3 Ways Your Business Can Help People in Their Everyday Lives

Above all, you should aim to start a business that is really going to help people in a positive and engaging way. This can be difficult to get right quickly, but it is vital if you want to draw in as many customers as possible and get your business off to a really strong start. Fortunately, there are many industries and types of business which you can go to if you want to help people as much as possible, and that is what we are going to look at today. What are some of the ways that your business can help others in their everyday lives?

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By Helping in a Time of Crisis

Sometimes, just about the worst thing you can imagine happens, and when that is the case you might need the help of someone professional. If you can place your business in the gap that is created in that situation, you might be able to ensure a much stronger future for your business on the whole.

It might be that you use flood damage leads to find customers who are in real dire need of some immediate assistance. Or maybe you are going to go out of your way to start a charity business that helps those in famine, or in areas of constant warfare. However you do it, this can be one of the more noble approaches to business, so it is well worth considering if you are thinking of how to start your next business.

By Offering Something New

Often, the most successful businesses are those which offer something entirely new, something which solves a problem which has existed for a long time. Sometimes, the problem was so ubiquitous that hardly anyone even noticed it, until a business came along to show everyone a better way. If you think you would like to start a business of this kind, then you will need to have a strong head for new and bold creative ideas.

It is extremely difficult to solve a long-existing problem, but if you can manage it you can probably be certain of a long-running and extremely successful business. With that in mind, you might decide that it is actually worth the effort, and the risk, involved in starting such a business. Offer something new, and you are bound to do fairly well at least.

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By Replacing an Old Service with a Better One

It’s not always about coming up with a solution to an old problem, however. It might be that there is already some kind of service out there, but you believe that you could reasonably do better in offering a completely different kind of service towards the same ends.

This can be remarkably effective, especially if you genuinely believe that you are able to do much better than the pre-existing services which are out there. With this, you do want to be a little careful not to tread on any toes. By all means provoke some competition, but try not to get into any legal trouble.

Don’t Be a Lonely Business — Make Some Friends!

When was the last time you shook hands with your competitors? Never? Well, that’s a shame, because many of the top businesses are, while competitors, quite friendly with each other. It almost seems counter-intuitive to speak with local businesses because there’s a big chance that they’ll steal your ideas or ask you to leave. Since both those options are undesirable, we’ve come up with the ultimate solution for any business that doesn’t want to operate alone: make some friends!

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How to make friends as a business

Making friends as a business is relatively simple. First, try to pick an event where your competitors, investors or relatable businesses will attend. These events and public spaces are not only a great way of getting your products and services out into the open, but they’re also great for networking. Simply scoot over and speak to random people and you’ll find hundreds of people who are more than willing to share industry know-how or gossip.

Ensure you give them links to your professional profile on social media websites such as LinkedIn and stay connected by chatting on a regular basis. You might be able to sort out deals in the future, learn something new from them or even size up the competition to analyse what you’re up against in the industry.

What advantages does it offer me?

Making friends as a business comes with many cool advantages. For starters, you can connect with people for the sake of freelancing or outsourcing. For example, if you make friends with an outsourced IT support company, then they’ll most likely send over the same people to help you fix your computers. This comes with several advantages.

For starters, it means you’ll get to know your temporary employee and they’ll spend less time figuring out your business’s network infrastructure or computer layouts, meaning they can finish the job more efficiently than someone who is new to your business. In the case of freelancers, if you befriend one then they’re more likely to give you priority on your commission requests. They may even be persuaded to work for you full-time if you can offer them a competitive salary, benefits and a career path.

Making friends with other businesses can also open up ideas for cooperation and joint promotional campaigns. If you’ve ever seen tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft or Sony partner up with other smaller businesses, then you’ll understand how important that exposure alongside a well-known brand is when promoting your company.

Are there any downsides?

