Help! There’s A Client In My House!

When you run your own business at home, you will know that you operate very differently to how a regular office does. For starters, there are no set work hours – which is why you probably find that you have perfected the art of self-motivation on a daily basis! But one of the major differences you have compared to regular office workers is that when your clients come to your business headquarters, they come to your personal space. Some people find this intrusive, which is why they end up renting office space away from the home in order to widen the gap between work and play. But for many people, running their business at home is what works perfectly for them. However, it does require a certain amount of skill. For example, when clients are visiting your home – for a meeting or a consultation, perhaps – you have an image to uphold. Here are some of the ways you can make sure that your home is client friendly, 24/7.

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Have a strict cleaning routine

Picture the scene: it’s Thursday morning, you ended up going for drinks with your best friend last night and you’re sporting a bit of a sore head. The doorbell rings at 11am and you practically shriek in horror: you’d totally forgotten that you’d scheduled a client meeting for this morning and the house is a mess. No customer on earth is going to take you seriously if they are stepping over a discarded pair of heels on the front doormat just to get into your house – or if they can see a huge pile of dirty dishes lounging in the sink. If you know you won’t have time to clean in a morning, get it done on a night. Your place needs to be client ready at all times – plus, you will find that you feel more productive in a clean work space too.

Create a pleasant client space

Inviting your potential client to sit on the end of your bed while you discuss a project isn’t exactly the way to go when it comes to running your business from home. If you have space, make a designated client area where you can meet with them and discuss whatever it is they are there for. This could be your converted box room, or it could even be outside during the summer months, providing you have some comfortable seating out there. If you don’t, and you like this idea of having a relaxed meeting in the sunshine, simply browse Bridgman online.

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Be a good host

Just because you are forging a business relationship with your client doesn’t mean that all pleasantries need to go out of the window. In fact, it will probably work in your favour if you do treat them as you would any other guest in your home. Have tea, coffee and soft drinks on standby in case they would like a beverage. Make sure the home is at a reasonable temperature and have a candle burning in the background if you can. Not every business person works from home, but you can do it while still appearing professional and trustworthy to your clients.

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The Golden Rules of Small Business Marketing

Marketing is important to businesses of all sizes, but it can literally prove the difference between success and failure for smaller organisations. An effective marketing strategy will help present the appropriate brand image for a company, which in turn helps converts browsers into customers.

In addition, successful marketing is no longer all about big budgets and expert teams. Even sole traders can market their company effectively, particularly if they follow these golden rules.

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Cast your net wide

Your customers don’t only consume one medium, so don’t limit your marketing efforts to just a handful of channels. Make sure you consider emails, online ads, social media, television, radio, newspapers, trade press, apps and anything else that is available to you. Certain media will suit specific audiences better than others, however, so be sure to tailor your marketing appropriately.

The importance of social

Social media has huge reach and can have a powerful impact. For businesses, it provides a way to connect with an audience in a more personal and engaging way. Content you put on social media can go viral in a matter of minutes, but it also provides a great way of delivering targeted ads. Facebook advertising, for example, gives you access to an audience of almost two billion people and you can use social media data to target specific groups with ease.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Cloud computing is perfect for small businesses as it uses subscription fees in place of prohibitive upfront costs. Cloud-based marketing software ranges from design tools to automation services, ensuring that there’s sure to be an IT solution to suit your needs.

Convert one-time sales into long-term customers

If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to let an interested customer slip through your fingers. If someone buys a product or service, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their purchase and offering them a discount on future buys. If you can, send them newsletters and promotions to keep your brand at the forefront of their thoughts.

Blog for business

A blog can be a great way of introducing some more subtle marketing into your organisation. Instead of directly asking your customers to spend their money, you create interesting content that they want to read. By making them think about current issues or problems that you can solve through your business, you push them towards a purchase without forcing the issue.

Seek out some press coverage

Creating a press release and sending it out to the local media is a great way of generating some extra exposure and the best thing is, it’s completely free. Try to craft a press release that is genuinely interesting, however, to avoid wasting your time.

Protect what you have

As part of your marketing efforts, you’ll generate a lot of useful data. This will concern customer details and also the effectiveness of your campaigns. Both of these are hugely valuable to your company, so make sure they are protected by strong cybersecurity protocols. If this data were to be lost, or stolen, it would hinder much more than just your marketing efforts.

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Making The Leap: From No Space To Office Space

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One of the great accomplishments in growing a startup from humble beginnings to a fully-fledged business is realizing that you are in a position to start thinking about getting an office space set up. This is a big step to take, but it means that the business is making leaps and bounds to becoming an official organization. There are things that you need to bear in mind before taking the leap.

