Going it Alone: Simple Ways to Improve Your Sole Trader Business

When you’re a sole trader, you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders. You’re the one in charge of running the company, and no one else is going to do it for you. That can be daunting, but it can also be freeing. You’re the one making all the important decisions, and you don’t have to listen to other people trying to tell you what to do. If you want to improve your overall business, it might be best to try out some of the ideas discussed below.

Make Some Changes to Your Van

For many sole traders, their van is their livelihood. You have to look after it and make the most of it if you are going to keep making money and stay afloat. Luckily, there are all kinds of ways to improve your van and what it can do for you. There are van storage systems that can help you to make the most of the space you have in your van. This can be useful for any sole trader that needs to take tools and parts on jobs. You could also make upgrades to the suspension to make the vehicle drive better and last longer.

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Use Modern Technology to Advertise Better

These days, you can’t afford to ignore the significance of advertising when running a sole trader business. It’s not enough to set up an advert in the local director or put up some signs, though. Those kinds of advertising techniques are alright, but they’re not adequate. To reach more people, your business needs to have its own website, a Facebook page, and maybe even a Twitter account. Then you can use these platforms to spread the word and advertise your services. On top of that, you might want to place some online adverts on various relevant websites. They can help you get the message across to more people.

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Link Up with Other Sole Traders

It can be a great idea to link up with other sole traders that do different things to you in your local area. For example, if you’re a plasterer, you could find a painter and decorator and link up with them. That way, you can get increased exposure and more clients, and so can they. By helping other traders in a similar situation to you, everyone can benefit, so it’s worth trying out. As long as you remember not to build links with your competitors, you should be able to find success by doing this.

Use Credit Card Processing

This is one of those simple changes to your business that really does have an impact. If you want to take your business to the next level, it’s vital to accept cards. You don’t want to force people to pay in cash when you do a job for them because people are using cash less and less. It’s up to you to move with the times and meet the precise needs of your customers. That’s what it’s all about when it comes to pleasing your customers and offering them the very best service possible.

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Failing To Fund A Business Is More Common Than You Think!

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You might think that it’s easy to arrange and organise funding for your business, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s true to say that a lot of companies struggle to get the funds they want when they need them. There are a wide variety of reasons why this might be the case. By looking at them in more detail we can better understand the situation and work to find effective solutions.

Commercial Viability

If your business idea or concept isn’t commercially viable, you’re going to struggle to fund it from day one. The reason for this is quite simple. No one’s going to want to invest in your idea because there won’t be enough people who are interesting in buying your product. You will even struggle to get a business loan that can often be used to jump start a problematic company. So commercial viability is crucial and if your business doesn’t have it, you need to find it. You can do this by focusing more funds on marketing and promotion. This should help you reach a wider audience that might be interested in your company.

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Risks And Gambles

Investors hate businesses that are risky. They hate them so much that they will avoid providing even the most basic services to high risk companies. If your business is classified as high risk, you might even struggle to get the most basic financial support for your business. For instance, you will no doubt want customers to be able to pay for products in as many secure ways as possible. Particularly if you are providing products that are expensive and difficult to pay for straight up. However, if your business is high risk, you might struggle to find a service suitable for your company. Luckily high risk merchant accounts are available online to fit this need. Therefore, as long as you invest in the services of one of these companies you won’t need to worry.

Payback

Many business owners struggle to get the money for their company because their customers fail to pay on time. Rather than paying straight away they hand the business the equivalent of an IOU. Now, you might think the best way to deal with this is to not accept purchases from any companies that refuse to pay up front. There are two issues here. First, they might not announce their intention to pay later upfront. Second if you don’t let them handle the transaction this way you could lose the sale completely. That’s the last thing you want. There’s an easy fix though and that’s to sell on the unpaid invoices to quickly gain the money you need.

No Charisma

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Lastly, to ensure you get investments in your business, you’ll find you need charm and tact. Without this you can almost guarantee that investors are going to look the other way. Don’t forget, it’s not just your business that needs to be marketable. You do as well and if you’re not you need to find someone who can fill this void.

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Elevate Employee Morale With These Simple Changes

Since starting your business, you’ve probably discovered that it’s not quite what it’s cracked up to be. While you may have a lot more freedom compared to your last day job, there’s far more responsibility and varying factors to worry about, and you’ve probably had to work a lot harder than ever before. Remember, working at a start-up isn’t just stressful for you; your employees are going to feel the sting too! If you’re not seeing as many smiles in your office as you’d like to, here’s a few ways to elevate employee morale.

