Start Your Own Business Without Leaving the House!

Whether you are living in a rented house in the Florida Keys, or own one of the beautiful condos in Montreal, it is possible for anyone to start their own business without even leaving the house.  During the recession, many working age people decided to start a home based business in order to make ends meet, and now they are reaping the benefits of their hard work.  If you think working from home sound like the ideal solution to your financial worries, keep reading for some tips.  This article aims to help you start your own business from the comfort of your own home.

Start Small

It’s tempting to throw a lot of money at a business in order to get it started.  However, it’s a much better idea to start small with low overheads, especially if you won’t necessarily be making a wage for a few months.  A laptop on a kitchen table can be the perfect work desk (at least at first), and your spare room could be the ideal stock room.  Many of the world’s biggest companies started off in the same way: Marks & Spencer’s started off on a market stall, whilst Laura Ashley began on her kitchen table.

Agree Payment Terms

Don’t expect people to pay you on time, as it’s common for companies (especially big businesses) to take their time with payments.  It’s a much better idea to agree payment terms before you begin any work.  If you are building a website for someone, for example, you could ask for 50% of the payment upfront, and the remainder upon delivery of the website.  If you are happy to wait until after you have completed the work, make sure your client’s know when you expect payment to be made, and what the consequences will be for ignoring your payment rules.

Plan Your Finances

No matter what type of business you are running, it’s important to plan everything.  Even if you’re only setting yourself up as a freelancer, you need to have a good idea of how much money you expect to make each month, and how much your outgoings will be.  It can be tough to estimate sales when you’re just starting out, but once you have been working for a month or two, you should have a much better idea of what to expect.  Where possible, try to avoid borrowing money unless you are sure you can pay it back.

Don’t Forget to Market

Marketing can be challenging for home based business owners, so this is one area that is worth investing in.  Marketing is one area where you need to spend money to make money, and you’ll really appreciate the constant workflow that you attract.  Failing to market yourself correctly could lead to huge gaps in your business’ cash flow, especially if you have to spend hours every day looking for new work.  Market your business daily, and you should find that you have a steady stream of custom.

Every home based business requires a significant time investment, but if you have the motivation, you can make it work.  Good luck!

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Why Upgrade Your ERP System

SO, why upgrade your ERP system? ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are a major investment for any business. After the initial investment, making the decision of when and how to update the existing system can be a daunting task. When assessing the need to make such a sizeable investment, it is important to consider the business implications of such a decision.

What will your company gain? How many more years of working life does the system have? What types of updates are needed? Questions like these can help clarify to size and necessity of the updates. Periodically, though, it is important that companies perform some types of updates on their ERP systems for a variety of reasons, four of which will be outlined in more detail below.

Maximize the lifespan

With a typical lifespan of 15-20 years, ERP systems allow an organization to manage and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. The benefits of integrating all facets of business operations can be enjoyed for years but, in order to ensure the system continues functioning at a high level, it is important to perform periodic updates over the course of the system’s life. Without such updates, the lifespan can be reduced by as much as half. Considering that the initial investment in a new ERP system is more costly than periodic updates, it is financially more feasible to update the system as needed and maximize the lifespan of the technology.

Meet business objectives

ERP systems are designed and tailored based on the goals of the company. When your company initially invested in the system, it may have had only short-term, only long-term or other types of objectives it wanted to meet. Now, years down the road, it is important to reassess the strategy of the business to ensure that the ERP system continues to align with it and position the company to meet its objectives. If the objectives, or the strategy implemented to meet those objectives, have changed then it is important to upgrade the ERP system accordingly.

Maintain the bottom line

In business, everything comes down to the bottom line. By quantifying the effects of keeping your old system, investing in a brand new one or updating the existing one, you can make a cost-based decision that best aligns with your company’s budget and strategy. The long-term costs of ERP systems can be kept from ballooning out of control by performing updates to the system along the way. Instead of investing in and implementing a brand new software program every few years, focus on the bottom line and reduce your company’s overall investment in the software by updating your existing program.

Assess business opportunities

As mentioned in the previous section, a cost analysis can be critical to making a decision on updating your ERP software. In this process, it is easy to skimp out on a necessary purchase for the sake of saving a few dollars. For this reason, companies should keep in mind other opportunities that can arise from investing in an upgrade of the system. Potential benefits for your business may include increased communication, efficiency, productivity and visibility of day-to-day operations. In this streamlining process, businesses often see reductions in overall costs across the organization that make the upgrade in the ERP system worthwhile.

