The Benefits of a Virtual Office

There are so many considerations to take into account when thinking about setting up a virtual office. First of all, a common concern that people have is that they will feel isolated outside of a team environment, particularly if they are used to speaking to people all day. One way of making sure that this doesn’t happen is to keep having regular communications on the telephone and even video conferencing with colleagues or clients.

Having the relevant software or apps to send quick messages to people will also help to keep you connected with others. Taking a break at the local coffee shop from time to time or going out for lunch can also be a good idea when you are not too busy.

Commuting

Maybe you are currently looking at a change of career and are considering freelance jobs. In this case, you will no doubt be keen to understand the benefits of virtual offices. The beauty of freelance work is that you can usually work from anywhere you choose. So whether that is a home office or a workshop to rent London, whichever solution suits your circumstances and budget.

So one of the biggest benefits is that you can reduce commute time, so if you are working from home or somewhere a short distance from your home you could be saving a lot of commute time and costs.

IT Costs

You also have the option to choose your preferred technology, with access to Google Drive, Trello and other great collaborative online tools that are free to use. IT costs for large businesses can spiral out of control with network set up, security and maintenance costs etc. but working from a virtual office you can avoid a lot of those costs.

Recruitment Costs/Salaries and Benefits

If you own a business that is growing then you will also have access to talent from across the world, rather than just the local market. There are many companies out there that take advantage of lower salaries paid in countries like the Philippines for different roles including a virtual assistant to help with general tasks. So businesses can save a great deal of money by operating from a virtual team format, perhaps calling on the services of freelancers that do a few hours work per week for them.

As well as being able to employ workers at lower salary rates, there are also the savings that can be made through not being responsible for holiday pay, pensions etc. and the office running costs.

Employee Engagement

People working from virtual offices enjoy the flexibility that it provides. Rather than taking a day of their holiday entitlement to have furniture delivered, for example, as working from home allows them to schedule their work around it. Childcare is another area that can be made much easier by having a virtual office, as it takes less time to get to the school/nursery.

Fewer Distractions = More Productivity

If you are somebody that easily gets distracted or even frustrated by other people in the office being noisy or other annoying behaviours then a virtual office will feel like your haven of productivity. No waiting for the printer, long walks to the toilet, overcrowded lifts or any of those other problems that eat into your time when working in large offices.

One thing that you should consider is how much less walking you might do if you are not commuting, as you might be surprised at how sedentary your days can become. So if you do not exercise regularly then try and go for a walk during your break/lunch to keep moving and prevent the problems associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Weigh The Costs And Concerns Of Company Finance Options

Do you have an idea for a new business? That’s fantastic, but don’t be fooled by the blogs online. You can’t start a business with nothing in your pocket, and you certainly won’t be able to make it successful. Instead, you need to make sure that you do have some money to spend on the set up of your company. There a few ways to fund a business set up, and we have discussed these before. However, now it’s time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This is the most practical way to know which financial plan is right for your business venture. We’ll start with a popular modern choice.

Is Crowdsourcing The Way Forward?

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There are plenty of different crowdfunding sites online these days to choose from. You might try Kickstarter, or you could even set up a go fund me page. It’s possible to look at sources aimed exclusively at businesses as well because not all of them are. We’ll get to that in a minute but first, let’s look at some of the best advantages of this option.

Pros

Well, first when you crowdsource, you immediately have access to a massive group of investors. You could literally raise millions for your business in a matter of days, and that’s not even the best part. The best part is that the money is completely spread out divided into multiple investors. This means that the risk is drastically limited. You won’t take on any risk because investors or funders are more than happy to receive an incentive such as a free first order.

Another benefit of crowdsourcing is that it can bring you a lot of media attention. If your business idea generates buzz online, you can get the support you need. This, in turn, will help you gain more money for your venture. It all sounds great, but it might be a little too good to be true.

Cons

There are a couple issues to contend with here. First of all, you’ll be vying for attention on a massive market and funders are often general consumers. They are eagerly tempted by things that seem bigger or more interesting than what you might be offering. In other words, the most sensible ideas might not win out. You might need to razzle-dazzle them.

Crowdsourcing will also only work if you can gain attention. This means that you really already need a large, stable following online, willing to support you as a new business entrepreneur. Finally, if you fail to make money you, need you won’t get any funding.

What About A Typical Business Loan

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Similarly to crowdfunding, there are various sites online that can provide you with business loans. From banks to building societies and private lenders the market is wide open for this type of financial transaction.

Pros

First, the customer is king here. That means that you can get the exact loan that you want and make sure that it provides what you need. You also won’t need to rely on reaching a certain target as is the case with crowdfunding. That means that you have more control here.

