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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Branding: A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

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Branding is possibly the chief ingredient to success in any business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a global corporation with aspirations of becoming a monopoly, or a small and local business simply looking to beat the competition in your area. People remember a brand. Part of that is due to the fact that, in an ever-competitive consumerist world, thousands of businesses offer the same goods or services with very little variance between them. It becomes impossible for customers to separate overly-similar companies, so they look to the branding of businesses to make their decision; whichever companies presents itself the most effectively is the one which will secure the target audience. It’s as simple as that.

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Of course, it’s all very well to explain the simplicity of branding in theory. In practice, however, creating a successful brand which overrides the successful brand of your competitors is not necessarily the easiest task in the world. It’d be foolish to pretend that other businesses within your industry haven’t also put a lot of time and money into creating a successful marketing campaign, logo, slogan and overall image of the company as an entity and a group of hard-working individuals.

Still, this all works in your favour. Whatever has worked well for your competitors can work even more effectively for you. The aim of the branding game is to cherry-pick successful techniques that have won over consumers for your competitors, and then use them to form your own original brand which blows other businesses out of the water. Here’s how to begin building a successful image for your business.

Nail your online presence.

This is the modern age, and if your business doesn’t have an online presence, it’s not yet a full business. You need to learn the concepts of online marketing; how it is similar and how it differs from physical marketing.

Promoting an image of hard-working employees and a professional, unique service is an important part of branding, but you need to be spreading that message in the right place. The majority of your target audience will be browsing for services and goods similar to yours online. You need to ensure you’re showing up at the top of their results pages, and this relies on using SEO techniques to optimise your website to the algorithms of Google and other search engines.

In addition, when you have a responsive website with a beautifully-designed layout, not only are you ranking more highly in search engine results, but you’re presenting a better image to potential customers visiting your website. There’s no harm in using a graphic design specialist, if you want to overhaul your existing website design.

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Co-operate with other businesses.

I know – blasphemy. However, you don’t always have to be challenging other businesses in your area. Contrary to belief, even if this is a free economy, that doesn’t always mean you have to compete with your rivals. If your employees compete with one another, then they don’t work nearly as well as they do when they co-operate. It’s the same in the business world, and it’s why your business image might flourish if you and other businesses promote one another.

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Passion means just as much as originality.

Having a unique idea is great, but novelties wear off eventually. What is new now will be old tomorrow. If you want to impress your customers, your business’ passion and drive to offer incredible services and high-quality goods is perhaps more important than simply being “original”.

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Are You Sapping Your Team Of All Joy In Their Work?

As a business owner, you want to get the best you can from your team. However, it’s not always up to you. The mental and emotional state of the individual will play a big role in just how motivated, engaged, and happy they are at their work. If previously reliable and even excellent employees are starting to show signs of unhappiness, it’s more than a trivial concern. You need to start thinking about what is making them unhappy in their position and get them back to peak performance.

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Are they recognised?

This is a very important factor. Everyone wants to feel like their work matters and in some way reflects back on them. If they’re doing good work, are you sure they’re getting the credit that they should be? One way that some thoughtless employers deal a crippling blow to office morale is by neglecting to recognise that need. Some will use their authority to take the credit for any victories while passing the blame of any defeats. It’s a defensive mechanism that many do without even noticing it. Remind yourself that as the head of the team, you are the one who stands the least to lose by taking responsibility, and the one with most to gain by giving the team the recognition it deserves.

Build a culture that cares

The admission of blame and passing of credit in part creates a culture that shows more concern for the surrounding individuals, as opposed to oneself. That culture can reflect in the actions of the employees, as well. But there are other ways you should make it clear that they are in a business that cares about them as people. For instance, take a closer look at the workplace they inhabit. Are you using commercial cleaners and supportive, comfortable furniture to create a workplace that is easier, more comfortable, and more welcoming? Do you organise any group get-togethers with the team to make it easier to forge bonds that give them more respect and thought for one another?

Find what they want

The most important part of a workplace culture is that it makes more than the appearance of caring about its people. It truly cares for them. As their employer, you likely have the greatest demands on the time of any of your employee’s. Instead of using that time solely to benefit you, make sure you’re allowing some benefit for them besides a paycheque. Turn a staff member into a team member by helping to develop them as people and giving them some personal space in the office. That can be physical space like a locker of their own, or a mental space, like engaging them directly during team meetings to hear their thoughts on issues at work that matter to them.

The happiness of an individual at work is a tricky thing. The points above are going to make a big difference, but if that source of unhappiness is outside the workplace, there is less you can do. Showing that you care, however, plays a big role in itself.

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Stand By Your Man: Top Tips To Help Him Land That Job

From time to time, we all need a helping hand. If your partner is preparing for an interview, it’s time to stand by your man, and help him land that dream job. Here are some tips that could make all the difference.

