success.

The vast majority of your potential customers will be just as used to searching out deals and information online as they are walking into your store to browse for what they want. You simply cannot underestimate the importance of having a website and if you don’t take advantage of e-commerce opportunities, it is almost like trying to run your business with one hand tied behind your back.

If you have a seed budget to work with you need to consider allocating some of this cash towards setting up an internet presence, as this will help people to find you and find out about you, plus you can boost sales by setting up an e-commerce store.

Keeping costs under control

On the subject of money and budgets, you will need to make every dollar count when you first start out in business.

It would be a good idea to have a cash flow projection and a business plan to work to and if you need to borrow any money to start the business, you will need to produce some facts and figures to support your request for funding support.

There are also some other strategies and ideas to consider that will help you to keep control over your finances in the early days and moving forward.

A business credit card with low annual fees could help you to keep track of your expenses, and if you pay off the balance by the due date you, it could prove to be a good way of helping your cash flow stay strong.

Dare to dream

Many people start a business with plenty of optimism to fire them up but don’t really have a specific game plan that they are working to.

Setting out in business and taking the view that you will just see how it goes is not recommended. It would be much better to set some clear personal and business goals so that you know where you want to be in near future and even further ahead.

If you have some clearly defined goals and aspirations this will give your business a sense of purpose and direction. It also gives you something to measure your progress against and drive you to reach new heights.

There are a lot of things to sort when you first set out in business but as long as you have a plan and a list of tasks to get through, there is no reason why you can’t turn the seed of an idea into a successful venture.

John Pearce is a business consultant who likes to believe that he keeps his clients on the right track when it comes to growing an maintaining their business. Read his articles online at business blogs.

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Work and Life in Balance: What You Need to Know About Being Your Own Boss

 

With levels of self-employment considerably increasing within recent years, it’s clear to see that becoming your own boss is gaining strong popularity.

Whilst there are many positives in this choosing this career path, there are also plenty of disadvantages too. Estimates suggest a huge 80% of self-employed people are living in poverty, meaning that the dream of earning a high wage whilst working for yourself isn’t a walk in the park. If you’re thinking of branching out on your own, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about being your own boss

Pros and cons

Having total control over your hours, escaping the dreaded early-morning commute and being able to work in your own home environment are a mere snapshot of the pros associated with being self-employed. Especially if you have kids, working from home can be a huge advantage in terms of spending more time with them and fitting work around your children – not the other way around.

However, a lack of routine and financial security are big obstacles of being self-employed. A huge amount of dedication is needed to stay focused, and your income will lack the rigid stability that comes with being employed. If starting your own business is something you want to try, this can prove even more problematic in terms of applying for a business loan especially if you have bad credit. But, as long as you do your research, there are plenty of helpful resources out there.

Getting started

If even after being hit with the self-employment cons, you still want to venture out and become your own boss, you definitely need to take the right approach when starting out. Here are a few simple tips to ensure you get off to the right start and stay as focused and productive as possible!

Plan your week ahead

Structure is key to staying on-track, and if you don’t have a boss to push you to stay focused, you have to do it yourself. Take some time on Sunday evenings to structure your upcoming week day-by-day and stick to it as rigidly as you can. This will give your days purpose and ensure you have a working plan in place.

Stay vigilant

Especially when freelancing, the internet has skyrocketed the availability of online jobs up for grabs. But it’s important you keep mindful of scams, as there are plenty of fake jobs out there that will take your work and run without paying you anything. Stay sensible and perhaps go through a specific freelance site that monitors the payment process to ensure you don’t get scammed.

Take time out

It can be difficult to ‘switch off’ from work when at home all the time. But to keep you sane, take some time out to relax otherwise you could burn yourself out.

Being your own boss certainly comes with its perks, but it’s vital you understand what you’re really getting into before you get started. Utilizing the above tips will not only make you more productive but will also give you a better idea of what to expect!

Harriet Garner took a leap to start her own business after she was made redundant several years ago. Not easy, but always rewarding, Harriet shares her tips with others who want to make the leap.

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Top Tips For Your First Business Trip

Heading out on your first business trip will be an exciting time, meetings to be had, deals to make and a company to represent. Whatever the nature is of your trip, you are going to need to be prepared , both from a business and personal point of view. To help you get prepared in the right way, we’ve put together a list of tips for you and whether you are traveling transatlantic for your business dealing or just a few hours away from home, we’ve got you covered. So before your next business trip, check out these tips and make sure that you are prepared in the right way.

