The Top 5 Ways to Save For Your Dream Home

Whether it’s a new phone or new car that you’re saving up for, making a big purchase can be nerve-wracking, even for the savviest spenders. That’s certainly true when it comes to home buying; your house is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and, for many of us, it seems nearly impossible to save up for the down payment we need. While putting together a generous nest egg can seem like a pipe dream, there are some easy ways to accomplish it ever than you thought possible. If you want to purchase that dream home, start with these easy saving tips:

Use cash: While it can be easy to charge purchase after purchase on your credit card, only realizing how much you’ve racked up when you look at the bill, paying with cash can help lower your spending in no time. Before you leave the house for the day, put a pre-determined amount of cash in your wallet and leave your cards at home — you can’t spend what you don’t have on you, after all.

Set up automatic deposits: While it may feel painful to put cash in your savings account when there are so many fun things you could be buying with it, setting up automatic deposits can have you saving easily in no time. Simply set up a weekly automatic deposit from your bank account and you’ll accumulate a nice nest egg quickly — you won’t even miss the money.

Carpool to work: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American will spend nearly $2000 on gas this year. However, if you carpool to work even just a few days a week, you can cut that number down significantly, leaving you more money to use for the purchase of your perfect home.

Sign up for rewards programs: Save money every time you go shopping by signing up for in-store rewards programs. Those little keychain fobs they hand out at the grocery, beauty supply, or houseware store can save you serious money over time, often giving users access to special pricing and early sales. Just signing up could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to put toward your home.

Negotiate your bills: The amount your asked to pay on your bills is often more up to interpretation than you might imagine. For many bills, from cable to hospital bills, you can actually negotiate the price. In fact, many places that charge heavily for bills, like hospitals, will even offer you significant discounts if you pay them in full.

Owning your own home doesn’t have to be a fantasy. In fact, buying smart and starting early can save you tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Before you resign yourself to a life of renting forever, start saving and you might just be buying before you know it. Just a few dollars tucked away today can yield a healthy nest egg that will help you buy the home you’ve always wanted.

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Create A Business Address In Los Angeles Using Global Business Centers

Create A Business Address In Los Angeles Using Global Business Centers

Whether they are looking at a contact page on a website or a business card, the address of your business is one of the first things that a prospective client will see. Here is more on why you want to have your company associated with a reputable location, and how you can set up a business address without paying extensive location costs:

Why Location Matters:  On a global scale, Los Angeles is typically a well-known city and business center. However, some areas of Los Angeles are more reputable than others. For instance, Westwood or Beverly Hills are known to be “high-end” expensive business areas and will draw more positive attention to a new company. After all, a lucrative address is associated with a successful business.

How To Get An Address At Low Costs: While an office in Beverly Hills may cost a fortune in rent, utilities and maintenance, you can get the benefits of the Beverly Hills address without the high costs with a virtual office space. A virtual office will come with a virtual business address in a well-off area and other possible amenities.

What Else Is Available?: Many companies that rent virtual office space offer various bundles such as answering services and conference rooms for rent. Having a professional answering service can help ensure that you never miss an important phone call and that your clients can reach a professional during working hours- though some answering services are also 24/7. Should you need to physically meet with clients from time to time, you can also rent out a conference room for a fraction of the cost that comes with actually owning the room, and you can rent it only for the time of your meeting.

Having a great address can lead to a great business. A bit of planning and research can help you decide whether a virtual address may be right for your company.

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Building Your New Website

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When you get to the point of launching your website, it won’t be the last time you edit. Over time you will need to refresh the look, to update your programming and to fix any mistakes. You can stress about all the details before your launch it, but in the end, all you will end up doing is putting off the day when your website is up and running – which slows the process of your business.

There are a few things that you need to get as close to perfect as you can before you let the public see your site.

Theme

You need to create a website that represents your business – not you. You might be beautifully vintage, with barrel rolls and red lipstick, but is your business? Chose the right look that will appeal to your target audience. Keep it clean cut and simple and the look will be timeless.

Images

It’s always best to use your own images, but if you’re not the best photographer, or lack the right equipment, then use sites like Pexels and Flickr. Just make sure that the images are available for commercial use, and always credit the photographer. Again, make sure the images are appropriate for your business – a head shot of you on a night out might not set the best tone.