Be A Nicer Boss

I thought I’d start this post off with the simplest tip I can offer: be nice! Okay, you’re here to make sure the business continues to turn a profit, and grows according to the plan you’ve set out, not to be popular. However, working under a boss who goes out of their way to make your work more enjoyable can be a huge morale booster. As rushed and hectic as things may be, remember to use those magic words you were taught as a child whenever you’re interacting with your staff. When you do have some time spare, instead of just reclining in your office, have a walk around and chat to someone. Ask them how things are going outside of work, and what their plans are for the weekend. Little touches of courtesy can go a long way!

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Like many business owners, you might have started the company all by yourself, setting yourself up online, working late nights, and living on a diet of takeaways and energy drinks. While I admire anyone who can dedicate themselves to any kind of project like this, it may have made you a little too comfortable around dirt and clutter. Now that you’ve grown your operation enough to have an actual commercial premises, those dark days should be well behind you! Consider hiring a full-time cleaner, or outsourcing some professional office cleaning, and upping cleanliness standards throughout your office. First of all, this will reduce the chances of your employees getting sick, which is never good for a person’s mood. Furthermore, a clean and tidy office is more welcoming and attractive, and will encourage your employees to take more pride in the business they work for.

Recognise and Broadcast Achievements

One of the biggest things which will diminish a person’s morale is pushing themselves as hard as they can at work, and feeling that their work goes unappreciated or unrecognised. One way of giving your workforce a great morale boost is by recognising achievements, and broadcasting these throughout the entire workforce. As long as they’re not prone to get embarrassed, this will be a great ego boost to any of your workers, and will push them to try even harder at their next piece of work. It may also motivate other employees to get stuck into their work when their attention is waning. Every couple of weeks, think of things people have done that have really benefited the business, and send out a group email about it. Just make sure you’re not playing favourites!

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Malware – How To Tell If Your Computer Is Infected

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Computers are unpredictable creatures at the best of times. However, if your PC is continuously playing up with seemingly no rhyme or reason, malware could be to blame for its sudden bout of madness. Here are some of the top signs that could indicate that your computer is infected.

Pop-up ads

Ads are already annoyingly common as it is on most websites – something you may have noticed unless you’re smart enough to have employed Adblock. However, if almost every internet page and tab that you open is leading you to a pop-up ad, malware could well be behind it. Take note of what kind of ads are popping up. If they’re all links to suspicious looking sites, low-quality ads and pages demanding you to pay money – then it’s probably malware. Most malware will use these ads to try and ransom you into buying some fake anti-virus software. Other ads will deliberately load your computer with more viruses. Avoid clicking on any of them.

Your Browsing Keeps Getting Redirected

Almost every time you Google something you’re taken to a completely different site or browsing engine that you’ve never heard of. If this is happening, it’s not because your computer is lost, it’s because some malicious programme is redirecting you there. Try using another browser and see if you’re getting the same results.

Messages You Didn’t Write Keep Appearing

If Facebook is posting strange statuses that you didn’t write, if emails you didn’t create are appearing in your outbox, if friends are reporting getting sent strange links from you, you’ve most probably got malware (or you need to stop drinking so hard!). Many modern forms of malware will try to hack your social media to spread the virus. If you realise you have malware, log out of every account that you can and only use your phone for social media to prevent your personal details being hacked.

A Rogue Security Programme Has Installed Itself On Your Computer

One of the most common malware tactics is to install a fake anti-virus programme on your desktop, constantly coming up with alerts like ‘Warning! You have over 9000 viruses on your computer’. Most of these will link you to site demanding you to pay to upgrade your software. Do not pay anything! Take your computer into IT support and they will be able to tell you if the warning is legitimate enough (most likely it isn’t).

Programmes and Tools Won’t Work

Some malware will sneakily block programmes like Task Manager and Registry Editor to prevent you from trying to locate the problem. If your trusty Ctrl + alt + del method isn’t having any effect, then you’ll know something is up.

How to Prevent Malware

Buying anti-virus software should protect against most malware. Make sure you’re keeping your anti-virus software constantly renewed. If your antivirus software warns you to stay away from a certain site, follow its advice. You’re better off not taking the risk and staying to sites with a safety tick beside them.

