Save Money in the First Year of Business Without Breaking the Piggy Bank

So, you’ve found your dream business and you’re ready to get started. You have all the skills you need to get going and your prospects for the future look bright. There’s only one thing standing in your way — money. The first year of business is renowned for being financially tough and many first-time business owners won’t take home much of a wage until the business is established. However, there are few ways you can save money during your first year if you’re on a tight budget. Here’s how you can do it.

Bartering

As a new business, there will be plenty of things you need. You’ll need to make connections with suppliers, whether they’re supplying your products at cost price or just filling up your cabinets with stationery.

There will be a few businesses that are willing to barter if you have something you can offer in return. That way, you won’t be spending your profits on supplies, so you’ll have a much bigger budget for advertising and marketing. Here are another 4 simple business methods to make your life easier.

Hiring Staff

In the first year of business, the last thing you need is to be paying out wages that are unnecessary. So, if you can do the job yourself instead of hiring someone else to do it, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. If you find you can’t do without the staff, consider advertising volunteer or apprentice positions.

That way, you keep your costs down and your staff gain valuable experience in the industry and what it takes to build a business from scratch. If you need to hire staff with specific skills, like graphic designers or content writers for your website, consider outsourcing the work instead of hiring a permanent member of staff.

That way, you’re only paying for services when you really need them.

Buy in Bulk

When you initially start a business, there will be lots of things you’ll need to use constantly, like paper and printer ink. The last thing you want to find is that you’ve run out of these vital items while you’re trying to work. You can often save money by buying these items in bulk from warehouses and storing them away until they’re needed. In the long run, in makes more financial sense than buying items as and when you run out.

Work Online

You don’t need a fancy office to start a business these days. In fact, most of the time all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. You can save a lot of money by opening an online business and there are often few start-up costs.

For example, becoming a freelance writer doesn’t require much financial input; just a lot of time and patience. By setting up a business online, you can work anywhere you want — from home, the local coffee shop, in a hotel room. Many WiFi connections are free, and you can often claim tax back on your home internet connection.

However you choose to save during your first year, you can be sure it will help your business to flourish.

4 Priceless Steps to Contract Creation

As a business owner, employees are the lifeblood of the company. Without them, there is no way a firm can be successful. To get them onside, a contract is essential as it legally binds them to the company. Until the agreement runs out, the worker is a member of the team and can’t leave without your permission. As you can tell, a deal has to be rock solid. Not only are there dozens of variables, but there are lots of loopholes, too. Make one mistake and the contract isn’t worth the paper on which it’s written.

With that in mind, below are four priceless steps to consider when drawing up a contract.

List The Non-Negotiables

Every business has lines they will not cross. For example, some employers need their employees to be on time and can’t allow flexible working hours. Other companies have a small budget and can’t go over a certain amount regarding wages.

Because organisations are unique, there are different non-negotiable elements for separate firms. As the saying goes, it’s horse for courses. To figure out which ones mean the most, make sure to write them down on a piece of paper or a word document.

It seems like a basic move yet it will stop you from forgetting them and ensure they get added to the contract.

Outsource

When it comes to drawing up a deal, there is no reason to do the heavy lifting alone. For one thing, it’s as cheap to outsource to a third-party. For another, it negates the fact that you don’t have a clue how to create a contract in the first place! Agencies, on the other hand, have skill and experience and will hit the nail on the head.

Like all outsourcing options, it’s vital to choose wisely. Otherwise, the contract will be a dud and the money a waste. Online reviews are a fantastic place to start, such as these Peninsula business reviews on Facebook. Another option is to ask a peer for advice.

If they have a recommendation, you know it’s trustworthy.

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Hire A Lawyer

An employer needs to know that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed. A legal expert will go through the document with a fine tooth comb to spot any errors or potential problem areas. With your list of “demands,” a lawyer also has a reference point to refer back to.

Why is a lawyer necessary if an outsourcer draws up an agreement? Well, it’s always wise to get a second opinion. A fresh pair of eyes may spot something an employment recruiter didn’t.

