Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why Going Further Afield Could Provide You With a More Fulfilling Travel Experience

Are you one of those people who like to take a short plane ride to a nearby destination? Well, that’s all well and good, but what about when you get bored of doing that? There are plenty of places to see and explore in the world, so don’t limit yourself to a small area. By branching out and traveling a little further afield, you can see and experience so much more. Here are some of the main reasons why you should go further and get a more fulfilling travel experience. 

There’s More to Learn 

For a start, there is more to learn when you travel further. There is nothing quite like arriving in a place for the first time and getting to grips with it. Sure, it can be a little daunting and intimidating to start with. But once you find your feet and start to explore, there are so many new things, both big and small, that you’ll gradually discover. There is nothing more valuable than learning, so don’t limit your horizons. You will be much more likely to come back from your trip with new experiences, perspectives and knowledge, which could help to improve you as a person.

You Can Volunteer and Pass on Skills in Asia 

Many people decide to head to Asia so they can volunteer and help out with charity work. You volunteer in Thailand to teach children English. Or you could go to China and help with wildlife conservation efforts. There are all kinds of humanitarian causes that you can assist with in Asia. It will give you an entirely new and unique life experience. And you don’t get the chance to do this kind of thing if you stay close to home. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Great Business Gets Competitive Over Employees, Not Just Customers

Get flexible 

What kind of working conditions do you offer your team? Have you thought about expanding their options in how they do their work? As the technology available to businesses grows ever greater in utility, it allows for more flexibility with individual workers. For instance, the remote worker market, those who can just as happily do their job from home, keeps growing with little added cost to employers. Otherwise, companies can offer flexible working schedules to those who have needs outside the business they need to share their job with. Being a flexible employer not only adds a lot of immediate versatility, but it shows potential hires that you are willing to work with the individual’s needs. 

Adding benefits 

Of course, there’s little better than simply adding benefits to the existing proposed pay. Recognising that it’s not all about money and offering some assistance to other parts of the employee’s life creates an image of a business that is thoroughly invested in its team. Even better if you’re able to offer flexible benefit plans. Some of the benefits that potential team members are going to find most attractive include things like increased contributions to their pension, assistance in dealing with childcare provisions and costs. You can even consider helping them deal with unexpected challenges through employee assistance help that could help them solve problems impacting their ability to work. It’s a good idea to keep in mind a range of benefits to specific based on the needs of the individuals you’re talking to. 

Build a place to build a future 

The right benefits are a good way to help people to provide for their future. However, their plans for the future don’t just involve security. They involve working their way up to being able to provide more for themselves and their family. To that end, they are most certainly going to be thinking about building their career. From the onset, make it clear that you take an active approach to developing your employees. Show them you create plans with your team members, finding opportunities for training and additional responsibilities. Highlight practices of tracking their productivity and results and improving them. If you develop a practice of hiring internally when possible, it shows them it’s possible to have more than a job, but a career in your business. 

Provided that you’re able to keep supporting employees after the hire and the business proves to be everything you said it would be, the tactics above will help you hold onto skilled staff for a lot longer. They also make it a lot easier to retain them, keep them engaged, and make it a lot harder for competitors to try and poach them.

Here's Why HR Is At The Heart Of Your Small Business

Just because you start off working for yourself at home on your computer doesn’t mean it is going to be like that forever. What if your business really starts to take off and you get so busy you need to start employing some employees? As soon as you get to that point, it is crucial that you think about your company’s HR. Most entrepreneurs like to hire some dedicated members of staff who can take care of all the HR side of their business. However, there are still some small-business entrepreneurs who continue to ignore HR, even once they become employers. That is a huge mistake to make! Here are a few reasons why HR should be at the heart of your business. 

HR Helps Control Budget 

Once you have looked over your company’s finances and created a budget, you will need to send the budget over to HR. HR employees are usually the people who take care of enforcing budgets in a company. They can also look to see where there is room to save money for the company, for example on employee training or wages. Many small businesses find that input from HR staff is really useful, especially when there are some very tight budget constraints in place. 

Managing Time Off 

No matter how big or small your company is, your employee's’ days off will have a big impact on the business. This refers to both time off for illness or vacation. To make sure that this has little impact on your company, your HR team will need to take care of employee rota management. This way, employees’ vacations can be planned in periods that aren’t so busy for the company. Managing the rota can also help them work out sick leave and any cover that is needed. 

Resolving Conflicts 

Not all of your employees may see eye to eye. Thankfully, your HR department or team can greatly help you solve these kinds of issues. Most HR professionals are specially trained in dealing with such types of conflict. There will be various ways in which the HR worker can help to restore a professional and working relationship between conflicting members of staff. Not only that, though, but most HR employees also have a good knowledge of employee rights and entitlements, so they can help to ensure that all employees are working within their rights and getting everything that they are entitled to. This can help prevent you from facing an employee tribunal

Staff Training 

HR departments and teams are also responsible for organizing training sessions and workshops for employees. All of the best HR workers will be able to see the areas in which certain teams are weak, and can arrange for training in these specific sectors. Many employees improve their job satisfaction after training, so it is a great thing to do to improve staff retention

As you can see, there are loads of reasons why HR is valuable to your company. So start thinking about yours now!