Content

You will be judged from the moment somebody clicks on your website. You need to look and sound the part. Good content is what attracts people to your site. A home page should be short and sweet – or a stream of your most recent blogs. The scroll-down idea is something everyone is used to thanks to social media. Save the history of your business for the about page. You can write the content yourself, or you can hire a professional writer to do it for you.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is where keywords are used in the body of a text to increase the chances of your site being found. The ‘keyword’ is judged on the popularity of the phrase being used in a search engine. If we’re honest, no one moves past the first page of a Google search, if what we are looking for isn’t there, we try searching something else. The more adept at using keywords you are, the more of a chance you have at being on that front page, it is a type of website promotion. Any professional copywriter will know this and use it to benefit your business.

Web Management

You need to decide who is going to manage your site; will it just be you, or will others be able to contribute. Set out a calendar of when you are going to post new content, and when you are going to update anything on your site. If you say on your homepage that you post a new blog every week, then make sure you stick to that. If others can post, then make sure you are keeping an eye on the changes as what they do will affect your business for the better or for worse.

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Best Portable Payment System for Businesses

Many business owners today have forgone the typical storefront or stationary location and opted for a mobile business. This allows business owners to save money on rent and building maintenance, and put that money into bettering their service or improving on their product. Whether you determine that using the Clover Station, which is the largest option for a Clover POS system, is best for your business or decide to utilize the Clover Go, which conversely is the smallest Clover POS system, there is a quality portable payment system available that will enhance the way you do business and complete sales. Older credit card systems are outdated, unreliable, and insecure. New point of sale systems are both easier to use, and more productive for businesses. They can interconnect business by enabling you to check on your business from anywhere, or schedule payments from away from the office. Point of sale systems are easily manageable, and everything can be checked on your mobile phone. It is out with the old and in with the new, and point of sale systems are taking businesses to a more productive and advanced level.

Bring The Service To Them

Have you ever been waiting in line and just wished the store would open up more lanes for checkout or wished you could have called your order in so you didn’t have to waste time in line? Many, many people feel this way, so Merchant Account Solutions created the Clover Flex so businesses have the ability to offer smaller lines and shorter waits to their customers. Have a bunch of people in line waiting to place an order? With Clover, one of your associates could walk down the line and take orders, take payments, and give the customer their receipt before they get to the counter. This could expedite the entire purchasing process for you and your customers. Also, no more need to always print receipts, as customers can choose to have it emailed to them. This technology is making it easier to instantaneously send over orders from one part of the business to another, saving time and increasing productivity. It also frees up space over time, by eliminating the need to keep track of papers, and therefore simplifying organization.

Point of sale systems also offers back of the house processes, such as reports, tracks sales, and if you are already utilizing a Clover device it will easily sync with that device so everybody can be current on what is happening in real-time. Connecting the entire business over multiple devices simplifies tasks and automatically inputs things where they belong, rather than manually inputting the same things into different sections.

The days of manual card machines and needing cold hard cash are over. Businesses now have the capability to close sales quicker and get customers on their way. Be prepared to see your business grow with a portable POS system.

For more information on point of sale systems, visit Merchant Account Solutions.

 

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If You Don’t Use Them, You’ll Lose Them…

It can be a big fear, that you aren’t simply making the most of your employees. And in whatever fashion, whether you aren’t stimulating them enough, or you’re neither currently increasing nor decreasing revenue, but are staying firmly in the middle, this is the sign of a business that is plateauing. You might be running a startup, but you’re too scared to let your employees move up or sideways in the company for fear of it upsetting the balance, but this is the equivalent of loving something too much. Holding it so tightly that it will end up flying the coup the first chance it gets. So, what are the signs of underused employees, and what can you do to fix this?

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Feeling Unstimulated

Now, there is a difference between having an unstimulating day and feeling chronically unstimulated, and can you see the difference in your workers? They may feel every day to do the same work and not be challenged by it, and this can be down to various reasons. But if you’ve kept people in the same role for years, then they’re going to know the role like the back of their hand and have become accustomed to using one set of skills when they are capable of so much more.

