Don’t Clash With Your Employees, Manage Them Properly

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Are you always feeling like managing your employees is more like a battle than a collaboration. That’s not how it should be, and you need to take action if that’s the kind of situation you currently find yourself in. It’s not something that is sustainable for you, them or the company. So, you need to learn how to manage them properly and make your whole business more productive in the process. Here are some of the things that can help you to do that.

Own Your Mistakes and Understand the Mistakes of Others

You need to be able to own your mistakes and move on from them when they occur. This is something that is often easier said than done. But no one likes a boss or a manager who doesn’t admit when they get something wrong. It just comes across as arrogant to the other people in your team. And that’s not what you want at all. So, try to make sure that you keep this in mind and don’t let people get the wrong impression of you. You should also be more understanding when other people in your office make mistakes.

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Praise and Reward

If you’re the kind of boss that always highlights the negatives, it might just be because you want it see improvements and help people do better. But that might not be how your attitude is perceived. People might see it as you always focusing on the negatives and never appreciating the positive things. That can demoralise your workforce and put your business in a worse situation. So, try to praise people when they do good work for the company. And offer some kind of reward for people too. If you can do that, it will help your employees feel valued.

Use Software to Track Absences Accurately

Absences can be a problem in many workplaces. If people are having too much time off, you need to have a disciplinary process in place or how to handle it. However, you can’t just accuse people of things if you don’t have the right evidence to back up what you’re saying. That’s why it’s so important to accurately track the number of absences in the workplace. employee absence management software can help you with that. Then everyone will be clear of where they stand and they will know the rules that are in place.

Take the View of Your Employees

Sometimes, you need to adopt the point of view of your employees if you want to get things done. You can’t simply be above the people who work for you because that never produces very positive outcomes. When you adopt their point of view, however, you can see things the way they do. You will then be better at communicating with them and being fair. These things are important, and not all managers and business leaders stop to think about their employees and where they’re coming from. It’s something that will make you a more liked manage in the office too.

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Don’t Jump in and Make Things Worse When There’s a Conflict

Office conflicts are never pretty, but they do arise from time to time. As the manager, you can’t just jump in and make things even worse than they already are. That can be disastrous and it can destroy trust and respect in you. So, try to stay one step back from what’s happening in the office conflict, while also aiming to deal with and resolve it as best you can. The most important thing to be is even-handed. You can’t be seen to be taking sides if you want this to all end positively for you and for the business as a whole.

Get to Know Each Person as an Individual

Finally, you should make more of an effort to get to know each person in your team. It’s really important to remember that your team is just a group of individuals, and they all need to be managed in different ways. The management style that works for one person in the group won’t be a management style that works for another person in the team. So, by getting to know each person as an individual, you can learn about what makes them tick and what the best way of managing them is.

Clashing with your employees will never get you anywhere. And it certainly won’t help out your business in any way at all. So, make sure you use the employee management tips outlined above.

 

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5 Ways To Transform The Way Your Business Uses Technology

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Technology is a key element of running a modern business. It’s difficult to imagine a time before we used computers and other devices to facilitate the day-to-day running of a business. It’s surprising to learn however that many businesses and startups aren’t using technology to its full potential, which could be costing time and money. Here are five ways to transform the way your business uses technology to help you get the most out all the things it can offer.

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1. Make sure you have the latest technology

Technology is something that keeps advancing, and just like a car can become old and start to lose its functionality – so can your technology. Technology has become more affordable over the years to make it easier to upgrade regularly and make sure that you always have the latest versions of software. Doing this will help you keep up with your competitors and ensure that your business doesn’t suffer because of outdated technology.

You might want to consider whether or not you should lease or buy your technology equipment, with arguments to be made for each. If you want to update regularly, leasing may be a better option for you while buying outright will save you money over time. Consider the best option for your business carefully before you decide how to invest in your technology equipment.

2. Choose a support service that delivers

If your technology systems were to fail, how long will it take before they get resolved? If you have on-site support, this could be fixed in minutes but if it needs to come from elsewhere – how long would it take until you’re up and running again? When making technology purchases, you need to consider the aftercare service which can be as valuable as the products themselves. From securing fast and efficient Zebra printer repair to having a service provider to fix website outages quickly, your focus should be on the complete package received for your investment and not just the initial price of the equipment. Shop around and take a look at all available providers and their offering before you lock yourself into a contract.