Bought a travel wallet :(

Organization

The first thing to ensure is that you are fully prepared for your business dealings and your itinerary during your time away. Make sure that you have paper and digital versions of all documents that you are going to need and whatever schedule you have whilst you are away. Be sure to secure all of your transportation before you go,it is likely that plane or train tickets will be already sorted out but ensure you have a car waiting for you to take you to a meeting.  The last thing you need is to be searching for taxis in the middle of Bangkok when you have a pressing business lunch, or trying to catch a bus in Edinburgh for a business launch, plan ahead, and book a private car to get you there.

Downtime Planning

When you’re on the road for business you are bound to have a lot of downtime and you need to be sure to use this wisely. It’s important that you plan ahead for this, whether it be in order to relax or in order to brush up on your business dealings. If movies and games are your thing that you need to relax then download some ahead of time, if you like to exercise then check out if your hotel has a gym and if not, look for one nearby. Regarding the business side of things, try to create some one page sheets which will enable you to quickly study some key points about your business or take the opportunity to look for areas of growth. Planning ahead means that when you get that downtime, you are ready to spend it however you see fit.

Staying in Touch

You absolutely want to make sure that you can stay in touch with friends, family and the business itself whilst you are away and it’s important that you know the best ways to do so. If you don’t already use them then you should be utilizing FaceTime, Whatsapp, Skype and even Facebook messenger to stay in touch with people whilst you are away. All of these mediums work so long as you have an internet connection and you should look to buy a local SIM card if you are heading to a foreign country. A local SIM gains you access to mobile data and means that you are never out of reach when people need to get in touch with you.

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How Businesses Can Save Money by Shopping Online for Toner Cartridges

toner-cartridges

The paperless office isn’t quite here yet, and many people think it shouldn’t ever happen, because print on paper is a primal thing – we just need a bit less of it! Not everything can be done digitally just yet, which is why you’re probably still looking around for the best deals on toner cartridges for your business.

By using a laser printer you’re already spending less anyway, as toner is typically cheaper than inkjet ink, but if you can find a way to make it cheaper still, you’ll be in the pink (or the magenta).

Going online is your best bet

By shopping online, you’re taking the easiest path to brilliant savings on your toner cartridges. Online retailers like Cartridge People are always offering good discounts and incentives. They also usually have a huge range of brands and products on offer so even if you have one of the lesser-known printers, these retailers will most likely be able to help you.

Why is buying online so cheap?

Quite simply, because online retailers don’t have the same overheads as physical stores – shopfronts, retail rents, shopfront staff as well as backroom and warehouse staff, fancy advertising hoardings and so on. It all costs money and it’s something that online retailers don’t need – they just need a cool, safe warehouse, dedicated staff and a good-looking, easy-to-navigate website!

Buying online also means better bulk deals

Because online cartridge retailers are able to store large amounts of stock cheaply (no shopfront, remember), they are usually more than happy to supply bulk orders, which will save you lots of money per unit. In addition to this, toner stores for much longer than ink, which means you can order enough to last for an entire year! Ordering large quantities of inkjet ink can be a bit risky, because it degrades over time and sometimes you’ll have dried out or useless cartridges, wasting your savings.

Other ways to save money by buying online

Order refilling kits

A lot of online sellers stock refilling kits for the better-known brands of toner cartridges. This solution isn’t for everyone, but if you’re quite handy you could make it work for you. You should read all the instructions properly before you start to make sure you do it properly and don’t end up with a huge mess.

Try recycled cartridges

If the idea of refilling your toner cartridges fills you with horror, then try some recycled ones. Recycled means that they’ve been collected as empties and sent to a company that can check, test, refurbish them and then refill them. This solution isn’t as cheap as doing it yourself, but it’s much cheaper than buying new ones and the print quality is indistinguishable.

Buy compatibles

Buying compatible cartridges is also a great solution, especially if you get them from an established, well-respected retailer as they’ll only stock tested and trusted cartridges. A decent online retailer will also give you a warranty and a guarantee just in case something goes wrong or the cartridges don’t work.