5 Smart Ways To Get The Most From Your Employees

Ensuring you have the best and most efficient workforce can be a real challenge, especially during winter when everyone would probably prefer to be hibernating. Trying to keep people motivated, engaged, and excited to work can take all your power as a manager. But while you can’t change them as people, you can encourage them to work in the ways which you would prefer. 

It’s all about moulding your workforce in your image, setting a great example, but also being approachable. Enabling your staff to feel like an intrinsic link in the system allows them to feel pride. These feelings of positivity only serve to boost productivity and efficiency. Companies of any size need to put time and resources into creating a working space and environment that allows everyone to reach their full potential, ultimately creating a cost-effective workforce to be proud of. 

1. Allow individuality to shine 

When utilised effectively, the best asset of a company is the diversity in its workforce. Staff aren’t potential automatons that just need the training to carry out their work absent-mindedly. Employees are flesh and blood, with their own worries, desires, and goals. They each have different personality nuances and moods. Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to harness the power of a diverse employee base. 

Everyone wants something a little bit different from their offices - some want to be able to chat and collaborate and others prefer silence. Some want bright, open spaces, and others will feel more productive in a cubicle free from distractions. Offer different working environments for people to use with flexibility. This enables them to move freely depending on the nature of their project that day, or even their mood. 

Encourage them to feel empowered to make that decision themselves. When they know you’re looking out for them, their quality of work will reflect that. 

Encourage staff to pursue interests within the field of their work. People will prefer different aspects of their job, and while it’s not always possible to only take part in the bits they enjoy, members of staff become stronger pillars of the team when they’re allowed to specialise. As an employer, it means your employees are able to push themselves to reach their potential with little input from you, but it also strengthens the teams and can bring great new ideas to the table.

2. Don’t show favouritism 

As a result of individuality in the workplace, it becomes usual for managers to have a “teacher’s pet”. Maybe it’s someone who works harder, pushes the teams further, or just someone you get on with the most, but all it succeeds in doing it breeding resentment among the other members of staff. 

Inequality in the workplace is something that, in the not too distant past, was all too common. With the progression of society and the introduction of various employment equality requirements, such as gender pay reporting for large companies, businesses are expected to be more reflective and aware of potential inequalities. This could be unequal treatment of staff based on their gender, sexuality, or even just the number of hours they work. But people who feel as though they’re being treated differently are far less likely to be invested in the success of the company, so their work suffers as a result. It’s always worth being mindful of equality, not just in your hiring, but also in the day to day running of the business.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How To Turn Heads In A Crowded Marketplace

If you’re a business owner, your aim is to generate as many sales as possible. Of course, you want to enjoy work, but ultimately for your company or venture to be a success, you need to get the registers ringing. In many industries, it’s a matter of turning heads, and persuading people that you are the person or company to trust. But how can you do this? If you’re a business owner with ambitions to stand out from the crowd, this guide will come in handy.

Finding and up-selling your USP 

A USP is a unique selling proposition. It’s what makes you different from your competitors, and what could seal the deal for clients trying to choose from a range of options. Every business should have a USP. Without it, there’s nothing that makes you any better than your competitors, and you’ll struggle to entice new clients. Think about how you can appeal to the market, and what you could offer that other businesses don't.

Once you’ve come up with a USP, don’t sit around and expect it to sell itself. Up-sell it, and make sure everyone knows what you’re offering, and why you’re better than your rivals. Encapsulate it in your marketing materials, even add it to your strapline. Just make sure that you make it loud and clear.

Gathering information about your target market 

Before you go into business, you should have a good idea about the kind of market you want to crack, and the type of buyer you’re aiming to appeal to. What demographic are you hoping to attract? What kind of products would they buy? How much would they spend? Are they likely to buy online or visit a store? Where do they shop at the moment? You should be aware of all the answers to these questions before you launch a new business. Do some market research, and listen to what people say. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, and what tricks and techniques they use to drive sales. 

Using feedback 

If you’ve got a product ready and waiting to hit the shelves, get some feedback before you start selling. Send out some prototypes to buyers and bloggers, and ask for reviews. Feedback is really useful, even if it’s negative. If there are issues, you can address them before the product goes to market. If people love the product, this can attract sales, and also generate a buzz, especially online.

Setback? What Setback? Here's How To Get Out Of A Tight Financial Squeeze

At some point in their lives, most people go through a tight financial squeeze. But don't worry you're not alone. During the recent stock market crash, many people lost a lot of money, and it's left them wondering how they can make it back. Here are some steps to recover from financial disaster.

Step 1: Accept Your Financial Situation

One of the problems of people encounter when they try to recover from their financial situation, is that they spend all their time wallowing in misery. Yes, it's always a shame when you lose your money especially if it's the results of something that somebody else did but worrying about it won't solve the problem.

According to Financial Mentor, living in the past and worrying about what could be done differently is a mistake. Your energies are much better spent looking for ways to move forward and to resolve your financial situation. Even if justice isn't done, taking this approach is actually what's best for you. This is the most efficient way that you can help yourself. By not wallowing in your own misery you avoid wasting energy and you'll have much more time to dedicate to solve the real challenges that you face in your life. 