As a startup, networking shouldn’t be such as huge priority on your list because, without a solid lineup of products or a trusted service to offer, you won’t be a business worth talking about or making friends with. At the end of the day, friendship isn’t the only thing that will get you friends in the world of business—you also need to be useful to them. Whether you offer a service that other companies need or if you can be turned into an ally instead of a competitor, you’re more likely to make business friends if your company can offer something back in return.

Your Food Retail Business: What Customers Want

Of all the many kinds of business that you can run, it can be difficult to choose between them. This can be especially true when you are just starting out, as you don’t have the necessary experience to know what is likely to work and what is not so likely.

However, there are certain industries where you have a fair chance of going for something that will at least from a reputable business pretty quick. One particular example of this is the food and drink retail industry. People are always going to need food, and as long as you can provide a relatively competitive framework, there is no reason your business won’t succeed. Let’s have a look at how to ensure your food business really booms.

Decide on a Model

There are a million ways to sell anything, and that definitely includes food. When you are setting out in this, you will need to know quite clearly what kind of model your business is going to use. It is only when you know your model that you can expect to begin selling. You want to go for something that you have faith will work in your area. All businesses begin local, and thinking locally will help ensure that yours gets off on the right foot. It might be that you want to run a budget supermarket, catering to those who are unable to afford some of the upper class supermarkets. Or you might just want to run a little bistro selling only your own goods. Whatever way you do it, decide on it early and stick with it.

Take Care of Your Products

The food that you sell is paramount for your success to really happen, so you need to take care in your products from the very start. Treat each product well, and you will find that it makes a huge difference. Try not to rush anything through the development stages — if you do this, you might find that you end up with products which are not really suitable at all. One of the most important parts is the packaging — you need to make sure that you have got it just right for each product, keeping it as specific as possible. This means using proper coffee pouches for your coffee, the right shaped pods for ready meals, vacuum packed bags for crisps, and so on. Everything has its own kind of packaging for a reason, so be sure to remember that and treat each product with respect.

Listen to Your Customer

As we all know, the customer is always right and it was actually in the world of food retail that this idiom began. It’s true — if you want to succeed, you should run your business as though the customer is always right. You will find that this makes a huge difference to how well you do on the whole, and you can make it much easier to keep your customer happy. With any luck, you will soon be booming like you never imagined.

The Little Things That Can Make A Big Difference To The Success Of Your Business

Are you adamant that your business is going to be a success? If you are, you’re not alone. Each week, thousands of new companies launch, with each new business owner sure that their brand will be the next big thing. Business is all about understanding what’s important and what isn’t. The problem is that there are a lot of ‘small’ things that many entrepreneurs dismiss as being unimportant. When actually, they can have a big impact on the success of your brand. To give you an idea of what these are, below is a list of some of the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to how successful you are.

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Your company website

Everyone knows that a website is one of the most crucial tools for a business. What not all entrepreneurs are aware of, however, is how important the design and layout of the site is. If a website runs slowly, is confusing, and is complex to use, it puts people off. If this is the case, you’ll lose customers to companies with easy-to-use sites. That’s why it’s so important to get your company website right. Before you launch it, get some outside opinions on your site and how it works. Take note of any feedback to ensure that your website is as effective and easy-to-use as possible.

The payment processes in place

If the payment processes that you have in place in store and online are complex, again it will put people off. You need to ensure that not only are your payment processes simple but also that they are inclusive. For instance, PayPal has become a popular payment method, so it pays to have this as an option on your website. You could even offer it in store, all you’ll need is a PayPal card reader. These are a fantastic tool to have, especially as they can be used anywhere. So whether payment is being made in-store or while at a business meeting, it’s quick and simple. Many startups avoid allowing payment made via credit cards because of the added cost that comes with it. However, by investing in credit card processing, your company can accept payments from any card. This will increase your chances of success, so it’s something that’s more than worth doing.