Understanding the legal implications inside and out is the first step to take. The best advice would be from businesses that you know who have made the move recently. Is setting up an office an essential move for your business? You need to be 100% sure that it is feasible, but also that it will prove beneficial for your businesses. Once you have reached the logical conclusions, you need to get help from a commercial property agent who has a deep understanding of your specific requirements. Upon reviewing the buildings to ascertain if the infrastructure is suitable for the amount of tech you will need to move in, you can start to negotiate leasing terms.

Location is imperative to the success of your business. If you are upscaling your business to include creating new business roles and taking on new employees, you will need to make sure that the place is easily commutable. If you are expecting your business to grow, are you going to be staying in the location for long? And if you are picking a central location, this will need to be factored into the cost, as an industrial estate is cheaper but not as commutable. Your staff needs and your business requirements should be reflected in your choice of location.

After you have settled on a space, it’s time to consider the financial impact it will have on you. Running a business from home meant that utilities and building costs were already factored into your living situation. You will now have to factor in rent, business rates, insurance, the technical costs, as well as the utilities. There are many buildings used for business that offers short-term leases, so you can look at your outgoings on a monthly basis and truly factor in if that office space is suitable for you. Once you have crunched the numbers, you can start to move equipment in. There are installation services available for businesses and can help to make the move a lot less stressful than it needs to be. So instead of trying to rent a van yourself and getting help, you are better off getting a company to do it for you. Once the furniture and equipment have been moved in, all the place needs is a lick of paint and a bit of personalization. Don’t forget the essentials like a water dispenser and items like a fridge!

Moving your business to a new location and setting up an office can seem like a mammoth task, but it is the result of all your hard work up to this point. This is your time for the business to shine, so enjoy it.

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Stretch Out Your Start-Up Budget!

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Believe it or not, the start-up costs you need to cover to get your business off the ground are going to be some of the most strenuous expenses you’ll ever need to deal with. Before you start turning a profit and taking steps to grow your business, there are a range of costs that need to be considered and managed as best as possible. Here are some tips for making your initial budget go further…

Stay Flexible

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I’m sure that when you first started drawing up your business plan, you had all kinds of grand visions involving the latest equipment and software, a board room full of expert staff, amazing office parties, and all kinds of other perks. However, if you get too wrapped up in these grand visions, it can make it very hard to stay flexible when covering your start-up costs, and therefore to save money! I’m not saying you can’t achieve all the dreams you have for your business, I’m just saying they should take a back seat for the time being! Consider the possibility of more short-term solutions; affordable, rented office spaces, freelancers and so on. There’s going to be a lot of changes in that initial period, and these short-term solutions will give you the flexibility to take them as they come.

Cut Costs, But Don’t Go Cheap!

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Your start-up costs can add up very quickly, but there are various ways for you to figure out the best areas to spend money, and those areas where you can afford to tighten your belts. If you’re opening a restaurant and you’re planning to market it as a high-end establishment, then things like lavish tableware and luxury restaurant furniture are kind of non-negotiable. However, none of your customers are going to care that much about the brand of the pots and pans your staff are using. There are going to be a range of ways you can shave down your start-up costs depending on your business model and your plans for the future. Two things thing which almost every entrepreneur can save on is digital marketing and website development. There are now countless free tools and resources out there which will help you get your brand’s online presence off the ground.

Review, Review, Review!

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It’s great when new business owners approach their start-up costs with extreme caution, but this is only the beginning of it. Now that you’ve found ways to save on those first big expenses, you need to keep coming back to your cash flow again and again, and making sure that all of your expenses stay on track for you hitting your long-term business goals. Go over your profit and loss each month, compare it to your past performance, and pin down the source of any discrepancies. This will open your eyes to problems long before they actually break. As long as you keep on top of your numbers, there’ll be little standing between you and the business you’re dreaming of!

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If those pesky start-up costs were beginning to overwhelm you, I hope this post has been a big help.

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Stylish and Functional: How to Create a Modern Business Premises

If you’re still working in an outdated building with drab decor and failing furniture, then it might be time for you to upgrade. Not every business demands a modern decor arrangement, but if you’re trying to stay trendy and want the best for your business, then modernising your premises is a long-term investment that will pay for itself very quickly.

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Modern is attractive

Let’s face it, people like a modern business. They like those large glass panes that let people see into their store. It gives them a window to see what goes on inside of your business, what you sell and how many people are inside. On the inside, large windows let in an abundance of natural light which illuminates the room and reflects off glass tables and reflective surfaces, which in turn fill the room with even more light to create a clean and crisp environment.