These are just four of the main reasons companies have cited for upgrading their existing ERP systems. Once they have justified their investment, usually with one of these four reasons, they can begin to consider exactly how they will implement the changes. From consolidating all systems to the same provider to eliminating obsolete reports to including data archives, there are a variety of ways to include upgrades into an existing ERP system.

In the end, a company needs to be clear from the start about exactly what they need from their ERP system. With an ERP strategy in place, it will make it easier for businesses to know the proper timing for an ERP upgrade in the future. Upgrading your systems can be daunting but, by following your company’s strategy and the four justified reasons to upgrade listed above, your business is well positioned to make the best decision possible.

Bio: Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek.

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Health and Wellbeing Apps for Small Business

If you are a small business looking to make big changes to the health and wellbeing of yourself and your staff, utilising your smartphone and some of the smarter startup tech products out there could be the answer. Keeping staff motivated and productive can often come down to allowing them to embrace healthy lifestyles both in the office and at home. There are many health and wellbeing apps available with that cause in mind, and here we discuss a few of them that can help keep bodies healthy and minds active so you can build your small business into exactly what you want it to be.

Physiotherapy

Corporate physiotherapy is an important part of ensuring employees reach their maximum potential. Many physical ailments and muscle problems could be the result of a poorly maintained office and lack of ergonomics knowledge (fitting the job to the worker). So many things can affect the physicality of workers, from having a chair and desk at the wrong height to the discomfort of uniforms or dress codes.

The iRehab.com app, priced at $9.99 is one of the most popular and has received good reviews from users and professional physiotherapists alike – in fact, we have two to share, one is available here.

With an easy-to-use interface and good for therapeutic intervention, this app is great for use by workers who may suffer from any form of back pain. After a brief questionnaire, the app completes an exercise regime which can be done at home or perhaps on a lunch break. The exercises are demonstrated by a 3D animated model showing users how to do them properly in order to not cause more damage to the back.

Corporate physiotherapists also recommend this app because of its simplicity and ability to be used both at work and at home. Alex Bell from backinactionuk.com tested iRehab and said, “This app is great for people suffering from mild back pain at work. The look of it is simple and easy-to-use, however the exercises are in-depth and allow for progression making it an all-round success for those who want to gain more flexibility and lessen everyday pain in the back.”

Concentration

We all know how difficult in can be to keep concentration up at work. Whether you work in an office or a shop, you are usually no more than a few clicks away from an entire realm of social distraction. There has long been a problem with staff checking their social media sites during work hours which can lead to another site and then another site until an hour has gone past and the most you have to show for it is a not-so-funny picture of a cat in a waistcoat…

With Anti-Social.cc the problem is blocked completely and quite literally. This program is available for computers as a stand alone application and works by blocking all social media sites completely for a set amount of time determined by the worker. For a cost of $15 the user can choose from up to 30 social networking sites to block, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit, and they can be blocked from between 15 minutes and eight hours! There is absolutely no way to unblock the sites (the program creators say this is “keeping you honest”) unless the computer or smartphone is completely rebooted. This stops workers from having the day to day distractions that can waste so much time and allows them instead, to improve concentration by giving staff no other option than to work!

Motivation

Once staff have worked on their concentration, it is time to make sure they have the motivation at work to their full potential. Small businesses often have less money to spend on employee engagement techniques such as staff parties, salary incentives for improved work or the potential for flexible working to increase intrinsic motivation.

If money is tight therefore, there are apps available for staff to use in order to reach both their work and personal goals. Coach.me is a free app designed to help motivate people in all aspects of life, from being better at work to losing weight. The app works by getting users to input personal goals and offering many levels of motivation including day to day advice, community motivation in the form of cheers and the recording of each milestone you complete. There is also the option to request a personal coach from one of the app’s long list of professional helpers, and Coach.me will helpfully prompt users to keep on trying and not let them forget the important goals they have set themselves.

This app is great for small businesses as staff can set the same work-based goals and pull together to ensure they are achieved, additionally should you work alone, the app can help you push forward with those lower priority goals that are just too easy to palm off.

Human Resources

Another issue that some small businesses face, particularly those with just a few staff members, is the lack of a dedicated human resources department. Although the team may be small, managing staff requests such as holiday or sickness and individual project deadlines can be tough. There are many apps to help with HR needs, but Lemigo HR is one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly apps available…or will be when it’s in the app store! It’s currently in beta and you can get it now by registering on the site.

