Failed Social Networks: A Case Study Of Their Decline

Less than 10 years ago, most of the world was constricted to online message boards and e-mail inboxes to manage their internet friendships. Today, we are bombarded with more information about people we hardly know, from sources that we are just getting used to, that it’s impossible to keep up with. The father of the social networking scene was, a well-known face (many of us were his friend), Tom. He and his MySpace brought together millions of users from all over the world, but just as soon as it arrived, it was gone. This will eventually happen to every site, and some of them never even got off the ground. Here are 3 such sites:

iTunes Ping

For those who can recall this one as anything more than a mysterious button on their iTunes panel that they were afraid to touch, you are certainly not alone. Ping had a notoriously mysterious platform, and most people didn’t have the patience to figure out a whole new social network when they had just been introduced to Facebook and Twitter. Although Apple had all the right intentions, and the funds to back it up, it was timing that killed their social brainchild.

Google+

In Google’s second attempt at a social networking (not many people remember Orkut outside of Brazil; it’s very popular there for some reason), they’ve set out of the gate at full speed. They already had a giant stash of users at their disposal, all those with Gmail accounts, or any of the plethora of other services they offer, were automatically turned into Google+ account holders. As in normal Google style, they did it without causing distress to their loyal audience, and this has worked to their success for the moment. But will it stand the test of time? Some experts say no.

Diaspora

Hoping to drive a wedge between Zuckerberg and his millions upon millions of highly addicted users, Diaspora came in with an angle of providing privacy over personal information; an area where the Facebook crew had been taking a beating in the press. The site launched with a nearly identical platform, which was a great way to transition people from one site to another; sort of sweep the rug out from under them. Possibly, their fatal error was attempting to cut Facebook of at the pass by not allowing their new users to post items from their Facebook news feed onto their Diaspora profiles. This was a major disappointment for those in transition, and it shows us that, while a site can turn to vapor in a short amount of time, it’s not going to happen overnight.

The lifespan of a social network has been just about the most unpredictable thing since the birth of the internet. Unlike other organizations, a social site’s health depends on an international democracy who can vote them out of their place at any moment. What seems to be the key to life is attracting whatever enormous number of people it takes to reach ‘the tipping point’. People don’t want to spend time on a site where they don’t know anyone, so it takes a lot more than consistently accumulating users; you’ve got to get the bulk of the lot all at once to capture the flag. Despite the difficulty, it is bound to happen one day.

Alex L. is a writer and internet marketing specialist for over 5 years. Alex recommends VirtualWebProductions.com for all your web design, web development, e-commerce solutions, online marketing, SEO and post production services.

Branding On A Budget: How To Create A Memorable Look For Your Company Without Breaking The Bank

Getting the right look for your business can be a difficult thing to master. The look of a business determines its motives, its abilities and the overall feeling consumers have about your company. Would you trust a large corporation whose logo appears to have been hastily designed with a variety of fonts from Microsoft Office? It can be almost irritating- you want a particular type of branding (and a logo in particular) that makes the right statement about your business, yet you also don’t want to spend a lot of money; indeed, you might not have a lot of money to spend, particularly if you’re starting a small business. But this is OK- money most definitely doesn’t guarantee success when it comes to designing a logo. Consider the logo of the 2012 London Olympics: designed by the renowned Wolff Olins for a reported $615,000, the logo (a pair of indistinctive pink cartoonish shapes) was met with much derision, and the frenetically shaking animated version actually prompted warnings from various epilepsy groups that prolonged viewing could in fact trigger seizures. Naturally, you don’t have a spare $615,000 to design a logo for your new enterprise, but not to worry- there are some far easier ways to create a logo that creates the right feeling for your new enterprise.

The Importance Of The Logo

A good logo is instantly recognizable- just a glimpse of the logo creates an immediate association with the service or product in question. The iconic apple logo (with a small bite) is glowing from the back of the Apple MacBook Pro on which this article is being written. White ribbons on a red background automatically means Coca Cola, and while you might not be able to achieve this level of recognition with your company logo, with a little trial and error you can certainly end up with an emblem that sums up your business, and the subsequent reaction that’s impressed upon your customers. Brainstorming is key- if you already have a staff or business partners, bounce ideas off each other, even if you lack the artistic skills to realize said idea. If you’re a sole trader without business partners who requires a logo, then ask friends and family members for feedback.

Why You Might Need Outside Help

No matter what the size of your business, you should always allocate a certain amount in development and setup costs. This might seem like an unnecessary extravagance, but it’s more or less mandatory to bring your business from conception to an operational (and profitable) enterprise. These development/setup costs will include things like logo design. While you may be a talented illustrator and feel perfectly comfortable attempting to design the logo yourself, remember that a professional graphic designer is perhaps a sensible investment. They’re skilled at intuiting your desired goal for the logo and can present you with a number of options. Not only do they present you with a completed logo, but it’s also delivered in a variety of electronic formats, easily transposed onto business cards, websites, outdoor vinyl banners or whatever you may need.