Their Responsibilities Haven’t Changed

The importance of growing with a role usually means taking on more duties and expanding your knowledge, making you a better asset to the company, but if everyone has stayed in the same roles for so long, how can they have grown and retained this indispensability? Having new challenges and different things to do, everybody says, is what makes a job interesting. They don’t have to necessarily like the role they’re doing, but if the job is diverse enough so that they feel challenged with an adequate amount of responsibility, this is usually what will keep people invested in a role.

They Rush Their Work

There is a difference between working fast and rushing, of course. And for every business, the hallmark of success is increased productivity, but so people can feel accomplished, they need to face certain challenges. Have you seen people keeping projects on track by being methodical in their work? Or are they always looking for something to do? It’s like in school, you thought that the cleverest person in the class was the one that did their work quickly, which made you rush too. It’s dangerous for people to do their work too fast, because mistakes will be made, and someone will pay the price. It could mean extra time working to rectify these mistakes, and therefore extra money!

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They Have Skills You Have No Idea They Had…

And while this is hard to spot from a distance, if you’ve got someone supremely skilled in one area that you may not link to the relevancy of the business right now, but it certainly could be in the future! If you’re not paying attention to your staff, you’re not valuing them enough.

…And They Don’t Have Skills You Want

If your employees don’t have what it takes, do you want to get rid of them and hire a whole new group of people and pay to train them up on the basics? Or are you better off to find a training centre so your employees can get clued up on the skills you need them to have? Soft skills training might sound irrelevant for a lot of people, but it’s the core of getting people to relate and to work together.  

So, What Can You Do?

While it’s important for roles to be fulfilled, if you run the risk of people feeling that they are not being utilised in their skills, you are going to lose them. What’s the solution? Well, it’s all about making your employees feel fulfilment. They demand this, and you need to give it to them. If you aren’t making the most of your employees, you aren’t just doing them a disservice, but you’re doing a disservice to your business. If there’s little wiggle room in a small company due to finances, then you need to find up a way to make it so. Speak to them, ask why they’re feeling stagnant? They will probably feel reticent in telling you because of the awkwardness of the circumstances, but you can put out anonymous questionnaires, and at least you will get a sample of what is bringing the employees down. It could be morale, it could be financial, or it could be personal. But if you have employees that are being underused in one way or another, look for these signs and start to make a change.

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Watch Your Back If You Strike Out On Your Own

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Whether you’re making your way out there as a freelancer or starting your own business, there’s plenty of benefit to striking out on your own. Greater freedom, the ability to use your skills to their full effect without being hobbled by employers, not to mention the full reward for your hard work. But if you want to make it on your own, you need to be self-sufficient. You need to be responsible not only for giving your work 100% of your effort to truly succeed, but you have to protect yourself from the risks of working for yourself. No-one else is going to do it.

You need your own smarts

When you work for yourself, it should be obvious you have a greater range of responsibilities than you would otherwise. Being good at what you do isn’t quite enough. You need to build a broad base of knowledge in several different areas. Time management and organization. Marketing. Accounting. Customer relationship management. Branding, whether for a business or as an individual. You’re in charge of both finding projects and work, as well as making sure that the results of said work are properly utilized. If you’re not ready to take responsibility for the full spectrum of tasks, you’re going to leave critical parts of running a business or working for yourself up to luck.

You need your own protections

You might not have been fully aware, but your past employers had a bunch of protections in place to keep the business free or at least insulated for certain kinds of risks. Now’s the time to start putting those protections in place. You need to ask and find the answers to questions like what is intellectual property? What is public liability insurance? What is business interruption protection? These are the protections that will make sure that others can’t steal a brand you’ve worked hard to build, that your business can survive any damage accidentally caused by the business, and that you can keep yourself afloat when circumstances make it impossible to run the business temporarily. Without putting these protections in place, there are too many risks around every corner.