On Top of that, you can get loans for a variety of different ventures. If you can dream it, you’ll be able to get the money you need to do it, and you’ll be trusting professionals. In other words, you won’t need to worry that the money won’t ultimately come through.

Cons

The only really issue to contend with is that interest rates can be high. You must make sure that you can afford to pay back whatever you borrow and ideally repaying should be easy. In other words, don’t borrow more than you can afford.

Borrowing From Someone You Know

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Alternatively, you might turn to friends or family members to help get your company off the ground. Is this the right option?

Pros

There is a possibility that you won’t face any interest rates and you’ll be getting into business with someone that you know.

Cons

It’s the same as the pros, you’ll be getting into business with someone you know. Paying back a loan to friends and family members isn’t fun, and it can be rather awkward. Particularly, if they constantly ask for that money back. It can strain your relationship and even cause friendships to end.

On top of this, while it might start as a friendly loan, you have to think about what could happen if their financial situation suddenly changes. You might find that they need the money back faster than you can provide it.

We hope you see now that there are advantages and disadvantages of each option and that you are able to make the right choice for you.

What Type of Marketing Strategy is Right for Your Business?

Running a business is hard. It’s draining, whether you’re a C-level executive at the top of a major corporation or a sole proprietor running a taco stand. Your livelihood and financial stability depends on getting more customers through your door and having more money leftover at the end of the month than you started with.

So this is why marketing is a big deal to you and everyone who works at your company. Marketing makes or breaks a business, so you need to know what kind of marketing strategy will work for you and bring in the best ROI.

The tough part is that there’s no single best answer that works for everyone. One type of marketing might be excellent for one company, yet it won’t do much for another company. So how will you know? Basically, you just have to get busy and try out several different strategies for yourself and measure the results. Just make sure that you don’t make too many changes at once, since this can make it impossible to know which tactics worked well and which ones didn’t.

Here are three types of marketing that you should try out for your business.

Digital Marketing for Website Traffic

First of all, internet marketing is a must. No other type of marketing offers as much bang for your buck. You can set up a company website for less than $100 and then scale it up from there. Social media is free too. So there’s no excuse not to start with marketing your business online.

Start a blog and some social channels and start putting out content every week. Track your stats and see which types of content get the best response. Inbound and channel marketing can take a while at first to get things rolling, but within a couple months you will start getting some traffic, and you can analyze your results from there.

Traditional Media Advertising Campaigns for Brand Awareness

Traditional marketing is still alive and well, so you’ll want to invest some effort there too. If you can afford big media, then regular spots on television and radio can work wonders for your brand. Think of how many brands have become household names over the years simply because their customer base watched their TV commercials throughout their lives. The same should be happening for your brand.

Companies with lower budgets can still take advantage of local radio spots, newspaper ads and even billboards and vehicle wraps. But the key here is that you need to go in for the long term. It takes time to build brand awareness, but the rewards are totally worth the time and expense.

Cheap Offline Marketing for Small Biz Startups

There are a host of other tactics that you can use besides electronic media and the internet. Old school guerilla marketing tactics still work really well today. For less than $1,000 you can have a thousand flyers printed up and distributed throughout your local service area. Include a coupon, and you should get a pretty decent response that is measurable and scalable.

You can also print up pens and other merchandise with your company logo and website printed on them and then just give them away to keep your brand top of mind. Popular choices include ballpoint pens, bumper stickers, notepads, T-shirts, and tote bags, but with a little creativity and research you can come up with hundreds of other ideas too.

Getting your brand name and logo in front of your customer base is crucial to the success of your business. Start with one of the above suggestions, stick with it for several months, track your results and then make adjustments as necessary to optimize your conversions. Then try it again with another type of marketing. Eventually, you’ll find the right mix of marketing strategies that will work for your company and your budget.

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Smart Money Options for the Financial Savvy Mom

As a mom, you want maximum results and extended flexibility. And when it comes to the way you save money, or keep them, making the right choices can be the difference between stress and bliss. Financial products tend to have unnecessary limitations, like the maximum number of withdrawals or an unfair balance between the interest rate and the minimum deposit required, which can be intimidating.

In the order of minimal requirements, there are a checking account, the savings account, and the premium option of a money market account. Let’s see some pros and cons for each.

Checking Accounts

Opening a checking account is fast, easy and requires only to be of legal age to own a bank account. It’s the equivalent of keeping your money in a safe place, making you less tempted to spend them, yet retaining full liquidity. Nowadays most checking accounts have a debit card attached, making it easy to pay for current shopping without the risk of getting into credit card debt.

It replaces the outdated written checks and acts as a great way to pay bills and utilities. Also, saves you from the hassle of carrying cash around with you. The best part is that since this is an introductory banking product, it usually comes with no attached fees or commissions.