Outside Help On A Budget

If your new baby of a business is opening on a very limited budget (and of course this is a common occurrence), you want to seem bigger than you are, and you want to do things cheaply, without it actually appearing as such. When it comes to branding and logo design, if you’re not able to afford the services of a professional graphic designer, consider a talented student. Consult a local college or design academy and put a notice on campus, or on their website (if they have one). At a greatly reduced rate, you can hire a student to design your company logo, meaning that you’ll get a professional product without breaking the bank (although this might require a number of additional consultations- something you will be unlikely to have to do with an experienced graphic designer). The student will be grateful for the payment, as well as the opportunity to add something to their design portfolio. Just ensure that you have a solid agreement with the student, so that they have no future claim on the design.

You want to create a brand that sums up your company and lodges itself in the public’s collective mind, without being irritating. The trick is to not do it by yourself: consultation is the key, whether it’s with business partners, friends/family or a graphic designer. Your brilliant idea might not seem so straightforward when you attempt to explain it to other people…

This is a guest post by Kate Simmons, a freelance writer on topics related to business development and small business marketing.

Modern Marketing For Traditional Businesses

There’s just no two ways about it: image is everything in the world of big business. The fact is that a company just can’t get ahead if it doesn’t have the sort of image that appeals to its target audience. Competitors are likely to work very hard on presenting the right image to the world and those that fail to respond are likely to fall by the wayside.

This is also true for small businesses. Small businesses have felt the pinch due to testing financial times in recent years, but some are doing really well because of a revival of public interest in cottage industries and independent outfits. Small scale enterprises appeal to people when they do not trust the bigger names, but image still matters to an increasingly image savvy public.

Devon is home to a lot of small businesses that are very traditional in terms of their products and services. The country is home to a lot of enterprises that supply natural produce in various forms. That’s because Devon is one of England’s real garden counties – a place where the production of things like meat, honey, yoghurt, fruit, drinks and so on is a genuine tradition.
However, it’s easy for traditional businesses that deal in this sort of production to fall behind because they are not up for embracing modern ways of marketing – they’re simply not on board with what the public is telling them: that image matters in this day and age and that marketing is very influential in terms of what the public choose to spend their money on.

So how can these traditional businesses in parts of the UK like Devon actually make the step into the modern age? Well, the most obvious change they can make is to get online with their operations. A good website is really important because it is the first point of contact for a lot of people.

A website increases the presence of a business even when it is just a page of information and branding complete with contact details. However, businesses can go the extra step and set up social media accounts, online shop capabilities, blogs and all sorts to strengthen their online operations.

Other modern techniques businesses can use to get ahead include things like viral videos that spread very quickly and help to make sure the company name gets into new markets. The key thing to remember about modern ways of marketing is that they don’t impact on the traditional nature of the business – that stays the same, so you get the best of both worlds when it comes to appealing to people.

Jacqui Horan is a small business owner who has benefitted greatly from web design in Devon.

Tips For Finding A Job In A New City

Moving to a new city is an exciting adventure. You can enjoy the new sights and exciting atmosphere. New friends are everywhere. There is only one downside: finding a job. You probably have very few professional contacts and almost no knowledge of business world in your new location. What is the best way to approach your job search in a new city? There are a number of very effective tactics to implement as you hunt for a job.

Go Online

The first step is to develop a list of companies that might be a good fit for your skill set. You can start by using search engines to identify companies. For example, if you are interested in digital media jobs, you might type “digital media company” with the new city name into a search engine. You can browse through the companies that turn up in the search, research them further and identify those that might be prospective employers. You should make a list of 30 to 50 companies in your region that you will continue to investigate and monitor.

Get Connected

The next step is to identify individuals at those companies who you might connect with. You can use LinkedIn or another social media tool to discover these contacts. You can search for people who have digital media jobs and introduce yourself to them online. There are also great databases at the library that provide information about specific companies and their key employees. You also might ask your old contacts if they know anyone in your new city. As you meet new people, you are going to want to connect with them on the various social media platforms that you are using.

Pound the Pavement

Networking is going to be essential as you try to get a job in your new city. You want to get out and meet as many people as possible. You are not necessarily asking for a job, but you are trying to identify leads and cultivate relationships. Attend networking events, join professional associations and ask your family and friends for contacts.