You need your own standards

This is where even the savviest of entrepreneurs and freelancers can find themselves in most danger. You want to keep customers happy and to welcome as many of them as possible. However, not all clients are easy to deal with. Toxic clients come in many shapes, but the most dangerous are those who make demands on how you do your work. If you don’t have services pre-defined and priced fairly, you will find those clients who attempt to set prices for you and who ever ask for more without being willing to pay for it. You can get sucked into a spiral of doing work for ungrateful, disrespectful people who aren’t even monetarily worth the time you spend working for them. It’s important to set your own standards and be willing to say ‘no’ to those who want you to work outside them.

If the above points have scared you off working for yourself, then you’re not truly ready for it. There’s no burying your head in the sand here. If you can’t take care of yourself as a freelancer or business owner, you set yourself up for disaster.

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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Zine

There has surely been a point in all our lives where we really wanted to get something off our chest. And not just to one or two people, but to as many people as possible. It’s surely why Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have done so well over the past decade. It’s certainly why blogs became such a big thing in the early 2000s (and onwards!). But these platforms, while not exactly dropping in popularity, seem to have become very saturated – and people are beginning to look towards new methods of connecting with others.

Of course, there are plenty of uses for social media and blogging that go beyond personal use and creativity. Businesses use these platforms to great extents. But there are a lot of business owners out there who are looking for a new and exciting way of connecting to their most loyal customers, as well as turning eyes to their brand that may never have looked their way previously.

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So it’s pretty clear that Tweets and Facebook status updates aren’t always enough. Sure, you could look into starting your own website or writing for a blog. Those are definitely great ways to connect with an audience. But zines – smaller-scale versions of magazines – are becoming more popular these days. They’re a unique way to get your creations out there, as well as getting word about your brand. Check out this guide to getting started.

Pick the subject

Zines are generally noted for being centred quite closely on one specific subject. Of course, this is true of most publications. Magazines, for example, are largely based around one medium such as fashion or music. But with a zine, you have less room to meander. Magazines will generally cover a bunch of subjects, albeit ones related in some way to their “main” subject. You have to pick a topic you love enough to focus on for 12-24 pages.

So what’s it going to be? Business? Punk rock? Horror movies? Bizarro fiction? A mix of all four? See if you can find a niche or a new approach to a widely-covered subject.

Gauge interest

The next step is to see how far a reach you think this zine could have. This is also a good way of gauging what kind of things people would like to see in such a publication. As you’re going to be doing something very small-scale (at least at first), the best people to speak to are your friends. If you have any online followers, you may want to speak to them, too.

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Go online and see if you can find any information about other zines in your area. While zines have gained popularity in the age of social media (oddly enough), they’re still not exactly ubiquitous. The chances are high that you’re the only one making a zine in your area, let alone a zine of your particular subject! Having said that, you should be considering the potential for an expanded audience in the future.

Create content

What kind of content are you going to have? News stories? Opinions and think pieces? Poems and short stories? Artwork? Many contemporary zines employ a mixture of all of these things. Decide what you want to fill your zine with, then get to creating as much content as you can. You should aim to create enough content to fill several issues of a zine, then comb through it all and pick the best stuff.

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For this stage, you’ll also need to have worked out whether or not you’re going it alone. If you are then that could be a pretty heavy workload. But you could look into getting submissions for the next zine if you so wish. Alternatively, you can accept submissions from the beginning during the “gauging interest” phase. You could also choose to work as part of a team, bringing a friend or two on board. If your zine is geared towards business interests or you’re looking to promote your brand, then you might want to consider working with copywriting experts. Remember that this isn’t going to be a big publication (physical size-wise), so take care not to invite too many cooks into the kitchen!

Adding goodies

A lot of zines just come as-is, with no supplementary material or gifts. Whether or not you want to continue this trend is, of course, up to you. But there are a few zines out there who take a route akin to that of magazines. They’ll come with small items relevant to the subject material.

If you’re making a music zine, then this kind of thing can definitely work in your favour. Let’s say you’re doing a zine about the local music scene. (Not a bad idea – you already have a guaranteed audience, i.e. the local music scene!) You could include some CDs with the zine that includes music from local unsigned bands. Producing a bunch of CDs will be a lot cheaper than you think, and getting the music shouldn’t be too difficult if the bands have recorded material. (You are, of course, going to want to focus on unsigned bands if you don’t want to get into legal trouble!) DVDs are also an option if you want to include footage of business seminars.