3. Offer the right training to employees

Having the right technology in place is great, if you have staff that are confident in using it. It’s easy to assume that all employees today have the skills to work the latest technology, but this might not be the case. Having a training program available to your employees will make them more confident in using the technology and software you provide, especially if they’re new to your business. This is something that will need to be refreshed regularly to help keep up with updates and upgrades, and an online resource library can help them troubleshoot simple problems that will free up technology service desks for more urgent and business-critical issues.

4. Head into the Cloud

Cloud computing is the future. Almost any technology expert will be able to relay the benefits of cloud computing to satisfy all types of business needs. Cloud computing not only allows businesses to work in a more agile and streamlined way but can help decrease your running costs and increase the stability of your technology.

As well as the technological benefits, cloud computing can also change the workplace environment. As more and more businesses look to employ flexible working practices, cloud working benefits organizations that want to offer better work/life balance for employees. Being able to work from anywhere at any time makes a difference to employee attitudes and productivity and could resolve a lot of the issues your business has been facing.

5. Use digital technology to increase your customer/client base

Need a helping hand reaching clients and customers? Go digital. Online marketing is becoming more and more important for businesses, as it’s something that consumers care about too. These days it has become less of a question of if you should adopt online marketing, but when. There are many free ways to carry out online marketing, that will help save your business money and waste less on techniques that don’t work.  Streamlining your online and offline activities will give you the best chance of making an impact on potential customers and make those important conversions.

Technology changes frequently, and it’s vital that your business adapts to make use of its benefits. Ensure technology forms an important part of your ongoing strategy to find new and exciting ways to run your business and watch the way you work transform.

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3 Business Lessons You Can Learn From These Horror Stories

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It would be impossible to make all the mistakes a business owner could make, which is why there’s such a huge culture built around business books and entrepreneurial advice. Through those guides and mediums, business owners are given the proper tools to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes that others did. Being an entrepreneur is difficult, and founders lean on others to help steer them in the right direction.

The following business horror stories act as forewarnings to those who are doing their best to stay within the lines. It’s better to learn from those who have been in your shoes as an entrepreneur, than to make the same mistakes they did and become the person warning others. Here are three stories of business mistakes many entrepreneurs have made:

Horrible Hosting

Choosing the best hosting solution and provider for your business can dramatically affect your success. This may seem like a small decision (how hard could it be to choose a hosting company?) but you’d be surprised to find out how many people who own businesses that suffer because they made the wrong hosting decision or didn’t do enough research into their chosen hosting company.

This is exactly what happened to Claire Broadley, who co-owns the technical content creation site, Red Robot Media. Broadley wrote about her bad experiences with different hosting providers to warn others of the potential dangers of such mistakes. After several bad experiences, she moved her site to a new host who could handle the occasional traffic spike. The new host’s database usage rules stated that if the site experienced high traffic more than twice a month, the site would incur additional charges. Considering Broadley didn’t expect huge traffic spikes frequently, it seemed like a good deal. However, even when traffic was low, Broadley was being charged for high traffic, and the host couldn’t explain why. These phantom traffic spikes forced her to, yet again, go to another host.

Always do your research before you work with a hosting company. Read reviews and reach out to customer service to get a feel for how they treat their customers.

Costly PPC Services

There are hundreds of marketing agencies out there that are promising the world through effective PPC, SEO, and content marketing. These services can be very costly, especially for startups and small businesses that are just finding their footing. While these agencies can be highly beneficial to your business, picking the right agency can ruin your budget and bottom line.

Shabbir Nooruddin, who runs the blog Bootstrapping Ecommerce, experienced just that when he fell victim to a costly PPC company. The company had appealing marketing videos and seemed to have great feedback from previous clients. They convinced Nooruddin that they would be able to make his ecommerce site run on autopilot within no time. Unfortunately, the only thing that happened in this case was that Nooruddin was stuck in a 6-month contract, and not a single sale was a result of the agency’s PPC efforts.