Creating good first impressions

A panel of interviewers will form opinions of you before you even start talking, so creating a positive first impression is essential. If your man has got an interview coming up, help him put an outfit together, which will ensure that he gives off the right vibes. Even if the job is based at a relaxed office without a dress code, it’s always best to dress smartly for an interview. If they get the job, they can dress down once they start. If you look formal, this makes you look professional. Research also shows that wearing a work ‘uniform’ can help you to become more focused. A well-fitted suit with a tie and pocket square is always a good idea. If he wants to try a few options, you can give your opinions and narrow down the choices.

There’s nothing more off-putting for an interviewer than smelling body odour and spotting people who look unkempt coming through the doors. You don’t want your other half to be seen as one of the grubbiest men in the line-up, so make sure they get up early enough to wash, brush their teeth, and sort their hair out.

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Practice makes perfect

It’s very common to feel anxious and nervous before an interview. If your partner has been asked to do a presentation, listen to them, and provide feedback. This can help them to improve the content, and also the delivery. You can also create a role play scenario by asking questions that may come up.

Be honest when you’re listening to the pitch or presentation. There’s no point in saying it’s brilliant if it could be better. Your comments could make all the difference. If you can pick holes in what has been said, it’s highly likely that an interviewer will do the same. Try and think of tricky questions to make it as realistic as possible.

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Confidence

Confidence can be the difference between getting a job offer and losing out. If you go into an interview with confidence, this will come across, and the panel will be more inclined to think that you are the person for the job. If you lack confidence in your abilities, or you’re struggling to get your points across, the interviewers may not think that you’re ready to take on the position. If your partner is struggling with their confidence, try and reassure and encourage them.

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Partnerships are all about helping each other and trying to get the best out of each other. If your partner has an interview coming up, there are lots of ways you can assist and encourage them. Hopefully, these tips will come in handy, and you’ll be raising a glass to new opportunities in the near future.

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In Business, First Impressions Are Crucial

Try and recall the last ‘first’ impression you had to make. It might have been on a date, or when you are visiting a home and are hoping to get some money knocked off the value. You wouldn’t turn up to these events a drunken lout, would you? You wouldn’t wear your pajamas or start rambling about politics, would you? You try to leave a good impression.

With every new encounter you experience, you are evaluating someone and being evaluated, by that someone at the same time. This is the first impression, and they can be pretty to challenging to change. This means the first encounter is usually the most important as it sets the benchmark for the relationship that will follow.

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In your career, it’s critical to your success. You need to know how to create a great first impression! It could be the ‘make or break’ of your business, especially if you’re running a company all by yourself, or are pitching an idea.

The easiest way to start off is to simply be yourself. If you are feeling on edge or a little nervous – this can make the other person feel the same way, and you might get off to a bad start. If you are calm and confident – you’ll likely make the other person feel at ease and make a great point to make that first impression really work.

Also, be on time. If you’re pitching, interviewing or working with someone and you are late for a meeting, then the chances are that things aren’t going to get off to a great start. There are not many great excuses for running late so always plan to arrive early. There’s no harm in arriving at a meeting early, and this is something you can easily control. Nine times out of ten, anyway.

Think of your business card as well. You might want to change up things a little. Ever seen the scene in American Psycho where they are sharing cards, and they are all exactly the same? Yep – be different. Showcase your business with something like an Alpha Card – just be unique and show your ideas and products off in a different way.

The way you present yourself is important as well and should always be appropriate for the occasion – if it’s a business setting it will have to be business attire. That being said, this can wildly vary, and it all depends on what the other person is likely to be wearing.

You can’t go wrong with a clean and tidy appearance as it will be appropriate for all occasions whether they are business or social. Keep your makeup neat and tidy and make sure your grooming is appropriate for the occasion.

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of a good first impression, so don’t delay in making one! It is so easy to get started, and you won’t regret it at all.

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Modern Office Elements for Up to Date Businesses

In a modern world, it’s important for your business to stay modern too. If your company is office-based, there are lots of changes you can make to ensure that your work environment remains up to date. A modern office isn’t just for the benefit of you and your employees. It’s also a sign to any visitors that your business keeps up with the times and always tries to be progressive. It can be excellent for your company, improving its image. Take some of the tips below as examples of how you can make your office more modern.

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Modern Lighting

If you want to modernise your office, you can think about how to be more eco-friendly. Many businesses are trying to show that they’re conscious of how they affect the environment. You might also want to save money by reducing your energy or water use. Modernising your lighting and other electrical equipment and appliances is a good place to start. An LED panel light will use less energy than other lights of similar sizes. Some modern lights can do even more than just emit light too. You can get lights that extend WiFi and are Bluetooth-enabled too.