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Heading to print

As the circulation of your zine is going to be pretty small, getting it printed should be quick and inexpensive. It is here, of course, that you’ll need to decide just how many you’re going to print. Is there a magic formula that will help you work out without error just how many you’ll need? Unfortunately, no. It will depend to a great extent how many people you’ve already planned to send it to. You may want to consider printing that number of copies and then an additional third of that number. Again, that’s not a formula everyone works with – you’ll have to work it out yourself as you go along!

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Don’t feel pressured to print too many. Remember: as long as you have the original documents, you can always make more copies. So while it’s good to have some spare in case you have unexpected interest, don’t go ahead and print a thousand copies. It might end up costing more than the eventual readership will justify! Once you’ve printed the copies you need, either hand them to your readers in person or send them by mail to people who are out of immediate reach.

If you’re producing zines as part of your business strategy, then sending them out to subscribers is a good idea. This can also work as incentive to subscribe to your business’s mailing list! You should also consider bringing a bunch of copies along with you when you have events to attend. If you produce something particularly eye-catching and bring them to a trade show as a giveaway, for example, then you could attract more people to your stall than with the usual gimmicky giveaways other businesses use!

Getting the word out

Okay, by distributing your zine you’re already technically “getting the word out”. But what I’m referring to here, specifically, is letting more people know about your zine. In other words, we’re talking about marketing!

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Of course, much of the ethos of a zine involves small readerships and limited advertising. But that doesn’t mean you should keep its presence hidden completely. Start up a website and a Twitter account for your publication. These things can help bring the mood of your zine onto the Internet. It will also help you catch the attention of passers-by, especially friends of friends!

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Steps To A Smooth Start To A Manufacturing Business

Starting up any business is a huge venture. Not only are you embarking on something new, but you are relying on something new to be your livelihood. As with any new start-up, the crucial part is research. Researching the industry that you are investing in, what is involved to bring up a profit and benchmarking the competition so you know who your potential customers are buying from. Moving into manufacturing may be a whole new area for you, but building a strong support network and putting out your business plan are among what you need to do to make your manufacturing business a profitable one.

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If you are ready to be a manufacturer, investing in space, premises and gravity conveyor systems to get your business ready are all the first steps you would take. Setting up a business in manufacturing is a huge financial commitment and it’s also a huge responsibility. Once you’re up and running, though, it can be profitable and the job satisfaction that comes with running your own manufacturing company is something else entirely. There are always steps to every new business, but if you follow these, you should have a smoother beginning.

  • Get Support. Every new company needs the right network in place for a strong and stable beginning. You can be chock full of enthusiasm but enthusiasm doesn’t run a company. A business coach can be an excellent guide and helping hand in the early days of the business. Having a good, strong managerial team can make a huge difference to the way your company is run from the start.
  • Choose Location. New businesses are always money conscious, but if you go for the cheap premises, you could shoot yourself in the foot. You need a good infrastructure and area really counts when you choose your premises. You’ll need good transport links to get to your building, and be easily accessible for suppliers and customers alike. The location can even make a difference as to whether you get any help from government. Research as much as you can!
  • Factory Finding. Whatever you choose to manufacture will change the size and use of your factory. If your product requires a lot of power, you’ll need a bigger building with a lot of industrial floor space. You’ll need to find somewhere that has parking for staff and you’ll need a good amount of security for a product that is high value.
  • Staff Counts. Factory staff is something you have to consider from the beginning. You need a good level of trustworthy, motivated staff that are skilled and trained for the work that you do. Your staff should be part of your business plan financials – there’s no point interviewing and training skilled staff if you can’t afford them!

Your manufacturing business can be highly profitable and be a massive success, but you have to look at what you are producing and what it is for. It’s easy to be distracted by the bigger picture in a new venture, but try to calm the excitement and look beyond the initial opening!

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Unlock the Full Potential of Your Website

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So you’ve realized that having a social media presence isn’t enough; you need a full-blown website in order to promote your business in the right way. But so many people are still squandering the potential that a website can bring to them and their business. It isn’t something you should create quickly and cheaply and then leave hanging around limply on the Internet like stale bait on a hook.