The app allows for so many aspects of running a team of workers, including holiday, employee and project management, as well as recording shift patterns and rotas and salary tracking. It also charts statistics about various aspects of the business letting bosses know areas that need improving as well as worker trends. With detailed information served to managers in a simple design, it is the perfect app for emerging businesses, giving them the same tools as larger corporations who have HR departments. This means a small business can offer big things for less money, which can then be put in to other areas of the business.

We all know there is an app or digital solution for pretty much everything these days, but they do not all have to be social. With the aforementioned apps, whole teams of workers can enjoy the daily grind more. They can be comfortable in a physical sense, reducing any pain and discomfort, but also in a mental sense. Using these apps can offer small businesses the chance to maintain excellent standards of work while allowing attention to be given to other areas, inciting growth and development of both the company and those who work for it.

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5 Must-Have Apps for Entrepreneurs

Part of an entrepreneur’s job is being able to do everything. From accounting, to marketing, to sales; when you are the business you have to do it all. Even for the most capable, this is no mean feat.

Fortunately, we live in an age of technological wonder where digital devices and apps can streamline many of these tasks. With these jobs taken care of, digital entrepreneurs are free to build better businesses, faster.

These are 5 apps for entrepreneurs that can pave the path to success in the digital realm at least!

Clicky

Digestible Analytics

Google Analytics is a great and comprehensive platform that provides deep drill downs and an incredible array of data. But sometimes that data can be overwhelming and the layout can make it difficult to find what you want when you want it.

Clicky serves up your analytics data in real time and in an easy to read format. It also provides heat maps of your website so you can see how your site’s layout is working and how it can be improved.

Slack

Conversational Collaboration

Whether working with your new team or with other start-ups, collaboration is a vital part of getting a business up and running. Streamlining and simplifying that collaboration process is just as important. Slack provides an intuitive, informal interface that makes communication on a project clear and concise.

One of the additional benefits of Slack is that many of the other apps and programs you use such as Mailchimp, Google Drive and Twitter integrate seamlessly with your conversations.

Trello

Simple Visual Project Management

Trello is another app that integrates into Slack. It uses a clean, crisp drag and drop style interface that syncs across platforms and users. Like a digital version of the Kanban card system on which the Agile Development Process is based, Trello lets you add images, files and lists to each card on a board.

Even seemingly simple projects can spiral out of control if not managed properly. Trello is the perfect app for keeping track of your projects’ progress.

Wave

Streamlined Invoicing

Part of being an entrepreneur is (eventually) making money from your business. At some point that will involve a lot of invoicing. It can be a tedious task that can also consume a lot of your time, time that could be spent far more productively.

Wave is an app designed to simplify invoicing and receipts. As part of a larger, integrated cloud accounting suite Wave not only makes compiling and sending invoices simple it also lets you know when they have been paid or when they are overdue.

Batchbook

Social CRM

One of the bigger challenges faced by digital entrepreneurs is Customer Relationship Management. You may have had a successful weekend at a convention, collecting hundreds of business cards and email addresses, but capitalising on that list requires a real, concerted effort.

Batchbook not only provides a great way to pull together your client list into a meaningful, useful asset but it also draws information from your social media networks. You can create custom databases of meta information around your contact list using tags and easily keep track of important on-line conversations with clients.

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A Guide to Employee Motivation

As a business owner, staying on task and ahead of schedule will directly determine whether your company will sink or swim. One of the biggest problems within companies today is small inconsistencies that turn into large problems in the future. Once they get to that point they are even harder to fix because no one really remembers where the problem started in the first place. Use this article as a direct guide to employee motivation and help keep your employees motivated and honest with their work on a daily bases.

1. Give constructive criticism, but don’t run them into the ground

This is the number one reason employees would ever be dishonest about an incident happening because of how they are directly treated by their employer. Nine times out of 10 employees will shy away from you and try avoiding confrontation at all costs, even if it hurts the company. It has been proven that good support to people who do something wrong has an overall better effect that the opposite. Say things like “that’s not quite right, here try doing this instead” then following up with “you are giving great effort; just remember to turn in your work at the end of the day”. Starting or ending the statement with a positive feedback will almost guarantee that the employee will get a sense of acceptance and want to try to impress you in the long run.

2. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel

Show some incentive or a reason to do better at work. It can be either profitable or just recognition throughout the workplace. Some great ideas for profitable incentives could be things like a pair of baseball tickets, a bigger bonus at the end of the term, or even just something as simple as lunch on a Friday. If you do not have extra money for incentives give your employees something they can be proud of. For example you could have an employee recognition program, such as employee of the month. It leads to good office morale and motivates employees to do better work.

3. Feed the hungry

It was touched on in the step above, but if you have the revenue to do it, people love free food. For instance, it might be easier to rally the troops for that 2:30 p.m. meeting if they know there will be free donuts and coffee available. Also as a side note, caffeine will be your best motivator. Whether you can afford to buy coffee for everyone once a week or even get a vending machine that has cheap caffeine sources in it, caffeine will help give your employees that small energy boost they need to finish out the day.

4. Trick them into thinking they are not working

One of the easiest motivators will occur without the employee even knowing it. Be spontaneous and change things up around the office. Instead of having your weekly meeting in the small boring office, try having it outside or renting out a hotel suite once a month. Another great example would be let them all work from home one day and only require them to participate in a free conference call. This works well because employee will feel like they are not at work and the creative juices start to flow, hence making them more productive.

5. Let them be heard

If you really want your company to thrive, let your employees know that what they do has a direct impact on the outcome of something major. Give them something to work for and be proud of. There are many ways of doing this, including having a meeting where they give suggestions on different topics to better help or change the company. Also, sitting an employee down that may be struggling more than the others and explaining to them the overall importance of that person’s job may help boost their self-motivation. Showing that there job can directly affect the lives of others is a good motivator that will help them to work harder.

Whether you own your own small business or manage a company with 10000 employees, if they do not perform the way they should, nothing will get done. Use the above steps as a general guide to help better motivate your employees in a more positive manner.

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Start-up Story: Zartis.com

Cork company Zartis.com have hit the ground running at the start of 2015 with a number of major developments. Hot on the heels of announcing the opening of an office in Moscow, offices in London and Madrid were opened at the turn of the year. Meanwhile their workforce in Cork doubled in 2014, with CEO and Founder, John Dennehy confident that more jobs will follow suit in 2015.

So what do they do?

Zartis offers a unique approach to IT recruiting, with their talent marketplace, which helps Irish companies source IT professionals via a software platform rather than needing to rely on traditional recruitment agencies. For companies in Ireland looking to hire developers traditional sourcing routes can be frustrating and time consuming. Traditional recruiters can simply be too expensive (and often may struggle to source sufficiently high caliber candidates). Zartis sources candidates across Ireland and further a field adding them to the talent platform (after they have been pre-screened) allowing local Irish companies to browse candidates for free. The resultant benefits are considerable; ranging from cost savings, to time savings, to a more transparent process.

At home, they are perhaps best known as the company who created and power Ryanair’s Digital, as well as being behind a number of other recruitment initiatives including MakeItInIreland.com a site designed to attract top developers to Ireland.

Prospects for 2015

Commenting on the recent developments, serial entrepreneur John Dennehy was upbeat about prospects for 2015 adding that “We are showing some really strong traction domestically working with a marquee client list consisting of many of the major US tech players based here, while we are also making some inroads in the UK and further afield”.

The tech recruitment software space they operate in is a hot one, with US entrant Hired.com having recently secured a Series B of an additional $15m to support further growth. Much like the way Air BnB, Uber, Match, and Zoopla are using technology to disrupt inefficient markets, new talent marketplace entrants like Zartis.com and Hired.com are also using technology led solutions to make recruitment ‘more efficient’. And they are doing it with impressive results.

Zartis have recently expanded their proposition to include contract workers also, which represents a significant market opportunity for them also. Their software led approach to recruitment has also won many fans beyond their impressive client base in Ireland, and they were recently shortlisted in the innovation category in the European Business Awards.

Revenue Model

Zartis allows companies to browse their platform for free, charging a flat fee of just 10% (of first year salary) on hires made as part of the Zartis service offering (where Zartis are instructed to source candidates with particular skill-sets).

Not one to rest on his laurels, Dennehy is a passionate advocate of Irish tech and cites the likes of Teamwork as great examples as to what can be achieved by indigenous software companies. “What is interesting about the likes of Teamwork is that we use their software in-house. Why? Not because of any local favouritism but simply because it is best in class”. A select group Dennehy plans to emulate with Zartis.com

Written by Alan Gleeson. For more information visit www.zartis.com.