Step 2: Take Stock 

The next step towards your financial recovery is to take an inventory of your current financial situation. This means adding up all the money in your bank accounts, all the debt that you owe to other people, all of the liabilities you have, and all of the assets you have in stocks and shares. Once you know what you've got in the bank, you're in a much better position to develop a plan of action. Developing this plan of action is no different to how you would plan a route if you were going to a new location. You need to start off your plan based on what is true about your financial situation right now. 

Why Every Blog Under The Sun Is Now Using Social Media To Drive Traffic

When it comes to building an audience and spreading their content far and wide over the internet, bloggers are increasingly turning to social media. Social media has enormous influence and reach and is, in many ways, the new go-to platform for people who want to share their ideas. While it’s true that it is still possible to draw people to your blog organically and to reach out to people you know in real life, it’s becoming harder and harder to make an impact and generate interest in your content. 

The good news is that social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are making life a lot easier for bloggers. People are constantly on the lookout for new information, and social media feeds provide the perfect place for them to get their hit. Social media is being used to target new visitors as well as keep regulars engaged. 

The bad news is that using social media correctly can be difficult, especially if you’re new to some of the platforms and how to use them for marketing purposes. Here are some tips for bloggers who want to leverage social media to spread their idea. 

Make Your Social Media Icons The Focus Of Your Site 

You want your social media content to be as shareable and as accessible as possible, and you want it to be easy for readers coming from social media sites to access your blog. Readers shouldn’t have to search around, delving into the bowels of your site, just to find your Instagram handle; instead, it should be displayed prominently, right at the top of your feed. Visitors should be able to click the button and be taken to your social media profile where they can be further delighted by your content.

Because of the increasing importance of design, it’s also a good idea if your social media icons reflect the overall theme of your blog. There are many different handle designs to choose from, depending on what blogging platform you use. 

Generate More Traffic Via StumbleUpon 

StumbleUpon is a sort of recommendations engine that allows users to click through and see what their StumbleUpon friends are recommending. The engine also makes it’s own recommendations. As a result, StumbleUpon acts as a kind of referral service, getting people to pass on recommendations about your blog to their peers. For bloggers, this is about as close as it gets to peer-to-peer marketing, and, as a result, it’s a very powerful tool to generate new interest in a blog. Your readers are much more likely to trust each other’s recommendations than they are any marketing that you create. 

Just as with any other social media platform, you need a strong following to generate good results. The more people you can cram into your network, the more widely your blog will be read. Just remember to make sure that you recommend blogs that you like. Supporting other people’s blogs is a great way to get recommendations in return. Often content on StumbleUpon can go viral, and many bloggers who failed to make a substantial impact through regular channels have seen 10X increases in their website traffic as a result. 

Join Blogger Groups On Facebook 

Because blogging is computer- and software-based, it can, at times, be a little tricky. This is why it’s a good idea for all bloggers, no matter what their topic, to stay up to date with the all the latest technical developments in the space. One of the best ways to do this is to join up with blogger groups on Facebook. You’ll find advice blogs for individual blog types, like travel bloggers. And you’ll find more general advice, such as blogs that deal with how to successfully navigate and use Wordpress. Seek out bloggers that help other bloggers, learn the tricks of the trade, and then use them to make your own blog world-beating. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Transparency and Your Business: Should You Pull Back The Curtain?

The word "transparency" is thrown around often these days, with the targets being companies and governments. The theory goes that transparency is a relentlessly good thing that we should all celebrate - and for the most part, it is. Keeping things behind closed doors that have an impact on the public is rarely a good idea, especially if it's going to impact the public! 

We are more aware than ever of how a company operates. Thanks to social media, we no longer have to wait for the next morning to see what a business is doing or thinking - it's right there at our fingertips the moment it happens. News only stays new until the next breaks in the news cycle, which tends to take about three minutes. 

You wonder… Does it matter to my business? 

As someone looking to make their business function online, all of the above might float over your head somewhat. Surely you're too small for this to matter? Or will anyone even care? It's not like you're the Great and Powerful Oz hiding behind a curtain - you're just trying to go about making a living. 

Yet there is a huge power in even the smallest of companies being more transparent. It might be through showing your product development through live streaming broadcasting for an up-to-the-second look, publishing tutorials on social media, or just taking to Twitter to laugh about bad days at the office - it all shows a more human side. In the modern age, we don't want faceless companies anymore; we want businesses that seem powered by real people who make mistakes and are doing their best anyway. 

Okay, but… How far should I go? 

There's no suggestion you need to publish your business figures online and analyze them for your social media and customer following. There's a point where transparency begins to feel invasive for both parties. 

Aim for somewhere in between. Don't hide things deliberately. If you have a new service, product or innovation, then talk about it rather than hiding it until launch. Keep some details back, but let people feel included in the development process. 

Even if you're a small one-wo/man band, you can still show a glimpse of what it takes to run your business. Social media is the primary way to do this, but a weekly blog on your website can help. Keep it simple; an overview of the things you did this week and what you hope to achieve next week.