Office Tech

Beyond lighting, there are lots of other types of tech that could benefit your office. For example, some software can improve working conditions. An app like f.lux adjusts the brightness of computer screens to match the level of lighting in the room. This makes it healthier for people who spend all day looking at screens. Many businesses are also increasingly using mobile devices around the office. They can be useful during meetings, so everyone can have the information they need without printing anything out. Even introducing tech that isn’t directly related to business can be useful. Some businesses give wearable technology to their staff to help them improve their health.

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Flexible Desks and Seating

Businesses have been experimenting with office layouts for a long time. There are some suggestions that open-plan working doesn’t help productivity. However, it’s important to recognise that people have different styles of working. Some people work better in different environments and using different styles than others. Providing flexible working spaces can mean that employees have a choice of how to work, whether they’re alone or working in groups. You can have modular desks and chairs that join up when you need them to create group spaces.

Fun Office Elements

A lot of modern offices have a hint of whimsy to them so that they’re not too serious. It makes them more enjoyable for everyone who has to spend so much of their time there. You can add fun elements to an office with furniture, decoration, or even toys to play with. These elements could be placed throughout the office or perhaps put in certain spaces, such as meeting rooms or a break room. It’s a great way to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, even if you are serious about your business.

Add some modern elements to your office to keep it cutting-edge. Show your employees and clients that you stay up to date.

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Begging The Bank: Getting Funding For Your Business

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Building a business is always a challenge. Alongside the work that needs to be done, you also have to figure out how you’re going to pay for it all. Obviously, funding for your business is the most important part of this process. Without it, it will be impossible for your business to start. Most people will struggle to save enough by themselves. So, you need some help. To get you started, this post will go through the basics of what needs to be done to secure funding for your business.

Having a business plan is the best way to impress potential investors. This plans should cover a span of several years, and include realistic projections for growth. You should use other businesses to help you find the best estimates for your growth. Sometimes, this can be hard, though. So, it can be worth using a professional company to help you make a business plan that makes sense. Your business plan should also include ideas for the future and some ways for the business to grow in much larger ways. Showing that you’ve planned for more than one eventuality will make it look like you’ve considered all of the possibilities. Ultimately, you need to use this plan to convince a lender that you’ll be able to pay them back. So, your plan needs to include a way for the loan to be settled.

Most investors will want a little bit more than just a business plan. You should be able to identify competitors and be knowledgeable about your market. Alongside this, you should also start the process of building the business. Start designing products or advertising material. Create examples of your service or product that your investor can use for themselves. This will make it easier to share your vision with an investor. And, it will show that you’ve already put work into your business. This will make the investor feel as though your heart is in the business.

In modern times, there’s more than one way to get finance for the business. For example, if you get a loan, you will keep the whole business but will have to keep up with repayments. But, if you have someone invest in your business for a share, you’ll only have to lose some of your profits. The best way to find funding for a business is through a Business Finance Broker, who can give you advice about the different options you have available. This will make it easy for you to understand the difference between the available routes. And, it will also help you to understand what is best for your business. In most cases, a loan will be the best idea. This gives you a lot of flexibility.

Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what you need to do in order to find the funding for your business. Of course, you may be able to find an easier route to your goals. So, it’s worth looking at all of your options to make sure that you’re not missing out on something.

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Safe And Sound: Are You Focussing On Your Business’s Security?

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It’s probably not much of a stretch to say that you care about your business very much. You likely have a great deal invested in it both financially and personally. It’s safe to say that this applies to the vast majority of business owners which makes it all the more ridiculous that so few of the actually focus on the security of their business. Sure, they might have one or two strategies in place in case of an emergency, but far too many businesses just don’t have a strong enough security strategy in place. In order to help you avoid that very issue, here are a few areas of your business’s security that you should make sure to focus on.

Cybersecurity

While it might not have been an issue not so long ago, cybersecurity is now one of the most important elements of any business. Cybercrime has been on the rise for the last few years and leaving your business vulnerable to it can have devastating consequences including data left, the loss of valuable information and even a total shut down of your IT system. You need to make sure that your anti-virus and anti-malware software are all up to date since new software is constantly being developed to get around them. You should also make sure that you backup all of your data in as secure a location as possible. If you can, backup your information on both the cloud and on a physical server.

Your premises

While cybercrime may be the thing that’s on the rise at the moment, that doesn’t mean that the risk of a physical break in has been reduced. You still need to make sure that your business is well protected. It should be fitted with sturdy locks, and you should also install alarm systems. Look at where there might be any blind spots where intruders could easily gain access and make sure those areas are covered by your CCTV. As much as you can, try to offer an intruder as few places to hide as possible.