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GBP And USD Exchange

GBP and USD  exchange are one of the oldest currency pairings in the world. This pair is commonly known as ‘The Cable.’  This pairing remains a darling to many traders even today, thus, accumulating large interests considering the size of UK’s  economy. Below are some of the factors that have been affecting the pair in recent weeks;

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  • British pound drops lower as the Prime Minister moves to outwit critics. The British pound edged lower on the night of December 6th as the UK PM; Theresa May asked the House of Commons to support her in a plan to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. In addition, support her to begin the departure negotiations officially before the end of March 2017.
  • December will be a neutral month for GBP/USD due to its poor performance metrics in recent times. This is taken from a seasonality point of view. The GBP/USD has rallied up to 55% of the time in the month of December over the past 20 years. However, the pair’s average performance during this time frame was only +23-pips every month. The currency pair has also lost ground in each of the previous two years. It has also experienced gains in only three Decembers since the year 2005.
  • GBP/USD also dropped on the production data’s release. It edged below 1.2600, as the ongoing concerns about Brexit as well as weaker data continue to derail sterling’s  latest rally. UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently accepted a labor plan that needs the government to lay down its Brexit plans, as the supreme court hearing on whether the parliament needs to approve Brexit continues.
  • The exchange rate of GBP/USD is pushing to fresh monthly highs throughout the first full week of December.  The latest development in the Relative Strength Index supports a bullish outlook for the pair as the oscillator comes out of the bearish formation that was carried over since May.

The pound Sterling has been rising against the US dollar since the month of October and has on the way built a pretty modest momentum over the near-term duration. Phil Seaton, who is an analyst believes that based on this momentum alone, traders could expect the Pound to advance even further in the coming days and weeks. The success in forecasting a currency’s move, and thus benefiting from such a move, is best determined by studying its current trend.

In the case of Pound-Dollar, the trend is higher according to the daily charts

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4 Ways to Find the Best Payment Gateway for Your Business  

No matter the type of industry you’re in these days, it’s necessary to provide your customers with multiple payment options if you want to generate as many sales as possible. While cash is still used (typically for small, regular transactions), many people now prefer to pay online or via cell phones so that they can use their credit or debit card, PayPal account, or the like.

However, if you’re just about to launch a home-based business, or want to start accepting more forms of payment, it can be challenging trying to decide which mobile payment processing provider to choose out of all the options on the market. If you want some tips on finding the best firm for your needs, read on for four things you should consider today.

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Know Your Specific Needs and Goals

Firstly, before you think about signing with a payment gateway, you need to be clear about your organization’s specific needs and goals. While there are dozens and dozens of different merchant services firms to choose from, they don’t all provide the same services to their customers — and similarly, not all customers need the same services.

For example, some businesses might be after a simple merchant account with the bare minimum of features, while others may require extra functionality, such as the ability to process payments on a smartphone; inventory management capabilities; or the incorporation of loyalty programs.

If you’re to find the right company for you, you need to first be clear on things such as the “must have” facilities you need, plus where and how a payment system will be integrated into your operations.

Furthermore, it pays to examine whether or not the payment processing firm you’re interested in actually accepts all forms of payment, as not all of them will. In this day and age it is helpful if your payment gateway can accept debit cards, Diners Club credit cards, American Express credit cards, and PayPal transactions.

Analyze Pricing

Next, price is of course going to be one of the biggest determining factors in your choice of providers. When you compare options, remember that different companies structure their fees in different ways. As a result, you need to closely analyze pricing to see what will be the best value for your needs.

Some firms charge a flat fee per transaction, no matter how many payments are put through the system in a given period (generally either monthly or annually); while others have a variable fee that is based on the number of transactions which need to be processed. Others again have monthly payment plans which differ according to the level of overall transaction value.

Keep in mind too that some providers charge a start-up fee when you join up, while others may not but then might expect you to commit to a 12-month contract. Similarly, some companies charge cancellation fees, while others offer month-by-month services with no minimum periods to be worried about.

It also pays to examine whether or not the merchant services firms you’re interested in ever charge any potential extra fees. These can include things like:

  • System-integration costs for installing their software in your system
  • Charges if you change your point-of-sale system and need an update
  • Fees for accessing customer support
  • Withdrawal charges each time you want to transfer funds over to your bank account

 Examine Security

Another thing to factor in when deciding on a payment gateway is how secure each firm is. With hackers across the globe coming up with new techniques to break into websites and get access to sensitive customer data all the time, digital security is imperative.

When you analyze firms, ask them to provide information on their security protocols. The most closely-guarded gateways typically have precautions such as:

  • CVV2 verification
  • Data encryption
  • Billing address security
  • Complex encryption algorithms
  • Support for top-level SSL certificates

Check the Availability of Customer Support 

Lastly, it’s very important to make sure that you sign up with a firm who makes customer support available to its clients when they need it. While you hope that transactions and systems always run smoothly, sometimes issues just do occur. When this happens, you need to be able to get in touch with your merchant services provider for assistance.

It is a good idea to choose a company which provides 24-hour a day customer support, 365 days per year. This should be via a variety of communication methods, including phone calls, emails, and live chat conversations, so that you can select the most convenient way to get in touch.

