Like a Boss – 6 Secrets to Being a Great Employer

A company’s employees are its greatest asset. Too often, workers feel undervalued or as if their work isn’t making any real difference. People thrive on recognition and positive reinforcement. It’s human nature. There is no shortage of ways that an employer can demonstrate to their employees how much their efforts are valued to ensure their happiness and productivity continues to thrive! Here are a few of them:

  1. Show Appreciation

It’s natural for employees to want to feel recognized and appreciated for the work that they put in to contribute to their company’s success. It might come as a surprise to know that in many cases, this does not have to take a monetary form. In fact, more tangible forms of acknowledgement such as a thoughtful personalized corporate gift, a new work computer or phone, or even a free lunch at a nice restaurant can be more effective in communicating how much you value their contribution.

  1. Genuinely Value Your Employees

Treat your workers like family. Sure, this must be balanced with a degree of professionalism; however, the workers who feel more at ease and valued in their workplace are typically more efficient, creative and productive in their roles. Make a habit of expressing positive feedback and feelings to your employees, so they know that they are considered an integral part of your team. Respect your staff, and watch your business thrive.

 3. Give Them a Life Outside of Work

‘Work-life balance’ is the buzzword of the decade. In an age of 24/7 connectivity and the idea that if you aren’t burning the candle at both ends, you’re not doing it right, the need for some downtime is at an all-time high. A recent survey found that the demand for remote work is climbing as more people crave more flexible workplace arrangements. Consider providing your employees with the opportunity to work from home if appropriate. Workers appreciate having the option to be flexible. In return, you will see higher standards of work.

4. Cultivate Proper Leadership

Without a proper leader, the flock will begin to scatter. Your workers need engaging leaders to help drive better work performance. The right leader will help to energize and assist managers and employees and enable an open and honest dialogue between workers and management. Think about developing a mentorship program that can provide opportunities for growth and leadership among employees. Employees work hard for leaders they believe have their best interests at heart.

5. Long-Term Relationship

Encourage employees to want to stay long-term by providing them with the best loyalty incentives. Foster a growth mindset, and help your employees to flourish and achieve their long-term goals. Personal growth leads to professional growth. With your assistance, your employees will find more motivation to stay.

6. Funny Business

A fundamental way to cultivate better employees is to make them happier employees. Yes, even the Financial Times reported that being funny at work is good for business. Here’s why; work doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun! Encourage your employees to bring joy into the workplace by hosting themed office parties or provide a games area for workers to let loose during lunch-break. There’s an ulterior motive to those office day’s out, not only are they fun, but they’re also great for team-building.

To be the best, you have to produce the best. Loyal employers foster loyal staff in return. The key takeaway from all this is that as an employer, your primary business should be the happiness of your employees. All of these strategies will help to make your business more effective, more productive and more successful.

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Are you spending too much on office supplies?

Running your own business provides the type of freedom that many people spend years dreaming of. And if it is a home-based enterprise, you have the added bonus that costs and overheads are kept to a minimum. It all sounds great, until you look at the bank statement at the end of the month and ask yourself just where all that money is going.

The problem is that whether it is in a traditional corporate environment or a room at the back of your home, an office soaks up money in consumables. Generally, it is more in the form of small drips than major floods. However, that is only the more dangerous, as those expenditures are harder to spot, yet they can still add up to a significant dent in your bottom line. 

If you’re scratching your head as to how you’re managing to spend so much on office supplies, here are some areas to look at that might just alleviate the problem. 

Paper

An office gets through lots of paper. That might come as a surprise in this largely online world, but it is true, and it goes to show that we are not quite as paper-free as you might think. In part, however, our use of paper is down to habit rather than necessity. Some people still prefer to read a hard copy of a document, as opposed to simply viewing it on a screen. 

If that’s because they want to make ink annotations, fair enough, but if it really is simply to print it, read it then throw it in the recycling, it is a habit that you should encourage them to break. Also, adopt a policy of printing double sided, or of placing waste sheets face down in the printer feed so that they can be reused. 

Ink

Reduce the amount of printing, and you won’t just save paper, you’ll also use less ink. It is one of life’s ironies that while today’s printers are incredibly cheap, their consumables can still cost a fortune, especially if you buy direct from the manufacturer. It is both cheaper and easier to buy Canon ink from third parties, and they typically stock cartridges for other major manufacturers such as HP, Epson and Xerox, too. 