You need to make sure your website is realizing its full potential; websites can do so much for your business, and it’s time that you dedicate a little more tender loving care to it. Here’s what you need to do to really strengthen it.

Improve your content

You don’t want any old fluff on your website’s blog. And if your website doesn’t have a blog, then you’re probably making a pretty big mistake. A lot of business owners underestimate the potential of a blog when it comes to marketing. Don’t allow your blog to be a place where pretty much any old post that loosely relates to your subject is uploaded. With that in mind, you also shouldn’t be too insular with your subject matter. You want to give people a good reason to read every word. Hire some really good writers to create exciting content for your blog. Share the wisdom of your business with others. Give your opinion on certain things occurring in the industry.

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Advance your development skills

The more skilled you and your employees are when it comes to web development, the easier it will be for your website to reach its fullest potential. A lot of business websites these days are a little too simple and basic. Yes, simplicity was definitely underrated for a long time, but many businesses seem to have gone way too far into the other direction of sheer minimalism. Check out some modern HTML guides to ensure you’re doing everything you can to clean up and improve the code that’s keeping your website up.

Switch to more reliable CMS

So what content management system are you using? This has a big effect on the delivery of your content, as well as how its presented on your website. A lot of people try to take really cheap alternatives to the big names, not only because they want to save money but also because they’re convinced something on the periphery may work better. (Like the hipsters who spent years trying to convince us that Zunes were really better than iPods!) It’s time to be honest: CMSs like WordPress and Magento are the most popular out there for a good reason.

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Boost your marketing campaign

What good is such a website if no-one can see it? Now is not the time to take on a “build it and they will come” attitude. Yes, you should put focus on building a great website before marketing; but once your masterpiece is finished and you’re ready for people to check it out, you should really be willing to go all in when it comes to digital marketing! If people aren’t visiting it, then your website will never reach its fullest potential. Just make sure you have a host that can handle all the traffic!

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First Office Job Fashion: The Key Pieces You Need

When you first start working in an office, it often means you need to go out and buy some office-appropriate clothes and accessories. Since you’ll be in the office five days a week, that can mean basically having to buy a whole new wardrobe. However, if you’re starting a new job, you might not have a whole lot of money to spend on new clothes. Maybe you’ve even been unemployed for a while, and you’re pretty strapped for cash until your first payday. Fortunately, there is something else you can do. A few key pieces can help you dress up almost any outfit and make it look more appropriate for the office.

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A Blazer

Many outfits can immediately be smartened up with a tailored jacket. A classic dark colour like black or navy can make your outfit look more professional. If your jacket could be part of a suit, it might give you the professionalism you’re looking for. Even if you’re just wearing a t-shirt or a plain top underneath it, the jacket can immediately make your outfit more smart-casual. They look good with almost anything, whether you choose to wear a dress or skirt, or a pair of trousers. Just one blazer can be worn with a variety of outfits, but two will go even further.

Smart, Flat Shoes

When you start an office job, you might think it’s all about the heels. While they might be fine to wear sometimes, not every woman wants to be in heels all day, every day. If you want to be comfortable, especially if you have to walk around the office, a pair of flat shoes could be much better. They can look just as smart, and they’re easier to walk in and kinder on your feet. You can save money on a decent pair by using Clarks discount codes so that one pair of shoes can last you a long time. You can buy cheaper shoes, but you might find they don’t last long if you wear them every day.

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A Work Bag

Even if you don’t have any work papers or important documents to take to work, you usually have a few personal possessions. You might pack your phone, keys, purse, and maybe a book to read on your commute. Not to mention a packed lunch and your makeup essentials. While a sports backpack is perfectly practical, a smarter bag might look a little more professional. If you like the practicality of a backpack, you could get a leather one.

A Go-to Dress

It’s always worth having one dress you can wear again and again. While not every woman likes wearing dresses to the office, they’re a flexible and easy option. You can create lots of different outfits with just one dress by pairing it with different layers and accessories. Choose a statement dress that you love or something fairly plain that you can mix and match with anything.

Choosing clothes for your first office job doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. You can transform the clothes you already have with the right items.

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