Employee behaviour

Security is the responsibility of every single person working in your business. This means that you need to make sure that your employees are behaving in such a way as to avoid compromising your business. They should all have secure passwords that are changed at regular intervals. Not only that but they should all receive security training that is regularly updated to keep up with the advances made by criminals. This doesn’t just apply to your employees of course, but to you as well. Make sure to lead by example at all times. Keep your passwords secure and be sure to follow all relevant security procedures. If your employees can see you following the correct procedures, they’ll be that much more incentivised to do the same themselves. It might sometimes seem like extra work for no real reward but you need to remember that the reward is the knowledge that your business is as safe and secure as possible.

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Social Standing: How To Build A Good Rapport With The Public, As A Business

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When building a business, figuring out costs and ordering stock is only a small part of the process. The biggest job you have ahead of you is winning over the public. If you don’t do this, you could find it very hard to grow. Of course, this will take some work. But, it could make or break your business. So, it’s worth putting in the right amount of effort now, to save problems later. To help you out, this post will go through some qualities that every good business should have.

Most big businesses have shifted their focus from making products and getting them to customers on time. And, have started trying to find ways to make customers happy. Doing this can be very hard, though. You have to be able to spend a lot of time on social media and community websites if you want to be successful. This process begins with starting your own social media accounts. Once you’ve done that, you just need to think about your posts and replies. When users comment with relevant questions, they’ll expect you to reply quickly. If you don’t; they won’t be interested by the time that you do. This sort of area is very faced-paced, so it can be sensible to have tools or other people there to help you with it.

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Along with making their customers happy, businesses also have to make the Earth happy! With more pressure coming from media and governments it’s very important for businesses to make efforts to go green. This might be a challenge as a small company. But, you can always make a start. If you have offices that operate a lot, you could consider changing the lighting to LED light panel options. They will use less power, and won’t cost as much to run. Or, if you have a factory that makes products, you could consider using recycled materials to manufacture your goods. These sorts of options will cost a little bit of money now. But, in the future, they could save you a lot, as well.

Most large companies are charitable. They have to be. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be so happy to ignore tax avoidance and other naughty practices. As a small business, you don’t have to worry so much about this. But, it can be a good idea to start donating towards efforts that are relevant to your company. For example, if you make clothing, you could ship some to a country less fortunate than yours. This is a great show that you’re not only working for money but because you love providing the products that you sell.

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Hopefully, this will give you an idea of some of the things that need to be done to make customers happy. Of course, different customers will like different things. And, you can’t go for everything. So, you have to choose ways that make sense to your business. This means spending some time researching and thinking about the best options.

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Next Level Designs: How to Prepare Your Website for the Future

Website design is an important part of any successful business. Not only does it give you an online presence so that people can research your brand or company, but you can also install eCommerce services that allow customers to buy your products no matter where they are in the world.

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This global platform of advertisement and marketing is crucial for every business to take advantage of. However, very few businesses start with so much recognition. In fact, it can sometimes feel like a waste of time and money to set up eCommerce and shipping services if your reach doesn’t extend that far yet. Instead of wasting money on your website or other services, plan ahead. Don’t accommodate your website for thousands of users at a time if you’re barely reaching double digits in the first week of your business opening. Start small and plan ahead.

Prepare Infrastructure

Your website won’t make an easy switch to eCommerce services if your host doesn’t support it. Unless your web host is flexible and you understand how to program the services yourself, you need to sign up with a web host that can enable eCommerce at the flick of a switch. Enabling these services usually costs more money on a monthly basis and every saving counts. Don’t switch to a premium web hosting plan if you don’t need to.

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Finalise Your Website Design Early

If there’s one thing that internet users hate, it’s when a website switches their design. Even if your website is a pain to navigate, your customers will eventually get used to it and know their way around your website. Sadly, they’re going to get very annoyed if your website design switches every couple of months because you can’t make a decision or because you need to redesign the site to accommodate new features. Get your website design right the first time and avoid frustrating your customers. You also need to consider mobile users—websites look different on smaller devices, so keep that in mind when finalising your website.

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Know When to Hire Developers

Hiring someone for web development tasks isn’t needed unless you’re planning on creating custom features like a login portal, or a specialised way to link customer orders to your own in-house systems. For example, you could create software that alerts your employees whenever a customer places an order so they can get to work packing and shipping their order straight away, as opposed to having them check their computers manually.

Customer Feedback and Suggestions

Never neglect your customer’s opinion on your website. In addition to having comment and review sections, you also need a way to moderate offensive comments. You don’t want to delete everything that annoys you or pisses you off, but you do want to reduce the number of hateful comments or blatant attempts to frustrate other customers. Make sure you have people dedicated to managing social media and comment sections if you get a lot of traffic on your website, and always listen to the constructive criticism that you receive.

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