Hiring The Wrong Intern

Interns can be highly beneficial to your business. They are typically paid in college credit, (making the labor cost-effective), they bring a fresh outlook to the business, and are great for recruiting talent you know and trust. However, when you bring interns into your headquarters, it’s imperative that you convey the importance of your business and what is and isn’t acceptable. Each intern should understand that there’s no wiggle room for unethical behavior. You may even want to have your interns sign contracts, letting them know how serious you are and protecting your business.

And yet, there are a ton of stories about interns who messed up on the job.  Daniel Brusilovsky, who had an internship at tech publication TechCrunch, was one such horror intern that crossed the line. The up-and-coming writer was caught accepting gifts from startup founders in exchange for publishing stories about their businesses. The company was forced to issue an apology after news surfaced that the intern had attempted to solicit a MacBook Pro from an individual in exchange for an article.

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One Person, Many Hats: The Different Roles Of The Business Owner

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If you’re starting a business with a partner or two, it’s easy (and wise) to split responsibilities. The person with the better personal skills will handle the employees and the clients, while the more practically minded individual deals with all the inner-workings. When you’re starting a business on your own, however, you’re going to have to be able to cope with a much broader range of tasks and challenges. Here are four hats you need to be prepared to wear before you go into business alone.

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The leader

Unless you’re working for yourself, you’re going to have team members that look to you for leadership. What exactly does that mean? It means having to take responsibility, first and foremost. You must be able to commit to a direction and get the team on board. Then you must be able to be the one who accepts the blame if that direction proves wrong. Learning management skills to make sure your team is progressing to the same objectives is crucial.

The administrator

What informs those goals? A practical knowledge of the workings of the business. Being able to spot the business’s needs, its challenges, and changing how the team operates to face them is going to add the practicality to the context of your leadership. MBA online degrees are a tool used by many great leaders to give them the expertise they have to go with the drive and the motivation. Without it, you might be convincing, but you might not be leading your team in a way that makes sense.

The hype-man

It’s not all about the internal workings of the business, either. You have to be able to make a splash externally, too. Many of the communication skills of the leader are going to apply to a good hype-man and public figure in the business. You need personal charisma, but you also need a knowledge of how public relations and marketing works. Making use of social media, content creation, trade shows, and PR opportunities are essential to building the brand awareness that leads to more sales, more profit, and more growth.

The firefighter

You can’t assume that everything’s going to go smoothly, even with great planning, either. There will always be issues that crop up in business. Your ability to spot and solve problems is what is going to get you back on the right path time and time again. The steps to effective business problem solving include taking the time to properly analyze and issue, to update your understanding from different angles, and to be able to make decisions in prioritizing multiple solutions. Without that adaptability, many business leaders find themselves paralyzed by their first real test.

As the business grows, it may be possible that you’re able to shift some of those responsibilities to a team of leaders. However, it’s important that you learn how to take the reins whenever you need to. You will be the one to set the course, and you have to know how to right it when your team can’t.

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5 Essential Tools to Start Your Own Online Course Business

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Fumbling your way through the online goodie box of tools and applications is incredibly time-consuming.

You need one tool for each aspect of your online course business, so, how can you break your business down?

Your essential business tools fall into just three categories:

  • Course building platform

  • Course content

  • Marketing

Course Building Platform

Start by listing the features you want from your learning platform:

  • Simple – get your courses live faster

  • Integrated payments – you don’t need a merchant account

  • Mobile responsive –  that’s how people will view your course materials

  • Can be customized – your theme matches your branding

  • Community enabled – students can talk to one another

  • Can drip content – students keep coming back for the next segment

  • Custom URL – give you credibility

  • VAT compliance – essential for European business owners

Tool 1 – Kajabi

Your course building platform will determine the success of your business, so you cannot compromise on this.

The Kajabi course building platform has brought success to many entrepreneurs and could be what you are looking for.

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Kajabi has all the essential features listed above and many more, including; no branding option,  a built-in blog, upsells and affiliate program.

Course Content

Once you have decided on your course platform, you can need course content. And, for that, you need outstanding visual content.

You will need an image editor so you can add watermarks or your logo to any images you post to your social accounts. You will be posting many videos, so a video editing app is essential.

Tool 2a – Canva

Canva is popular because it is free and does what it is needed superbly.

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Canva has many fonts you can use to create memes to stimulate visual learners on your course. You can also post some course images share on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and followers will share them and help you reach more people. You can use your own images without charge, but even if you use Canva’s images, the costs are very low.