Desktop stationery

A basic fact of life is that you can never find a pen when you need one, and this is particularly the case when you operate a business. You can order pens, staplers and so on in bulk, but the problem is that if you employ staff, they can start to assume there is a magical and inexhaustible supply. The result? A few weeks later, you are having to order more. 

You don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill and start rationing out paperclips, but if you choose wisely and give one person the responsibility for stocking, distributing and reordering stationery, there is a 100 percent guarantee that people will take better care of it, and what was lasting only six weeks will suddenly keep you going for six months! 

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4 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Notes

In spite of all the technology available to jot down information like important notes, there are still many reasons to take what feels like a step backward and write your notes by hand.

You may look at the abundant stash of digital equipment you’ve gathered to support your business enterprise goals and wonder, “Why would I let this amazing technology go to waste?” Quite simply, there are some tasks that benefit from a more traditional — or some may even consider it old school — approach. More importantly, you don’t have to completely abandon your technology in your quest to take truly beneficial notes, as you will soon discover.

Consider these four important reasons why you should write your notes:

1. It Is an Effective Method of Learning, Absorbing and Retaining Information

Research shows that hand writing notes is one of the most effective ways to study and retain new information. According to a study published in Psychological Science, taking notes by hand requires extra processing of the material written. The reason for this seemingly simple phenomenon is that committing information to paper through writing stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS serves as a filter for all that your brain needs to process, prioritizing the information upon which you are immediately focused.

Essentially, writing your notes means you may find it at least slightly less likely to refer to them in the future, thanks to better retention. Your new associates and business prospects will appreciate your sharp memory and attention to detail.

2. Hand Writing Can Help to Improve Any Necessary Content for Your Business

If any aspect of your home-based business requires writing tasks and capabilities, such as writing blog posts to support your website, note that writing by hand can help you improve your writing skills. Writing out an early draft, or even just jotting down notes from your research, can help you gain a better understanding of the topic, how it relates to your business and the best approach to writing the post. Think of all the outlines you wrote out in school and how useful they were to guiding your writing. The same benefits are there, no matter how much or little writing you do for your business.

3. You Can Use Your Tablet or Smartphone to Write Your Notes

You can have the best of all worlds with the right electronic devices to support your business goals. A mobile phone along with its accompanying smart writing stylus is a prime example of tech gadgetry that lets you do it all. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note8’s intelligent S Pen lets you write, draw and even doodle with incredible accuracy. You get the sensation and memory retention benefits of hand writing while still being able to save every document for future reference.

4. Writing By Hand Helps You Maintain Focus

It is easy to become distracted during meetings, training sessions and seminars if you are not an active part of the event. If you pull out your laptop to jot down a few notes, you may find yourself wandering over to Facebook or answering a few emails. Using pen and paper — or the electronic equivalent — to dash out ideas can help you stay focused, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Whether you are drafting your notes with a classic pen and legal pad combination, or a smartphone and stylus, you will discover a newfound depth that can help bolster your daily business practices.

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Success on a Shoestring – How to Build a Healthy Business on a Small Budget

In today’s economy, growing a successful business is an accomplishment of which you can be proud. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks to starting a business these days is the fact that it probably won’t see a profit for quite some time. However, finding cost-effective ways to grow a healthy business can be easier than you think. To establish a viable venture, you must be smart with its budget. Below is a short guide on how to do just that:

Have a Plan

Every good business starts with an idea, which evolves with a solid plan. Your business plan should include specific details for how things will operate. For instance, will your company trade from a brick-and-mortar building or will you explore virtual office solutions to cut costs? When you have a clear vision of the path to success, it’s much easier to get the job done.

Don’t Obsess About What the Competition is Doing

Yes, it’s important to know what your competition is up to but you don’t want to become totally fixated on them. Instead, focus on managing your bottom line and what you can do to be more attractive to customers than the other guys. Believe in the unique advantages and value that you offer, rather than attempting to mimic the competition and becoming just another me-too. It’s crucial to understand that every business, even those operating in the same market, can and should have different ways of serving their clients. If you don’t find ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you won’t be able to grow.

Automate Tasks

You can save your business a lot of money by automating tasks rather than hiring employees to do them. In today’s “there’s an app for that” environment, things like inventory, communications, sales activity, accounting and more can be managed virtually, at huge savings.

Foster Good Supplier Relationships

Regardless of the type of business you run, you must rely on others to make it successful. From inventory to office supplies, the people from whom you purchase your stock and supplies should receive high priority. Go out of your way to build a friendly rapport with them, and they’ll be more apt to extend a line of credit that frees up short-term capital for other productive uses.