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Building Productivity in Your Business, Five Steps to Success

If you had to ask people what contributed most to the success of a business, what do you think they would say? People would probably list things like reputation, quality of service, workplace culture, advertising spend and word of mouth referrals as key indicators of a business’ success. If we had to list any one thing that contributes to the success of a business we would say one thing: productivity.

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After all, if you look at traits such as reputation or quality, they all rely on people being productive in order for them to happen.

You don’t get anywhere when you don’t do anything, and so we believe that a huge part of your success comes down to how productive you are. In order to get your business thriving we have outlined three key tips to get your business to a state of higher productivity.

Step One – Get the most important (or nasty) tasks done first

We all know what it feels like when you get to work in the morning, and staring you in the face is that task that you put off yesterday because you really didn’t feel like doing it. Don’t you wish you had just gotten it out of the way?

A key thing to know about getting work done is that if it’s unpleasant or important (or unpleasant AND important) you need to get it done, pronto. That way you will have attacked the task when you’re fresh and ready to go in the morning and you’ll have more time to spend on other tasks during the day. Plus, you won’t have the weight of an important task hanging over you like a guillotine.

Win win, really.

Step Two – Manage time like a boss

When you are a business owner you need to manage your time well, which includes managing the time of your employees as well, so make sure you can prioritise it. Strong time management will trickle down into other areas of your business, which will be sure to help your business and employees to be more productive.

Step Three – Don’t multitask

While you might think you’re working like a pro checking your emails and balancing out a couple of editing documents, all the while chatting online to a prospective client, the fact is that you’re not spending enough time on any of these tasks. An unwavering focus on one task at a time (with proper time management) will be the best way to manage your workload, and make sure that each task is getting the attention it needs..

Step Four – Get it done

Sometimes you won’t want to do certain things, and this is just part of being employed. While procrastination is an easy pitfall and it can be difficult to stay focussed on an unpleasant project, allowing things to build up will be much worse in the long term.

Step Five – Keep your eye on the prize 

Make sure you always having something to work towards. If you are a Melbourne business with the aim to expand into other states or territories, then you need to be looking ahead and investigating your options. Take a look at http://www.servcorp.com.au/en/virtual-offices/prices-locations/brisbane/ to see the various virtual offices on offer. If you become overwhelmed, hiring a business coach who can help you to grow can pay for itself in the long term, so don’t be scared to look for help in boosting your business potential.

Don’t forget to work on building a strong work culture and focus on developing a plan that you can adjust and change to suit your business as it grows. A company’s strength is in the productivity of its employees, and making sure they have the structure and ease to work effectively will quickly boost your business’ potential.

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The Countries With The Fastest Internet

Countries With The Fastest Internet

Thinking about living the life of a digital nomad? Or maybe just need to get some work done while on vacation? Well check out this list to see the countries with the fastest internet. While it is often hard to determine who has “the fastest” internet due to many variables such as averages, cities, and wireless; these a few nations that stand out for the outstanding and cutting edge dedication to high speed internet connectivity.

Countries With The Fastest Internet
The United States
Let’s start out with the big one. The U.S. has at average speed of over 8.6mbps per second. This is only getting faster as plans for massive fiberoptic are being completed including ambitious plans by Google. Wifi is also abundant and often “free” with purchase at most bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Due to America’s massive size and diversity, the accessibility and speed of internet can vary greatly depending on your specefic location. Some cities have even began implementing city wide free wireless Internet.

South Korea
South Korea has possibly the fastest average speed at an astonishing 22.1 mbps. This blows away most other countries and sets up an infrastructure to allow for massive economic growth. With close to 95% of the population using the internet, South Korea makes good use of the high speed bandwidth. South Korea’s reputation as one of the countries with the fastest internet is credited to a hybrid approach including  governmental planning, private section competition, a dense urban populace, and a culture thirst for the information, online games, and live streaming YouTube celebrities.

Denmark
This northern European country boats some of the fastest and most widespread high speed internet connectivity in the world. Despite lack of competition, the danish broadband market provides excellent speed and accessibility. Denmark is also leading the pack with wireless broadband with a recent promise of  99% of the population to be covered with 4G (10mbs) in 2015. Denmark also repurposes existing infrastructure such as out of use smoke stacks as antennas.