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Stop Drowning in Paper Waste With This Essential Office Organisation Guide

Take a look around your office. What do see? Stacks and stacks of papers, forms, letters. And on the shelves? Archive boxes filled with invoices and notes. And what’s in that bin by your feet? More waste paper, scrunched up doodles and failed ideas.

No one likes to see paper waste taking over the office. In fact, just the sight of a large stack of papers is enough to make someone’s stomach churn and persuade them to turn around and run for the hills. Getting rid of the paper waste will help your business run more efficiently and cheaply.

Get Some Proper Storage

Buy a simple filing cabinet and you’ll have an easy to organise box where you can stuff whatever papers you want. Buy a couple of labels, slap them onto the folders, and it’ll be almost impossible to run out of organised space to store all your documents.

Using lots of shelves? Then at least get some archival boxes and use them properly. They have labels for a reason, so get a nice thick pen and write in big letters what you’ll be putting into it. Bills, invoices, ideas, drafts—whatever it is, make sure it’s clear what’s inside so you don’t end up make several boxes with only a few sheets of paper in each.

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Every table in your office needs a paper tray. They’re usually cheap and made of plastic, so it’s light and easy to buy in a bulk. Get stackable ones so that your employees can organise whatever incoming and outgoing papers land on their desk. It makes it easy for them to sort, and it makes it easy for you to pick up whatever you need from their tables.

Hire a Helping Hand

Sometimes the amount of paper and documents we have are just too much to handle. There are times where document management is best left to professionals if you’re in too deep. Sure, you might need to pay a little extra than hiring a couple of your employees to do some overtime, but what makes you think they are capable of sorting thousands of paper documents without it affecting their regular work? It just doesn’t work.

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Don’t Be a Technophobe—Go Digital

Ask yourself how you got into the position of being swarmed with paper documents, and chances are you’ll realise it was because you were stubborn and didn’t want to switch to electronic alternatives. Invoices and other billing services can be done completely online on the cloud with software. Why waste time, effort and money on physical media? It eats into your company budget, and it’s actually more convenient for your clients and customers when you give them online options.

The same can be said for note taking, sketches, and drafts. They can all be done on a computer and it saves money on pens, ink, pencils, and of course paper. An investment into a tablet device is worthwhile if you find yourself spending hundreds on physical media. Digital alternatives are also easier to send around the office and give to people over the internet.

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Is Your Website a Failure? Fix It Now!

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A lot of people say that failure is a dangerous, dirty word. And I can see the logic behind that. Focussing too much on how something is a failure can lead you to think pessimistically. And optimistic thinking is definitely important when it comes to succeeding in business! But let’s face it. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta call it how you see it. Sometimes, there is such a thing as failure. And if there’s one thing small businesses often fail at in tremendous fashion, it’s their website.

Never underestimate the importance of your website. This is foolish. Your website is, for the vast majority of people who will hear about you, the first impression your business gets to make. You need to ensure that your website is a thing of beauty. At the very least, it needs to not actually turn people off. And this is precisely what so many small business websites do. They actually make visitors click them away as soon as possible. And just like that, you’ve put them off your business.

If you’re not getting the attention you want from your website, then there are several ways you can improve on it. Here are improvement suggestions for the most common problems on small business websites.

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A design overhaul

Sometimes, you come across a website that you’d wish you’d never laid eyes on. I’m talking really bad. Chances are your website isn’t the eyesore than any of those websites are. But if your website isn’t aesthetically pleasing, then people aren’t going to hang around for long. You need to look into a professional design overhaul. If you designed it yourself, you may want to consider getting someone else to help! You can actually find affordable solutions here. Look into pay monthly websites if you want affordable design!

Tasty content

Okay, so maybe the design of your website is great. But what about the actual content? A sexy website can only take you so far. You want people to actually spend a decent amount of time on your website. And to achieve that, you need to have content. Sometimes, your business won’t lend itself to a website filled with content. That’s why you have to look into features like a blog. This encourages you to create content frequently, keeping you on the tips of people’s tongues. Of course, you need to ensure that the content is actually good!

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Keep the focus on the user

Business owners often want the website to focus on the business more than anything else. This mindset often seeps into the way the website actually feels for the end user. The fact is that you need to make sure the website is actually easy and pleasant to navigate. Before you launch a website, you need to make sure you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. See how someone interacts with your website. It needs to be intuitive. If a user wants to see a particular feature, it should be obvious for them how they can accomplish that. They shouldn’t be deluged with ads. There shouldn’t be any slowdown. The user experience needs to be amazing!