Figure Out Where to Cut Costs

Growing a business on a tight budget is tricky, but not impossible. The key is to figure out what expenses are necessary, and which ones you can do without. For example, do you listen to music in the office? If so, is that Spotify subscription a necessity or can you just turn on the radio instead?

Cutting costs anywhere you can – even those that seem minimal – can free up funds for more important things that will contribute to the growth of your business.

Use Social Media to Market Your Business

Marketing can be expensive, and there’s no way around having to do it. Fortunately, social media is a very cost-effective way to market your business to the masses. While you’ll still have to spend money to advertise on social media if you’re prepared to put in the work, it can be much cheaper than most other forms of marketing. As your company grows, so should your marketing budget, which will open other channels for building your brand.

Just because you don’t have a huge budget, doesn’t mean you can’t experience business success. By implementing the tips above, you can build a healthy business, even on a shoestring.

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What a 401K Can Do For You

When you get a job straight out of college it is important to find the right mix of salary, benefits and experience to launch your career. And if you can find a company with a 401K plan, that is even better. You want to make sure that your employer will match your 401K contribution and you want to max out your contribution in order to get to that match. Get as much money from the company as you can. That is free money. You can’t do better than free money.

When you take the match from your 401K, you are growing the base of the account that is going to grow and grow and grow and provide you with real money in your golden years. And when you get enough money in your 401K, you can start trading it on your own. As long as you roll it into your own IRA style account. Or even if you want, you can trade your own stocks in the 401K that you own. You just might lose the match.

So you have to make your own decisions about how you want to manage your 401K. You can take the passive investor approach, where you let your company’s 401K plan administrator manage all the money. And you check it quarterly. Or you can take a more active approach and go on your own.

But the most lucrative and smart approach may be to create your own brokerage account on the side and start day trading. That way you keep your day job, contribute to a 401K and learn how to day trade on the side. If you put in a lot of effort and learn the right strategies and techniques, you can become a profitable day trader. You just have to take the online classes and stuff your head full of the terminology. It is helpful to be able to spend a lot of time in front of screens, learning the trends and patterns.

Day traders are hunters of volatility. You are always on the lookout for more stocks making big moves throughout the day. You need to have the right plan to be able to take advantage of these opportunities. The best way to do that is to learn risk management. Have a plan for each and every trade that you make and make sure that you have a stop-loss on each trade. So that if a trade goes south, you have a built in mechanism to sell the shares before you lose a lot.

The best way to get good is to start paper trading. That means practicing in a simulated trading environment where you are trading virtual currency. That gives you a chance to learn on the job without risking your real money. You can practice trading and learn risk management in a simulator that trades at the speed of the regular market. It is invaluable experience.

So that is your choice. Take the passive approach, get a good job and keep giving to your 401K. Or do that, and get yourself a day trading gig on the side.

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Supporting Your Local Businesses:  Why Should You Buy from a Local Dealer?

When purchasing new or used vehicles, consumers have many different choices. It is often tempting to buy from a chain store or other branch, because such outlets offer substantially the same experience at each location. Furthermore, they are more well known, because they have large advertising budgets.

But buying that vehicle from a local dealer is usually a better choice, although the reasons are not always apparent.

Economics

Franchise businesses send a good portion of their earnings out of the community, but locally-owned businesses reinvest almost everything they earn back into the local community, and that benefits everyone. Moreover, according to one study, local businesses generate 70 percent more economic activity than franchises.

There are advantages in terms of payroll as well. Most all local businesses employ mostly local workers, and in many cases, the wages and benefits are higher. Additionally, local businesses are much more likely to use local banks and other nearby institutions.

Finally, local businesses foster competition. If there are many small or medium-sized outlets competing over the same business, consumer prices are lower and business innovation is stronger. Furthermore, to gain an edge, local businesses often offer better customer service.

Service

There is much more to say with regard to that last point. Customer service at a franchise is either totally outsourced to another location or probably performed in accordance with regimented standards that have nothing to do with the local community.

In contrast, almost everyone who works at a local business, from the very top to the very bottom, is heavily invested in the community and knows the customers that patronize that business, so the experience is much more personal.

Inventory

Most people believe that franchises have more selection than independent businesses, and while that may be true in terms of the cars on the lot, that’s not necessarily true overall. Typically, small business owners have direct access to vendors, so if there is a specific item that you want to purchase, that item will be available much more quickly at a small business than a large dealership.