Cultivate an Inside Champion

Your overall goal is to meet someone within a company that you have targeted who actively advocates for you from within that company. This person lets you know when a job is going to be available before it is posted on a job board or the company website. He or she makes sure that you have opportunities to meet the people who are responsible for hiring. You want to cultivate these relationships so that you have the inside track when a job opens up at the target company.

When searching for a job in a new city, a job seeker must focus on targeting specific companies, connecting with people from those companies and cultivating an inside champion. This diligent and focused strategy will pay off in the end.

Ursula Jones is a well-known recruitment writer helping job seekers and employers get their next jobs in digital marketing http://www.clockworktalent.com/jobs

Is An Import Business Right For You?

When starting a business, one of the most important considerations is what is going to make you stand out from your competition. For some business owners, they will attempt to differentiate themselves through the items they sell in their store, and what can be more unique than something imported from another country? Before diving into the world of importing goods and dealing with international shipping and customs, you need to consider whether or not it is a practical and logical decision for you and your business.

Why Import Goods?

What is so great about products from another country in the first place? The main allure of imported goods lies in a system of balance, according to eHow. A given business would want to import certain goods if:

  1. The local demand is greater than the available supply.
  2. The price of a particular good is cheaper on the global market than it is on the local market.

The balance of a country’s imports and exports overall need to be balanced out, but for the sake of an individual business, not much consideration needs to be paid there. Imported goods can come in the form of either consumer or industrial products.  According to the eHow report, there are three general reasons as to why a business would want to import goods:

  1. They want products to sell
  2. They want the cheapest price
  3. They are using importing as a facet of their global supply chain

What Do Businesses Import?

Anything and everything. Whatever you are looking to sell, there is a good chance you can find it cheaper outside of the country and import the goods to sell. Worlds Richest Countries reports that the fastest-growing imports in the United States in 2011 were not items you may have expected, they included:

–          Gum and resins

–          Coffee, tea, and spices

–          Animal, vegetable fats and oils

–          Sugar

–          Fertilizers

–          Cocoa

–          Tin

–          Flour

–          Rubber

Other popular imports from around the world included:

–          Cars from Japan

–          Clothing and footwear from China

–          Alcoholic beverages from France

–          Collector items, antiques, and art from the United Kingdom

–          Coins, precious metals, and gems from Germany

–          Fish from Russia

–          Textiles from India

Planning Your Business’ Imports

If you do decide that importing certain goods will be right for your business, then you will need to look into finding manufacturers abroad to deal with, international shipping companies, customs requirements, and other import requirements set by the U.S. government. Importing goods can give your business and exotic edge over your competitors while helping you to get the best prices on the global market.

Featured images:

Chuck Stevens is an avid blogger always looking to share his experiences and recommendations. He has been a business advisor for over 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @chuckstevens12.

Blog Promotion Strategies

In this day and age of social media, blogging is still a viable way of generating income. Like always, though, the key is promotion. And, like in any business, the product that you are promoting – in this case your blog’s content – must be attractive to your blog’s visitors. Therefore, updating your blog regularly with fresh, relevant, high-quality content is the first priority in blog promotion. Visitors are not likely to revisit a blog if it is outdated and its content is of poor quality, no matter what strategy you used to get them there the first time.

Ironically, one of the best promotion tools that today’s bloggers have are social networks. What began as a forum for exchanging thoughts, ideas, and images by ordinary people has morphed into a fertile consumer breeding ground to be exploited by the business community. Consequently, mainstream businesses – who initially shunned social networks – have done an about-face and established their own social media presence. Therefore, any serious blogger would be remiss if he neglected to take into account the potentially explosive impact social networking sites could have on his blog’s traffic.

The question now becomes, just how does a blogger take advantage of this smorgasbord of potential viewers? Well, one of the newest and more innovative ways of generating traffic is through YouTube views. YouTube is the largest video networking site in the world with millions – if not billions – of views each day, creating an almost limitless supply of viewers for your blog. But, just how do you go about tapping into this limitless reservoir and translating video viewers into blog readers? Simple: create a video highlighting what your blog has to offer.

For example, you can produce a video overview of you explaining what your blog is all about. It may even be a good idea to read a couple of your articles, and some of the responses, on the video to give the viewer a more in-depth look at what he’ll find there. Also, and this is extremely important, make sure that your blog’s web address is prominently displayed on the video so that the viewer can easily find it.

However, just making a video and uploading it to YouTube isn’t enough. Millions of videos are uploaded to YouTube each day. So, just how do you keep yours from being lost in the mix? Well, there is a way.