Tool 2b – Pablo by Buffer

If you use Buffer to control your social media posting then Buffer’s image editing app, Pablo, would be an excellent choice as your image editor

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Pablo helps you add text to any image so you can create inspirational or hilarious quotes that are likely to be shared. Image editing is as simple as dragging a crop box.

Tool 3 – Animoto

Video is no longer an option. Your marketing and course must use video clips because prospective clients expect them and they help many students to grasp key concepts.

You need more than just video clips from your phone if you want people to see you as professional.

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Animoto has a quick to learn interface and can give you the basics you need to look competent without the complications and options that make a program hard to grasp quickly.

Marketing

Your biz needs marketing just like a grill needs charcoal. Without marketing, you have no business.

You need to master both social media marketing and real-world marketing. Your blog is your most valuable social media tool, but you need frequent and engaging posts on the channels your prospective students use.

And you need real world social skills to convert social media leads into buyers.

Tool 4 – Buffer

Social media channels are where many of your leads will come from. However, posting four times a day to three channels will consume all your free time and energy.

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Buffer allows you to spend one hour a week scheduling your social posts for the week, which makes social media a tool to grow your business rather than somewhere you spend 40 hours a week instead of on activities that drive more immediate income.

Tool 5 – Toastmasters

Not everyone has the confidence to speak to large groups, or even to individuals, but these skills are an essential part of growing your business if you are to convert social media leads into customers and course buyers.

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Toastmasters offers training in public speaking, and there are groups everywhere, even in sparsely populated areas. Regular meetings are run according to a strict format, and the friendly atmosphere helps you to become confident in your public speaking abilities.

The Short Version

One of the pitfalls of running an online business is the sheer number of tools you are presented with that all profess to make the difference between success and failure. This GlowingStart.com article is a good guide to general business tools that are essential.

The most important decision when you build your online course business is your learning platform. You can economize and use free or freemium software for social media and image/video editing, but Kajabi is well worth its cost as a course platform because free options such as WordPress plugins are so dysfunctional.

 

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Functional, Free, And Future-proof Marketing

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Marketing has become somewhat of a buzzword in business. This field has become very important, since the rise of the Internet. Unlike in the past, companies can’t rely on people finding their business by walking into it. Instead, you have to bring people to your company, enticing them in with clever adverts and smart marketing. This process isn’t easy, though. A lot of small and new business waste money which they don’t need to spend, and ignore the free options right before them. To help you out with this, this post will be going through some of the options you have to help you with this. Free marketing is just a few clicks away, so it’s worth a read.

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  • Your Website

Every modern business has to have a good website. Without this resource, it’s almost impossible to draw new people to you. Getting your hands on a website isn’t as hard as you might think, though. With a service like WordPress and a couple of weeks of learning, it’s possible to create a great website which costs next to nothing. It’s not quite free, but once you have the skills under your belt and the website running, you’ll be able to keep it going into the future without having to pay any more. There are loads of resources out there which can help you with this. So, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to create something beautiful.

Once you have a good website, you need to have excellent SEO to work alongside it. Search engine optimization is important to a business because it helps to get their website higher in search rankings on sites like Google. There will have to be a small investment made here, using a company like https://ignitedigital.com/service/search-engine-optimizationseo/ to help you to get the work done. It’s worth using a professional to do this for you. Then, you can learn a little bit about SEO to update it for free in the future. This sort of work is one of the best ways to start getting new people to your site.

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  • Social Media

Social media has long been heralded as one of the best types of platform for marketing in the world. These services are free, even to business, if you don’t mind missing out on premium options. It’s important that your social media presence reflect your company as well as it can. Along with this, it needs to be consistent, with posts being regularly made and surrounding similar topics. Using a service like https://buffer.com/, you can have all of your posts made automatically. You just have to make the posts and then submit them to the robot for later submission. Methods like this are great because they are completely free, as long as you’re willing to spend a little bit of your time.

Hopefully, this post will help you to start taking advantage of the free marketing methods you have at your disposal. A lot of people don’t realize how important things like SEO and social media can be. But, without them to support your business, you will find it extremely hard to get new customers.