How you reward your customers

Many businesses don’t even consider rewarding their customers when they first launch. However, although a small thing, rewarding customers means that they’re twice as likely to buy from you or use your services again. So offering a reward scheme for your customers is definitely something that’s worth considering. The best reward schemes are the ones that encourage clients to keep coming back. Such as the ones that give money-off coupons and custom-made deals and discounts, and so on.

So there you have it, a guide to the little things that can make a big difference to the success of your business. If you want to ensure that your business has the best chance of becoming a prosperous brand, take note of the tips and suggestions above.

Scratch “Fake It” and Instead Chase It until You Make It as Entrepreneurs

You don’t need to be constantly broke to be distinguished as an entrepreneur. Most people begin their path to entrepreneurship with just an idea that they eventually turn into a business.

Mark Zuckerberg was an inventor and developer when he created Facebook. It was not until Sean Parker’s entry as president that Facebook became a business and Mark could then be considered an entrepreneur.

Some begin with lots of capital in their bank accounts and just a desire and passion to pursue a dream. Entrepreneurship isn’t some badge that’s given to a select or chosen few. Anyone can be an entrepreneur.

Just remember, it’s not where you start that matters, it’s the execution of your idea to fruition that counts.

10 Ways for You to Approach a New Year of Business

The start of a new year can be both exciting and daunting (mostly the latter) as you again set out your goals for the next 365 days.

I prefer latching on to the excitement of a new beginning as it comes with energy, positivity and a renewed purpose. Look ahead to the unforeseen and relish the thought of the innumerable opportunities that await you and your business venture.

Appreciate each day that you are given and use every minute to cultivate new habits that will help to propel you forward. Read more.

Life is filled with unpredictable moments and even the best laid plans sometimes get thwarted. Do not be deterred by disappointment. It’s all a part of the journey and the upside is, each one of those bad moments comes with its own valuable lessons.

In my previous blog I shared entrepreneurial lessons I had deciphered from Virgin Founder Richard Branson’s autobiography, ‘Losing My Virginity’. Here are 10 more that I picked out to help both you and your business thrive in 2015 in no particular order:

  1. Your reputation is the most valuable asset you will ever acquire; protect it;
  2. In order of importance, your employees come before your customers;
  3. Know when your luck has run out and walk away with your life intact;
  4. You will be more passionate about a business venture when it involves fun;
  5. Part ways with business partners and save your friendship when your singular vision for the future become different;
  6. A parachute and a life jacket are good for longevity in business;
  7. Start small and scale as you see the opportunities;
  8. Bootstrap (fund) your own projects when you cannot get any loans or raise venture capital;
  9. Build a brand, not just a company;
  10. Growth is not achieved in a straight line, but a series of short advances and retreats.

James Dyson: His Inventions Have Never “Sucked”!

When you think of the word innovation, which entrepreneur comes to mind? Was one of those names Steve Jobs? Maybe even Richard Branson or hot-shot modern day “Iron Man”, Elon Musk? But there’s one man who is a leader in innovation and who in my opinion doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves.

Sir James Dyson is a British inventor, engineer, designer, and business leader and perhaps best known for his vacuums that it “will never lose suction” and his bladeless fan under his private company, Dyson Limited (founded in 1993). The mere thought of both inventions is enough to end this blog at this line. There are very few entrepreneurs and industry leaders cooler than Dyson.

The Ballbarrow in what looks like a '70s advertisement
The Ballbarrow in what looks like a ’70s advertisement

In his early years he realised how everyday problems could be solved by coming up with better and more practical solutions. Take for instance his “ballbarrow” invented in 1974, after watching a traditional wheelbarrow get stuck in muddy ground. Why didn’t I think of that?! It was pure genius. Such a “simple” idea, but yet it required complex thinking.

Dyson is renowned for being meticulous,  he once created a total of 5,127 prototypes for what later became the DC01, his first machine, the vacuum cleaner, developed in a workshop behind his house between 1979 and 1984. You do the math on the annual average of prototypes!