Modern businesses also pave the way for modern advancements. A cluttered business won’t have room for things like computers and electronic store devices if there’s no room for it. Things like electrical cables and power outlets need to be hidden in the walls unless you want your customers tripping over cables. With easier access to increased power outlets and wiring conveniences, you can install devices such as monitors, touch-screen devices and more to make your customer’s shopping experience easier and more fun.

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Furnishing your premises

Clean and reflective surfaces are key when it comes to furnishing your business. You can get solid surface worktops that look fantastic, reflect light and are sturdy enough to hold everything from food trays to the heaviest of computer components. For seating, ensure that you have designer-style furniture with a futuristic touch. You want your customers to feel immersed in modern culture, design and also technology.

The inside of your business shouldn’t over-utilise space. Empty space is not necessarily a bad thing as it creates a sense of luxury and openness to adds to the modern feel. Don’t cramp your customers into small areas—let them breathe and move around in your store so that they feel welcome and comfortable.

A good way to open up a dark corner of your business is to add more windows. As mentioned before, large glass panes are great at letting in light and allowing customers to see in and out of your business. If they are large enough and your business is close to the street, it can almost feel like your customers are actually still outside and that they’ve walked into a small closed-off section of the street instead of an actual building. With clever lighting tricks and seamless glass panes, you can create the illusion of a luxurious and futuristic shopping experience.

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Less is more

When you create a storefront, you don’t want to overload it with too many products unless you are a grocery store. If you sell something unique such as boutique bags or electronic devices, then you want to show off your products instead of throwing them at your customer’s face. One of the most common mistakes in business is to offer your customers too much choice.

If they’re overwhelmed, then they’re more likely to go to another store, buy something simpler or request help from your employee. Don’t overwhelm people in your store by attacking them from all angles with your products—focus on selling high volumes of your best products instead.

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Goodbye Boring, Hello Wowzer

So many business people think that they are in a “boring industry,” meaning that they are in an industry that people wouldn’t ordinarily want to read about or learn about. But what people find interesting differs from person to person.

Suppose, for instance, you’re an entrepreneur, and you want to succeed on Twitter. The only problem is that you run a business consulting firm which isn’t exactly conducive to new content and tweets. Well, that’s what you think, anyway.

It turns out that more people are successful on social media than you think. A company called 3M has managed to build up a following of more than 120,000 people, despite the fact that it’s primary business is selling bandages, Scotchguard and Post-it notes. What’s more, the company isn’t political, it doesn’t have any celebrities on its board, like Lady Gaga and yet it’s managed to draw in the punters and make an impact.

The way the company has done it is by introducing people to the technology behind their products. Post-it notes might not be particularly interesting themselves, but the process by which they are made certainly is. People are apparently fascinated by all the stages of production that making a simple post-it note goes through and just how much machinery and automation are involved.

In other words, 3M is helping its customers geek out, in a similar way to How Stuff Works website does.

It’s A Myth That Some Brands Can’t Have Social Media Followers

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According to one branding agency, it’s a myth that some brands can’t develop a social following. What is really required is for a company to think about how it fits in with its customers’ wider interests. Perhaps business consulting isn’t all that exciting for entrepreneurs as a title in itself. But far more interesting are things like interviews with successful business people who can share their stories. Remember, people love stories.

Entrepreneurs Need To Invest In people

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3M employs more than 90,000 people. Most of those people are in the business of making, processing and shipping goods. Only around 10 people work in the company’s social media department, but it turns out that they are incredibly valuable. It is estimated that the company invests more than $500,000 and possibly closer to $1 million, paying for people to write content, upload photos and tweet news about the company across a range of social media sites and blogs. It shows that to be a force on Twitter, you have to invest in the platform. The company clearly believes that it is worth it.

More Content Is Better Than Quality Content

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This is usually the opposite of what you hear on most sites, but 3M has discovered that it is the best policy. Just getting content out there, without having a strict content policy, is best in the fast-moving world of social media. Managers, they say, need to be open minded when it comes to the content that their staff are pushing. It’s simply not possible to control every keystroke and have a functioning social media presence.

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Essential Positions That Need to Be Filled in Any Start-Up

Even though you might think your start-up business isn’t big enough to need or even warrant a large number of employees— it is and it needs them; unless, of course, you yourself are professionally trained expert in just about everything. Here are just two of the positions you should seek to fill as soon as possible in your start-up business if you want it to be a success.