Get Ready To Negotiate

Just because it’s a contract which suits the firm doesn’t mean it’s the final draft. A savvy employee will double-check and make amendments where possible. Of course, you want as few changes as possible, which is where haggling comes into play. The key is to give them something they want yet doesn’t make a difference to the company. And, also make it seem as if you are doing them a huge favour.

Businesses have to draw up contracts at some point, and they can’t afford to make mistakes.

These 3 Things Will Make or Break Your Online Store

An online business is arguably the easiest and simplest way of starting a company in today’s climate. You don’t have to worry about all the usual upfront capital investment like finding a business premises, storage, etc. Plus it’s an idea that can be operated from the comfort of your home. In the first year or so, it’s typically an idea that you can do all on your own until you’re in a position to scale. All it takes is deciding on your product or service (or both), setting up an online store, and working out an easy shipping strategy that works for your customers and you.

All that aside, success doesn’t come easily. Many things can make or break your online store. Obviously, you want to ensure they make it and don’t break it. Here are a few things worth considering when establishing an online store and delivery system.

Your Website Design is Crucial

To start things off, we have to look at the design of your website. Naturally, as an online store, you’re going to need an ecommerce site instead of a traditional one. This means you can showcase all your products in an online catalog, making it easy for everyone to see. Consider looking at a comparison of the best ecommerce website builders to figure out which one is best for you. Choose a builder that helps you design a site that looks modern, loads quickly, and is incredibly responsive.

Loading times are especially important as consumers don’t want to wait long to see your products load up. Likewise, a responsive site means items get added to shopping carts quickly as soon as a button is clicked. Again, no one wants to spend ages clicking a button to try to add something to their cart. They’ll click over and over again until the button finally responds, but adds multiple quantities of that same item. This is something everyone has experienced at some point on various ecommerce sites that are just too buggy. Believe me, it’s been known to ruin the entire shopping experience, resulting in the customer not returning to the site — not even when there’s a sale.

Good web design will make your online store appeal to consumers way more than bad web design will. After all, your site is essentially the main platform for your business. It’s your online store, so you must treat it with the same respect and attention you would with a regular store.

Image Credit: Fast Co.Exist
Effective Delivery Means the World to Customers

When you buy something online, you tend to look at one thing before making your purchase; the delivery methods. These mean a lot to consumers as they essentially determine how long it takes for your products to get to them. Ideally, you need delivery methods that ensure fast delivery speeds are possible. People want things quickly, no one like waiting around for their goods. Next-day delivery can go a long way to keeping customers satisfied while drawing in some new ones too.

You want to avoid delivery methods that mean your goods take a good few days before they’re delivered. If your items are taking over a week to get to somewhere in the same country, then you’re going to struggle to find customers.

Likewise, delivery can’t cost too much, or it puts people off. This is where you really have to work hard to find the right balance between cost and speed. People will pay a little bit for delivery if it means their products get to them faster. They’re unwilling to pay for delivery if they don’t see anything for a good few days. If possible, find a delivery method that allows you to offer free standard delivery — products are delivered in a few days — and paid next day delivery. This gives you a good balance, and your customers should be kept happy.

Secure Connection Protects Sensitive Information

Finally, you have to take into account the connection on your website. We’ve spoken about its design, but the connection is arguably more important. To put it simply, you need a secure connection to protect any sensitive information your customers share on your site. This includes payment information, delivery details, and so on. If your online store has a secure connection, it will say so next to the URL address.

If consumers see ‘Not Secure’ displayed up there, they’ll think your site is dodgy and will not buy anything.

Think about it, why would you risk putting your credit card or other payment details into a site without a secure connection? It’s crazy to even suggest people would do this. Make your connection secure, it doesn’t take long, and it’s a simple step to make or break your business.

For a small business idea, an online store can present big results. But, this will only happen if you set everything up properly. Consider these three things as they’re very important to the overall success of your online store.