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Powerful Strategies to Help Your Business Succeed

The first step to help your business succeed is to brainstorm about the nature of the business you want to start. You should choose a business that you are interested in, so that you can use your knowledge & expertise. You must choose a business in which you are sure that you will get better output at the end.

Build something better and different

Today there is cut throat competition in every business. Everyday companies are launching amazing products and improving their services in order to enhance their sales and to maximize their output. You should try to provide something different because of the world changing; people expect something that is different and unique and better as compared to the existing ones. You should dig deep in order to stand long lasting.

Follow your competitors

You can follow your competitors in order to know about the tools and techniques that they are using to grab the attention of the people. The best way to analyse your competitor strategy is to follow them on twitter, facebook & other social media platforms. This will help you to get regular updates about their newly launched products or services.

Save money for bad times

Always remember that there can be bad times, so you should be prepare in advance to face it with great courage and energy. In order to cross it, you must save your money and energy. If there are bad times in your future, you can easily cross the obstacles with your saved money and energy.

Don’t compromise on the big things

You should stick to your vision and purpose. It is good to listen to your customers but do not adapt the ideas that can be a reason of failure of your business. Many businesses fall down because they follow what their customers tell them.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

The saying is very simple and it has a deep meaning behind it. It is similar to marathon and sprint. In both, you have to run but the difference lies in period. In marathon, you have to run for a long time whereas sprint require running for a short period. You must be there for long period. You should try to start a business that would be able to survive for a long time.

Help your business succeed through relationships with your customers

The audience and customers are there behind the success of your business. It is very necessary to keep and maintain good relationships with your targeted audience. There are lots of methods to keep in touch with them. Business pages can be created on various social media sites as everybody uses social media sites in today’s world. You can allow your customers and audience to follow you on Facebook, instagram. You can keep in touch by sharing the articles and blogs of your business on various sites. The blogs will not help only to build relationships but will also help you to get traffic to your site so that you can become a successful business.

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Job Specification Part 2

So, last time we looked at why a good job spec is helpful and why it’s important to spend some time on it. If you missed that blog, you’ll find it here. Today, I’m looking at what exactly should be included in the job specification.

Just to recap, a job specification is a detailed description of the role, including all responsibilities, objectives and requirements. It can be accompanied by a person specification, which is a profile of your ideal new employee, including skills, experience and personality type.
When drawing up the job spec …

Do

Include the details of how this person fits into the organisational chart, so as well as the job title and the position in the company, include the line manager and any other members of staff reporting to the new employee.

Be specific about the responsibilities of the job. Include details of how success will be measured so there is no ambiguity when it comes to targets or benchmarks being met – this doesn’t mean you need actual targets eg 5% increase in revenue. Simply point out that a target for revenue will be set.

Include salary and benefits and the grade of the post, if applicable.

Give the location of the job and whether this may change from time to time.

Outline any special working conditions such as unsocial or shift working patterns, or the requirement to undergo a criminal record check.

Spell out the general nature, main purpose and objectives of the job. Give a list of the main duties or tasks expected of the employee. Giving examples of typical projects the employee will be involved in will help to illustrate what you’re expecting.

Specify which skills and qualifications are essential and which are desirable, not forgetting any equipment or software requirements, eg knowledge of Sage essential; knowledge of InDesign desirable

Point out the person’s responsibility to look out for his or her own health and safety (though this can be included in a staff manual along with the company’s health and safety policy given to the successful candidate).

Don’t

Box yourself into a corner. If you see the role changing or evolving, say that the role is likely to change in the future, so that when it does, your employee can’t refuse to take on further duties or responsibilities. A good phrase is “and other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job as requested by your manager”.

Insist on a qualification if experience is just as useful. You can describe a qualification as desirable rather than necessary.

Discriminate on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality or health. Making sure your job spec isn’t casually discriminatory requires close reading; you can’t insist on a number of years’ experience (as this could be ageist), for example.

Load the job spec with HR jargon or industry-speak. You may well be looking for someone who is au fait with industry jargon, but equally, you may not. In either case, the specification should be crystal clear and easily understandable. Jargon rarely aids clarity.

The person spec should list the knowledge, skills, experience and attributes the ideal person should have. When drawing up the person spec …

Do

List the technical, organisational, communicative and creative skills and abilities you expect from an ideal candidate being careful to differentiate between essential criteria and desirable criteria.