 

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Magnet Stickers & 5 Other Products To Help Your Promo Event Make A Lasting Impression

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Hosting a promotional event can be a wonderful to build interest around a new business or new products. Alternatively, it can be a fantastic way to boost sales after a slump. If you are going to take this option, though, you need to do it well.

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Finding the right marketing materials is essential for making this idea work. Let’s find out about six items that you should include on your big day.

#1. Magnet Stickers

 With custom magnets, you are providing your customers with something fun and memorable. Moreover, those small items aren’t intrusive on their lives. Instead, they sit on their fridges or other products to offer a constant reminder of the promotional day. In turn, that keeps your business fresh in their minds.

#2. USB Sticks

 In an ideal world, you want audiences to go home and continue their research into the business. A good website will certainly help your cause. However, you should give guests something physical to walk away too. Once upon a time, CDs were the obvious contender. Nowadays, though, a customized USB stick packed with relevant content is the answer.

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#3. Free Mugs

 Like magnets, free mugs are a small gesture that makes a big impact. The user can utilize this product on a daily basis, and seeing your logo will slowly influence their future decisions. Better still, you can get a large quantity produced for minimal outlay. T-shirts are another great option, but mugs are likely to last a lot longer. That increased action should result in a greater impact too.

#4. Eco-Friendly Materials

 Potential clients are continually forming opinions about the business during the promo event. Those judgments aren’t restricted to products and services. External matters like your responsibility can have a telling impact. Using recyclable packaging shows a caring nature. Meanwhile, similar sentiments can be used for your approach to event marketing banners and bunting. It may not feel like a big deal, but it gives consumers another reason to choose your company.

#5. Loyalty Cards

 The promotional day is likely to gain some sales, but the key to success is to encourage customers to keep coming back for more. Loyalty cards are a fantastic option, not least because you can gain their details for future email marketing. This is something that even the biggest companies use to gain more sales, so there’s no reason for you to ignore those rewards. Not only should you convert more customers, but the added excitement will generate increased purchases too.

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#6. Free Products

 Getting customers to feel excited about the business and its products is the main purpose of any marketing campaign. The promo event is no different. Giving out free products may seem counterproductive. If you’re selective, though, it can work wonders. Choose items where customers may come back for add-ons and accessories, and those future sales will cover those losses. Moreover, the fact that customers will feel that they’ve got value for money should encourage loyalty.

Of course, you’ll need to practice your public speaking and think about the follow ups too. Nonetheless, having the right products in place will remove some of the pressures. In turn, your chances of sustained success will look brighter than ever.

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The 3 Deadly Sins Small Businesses Make With Their Websites

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Small businesses can have a tough time. As a small business owner you will know the feeling that all areas of your business are down to you. You will have to wear many hats from logistics, to marketing to finance to business management. Whilst it is is not always easy to flit from one role to the other, it is essential that we are all investing time getting our heads around the different areas of our business and learning how to do it all effectively.

That is never more true than when it comes to our websites. As a small business, your website is one of the most crucial parts of your company. It represents your brand, underpins all your marketing and it positions your company to stand out from the crowd. Getting your website wrong can mean the difference between business success and business failure. There are many mistakes that small business owners are making due to the complex nature of getting websites right. Here are our list of three of the most common mistakes that small businesses are making when it comes to their websites, which can make all the difference between growth and decline.

Prioritising Urgency

It is natural to be slightly impatient to get all your hard work up online to show to the world what you are all about. However launching websites, due to concerns over time constraints, before they are ready to be launched, is one of the most common mistakes that small business owners make.

Any new website should be built from the ground up, starting with solid research and careful planning. So instead of worrying about getting your website finished, you must first be researching your industry, competitors and your target market. The design, structure and content of your website should then be constructed around your findings. If you are struggling to find the right design and content balance to reflect your findings then find a web designer who understands the needs of small business. It can be so easy to get the details of a website wrong depending on your target market as it is all in the fine tuning. Older demographics, for example require larger fonts, younger markets are becoming increasingly demanding and expect the best technology and browsing features. So make sure you are spending time getting to the heart of what your demographic want and need in a website and build yours around those objectives.

Confusing Design Elements

Another common mistake is to get carried away with the design of the website and end up with a style that is either too busy or a little bit too flashy. Online browsers rate ease of functionality and sleek, simple designs over over complicated and overly technical websites, so again make sure that you are not getting too carried away with your site.