Most recently, Dyson released its Dyson 360 Eye, a robot vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning any space effectively and efficiently by tracking its own movements from where its been to where its going next.

I was good just drying my hands in a public restroom with the hot air from those hand-dryers and I accepted that as the norm. Then Dyson creates the Airblade! Just like that, everything else seems mediocre. That’s what I admire most about James Dyson — he has a way of creating solutions to everyday problems. Like he once said, “you have to distinguish between what people say they want now and what people might want when they see what it can do”.

I’ll say this much, I couldn’t imagine living in a world without bagless vacuum cleaners.

Adventures “InDesign”: Creating a Promotional Booklet

InDesign CS5 copy

“A limitation is a limitation only because you’ve done nothing to move beyond it.” — S. Drowym

It’s been a while since my last blog and this time I want to write about my latest design adventure.

Last week, I was offered the opportunity to design a promotional booklet and gladly I accepted the job not realising that the best software to create said booklet would be Adobe InDesign. There was a rush on the project and the client would need to have it within three days. Now usually I’m always apprehensive about taking on these rushed jobs, but I jumped at the chance.

So back to Adobe InDesign, it’s stellar software and what it can create in terms of materials for print is beyond amazing. I knew that little fact, but I didn’t know the software. In the past I had attempted to use it, especially because I used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop so often to create flyers, posters, programs, invitations, and such for clients.

What do you do when you’ve just accepted a job to design an 18-page promotional booklet, but you don’t know the software to execute that project? You tell yourself you can learn the software in 24 hours of course!! That’s the attitude I took, but half of the time I knew I was lying to myself to keep a steady head. Thankfully there are innumerous readings and tutorials online to get pointers and lessons from. I think my favourite might have said something about “InDesign 101” and “11 steps to learning InDesign”; not quoting them verbatim, but you get the idea.

To make a long story short, I decided my best approach would be to learn basic tips, study the commands of the software and make as many mistakes as I could. Ye olde “trial and error” (mostly the latter) never fails. I was able to teach myself how to use InDesign and successfully so, thus creating a really class act design for the promotional booklet. The design only took a mere 28 hours of my life. With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder the software is such a great tool to have. The best part is I just expanded my skill sets and can now take on design projects like creating ebooks, booklets, magazines, and newsletters.

Here’s one tutorial I’ll leave with you if you’ve been thinking about learning the basics of Adobe InDesign. It’s only 11 minutes long, but will impart a lot of good directions: Creating and Applying Master Pages in Adobe InDesign

Until we meet again! Keep designing!

7 or 8 Tips to Help You Arrive at Rates That Define Your Value

As a freelance graphic designer, you spent your time giving and gaining new design experiences, whilst creating a client list and a reputation for putting out quality work. You acquire client testimonials, because tooting your own horn just isn’t going to cut it.

Every year you question whether or not you’re charging clients the right amount for design work completed; you look at the prices and you think you have. But have you really?

In business, knowing or even discovering your own monetary worth is one of those instances that requires a sometimes really long and hard look at all that you have done and accomplished as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Take time to do the following:

  1. Examine your present and past clientele
  2. Evaluate your portfolio of work
  3. Find someone established and positioned as an industry leader and ask for advice
  4. Look at the prices of your competition locally and globally
  5. Join forums for freelance designers
  6. Make the tough decisions on pricing your value
  7. Lose a few prospective customers who aren’t ready to pay you what you’re worth

To get your business to the next level requires a lot of effort in heavy-lifting. It’s a lot like moving your friends furniture to their new apartment that’s on the fifth floor and the place has no elevators only stairs. You know its going to be back-breaking work and sweat pouring down your face, but it’ll all be worth it knowing you’ll be rewarded (not with pizza and cold beer).

Don’t be afraid to raise your prices. Only you can do what you do and if people are lining up around the block just to work with you then that’s a good sign you’re worth more than you first thought.

How did you discover your true value as a designer? Share your story below. We could all learn from it.