Describe the kind of personality that would fit in. If your organisation has defined its culture in terms of attributes, give them here. Matching the person’s outlook as well as his or her technical skills to the organisation or team will result in a better fit.

Specify the type of experience applicants are required to have; however, stipulating length of experience required may be considered discriminatory (see above in job spec section).
Do specify any special requirements such “availability to attend evening meetings” or “possession of a driving licence” if they can be justified.

Don’t

Draw up the person spec after the job spec, or after the post has been advertised. It should inform the ad and, potentially, where the ad is placed.

Ask for qualities that will be difficult to assess during the selection process (for example, a flexible approach).

Focus on how the objectives need to be met – eg by door-to-door sales – rather that they should be met. Someone who can’t walk around or physically go door to door could reach the targets in other ways.

Together with part one of the job spec series (see here), you now have everything you need to write a useful job spec, one that will help you attract an individual who is both a good fit for your organisation’s culture as well as someone who can achieve your business objectives.

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3 Important Things to Consider When Creating a Home Office

There are plenty of telecommuters and entrepreneurs working from home these days, and they are making a decent living out of it. Setting up an home office can save a new entrepreneur a lot of money, and allow him or her to put in more quality work hours. Of course, you need to be able to stay motivated and productive if you want to reap the benefits that a home office offers, and it certainly has some downsides. While being proactive and not wasting any time on achieving your goals is important when doing any kind of business, you should never mistake impulsiveness for initiative. Before you decide to start building a career from the comfort of your own home, you should consider a few important points first.

1. Invest in Your Home Office and Turn It into a Professional Workspace

The biggest mistake people working from home make is setting up a desk in the corner of the bedroom or living room, and having no way of effectively cutting themselves off from their private family life when they need to work. You should choose a room, or at least an area that is somewhat secluded, to be used specifically as your office, and you need to make it look the part. This will involve some small home renovations, like repainting a room, and getting some new furniture, cleaning up the attic, investing in a better internet connection, and installing an effective air conditioning unit.  I’ve had some experience with Aussie telecommuters, and I’ve found that the best thing to do is to avoid DIY solutions, and go straight to the pros. You want to make sure that you are hiring a capable professional to help with the necessary renovations and repairs. The simplest way to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company is to perform an online license check and see if they are a legitimate business. A good computer with all the necessary peripherals, a decent desk and an office chair, a filing cabinet and some office supplies can turn out to be a substantial investment as well, but it is well worth getting the best equipment you can get based on your budget. I’d say that the chair will be the most important piece of equipment, as you will be sitting for hours on end, so don’t try to cut corners when choosing your office furniture.

2. Dress as You Would If You Were Going to Work

Staying concentrated and productive is all about your mindset. If you spend half the day in a bathrobe or your pajamas, what you are essentially doing is telling your brain that you are in “relax mode”, and have all the time in the world to get things done. You don’t want to be under constant stress, but it’s important to have some sense of urgency, and dressing like you were expecting company makes things seem more serious. There is no need for a three-piece suit, as comfort is also important, but you should definitely look presentable. The same goes for your hygiene – make an effort to shave, comb your hair and feel fresh.

3. Setting a Work Schedule Helps You Stay Focused

Telecommuters don’t really have a choice, since their boss will monitor their activity, but freelancers and entrepreneurs can find all that freedom difficult to deal with. It’s true that some people can do more work on a more flexible schedule, but for most, it’s best to stick to set working hours. This won’t only provide you with a focused state of mind, but it can also help you deal with the outside distractions, like people calling you up during the day, kids running into the office, and so on. Once you go into the office, you are at work, and everyone needs to respect your privacy, including yourself. Taking occasional breaks is fine, but try to stay in the zone, and don’t let yourself get distracted – it’s very easy to lose an hour or two on random chores – you can deal with personal stuff when you have clocked in enough work hours first.

All in all, if you are a focused and responsible individual, you will be able to set up a good home office and keep your productivity high, although the project will require an investment. You’ll need to consider these points, and make a good plan of attack if you want to make the most of it.

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Startup Advice: How Not to Fail as a Startup

2014 was the year of startups and according to a report by The Telegraph, new startups are born every minute. If you have an idea but no money to back it up, no problem! There are tons of incubators, investors and VCs who will be more than happy to invest big money if your idea clicks to them. Read on for more startup advice…

There are more and more facilities available but unfortunately we see a large proportion of startups failing in the first few years. There are many reasons for failure which include setting up unrealistic goals, intangible business models, starting up in a declining market and others.