When creating any website for the first time, it is easy to forget that you are going to need to create two different versions. One will be for laptop and computer viewing and the other will be a mobile phone version. As so many online users now search and browse from their mobile phones, it is essential that all websites are optimised for both versions. Flashy and over complicated websites with too many large photos or videos are not going to work well on more simple phone browser and will take forever to download. Meaning that online shoppers will get frustrated and go looking elsewhere.

No Call to Action

The whole concept of a ‘Call to Action’ can be somewhat reserved to marketing and copywriting experts. So it is natural and very common for small businesses, starting out, to oversee the importance of this feature. A call to action is a function that allows your visitors to do what you would like them to do once they have found your website. Whether that is to snap up that first time purchase 25% discount or whether it is downloading that free brochure to become part of your mailing list.

Therefore you must be spending time thinking about what it is exactly that you want visitors to do when they visit your site. The content of your site should always answer the consumer question ‘what is in this for me?’ and your call to action should always answer that by telling them what to do next. Your call to action will make all the difference between people clicking away, without taking any action, and between them making the action that you want them to take in order to gain new clients, build your reputation, boost sales and create a strong and long-lasting website and business.

 

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Protect Your Business for Life!

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So, you’ve done it – you’ve started your very own small business! It wasn’t easy; it took a lot of time and, probably, a worrying amount of money, but here you are. The problem, of course, is that you don’t just have to protect your business during its nascent stages – you’re going to need to protect it for life.

A lot of people get into entrepreneurship while greatly underestimating the many risks that can take place in the world of business. It’s essential to understand that starting a new business requires you to put a lot of effort into protecting your many investments. A lot of people neglect to do the sort of things we’re going to list in this article. Sometimes it’s because these things aren’t usually all that cheap, especially if you add up the cost of doing all of them. Some may also assume that their business won’t be in any danger – which is a foolhardy road to take for sure!

Here are the things you need to do to make sure your business is protected.

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Hire a lawyer

It is imperative that you have a good lawyer on hand at all times. It is best if you hire one before your business even comes to fruition, however, at the very least you should hire one after. A lawyer will be able to tell you the best and most legal way to approach all aspects of your business. They will also advise you on the best course of action, should you need legal representation. There are many commercial law firms that will offer you a consultation as to how you should move forward with your company.

Have a trust

A trust is a person or a group of people that can own property, business and many other assets. They can file tax returns on behalf of these possessions. It is a good legal plan to have a trust have ownership over certain aspects of your trade. It is easier to be the sole proprietor of your business, but, it also puts you at greater risk from lawsuits. A lawsuit directed at your company may result in the seizing or freezing of your personal assets if you are the only owner of your business. A trust will ensure that in the unfortunate event of you being sued, only some of your possessions will be in forfeit.

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Avoid libel or slander

It is very important to be careful about what you say and do, especially in public. The age of mobile phones and the Internet means that anything you say or do can be caught on camera and go viral very quickly. You are the face of your company and if you are held in disrepute so will your company. This also means distancing yourself from any clients or contacts that may not seem completely lawful. You may not be engaging in illegal activity yourself but your name will be forever linked with criminality!

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Get insurance

It might seem like a lot of money to have to pay every month but an insurance plan will come in useful in the event of an unfortunate accident. It can be something as simple as a client having an accident in your place of work or something more serious such as being accused of making a mistake. An insurance policy such as public liability insurance coverage will ensure that you are covered in all areas of your business should any unpleasant incident occur. You also have the option of insuring your assets against any legal action that may be taken against you or anyone in your company.

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Don’t do your own accounting

This is such a common error, and it’s one you need to avoid! So many people who have started up small businesses are doing their own accounting or bookkeeping. This may seem smart when things are extremely small-scale, but it’s not something that can work out in the long-term. The fact is that it’s a very time-consuming process, especially if you want to do it completely right and save as much money as possible. If you’re reluctant to hire a new full-time employee to do your accounting, then consider looking into getting the job outsourced. In general, outsourcing is something that can help protect your business because it can save you having to hire an entire team of full-time employees – something that cost a lot more than many people assume.