Northern European and and North East Asian countries  are consistently ranked  to have the fastest internet. The commonalities seem to be small prosperous  nations with urban populations. It is much easier to get all your citizens on a single high speed network when they all live in same city, other developed countries such as China, Australia, and the United States face a more difficult time keeping up due to their size. Also it is important to know these numbers seem to be increasing by the year, so a country with limited internet access today could have wide spread broadband by next year. Also the amount of high-speed cellular data networks is rising exponentially and it is not hard to a imagine an entire world connected by a 4G network.

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The Best Digital Nomad Hubs of 2016

digital nomad hubs of 2016

Digital Nomad is the buzz word of 2016 and if you are like thousands of people around the world you find the idea appealing.  Working from an exotic location can be a fun, rewarding, and even enlightening experience. With thousands of cities to choose form, here are the best digital nomad hubs of 2016.
digital nomad hubs of 2016


Chang Mai, Thailand
Thailand’s low cost of living, relaxed vibe, and beautiful scenery have made it one of world’s hubs for digital nomads. Chang Mai takes this a step further. This city in northern Thailand offers all the conveniences of a larger city such as Bangkok without the chaos and pollution many are trying to escape. Chang Mai offer affordable housing and daily expenses, high speed inter infrastructure, all while being surrounded by northern Thailand’s scenic mountains and reasonable climate. It is also far less touristy than much of southern Thailand. Combine this with a large convenient airport and you have an excellent choice for one of the best digital nomad hubs of 2016.

Santiago, Chile
Another warm city tucked away in the mountains, Santiago is the perfect place for a creative expat on a budget. This city features a low cost of living and world class amenities. It is also the perfect jumping off to spend your weekend enjoying Chile’s insanely diverse natural splendor, from deserts, to mountains, to penguin rich Patagonia. This capitol city is home to a number of university’s which has sustained a vibrant youth culture of artists. It is also home to a vibrant street food scene. Santiago houses over 6 million people, rich cultural history, great public transport and with a stable economy you may love it so much you could  find yourself transitioning from a nomad to a resident.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This Southeast Asian megacity is often over looked by digital nomads but I’m not sure why. With it’s tropical climate, low cost of living, and access to surrounding beach towns; this modern metropolis is the perfect to spend some time while trekking the world with your laptop. In the shadow of the worlds largest twin buildings and with massive modern infrastructure and ample co-work locations, Kuala Lumpur on of the ideal digital nomad hubs in 2016. So if you have a taste for adventure (not to mention spicy food) put Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on your digital nomad shortlist.

The are just a few of the cities that offer a good bang for the buck as a digital nomad. There are countless more and if you play your cards right you hopefully will get the chance to see most of them. Whether you are just spending a few weeks or end up spending several years; any of these locations will be perfect for your work and travel.

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What Can Virtual Assistants Do For You?

Virtual Assistant

No, a virtual assistant is not something out of a science fiction movie. A virtual assistant is often a freelancer working from home (virtually) who can help you with your business. So what can virtual assistants do for you? Well, they can do just about anything a physical assistant could; often at a fraction of the cost. Here are some ideas:
Virtual Assistant
Presentations
Last minute meeting and you don’t have your presentation ready? Your virtual assistant can help you with this. Maybe you have all the content ready to go but you don’t have the time or expertise to put into a shareable format. This is a great task to assign to your virtual assistant, simply provide some instructions and wait for the results.

Research
Is your business set to expand into a new arena? Do you need to do some research on potential clients or competition? Give this job to your virtual assistants and let them loose. They will scour the world wide web and bring back a well written data driven document on the topic of your choice. This is not only time saving but can be crucial in making your next big move.

Emails
Out of control inboxes are far to common these days. This is something your virtual assistant could help with. Imagine waking up Monday morning to a single email from your assistant telling you the highlights and must does from the weekends messages. I couldn’t think of a better way to start your week.

Chasing Clients
Maybe you know there is business out there but you don’t have the time to chase up all those leads in your Rolodex (or digital equivalent.) Share these ideas with your digital assistant and have them send personalized email or physical mailers. Instead of using a mass email service you could be having your assistant write customized personal messages geared at each client. These emails could pay off big time and you will be thanking your virtual assistant.

Vacation Planning
Its not only business, you could also have your virtual assistant help with something more fun. A digital assistant is the perfect tool for planning your and your families next getaway. Your virtual assistant can look up the perfect hotels, restaurants and flights. They can also find unique things for you to do while on vacation. Imagine having your next trip all sorted out before you even leave home, so all you had to think about are the waves rolling up on the beach.

These are only a few of the possible things your virtual assistants can do for you. The sky is the limit on what tasks you can assign your virtual assistant. Once you get used to your virtual assistant you will be wondering how you ever lived without one.

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