4 Simple Business Methods to Make Your Life Easier

Business is hard. There are no two ways about it. Striving for relevance is one thing, but striving for dominance is another. Going for both of these will take internal grit, the correct systems being set up, and a workforce to envy. But despite pursuing all of these fundamentals of success, it’s easy to make your entire operation too complex as time wears on. Before long, diminishing returns in efficiency might be experienced if you neglect to constantly refine your operation.

We’d like to suggest four simple business methods to make your life easier. Implementing these will hopefully help you avoid difficulties sometimes faced in your struggle to grow.

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Cloud Computing

While total security is definitely found within lock-and-key storage, the online world no longer allows business to completely operate this way. Not only does it waste your time in communication and administration, but it can demotivate employees who know there are better alternatives available.

For that reason, implementing cloud computing support by Prosyn is the best way to divulge and send important files where they need to be. Here you can add administrators, departments and employees, and allow them to view online the necessary files they need. With the right service provider, this can be as secure, if not more so than any other solution you have.

Scheduling Well

Your employee schedules are not always likely to be limited to the 9-5 office hours. You may have night shifts during busy sales periods, or overtime. Don’t be afraid to list this clearly in the contract of new employees. If you do this, you must be sure that your scheduling is absolutely correct, and supports your salary or hourly payment system well.

Keeping track of the hours with the correct software suite is important, as there’s no faster way to demotivate an employee than to make them believe their extra efforts haven’t been noticed.

Close-up of Coffee Cup

Caffeine Love

Caffeine is the close ally and bonding companion of anyone who works a hard job or manages a team. Make sure you spend the necessary allowance on refreshments such as this in the office. Not only is this a low-cost way of making your staff happier, but they’ll become more effective and alert as a result.

Communication is Key

Great communication is the key asset a successful business will have over a failing one. Every one of your employees should never be in the dark or unsure of how they should proceed. Not only that, but bad communication can lead to completely wrong understandings, leading your managers and employees in directions you never intended for them to go. When hiring new staff, bad communication can leave an employee unsure and feeling awkward in their surroundings, not exactly the feeling you want to promote when someone is coming to apply their skills to your firm.

Standardise your employee training videos, develop and invest in yourself and staff’s interpersonal communication skills, as well as public speaking ability. These investments will pay off big time in the future, especially when considering that even the lowliest employee is an ambassador for your brand.

With these tips, you can be sure that your business life and road to success is much less rocky.

Becoming a Versatile, Capable, and Awake Business Leader

Becoming a great business leader does not happen overnight. While some people are born leaders, and some people learn the process, that doesn’t mean that if you have the entrepreneurial instinct, you should ever feel worried about achieving it yourself.

There are a few things any aspiring business leader can do to optimise their performance however. You should look at yourself as the main asset of your business. With an asset, you need to maintain and take care of it in order to make sure it’s always functioning as intended, not matter what category it falls into. So why treat yourself any different? Consider this a business expense.

Consider using the following tips below to help you become the leader you’ve always wanted to be:

UK Entrepreneur James Caan | Image Credit: LinkedIn
Nootropics

Nootropics are the new trend in healthcare supplementation. They effectively help your brain our with all of the nutrients and vital minerals it needs to succeed. During the standard day of the CEO, you will find your attention being drawn in so many different places at once that it’s not uncommon to feel at least a little worn out at all times.

Nootropics can help you feel more alert, compute things slightly faster, and have a better memory. Couple this with staying away from toxifying elements such as alcohol or nicotine, and you’re in for a health resurgence, which will directly translate to your energy and awareness levels on the job.

Correct Eating

The way you eat isn’t simply a helpful habit to keep when maintaining energy levels. They can directly translate into how lethargic or attentive you feel on the job. At the very least, trying le vel thrive vitamin drinks can help you get that performance boost during your long hours.

Mental Relaxation

As a CEO or business leader, you have many, many things to worry about. So much so that they can bleed into your personal time, or at least what little of it you have. It’s important for this reason to make sure you relax as you should. Meditation can help you avoid the constant thought loops that continually make you worried or anxious about a select business meeting.