Failing is a part of the process but what’s always important is to know why things fail and how one can learn and steer clear from the same mistakes. In this post I am going to offer some tips and ideas that might help new startups stay in the market and be competitive for a longer period of time. Not only that but also help sustain their business and even grow.

1. Learn from Industry leaders

One of the biggest mistakes I see startup owners do is to assume they are better than everyone else in their market – this is one thing that will bring them failure. The whole idea is to learn from market leaders. They were not leaders from day one.

Get in to their history; see their sales graph, growth patterns and most importantly see what mistakes they made. Again, learn from them and plan a growth strategy for yourself instead of blindly following them and doing whatever they have done.

I was talking to the VP of search for The Workplace Depot, one of the giants in industrial supplies market in UK and this is what he advised to anyone new in their niche.

Concentrate on your own unique selling points and while keeping an eye on competition is important, you have to have a clear idea of where you want to be and how you are going to get there instead of wasting time and energy making sure you match up to your competitors.

2. Always have a Plan “B”

Business is not easy and in order to make everything run smoothly you need an extensive plan that covers everything from sales to growth, marketing to branding and more. Having a plan is important but one must realize the fact that in businesses there are times when things don’t go according plan and in that case you need to have something to fall back on.

Ilene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion shared a great advice about why it’s always important to have a plan B. She said:

My point is to always have a Plan B that you can implement. Maybe you have to go to Plan C or D, but the point is that you always have to have a backup plan … So I look for young people who have the energy and drive to get things done, to keep their eye on where they’re going but at the same time realize they can’t do it alone. It’s not just a one-person show. You can’t be the micromanager; you have to be able to get things done through others.

3. Setting a Vision Statement

A vision statement for your business is as important as a business plan itself as it indicates what you should do as a startup and more importantly where you want to take your audience with your product or service.

There is a Japanese Proverb that says, ‘Vision without action is a daydream and actions without vision is a nightmare’.  Most startups comes up with great ideas but what they don’t focus is on their vision statement and that is one thing that keeping them away from being great.

When Rand Fishkin of Moz.com changed their vision statement to create marketing tools and stop offering services that was a tough decision but they stuck to their vision and today Moz.com is considered to be the most successful startup in the internet marketing industry.

I was searching for some inspiring quotes on vision statement and I found one by Sir Ernest Hall that nailed it perfectly.

To be a successful entrepreneur one needs a vision of greatness for one’s work. If we dream extravagantly we will be inspired to forge a reality beyond the straight jacket of practicalities. There is a profound connection between art and enterprise which allows businesses to overcome the limitations of their existing visions.

4. Get Real with Yourself

Another big mistake that most startups make is not getting real, and continuing to live in a dream bubble. In my opinion it’s important to dream big but in order to make that dream a reality, you have get out of their comfort zone and do some real work to make things happen as they ideally wanted to be.

A few things you can do in order to try to avoid failure is to trust data and statistics instead of using gut feelings. Set realistic goals and a proper execution plan to achieve and over achieve your set targets. Look into the mirror at yourself, if you are not management material; just hire someone who can manage things better than you can. You can then focus on something you are good at.

Once you start being honest with yourself and accept to the fact that you can’t do everything you will move a step away from failure. Lot of businesses I know failed just because they weren’t honest with themselves and didn’t understand their skillsets.

iO Tillett Wright, a New York based artist, director and photographer once said and this is exactly the kind of advice any startup owner should take in order to avoid failures.

All I’m ever looking for in my work in general is honesty and truth and people being real to them.

5. Build a Learning Culture

No matter how great your idea is, how smart your approach is and how successful you are in business at the moment, if you do not invest in building a learning culture within your startup organization, sooner or later it will fall apart.

In order to avoid failure and build a company your audience can admire you need to build a learning culture and from this I mean you need to change behaviors and processes as without these in place, it’s impossible to change the systems. Systems are key for business operations.

It’s not bad to take a business advice from a philosopher of science especially when comes to this:

I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.

 

A startup is like setting up a family and we all know that gathering the whole family in once place is difficult,  you need to deal with all the good and bad times and stick together so that you can be successful on your own self and become an example for others.

Is your startup on a ventilator? You need to implement these ideas quickly in order to stay away from failure.

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