The downsideis that you can’t dispute or reverse charges, making such an account very vulnerable to fraud and theft. It’s better to restrain from using such cards for online payments.

Savings Accounts

Compared to checking accounts, savings accounts are federally insured, therefore are much safer. Also, these provide you with a much better interest rate, but there is a catch. You have to keep your money in the account for a determined period to get the full interest.  This could be inconvenient, especially if you run into some trouble and you need to access them quickly.

The great thing about saving accounts is that you can set up an automated payment and grow your money tax-free until you withdraw them. The out of sight out of mind approachcan help you save thousands without even thinking about it.

The current economic condition makes savings accounts less tempting. You won’t enjoy a high-interest rate; you could even have the unpleasant surprise of a higher inflation rate compared to the interest.

Money Market Account

If you have used a saving account for some time now, accumulating enough wealth and would love to see it grow faster, a money market account could be a good choice for you. Decide after you read the best advice on money market accounts.

A little less flexible than a checking account, but still allowing you to write a few checks and withdraw money, it comes with the promise of a better interest rate compared to the other options. The interest rate might vary over time, and the minimum deposit starts around $250, although some companies require up to $1,000. It’s not enough to have this money as an initial deposit; you need to keep them to avoid fees. Compared to savings accounts, there is higher liquidity.

Drawing the line

Your current situation and earnings level dictate the best tools for your savings. If you ask us, we would recommend a mix between these options, since there is no one-size fits all solution. You could keep 70% of your earning in a checking account for easy accessing and the remaining part either in a savings account if you don’t have enough money yet. Once you have the minimum amount, transfer them to a money market option to get the benefits of higher interest rate and more flexibility.

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Importance of Research in Running a Business

Many aspiring business owners believe their days of research and homework ended when they earned their degree. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that research is an integral and essential aspect of running a business. Sure, the world has no shortage of stories of haphazardly launched startups run by people who didn’t take the time to understand their industry until later on, but these are exceptional instances. For the overwhelming majority of small businesses, conducting comprehensive business research will be vital to maintaining success.

Here are the reasons why research is so important in business:

Navigating offers

Aspiring entrepreneurs often fail to appreciate how they are a market to other businesses – mainly entities which seek to help by providing services and supplies to other companies. With this in mind, it’s imperative for small business leaders to do their research before agreeing to partner with service providers. For instance, it’s a good idea to research small business loans before applying for one. The same goes for hiring marketing services and other outsourced responsibilities.

Testing of new products

Research is crucial in examining the potential of an innovative product in the market. Medium-sized businesses must recognize the types of products and services that the consumer needs. They must also assess the missing products and the state of demand. Business research minimizes the risk of non-performing products. It aids in shaping the product by identifying the market gap and the level of demand.

Examining the distribution of products

Distribution is key to the success of a business. Poor distribution could lead to business loss and failure. By conducting a business research, you ensure adequate distribution of products. Distribution research assists marketing manager to identify the areas that they need to increase their distribution.

Product promotion

Business research is crucial in assessing the effectiveness of product promotion. This is fundamental when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises. For instance, a business commercial may assess their advertisement channels and see if a significant number of people are aware of that.

Studying the competition

Knowing your directest competitors and the level of competition in the market is imperative. Results of the business research will aid you to know the measures and strategies to overcome your competitors and the level of competition in the market. There is no way you will realize how other businesses are operating without having a comprehensive research.

Location

Most medium-sized businesses are unable to sustain themselves due to poor location. Businesses were set up even before examining the demographics, security, nature of people, and the demand of a place. Before you opt for a certain location, there are certain things you have to consider. This can only be obtained if you conduct a business research. It’s very useful since it reduces the risks of an underperforming business.

Choice of product

Many business persons are unable to identify the necessary products for a certain demographic and location. As a result, they end up availing products that have no market demand which leads to closure of the business and low-profit turnover. This is mainly brought by lack of market research. Conducting a business research helps business persons to identify the missing product in the market. By conducting an assessment, you will be able to listen to what people say. With this knowledge, you shall be capable to avail the ideal product and increase profits.

Measure of progress

The growth of a business is measured by its progress. Once you realize the progress of the business, you shall be in a position to identify the weaknesses and strength of that business. This can only be realized if you conduct a business research. Without doing a research, you might think you are in the right direction and that might not be the case.

Improving productivity

Market research enables you to increase the productivity of your business. After conducting a research, you will realize some unnecessary costs and expenses. This will aid you to increase the profitability of that business.

Bottom line

It is clear that every small and medium-sized business needs business research. As described, there are many benefits that come with a comprehensive research.

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