It can also help you thrive and stay calm under pressure, and that will allow your best thinking to come forward, and prevent you making any stressful mistakes.

It will also allow you to listen to those under you effectively, as the best managers balance giving instruction with really listening, and we mean deep listening. This is the best way to find out what errors or difficulties are occurring within your company, and will give you the best and most time efficient platform to deal with them.

The best way to become a versatile, capable, and awake business leader is to treat yourself as you already are one. Consider yourself a premium asset, and you’ll slowly start treating yourself as a resource, maintaining yourself where necessary, and applying yourself effectively where needs must.

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Starting a Home Business? How to Prepare Your House!

If you’ve found this website, there’s a fair chance that you run a small business, or it’s something you’ve dreamed of. Am I right? Well, thanks to the advancements of the internet, starting a business from home, either selling a product or offering a service, is a very real possibility for many of us. You no longer need investments or a massive cash injection to start your own business. You can set up from your spare room, and all you really need is a fantastic idea and a bit of a plan.

Working from home can be amazing. It gives you the opportunity to work around your family or other commitments, make something for yourself from nothing and be a truly successful businessman or women, even if you’ve got little to no experience of the business world.

However, if you are looking to start-up from home, there are some things that you need to consider. Without careful preparation, your home will become overrun with stock, your work life balance ruined, and you could find that your business is breaking laws by not being registered, insured and protected correctly. So, to make sure you can run a successful business from home, here are a few changes your house needs to go through first.

You’ll Need a Workspace

One of the hardest things about working from home is getting into the right mindset. When you’re not travelling to a designated work environment, it can be tough both getting into the right headspace to work productively and leaving it behind when you’ve finished for the day.

The best thing to do is create a specific workspace. What do you need? For many working from home, all it takes is setting up a cool home office in the spare room. However, you may also need a working kitchen, a storeroom and a studio.

Make a floor plan of your home and play around with creating the areas you need without disrupting family life too much. Garages, lofts and basements make excellent options.

Think About Security

If you are a freelancer, working online, all you need to consider is cyber-security. But, if you keep stock and cash at home you’ll want to make sure your home is exceptionally safe. Install good Video Surveillance, a safe, and some Smart home security systems.

Research the Laws Surrounding Your Business

Legislation is something that many people neglect when they start-up from home. However, you really can’t afford to. If you work with food, you’ll need health and safety and food hygiene certificates. Alternatively, if you provide a service to the public, such as beauty treatments or alternative healthcare, you may need liability insurance. Do your research and apply for everything you need.

Presentation is Key

If you plan on meeting clients or bringing customers into your home, you need to present it well. Remember, they won’t come straight into the office. Your hallway and the route to the office need to be tidy and well-presented too.

Being able to run your business from the comfort of your own home gives you an excellent opportunity. Just make sure you, and your home, are prepared for any changes that you need to make first.

Backed Up Feedback to Supplement Growth Decision-making

For any small business owner, stepping in the right direction when it comes to improving your business cannot be approached so nonchalantly. Big businesses have so many funds and staff at their disposal; they can afford to spread their manpower out, and supply money to different avenues to grow and expand. But, for a small to medium size business owner, your choices aren’t necessarily cut down, but your logistical approach certainly is.

The time is taken to get just one aspect of growth right and this will depend on how much you’re focusing on it. Without the proper knowledge and factual evidence like statistics, word on the high street, and mood in the market, you’re swimming blindly in an ocean. Therefore it’s only right and thoughtful to use feedback which is backed up credibly, to make decisions to grow.

People Sitting Watching In The Theater

Conferences, interviews and stocks

Big business is almost like an elite club. Everyone talks to each other much more openly and less formally because family names and faces tend to bond with one another while making a lot of profit. For small businesses, they don’t have access to this knowledge shared among the big boys in their respective industries.