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Keep Your Business Going Strong By Protecting It Fully

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One of the most important elements of any business is keeping it protected. Of course, there are many different kinds of protection which are necessary. Some are preventative, such as ensuring that your business stays in line. Others are more about keeping others out. Either way, it is vital that you take them all on board if you want your business to continue far into the future. A well-protected business is one which is much more likely to succeed in the long run so this is obviously an important thing to bear in mind. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the key ways you can protect your business from various troubles. Bear these in mind from the outset, and the business will be much more likely to survive.

Protect Your Ideas

No matter what, this is something which needs a strong amount of protection. Protecting your ideas is essential if you want your business to be a force in its own right. Too many entrepreneurs fail to appreciate the true significance of keeping their good ideas under wraps. The last thing you want is for a competitor to steal your good ideas and use them for their own. With that in mind, learn to keep those ideas secretive until it is time to fully release them.

Look After Customer Data

Your customers’ security is one of the biggest aspects of your business’ security. If you want your business to be taken seriously, this is vital to consider. Your customers need to know that they can trust your business with their personal information. With that in mind, it is essential that you properly protect that data using all the available methods. Otherwise, it can be all too easy for someone to get hold of information they have no right to. And that can lead to a whole host of issues which you would rather not have to deal with.

Work Within Industry Guidelines

No matter what industry you operate within, you need to ensure you are working within any guidelines there might be. It is often the case that business owners forget about these guidelines. When that happens, it can mean that the business gets into serious trouble. Avoid such a fate by getting to know your industry inside out at the start, or as early as possible. Even something as small as the proper use of a service hose can be covered by these regulations, so this is essential to bear in mind.

Understand Intellectual Property Rights

Your business’ information and data is its own by law, and it helps if you understand the various laws associated with this. There are plenty of intellectual property rights, and it helps to know them as well as possible. The more you know about them, the easier it is to protect your business against any potential threats of this nature. It is also worth bearing in mind that different countries have different laws. If your business operates in more than one place, this might prove to be essential information.

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Healthier Employees Are More Productive Employees: Methods To Increase Productivity With Your Staff

What is the most important thing to your clients and colleagues? Their productivity of course! It dictates so many things. It will dictate that your business is being run smoothly first and foremost. Everything relies on your staff working in tandem with each other. So are there ways that you can keep them on the right side of things? Are there methods that you can integrate into the workplace environment to keep employees happy, and healthy?

Introduce Healthier Foods

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It is a very common thing you see in offices. If it’s someone’s birthday, they have cake or a buffet. If the team has done well, pizzas are brought in. Having unhealthy microwaveable meals at lunchtime contributes to an energy slump in the afternoon. And it tends to extend towards the end of the day. How can this be counteracted? By having healthier foods in the canteen, or replacing the sweet treats with healthier snacks like fruit, nuts or seeds. While you cannot tell people what to eat, if you remove the culprits that cause a deterioration in productivity in the workplace, it will start to shift the balance. Resulting in a healthier and more energetic group of staff. Maybe introduce one day a week where the food on the menu is different than the standard burgers or fatty foodstuffs. From there you can build up to healthier days than less in the canteen.

Install Better Seating And Desks

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Sitting down all day will only contribute to long-term health problems. And having old chairs that are not built to support our backs properly will only cause more issues over time. What ways can you combat this? Firstly, encourage regular breaks away from the desk to force people to get up and move around instead of staring idly into space for 15 minutes. With people staring at their computer for almost 8 hours a day this will cause massive eyestrain. There are programmes you can install to reduce the amount of strain, such as F.Lux which is free to download, or you can purchase screen filters. As there is a lot more talk of the dangers of blue light affecting our ability to actually switch off our brains and get proper rest, introducing a filter in addition to adequate breaks will help overall.

The second way is to get seats that are more suited to the contours of our body. Sitting in an unnatural position all day will only cause aches and pains. Throw out your old chairs and replace them with Executive Seating.

Another way to get people moving around more is to install standing desks. It has become more popular to install these, not only for the amount of space that it frees up but also the fact that standing all day does a lot more for your work productivity than you realise. In contact centres, workers are asked to stand up when there is a lull in energy. And it has been shown to actually work. You feel better when you’re up and moving for a short amount of time. So get standing!