You can use the above information as a way to secure your business from any unfortunate events. It’s always better to be prepared to face any situation instead of being blindsided. A few, important steps and you will have peace of mind as to the state of your company.

 

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How to Start An Online Store For Free

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How to Start An Online Store (For Free)

Do you want to start your own online store, but haven’t got a lot of budget or time to play with? It’s true that building an ecommerce store can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you are not techy. Well, you’re by no means alone. First thing’s first – take a look at this checklist of all wannabe entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a fresh-faced budding online entrepreneur, or an established traditional retailer, this article will break the process of setting up your online store into digestible chunks. You’ll be up and running in no time at all, and you won’t have to spend a ton of money to get started either. Here’s how.

Keyword research is the first place to start

The importance of keyword research cannot be overstated —  it’s the best place to start when setting up an online business. Thorough keyword research will ensure that your store gets off to a good start and that it becomes profitable ASAP.

 

Keyword research will give you a real insight into the products you should stock, and the product categories that you should include to help guide users on their purchase journey. It will also offer information about the competitive landscape of your niche (and it’s all free!).

The method:

  • Think big – are there any particular industries or niches that you are interested in? Perhaps you already have experience or expertise in a particular vertical? Search for them in Google, and see what kind of products and sites come up. Don’t forget about the ‘related searches’ at the bottom of the page

 

  • Save all of your data in a spreadsheet. This will help you analyze it further down the line, and decide which products to stock

 

  • List all of the keywords that seem interesting to you. This may open your eyes to products and ideas you hadn’t even thought of before.

 

Google Keyword Planner, KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest are fantastic free tools at your disposal. Give them a go yourself, and see if the results reveal any high-demand product niches that you could sell online.

Choose an irresistible product offering

Now, you’ve done your keyword research and you’ve got some data about what people are actually searching for. Next, it’s time to get down to product selection and stock management.

 

  • Is there a healthy demand for the product online at the moment? You may be looking at products that fly off the shelves in a physical store, but the online market can be very different

 

  • Are you interested in the product? Passion does go a long way. If you are passionate about your product offering, you will find work less of a chore, and be more prepared to give your online business your all. It will have a greater chance of being successful and will help you manage more of the content production and marketing yourself

 

  • What are the profit margins for the product? They need to be healthy, and offer you a chance to grow the business in the future. Aim for high-ticket items rather than bargain products

 

  • Are your products available from a dropshipping supplier? Dropshipping is the savvy way to get into ecommerce with very little investment required. You only pay out for products once a customer submits an order, so you need very little money or budget up-front. In fact, all you really need is your laptop and a little time to set it up. Check out this guide to see how you can get started — including tips on how to manage multiple suppliers and customization.

 

Loving your product, and knowing that there’s a great demand for it, is a recipe for success. Here are some more ecommerce tips on how to embrace online selling for the first time.

Setting up your online shop

There are so many ways to get your online store up and running once you’ve settled on your products and made a start with your brand story.

 

There are a couple of things that you should look out for to make sure you pick the right ecommerce option for you:

 

  • Confused about which ecommerce service is the best for you? There are many review websites comparing ecommerce platforms out there; third-party reviews are one of the best ways to get impartial and reliable insight into how these platforms work. You can start using most ecommerce builders for free during a trial period, so use this time wisely to see which one suits you the best. Ecommerce builders also come with a selection of free themes for you to choose from to give your store a professional edge on a budget

  • A minimal and consistent site UX (user experience), with the potential for a mobile responsive theme is really important as over 59% of online purchases were on mobile devices last year — make sure that mobile is factored into your online store design

  • If you’re looking for a free and fast way to design a logo for your ecommerce site, you should have a go on Graphic Springs, a tool that is perfect for the first-time business owner operating on a tight budget. As well as a logo, think about how your site content is going to help contribute to your overall brand story

  • You should also consider whether selling on marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay is an option for you — it can be a cheap way of bringing in extra revenue.

 

Are you planning on setting up an online shop anytime soon? Will you give any of these free options and trial periods a go? Tell us about your experiences and roadblocks you’ve encountered along the way!

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Patrick Foster – Ecommerce entrepreneur & coach

Patrick is an ecommerce entrepreneur turned coach. He writes for a plethora of digital publications, and loves sharing his raw, honest experiences with others looking to make it in the industry.

 

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