However, you can watch and go to conferences that talk about the upcoming and current issues and concerns in your market. Experts and large corporation CEOs often attend their conferences to have audience members ask them questions. You can watch interviews with experts and industry analysts online on such sites such as Bloomberg.

You never know, they might answer a burning question you have in your mind. Watching stock prices go and down, and studying the pattern of why and when can help you make decisions for your business regarding which route to follow due to its popularity at any one given time.

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Track your business web

The mood on the high street is sometimes easily sensed due to spurts in sales and an influx in the number of customers. However, detecting subtle changes before they spiral into larger manifestations for your business can also be done with network analytics.

In the form of business intelligence, you’ll be able to integrate your layer data that provides a solution to understanding how critical business events occur and what may be ahead in future. At your fingertips, you also have a context-driven insight. Who, when and what telemetry of your products and customers can all be correlated from a variety of sources to provide you with an intuitive understanding of your own network and business operations.

Tracking the data that goes through your website and makes up for the various patterns, shifts in interests and combining it with the wider market, can help you make decisions such as backing one product or service over the other to make a maximum profit during a heightened market trend.

It’s incredibly valuable to know that you do have information at your fingertips and it can be used to further your business. Making tough decisions can become slightly easier when you have feedback that is propped up with statistics and factual evidence of consumer moods.

How Can You Make Your Business Stand Out?

To start a business in this day and age, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. However, you do need to make sure your business is unique enough to stand out. This doesn’t mean coming up with something totally brand new that has never, ever been seen before (not that this won’t work, it just isn’t necessary). It means differentiating yourself from similar businesses in your industry.

Below are some tips to help ensure your business is standing out against an ocean of similar and competitive businesses out there.

Deliver the Best Service Imaginable

One of the best ways to make your business stand out is to deliver the best service imaginable to your customers. If you have a laser focus on offering the best customer service, the news will quickly spread and you can bet a torrent of new customers will come at you in no time.

Make sure you do all you can to improve your process and communication with the customer. Put yourself in their shoes — make sure you actually listen to them too. Make them feel important and make your business all about them. This is how you make your business stand out.

Image Credit: Pexels
Make Something About Your Service/Product Unique

You don’t need to make something never been seen before, but you should make something about your product or service unique. For example, you could offer a free personalisation service. This will work for many products and offerings. All you need to do is make sure you have the right equipment, or person on hand if you’re going to outsource.

You can start making your decision by looking at this boss laser review. There are lots of other ways to make your product or service unique, so make sure you figure out how best to do this for your unique business.

Create a Powerful Guarantee

A powerful guarantee will make people feel like they have nothing to lose by working with you. What can you offer? It’ll show just how confident you are in your product and or service.

Become a Social Business

Social businesses get the best response. This is how you show that you’re a genuine, trustworthy business these days. It’s also how you establish yourself as a top business in your niche. Share your expertise! You can do this with a blog, vlog, or both.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re creating unique and helpful content that your audience will keep coming back for. Answer questions and respond to your customers in a timely manner too. Don’t just go for the hard sell — be social. You’ll build better relationships this way.

Be as Transparent as Possible

One of the best things a new business can do is be transparent. Communication is key with customers, but they’ll be able to see right through you if you’re not genuine. Admit mistakes, if something comes up. They’ll respect you a lot more.

How else do you think you can make your business stand out? Leave your thoughts below!

Here Are 4 Places You Should Be Talking about Your New Product

Launching a new product is an exciting time for a business. A product launch is usually accompanied by a marketing blitz, designed to ensure the general public know about your new innovation and are desperate to get their hands on it by the time it goes on sale. This marketing blitz is all well and good, but a nice digital campaign and a few ads aren’t going to cut it if you want your new product to really make a splash.

Image Credit: Pexels

If you want your new idea to get into the hearts and minds of consumers, you’re going to need to talk about it. Put yourself out there, talking and engaging with the public, showcasing what your company has produced, and showing you’re proud enough of it to take to the road to show it off. This kind of strategy might be seen as old school, but it’s still surprisingly effective.