An Accountant

Accountants provides a real back bone for your business, allowing you to focus on all the other aspects of it that are stressing you out. They will assist you in all the financial matters, including the drawing up of your professional business plan and any tax issues regarding the registering of a new business. As well as this, an accountant will give you a peace of mind when it comes to a number of acronyms that have so far just given you a headache whenever you’ve look at or thought about them, like VAT and PAYE procedures. They would take these tasks as their own as well as keeping on top of all your regulatory and compliance requirements.

You can also seek help with budgeting and forecasting cash flow from an accountant as well as credit control. And if you’re worried about the price of actually hiring an accountant or using accountancy services in the first place, then fear not as more and more are becoming relatively low-cost, considering the extensive job they do, like those and the services found on www.AccountantsEastLondon.com.

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A SEO Manager

You need somebody to look after your social media sites and your SEO (search engine optimisation) so that you can get the best out of the ever changing world of today’s technology. SEO is of great importance in the marketing of your product online. If a potential customer is searching in your market online, they want quick and accurate information — the business that offers this has that all-important initial attention of the customer. To get this, the customer in question needs to be able see your information pop up on their search engine instantly: they need to see exactly where they can find you so that they can work out how best to get to you; and they need to customer reviews from other, like-minded people as themselves in their area in order to know if they can trust you. Businesses that fail to take advantage of SEO are much more likely to get overlooked in comparison to rivals who have optimised it. Does this sound like a lot for you to handle? The simple solution: hire somebody to do it for you.

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So, there you have it. Simply put: to take back the enjoyment of running your start-up business, share the burden. As well as what bringing accomplished professionals into your business will do for the business as a whole, bringing people in who are as like-minded as you are could induce brand new friendships.

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Seven Deadly Sins Of Writing A Business Plan

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If there is only one thing you need to get right when you start a new company, it’s your business plan. A good business plan outlines the whats, whys, wheres, and how much that you, and potential investors to your company, will need to know. Even some of the greatest product or service ideas of all time will struggle if they aren’t supported by a robust, accurate, and inspiring business plan.

With this in mind, I thought I would go through some of the deadly sins of business plan writing. What are they, why do they happen, and how can you prevent them? Read on to find out more – and ace your next business plan the first time! Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know.

Writing it all at once

There are many parts of a business plan, and they all make up an overall picture of your proposal. But you don’t need to sit down and write it all, in order, in one go. In fact, doing so should be avoided at all costs. You will start off with the best of intentions, but by the time you are finished, your boredom will be self-evident to anyone reading. So, just write your business plan over time, doing it in chunks – it’s the best way to start things off, and an easier way to get things finished.

Thinking you’re the bee’s knees

Your idea might be a great one. But you have to realise that everyone else has great ideas all the time, too. And, that a business plan isn’t about your idea anyway – it’s about the business potential of your idea. If you create an all-guns-blazing plan of activities and declare you will earn a billion before the year is out, you will be laughed out of town. You need to prove you can build a business on your idea, with hard facts, reasonable estimations, and realistic measurements of achievement.

Inaccuracies

If you are using figures, make sure they are correct. If you need help, find a financial expert to give you a hand. Similarly, a fresh pair of eyes going over the copy in your business plan can’t be a bad thing. You can pass it over to a business plan specialist, or even use a proof reading service, who might be able to help you make your message clearer and more succinct. It would be a genuine shame for a business plan to be thrown in the bin on account of a few glaring spelling mistakes, but it shows a lack of focus and a poor eye for detail.

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Setting it in stone

A good business plan is never finished. What you show investors or stakeholders is a ‘most recent’ version, and it will be obvious to everyone if you are using the same plan you have been hawking for the last five years. Make changes, keep figures updated, and keep it alive – it should adapt as your business goals change.

Too much/too little detail in your figures

As I mentioned above, you need to update your business plan at all times and include all your business milestones such as your cash flow, deadlines reached, and sales. If you blur over these relevant facts, potential stakeholders will see it straight away and suspect you are trying to hide some gory details. On the other hand, you can take things too far when it comes to projecting forecasts beyond the next twelve months. Don’t forget, this is a business plan – not your business accounts. If you start suggesting you are on course for a record-breaking five years, it’s not going to look good for you.

No understanding of the market

The market available to you will dictate how successful you are. If your business plan is full of assumptions about your ideal customers, such as who they are, why they will buy your product, and how much money they will spend, people will see through it straight away. It’s vital to research your market thoroughly and ensure you understand the realities involved in getting your business out there. And you should also have the foresight to include any vulnerabilities with your plan seeing potential problems might scare off some investors, but it will also show others that you are serious about what you are doing.