Furthermore, contrary to popular myth, prices are usually no lower at a franchise location than they are at a local business, because for the most part, vendors set the prices for their products and they do not like discounts.

Generally, most business owners are willing to go the extra step to earn a customer, while that same urgency is not always present at a franchise location.

Community

Local businesses give communities a unique look that would be sorely missed if those businesses disappeared. Many people recognize this fact, as in one survey, only a desire for more restaurants eclipsed a desire for more local businesses among community residents.

For local businesses to contribute, the community must rise up. If a franchise location has a slow month, the financial loss may hardly be a blip on the radar. But if a local business has a slow month, the impact could be significant, and if that business closes, there is not always another one ready to take its place.

Do your community a favor and shop local.

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It’s Time to Turn Your Business Website into an E-Commerce Powerhouse

The place for business in the 21st century is on the web. More and more businesses are establishing websites in order to do the bulk of their advertising and selling. If you are searching for a way to turn your business website into an e-commerce giant, you’ll need the proper software. There are a number of types of ecommerce shopping cart software to choose from. It only takes the bare minimum of research to enable you to decide which types will work best for the needs of your business. Once you know what you need, it’s easier than ever to go about getting it.

A Shopping Cart Is an Essential Piece of Modern E-Commerce Software

One of the most important pieces of e-commerce software you can order for your business site will be a shopping cart. This is the place where your customers can store items that interest them while they continue to browse around the rest of your site. Giving them a place to store these goods is an excellent way to keep them from forgetting about these items. Once they have completed their visit to your site, they can quickly retrieve their item from the shopping cart and take it to the checkout page to complete their order. Shopping carts save you sales.

Having a Shopping Cart on Your Site Will Save You a Lot of Sales

As noted above, it’s a tried and true proposition that having a shopping cart on your site will save you a great many sales. Even if a customer should forget to take that particular item to checkout, you can still make it the basis of a reminder email that you send to them later on. A quick email with the item and a message along the lines of, “Don’t forget about me!” can save you a lot of sales in the long run. A shopping cart is an e-commerce item that serves many functions and will more than repay the initial investment you make in order to add one to your official business website.

It’s Time For You to Show Your Competitors Who’s the Boss

If your website has been losing ground in favor of your competition, the reason is as clear as it is simple. Your site simply isn’t up to snuff. You’ll need to overhaul it in order to feature all of the latest e-commerce software. Your competitors have already done and are reaping the benefits of their foresight. It’s time for you to make up for lost time so that you can get back to challenging them for the crown.

Order Your Shopping Cart Software From a Professional Provider Today

It’s an excellent idea to order your shopping cart software from a professional provider as soon as possible. The sooner you do so, the more your productivity and profitability will increase. E-commerce software enables your business to interact with your customers in real time so that you can quickly get a reliable feel for what items interest them the most. There are a thousand other benefits that come with these valuable e-commerce software items. A shopping cart and official web store are two of the most important ones that no modern business website can afford to be without.

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DCIM Decisions: Finding the Best Solution for Your Company

It can be difficult to choose the best DCIM solution for your company. There are many to choose from, and many vendors too, all of which offer slightly different products.

Here are some things to keep in mind to find the best solution for your growing company

Decide on the Features You Need

When it comes to finding the right data center monitoring solution for your needs, the first thing to do is look at the features provided by different vendors’ solutions.

You want to make sure that your chosen solution has all of the features you require, so compare products and avoid those that do not have the most important features.

Some of the things you might need include asset management, VM control, IT control, and environmental control. So look at the solution in depth and use this to guide your decision-making process.

Make Sure It Is Scalable to Your Needs

A DCIM solution should be scalable so that it can grow alongside your business. If it is difficult or impossible to scale, it is unlikely to be of much use as your business grows.

Save the hassle and expense of changing solutions later on, and choose one from the start that will grow with you.

Choose a Vendor with Good Support

As well as choosing a solution that has everything your business needs, you will also want to make sure you get the right level of customer support from the vendor.

You don’t want to be left on your own to deal with problems when they arise, so ensure you can always speak to a real person and get answers to your questions as soon as you need them.

Know How Easy It Will Be to Get Up and Running

If you have a small business, you may want to ensure that you choose a solution that is easy to set up and start using rather than a complex solution that takes many months to get up and running.

Also, find out if you will be provided with training. You don’t want your vendor to disappear and leave you without knowing what to do.