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Being A Legal Eagle: What Your Business Needs At The Start To Be Compliant

In the world of startups and small businesses, there are lots of issues that will crop up from time to time that needs to satisfy the requirements of your industry from a legal standpoint. Regardless of how great your business strategy is, and how it will maximise growth for your company, if you are operating outside of the legal red tape, it can cause big issues and delays in getting the company set up. What do you need to do to create a great legal strategy?

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Have More Finances For Legal Funds Than You Think You Will Need

It is important to never underestimate your legal expenses. Legal costs could be a high amount of money that you could pay upfront which you never took into account. There will be legal communications. Going back and forth. The complicated details of the legalities. As well as the fees themselves. All these little things can always end up being much more than you originally thought. The best way is to give yourself a buffer in your budget at the start. If you need to get a better idea of what these costs are, then you can speak to other entrepreneurs. With costs like license filing fees, bonds and other smaller admin-based costs, you are better off budgeting at the start instead of dipping into funds that you were saving for something else which could contribute to failure.

Factor More Time Into Everything

It is always tempting to strike while the iron is hot. You may have a business idea that could set the world on fire, and it fits into a market need perfectly. But you will need to line up the proper legal details before anything else, and that can take a year or maybe more. So before that you would need to operate the business on a more limited basis. So, you need to know which licenses that you would need and factor more time to obtain the relevant permits and documents.

Have The Right Attorney For Each Specific Task

Having specialist Lawyers for the right field is a point that needs to be hammered home. For example, if you needed to obtain a patent, you would need a patent attorney. They would have years of experience and knowledge in this one field and know the fine details to help you. Always make sure you get the right person for the job. While it is more money upfront that a general practising attorney it will really help in the long term to save you needless business costs.

Make Sure That You Are Not Breaking The Law

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Not having your legal details sorted can have dire consequences, not to mention being very expensive! You could be fined huge amounts of money if you have neglected something. As well as this, the reputation you would have with your customers is tarnished. If you decide to expand into new markets, make sure you have a legal advisor on board to help you operate in the confines of the law.

Operate Your Legal Processes In Parallel With Each Other

Time is money. Instead of waiting for legal permission to come back, start investing or building up areas of the business that do not need legal clearance. The minute a permission comes back, you can then jump on that without wasting any time.

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Speed Up Your Office Today with These Simple Tricks

Does your office feel like it runs too slowly? Having a relaxed workplace is one thing. But allowing this to take over to the extent that it causes a loss of productivity is something else altogether. In the end, this will have a seriously negative impact on the office, the workforce and, ultimately, the business. So, you can’t let it go on any longer. Instead, you should look for ways to bring your office up to speed and make it more productive. Read on to learn more about doing this.

Enforce Rules in a Friendly Way

The first thing you should do is make sure that the office rules are being followed. If people are wasting time or doing things they shouldn’t, that could be the reason why your office is moving slowly. Make sure that everyone knows what the rules are, and do what’s necessary to enforce them. You don’t want to take an approach that is too strong or forceful, though. When you do this, you just cause more rifts and grievances in the office, and that won’t make the situation better. If anything, it’ll make it worse, so take a friendly approach.

Get a Faster Internet Connection

These days, all offices rely on the internet and their computer system. If these things are moving slowly, then it’s no surprise that work is getting done too slowly as well. You should try to find a better internet service provider if your connection is too slow at the moment. Making that one simple switch could be enough to make your office faster and more productive. Companies like leased line can help you with making a switch if that’s what needs to happen.

Provide Suitable Workspaces

Is your office suitable for your employees and the kind of work that you want them to do? If it’s not, then they will never be able to get things done quickly or properly. When employees are crammed into a small space, it puts them under pressure and causes stress. And they will also be more likely to argue when the workspaces are not adequate or suitable. To avoid this problem, change the layout of your office and the furniture you fill it with. If you can create spaces that are adaptable and varied, people will be able to choose where and how they work.

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Give Breaks to Employees

This might seem like a crazy idea when you are trying to make the workplace more productive and speedy. But it’s actually not as strange as it might sound. When your employees are forced to work continually without enough breaks, it’s not good for them. It’s not good for anyone. They start to become drained and tired. They can only look at the computer screen for so long without getting bored and fed up. Whereas, if you give them more breaks, they will have time to get away from the desk. That means they’ll be able to get refreshed and come back with a more positive mindset. Then, they’ll work faster.

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