Because you need a plan

Finally, a business plan should never exist for the sake of it. Sure, it’s common sense to create one, but you will only get out of it what you put in. And it should always have a meaning beyond seeking investment – it needs to be shared with your team to organise your goals and measure your achievements. So, put the work into your business plan – you won’t regret it.

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Stressing Over Business Problems? These Common Casuses of Corporate Stress Are Easier to Fix Than You Think

As a business owner, you are probably used to getting stressed out over a thousand things at once. But there is a chance that some of the things you commonly stress over are easier to fix or sort out than you think. It’s worth taking proactive steps to put things right rather than just losing your head and stressing. Here are some things that you shouldn’t get too stressed out over because they can be addressed in a calm and clear way.

Loss of Talent

There are few things more disappointing than losing your most talented employees when you’re trying to run a business. If you want your business to keep growing and becoming better, you’re going to need the best possible team driving it forward. So, how can you keep hold of your best employees for longer? It’s all about making sure that your business is appealing to them. Keep challenging them, show them that there are going to be promotion opportunities for them and give them the pay that they deserve. You ignore any of these things, they might look for a better deal elsewhere.

Tax Inspections

Tax inspections are easy to get stressed out over. No one enjoys dealing with them, and it’s not hard to see why. Everyone can make mistakes, and you don’t want to be left with a huge tax bill at the end of it it. There are a couple of things you can do, though. The wisest thing to do would be to hire an external accountant who can take care of your taxes for you while you do the important stuff. They know what they’re doing, so they shouldn’t make mistakes. However, if a problem does arise, you will need a different course of action. Go to taxinvestigationadvice.com if you have an upcoming tax inspection and need help preparing for it.

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Patent Rejection

Many people think that the future of their business depends on them being able to get a patent for their product. These patents do help, but they are not necessarily the be all and end all of running a business or selling products. Even if your product isn’t protected by a patent, you can still present it in a way that no one else could and get ahead via other means. What matters is that you present the public with something they want to buy. You can also go through the patent appeals process to see if you have another shot at getting the outcome you wanted. You can visit gov.uk/patent-your-invention to learn more about all this.

Inconsistent Sales Patterns

Sales patterns are known to fluctuate; this is pretty normal. But if you are worried about the inconsistencies if your sales patterns, rather than panicking, you should find out what’s causing them. Maybe your products are more in demand at one time of the year than at other times. If that’s the case, you just need to plan your finances in a way that means you can survive the low sales periods by using the money you made earlier in the year.

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Dreaming Big? Keep Your Eyes on These Common Business Mistakes

Ambition is key to a successful business, but getting too wrapped up in the glories that might await you and your business later on down the line can often distract us too much from the here and now, the things that have to be in order if we’re ever going to become the success we dream of. Never forget the old cliche about how success is achieved: it’s 1% inspiration, 99% hard work. While what we’ve outlined below isn’t quite the bulk of the 99%, they are a few incidences where companies commonly get tripped up later on down the line.

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Letting the Company Define Itself

Before you launch your business, it’s absolutely paramount that you have a definition of what your company culture will look like. If it’s left unannounced, it’s liable to taken over by the new employees, clients, even the building that you operate out of. It’s about branding: what is it that you want your company to represent. Take the following for example: a company that wants to be a cutting edge voice in the smartwear market would have a much different tone than a traditional smartwear market, even if they’re selling essentially the same thing. Have all this sort before launch, otherwise it could end up anywhere – and most likely somewhere you don’t want to be.

Not Planning for the Future

It’s never been easier to gauge whether or not you’ll still be in business in a few years or not. There is enterprise risk management software, long term financing options, and a slew of steady markets to position yourself in. If you don’t investigate these things, then you’re not planning for the future – and that’s one thing you absolutely must do. It isn’t enough to just tick along steadily: things will one day change, and if you’re not moving forward with it, you’ll be left behind without much notice.

Not Toasting Your Success

Of course, moving forward too much is also a problem. If you’re always adapting to new markets, you’ll be losing your niche voice, the one that was at its loudest when you began your venture. Having a set number of values and looking back to remind yourself of what is worked in the past – and, well, celebrating your achievements – is doing a disservice to your company and its employees. One eye on the past, one on the future, and and being right where you in the present is the ideal approach.

Having A Solid Plan

You might think that having a solid plan is a good thing, and broadly speaking it is. However, having a plan that is too solid is not a good a idea. If you’re determined to stick to a vision you had several years prior, then you could be missing out on many opportunities that are much better than where you’re currently heading. Have a plan, but always be ready to adapt and change it depending on which way the wind is blowing: it’ll ensure you’re never liable to stagnation.

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