Choose a Vendor with Experience

Finally, make sure you choose a vendor that has a lot of experience and a great reputation to match. You don’t want to find out when it’s too late that they have a terrible reputation.

Do your research and find out who their existing customers are and ask them what they think. Read some third-party reviews if you can find any, and look out for any warning signs.

Only choose a vendor when you are happy that they will provide you with the level of service you need.

Find the Right DCIM Solution

These are some of the main factors to keep in mind when you are choosing a DCIM solution for your growing business.

Finding a suitable DCIM product is something you want to get right first time. So look into all of these factors very carefully, then take your time finding a solution that works for your business and provides you with all the benefits you are looking for.

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How to Protect Your Home Business from Financial Ruin

52 percent of all small businesses are operated out of the home. And, this number keeps growing. The best way to protect yourself and your business from unpredictable future events is to have adequate insurance. However, research shows that 40 percent of home businesses are underinsured. Here is why you need home business insurance and what products you should consider.

Why You Need to Protect Your Home Business

A few real-life scenarios will illustrate the reasons why you need extra protection for your home-based business. First, let’s consider the uncertain future. Your digital or printed business data could be compromised if you are the victim of a technology failure or security breach. This could lead to lawsuits or lost income. You can protect yourself from these unforeseen threats with business insurance.

Your reputation and business could be in jeopardy if a customer were to sue you for negligence. But, you can protect your good name and company when you have the right policy in place. Also, most homeowner’s policies will not cover you if a delivery driver were to drop off a package for your business at your front door and injure himself taking a dive off your front steps. Yet, a strong business insurance policy will cover any potential costs associated with this accident.

How Do You Protect Your Home Business

There are almost as many different home business insurance policies as there are home businesses. The key is finding the right policy to manage the potential risks of your enterprise. A few of the most popular types of coverage include:

  • General Liability– This helps out when the delivery guy trips over his feet. Your business and your family are protected from lawsuits due to injuries, accidents, or negligence claims.
  • Interruptions in Business – If your home business’s operations are interrupted by a covered loss, you will still be able to secure some income when you have this product.
  • Workers Compensation – You will need this type of insurance when you have employees working for you. If a worker suffers an illness or injury due to workplace conditions, workers comp insurance will provide a schedule of benefits, regardless of liability.
  • Medical insurance– it is essential that self-employed people take out health insurance to protect you against loss of earnings if you were to fall ill and be unable to work. Independent workers are often under huge amounts of pressure to return to work quickly following illness. This can exacerbate the problem and prevent you from bouncing back to optimum health.
  • Business Property – With this policy, you can protect the merchandise, equipment, computers, tools of the trade, and any other property that is associated with your business.

This is just a sampling of what is available. If you operate a home business, it is just a smart idea to be ready for any obstacles you may face. Insurance could make the difference between a little paperwork and financial ruin.

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Marketing Ideas for your Bootstrap Business

These days, it is easier than ever to set up your own business. While there are a variety of ways to finance your startup, the idea of bootstrapping is often the most attractive. By setting up your business on a miniscule budget, you do not have heavy debts or financial backers to worry about, and whether it succeeds or fails, the business is all yours.

The digital world is perfectly aligned to this kind of business model. In essence, all you need is a laptop, an internet connection, a great idea and a working knowledge of WordPress, and you are good to go. But while it is easy to get started, can the bootstrap philosophy be equally applied to an effective marketing campaign to grow your business? Management consulting firm Global Resources reviews numerous small businesses, and says that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Here’s how.

Use Social Media

Did you know that one in three people on the planet use social media? Chances are, you are one of them, and if you are not, you are missing out on the best digital marketing tool around. Facebook alone has two billion users, and LinkedIn just celebrated passing the 500 million mark.

It is not just cost effective though – it is also something that your customers will expect of you. Facebook and Twitter are great ways of sharing blogs, news and video content, and LinkedIn is the perfect place to build a reputation as an expert in your field, particularly in the B2B world.

Understand your Customers

If you have limited financial resources, then bangs for bucks has to be at the top of the agenda when considering your marketing strategy. To get the best return on your investment, you need to have a clear understanding of who your customers are, and what they want from you.

There is more data like this available today than ever before. Take a look on Google Analytics and you will be presented with a raft of information about who is visiting your site, the search query that is bringing them there, how long they stay and lots more.

Digital Marketing for Less

The real beauty of digital marketing is that there is so much that can be done with a minimal spend. Focus on building the brand through social media and increasing conversions with a better understanding of customer needs, and you can achieve some great results without breaking the bank.

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