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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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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