When you accept you’re going to need to use your voice to promote your product, the next question becomes: where should you be talking about your product? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use local radio to your advantage

Local radio is always a good option for any business. It offers you access to a niche demographic, which is especially useful if your product is targeting older customers. Local radio stations tend to like to get involved in the promotion of small businesses, so call the station manager and see if they might be interested in working with you.

Image Credit: Flickr
The tradeshow captive audience

Tradeshows are the perfect venue if you want your message to reach a large number of people in a relatively short amount of time. They’re relatively easy to organise, too; all you need is to put together informational and engaging trade show displays and then get out and sell like you never have before. Even if a customer doesn’t buy from you on the spot, they may remember your company and eventually become a customer in the future.

Gary Vaynerchuk in the streets of New York City | Image Credit: GaryVaynerchuk.com
The hidden gem of video marketing

Video marketing isn’t as well-known as the more conventional text-based marketing, but it’s surprisingly useful. If you’re comfortable in front of the camera, record a few videos extolling the virtues of your product. You can also send free products to well-known vloggers, who may then feature you in an upcoming video.

Get friendly journalists

You probably know that when launching a new product you’re going to need to publish a press release, but did you also know you should follow-up that press release with a phone call? Keep it light and friendly, asking if they received the press release, and if they might be interested in seeing or featuring the product.

Just ensure that you leave a decent amount of time — at least a week — between sending the product and making the call; you don’t want a journalist to feel like you’re being too pushy.

Your voice is one of the most powerful promotional tools that you have at your disposal — so don’t be afraid to use it.

The Buck Stops with You — Responsibility for Business Owners

Businesses should be responsible.

When you read that sentence, what do you think that “responsible” means in this context? Different people will have different answers; some will say that this means businesses have to be environmentally responsible, others will say that businesses are responsible for taking care of their finances. Neither answer is wrong, but there’s another type of “responsible” that you may want to consider: the responsibility you have when things go wrong.

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A business that is responsible for its own mistakes is a business that can be trusted. When businesses try to pass the buck and absolve themselves of blame, they can ruin their reputation with breathtaking speed. Below, let’s explore three areas where you have to be willing to take responsibility for any issues that your business has caused, as well as the steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Rogue distributors

If you make your own products which you then sell to distributors, you will be required to set a minimum advertised price (MAP). This is the lowest price that distributors are allowed to sell your products.

There are numerous reasons a distributor might be tempted to go rogue and advertise your products for a lower price. They might want to generate more interest, undercut their competitors, or just make a quick sale. Whatever their reason, it’s wrong, and all the other distributors you sell to will be furious if another company is violating the MAP.

If this happens, then you need to take responsibility for the rogue distributor, even though it’s not really your fault. The distributor is at fault, but you have to take the fall on this one. Apologise, assure the annoyed distributors you’re going to be working with the likes of Trade Vitality to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and move on.

Image Credit: Pexels
Discourteous employees

All business owners want to get the most out of their employees and encourage them to do well; they’re a vital part of your business. If you hear a report from a customer that an employee has been discourteous or not performed correctly, then your first instinct might be to defend the employee.

This isn’t a good idea, and can actually make the customer angry. Even if you think the customer is wrong, just issue an apology and say the matter will be dealt with. As the boss, it’s your job to be responsible for hiring the right staff. So if one of your employees messes up then sometimes you need to take the blame to ensure immediate damage control.

Speak to the employee in question and ensure they know the situation cannot be allowed to repeat itself.

Technical problems

If a customer wants to visit your site and finds that it’s crashed, they’re going to be annoyed. In this circumstance, you could blame your web host — they are, after all, the ones who are having the issue.

However — as with point two — it’s your responsibility as the business owner to choose a good web host. The same applies across all tech glitches, from ordering problems to delivery snafus — you have to own them. Anything other response will just make customers more irate.

By taking responsibility in the above areas of your business, you will give the impression of a business owner who is able to deal with issues without passing the buck. This, in turn, will make you seem more competent and in control — exactly the way that you want your customers to think of you.