Have you ever wondered why some videos seem to go viral almost overnight and others never see the light of day? Well, the producers of those videos have learned a secret that you, too, can now take advantage of. All that is required of you to level the playing field is for you to make small investment to jumpstart your video’s viewership. Then, sit back and watch your YouTube views multiply exponentially. And, since you were wise enough to include your blog’s web address in the video, tens of thousands of interested viewers will now be exposed to it.

Now you’re probably wondering just how to go about buying YouTube views. Well, that’s the easy part. Since the secret of jump starting video viewership was discovered, a number of web sites have sprung up where you can buy YouTube views cheap. A simple web search is all it takes to find one. Once there, you’ll find a number of pricing packages to choose from. Simply choose the one that best fits your budget and watch your blog’s viewership take off!

In recent years public relations has abruptly changed. The great cyber effect on the present-day PR impelled Roman to found a marketing company that would offer such services as to buy YouTube views or Facebook fans, so that people could easily integrate into the online environment by promoting their social account. Now he owns Frozzo marketing company that helps its customers to reach online success.

How To Start Freelancing

Many people have a dream of becoming self-employed and following their passion, but many never get there because they fail to take the first step. But taking that first step isn’t always as difficult as it may seem, and you don’t even necessarily have to quit your day job!

 

First steps

The first thing you need to do is set up a space to work from in your own home. Even if you’re doing the kind of freelancing where you’re away carrying out projects a lot, it’s important to have a base where you can carry out the more mundane aspects of your business, such as planning, keeping your accounts up to date and record-keeping. If you’ve got a spare room then that’s ideal, simply get a desk in there and your ready to go! But if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in there (if you’re a freelance writer, for instance), then make an extra effort to personalise it with perhaps a few pictures, a plant or too and anything else that makes it more homely.

Once you’re up and running you’ll need to set your rates. This can be one of the hardest aspects for any new freelancer. Charge too little and you may struggle to make ends meet and begin to resent the work. On the other hand if you charge too much then you may find yourself struggling to get clients. When setting your rates it’s good to do whatever research you can into what the competition is charging to get an idea of the current market level. You can then determine a fair rate that takes into account your experience. It is, of course, also vitally important to consider how much you actually need to live on and what your business costs will be, remembering that there are no employee benefits or paid holidays if you’re self-employed.

Getting your name out there

Once you’re set up with your office space and any equipment you may need, it’s time to find some clients. The most important and effective way to get your name out there today is via your own website. Though it is possible to build your own, if you’re unsure of what you’re doing the results can look unprofessional and could damage your reputation before you’ve even begun. It may therefore be worth investing a little in commissioning a professional web designer to build a simple site for you.

Once you’ve got a website you can start publicising it and your services in other ways, such as business cards, leaflets and flyers.

Keeping records and doing your invoices

Once you start getting the work coming in its important to make sure that your accounts are in order, not only for your own records but for the time when you have to sort out your taxes. Accountancy software such as Intuit Quickbooks can be a vital helping hand, particularly if you’re not numerically-minded. For those whose freelance work takes them far and wide, it’s even possible to do your accounting online via cloud-based applications.

Finally, it’s essential to invoice promptly to avoid cash flow problems later down the line, and there are a range of invoice software tools that can help you do so easily.

Featured images:

John McKenzie is a freelancer based in Jakarta and blogs about finance, marketing and technology. In this post, he outline his working experience as a freelancer in Indonesia.

5 Tips For Getting Back Into Employment As Soon As Possible

Anyone who has ever found themselves out of work will know how difficult and frustrating it can be sometimes to get back into employment and that someone merely telling you to ‘get a job’ is not helping in any way. The truth is that the job market is as fluctuating as ever and unemployment figures are as unstable as a game of Jenga being played by two nonchalant individuals but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find a new job.

Getting back into employment is obviously going to take patience and perseverance and it’s important that if you really are determined to start work again you show this in your job searching. Here are 5 ways to reduce the time you face out of work.

Get Dressed –

Being without a job may make you feel like there is no need for urgency in your day and that you can merely laze around at home because there are no deadlines but this is a great way to limit motivation. It may sound like a minor thing but ensuring that you get dressed each and every day will give you fresh impetus and put you in the right frame of mind to find a new job.

Never Be Generic –

Job hunting has a way of wearing you down until you are just blindly sending out applications in an automated fashion, but this will never get you noticed. You need to ensure that you tailor each individual job application to the specific job requirements and to the person responsible for the recruitment. Very rarely are two jobs the same and so sending the same email and cover letter to each job is futile. Take the time to research the person’s name who will be receiving your application and try to make reference to as many of the criteria mentioned in the advert.

Join A Recruitment Agency –

In a time where many people are on the hunt for employment there are now recruitment agencies on every high-street around the country. These companies can be a valuable asset as they will be able to tap into a wealth of contacts and put you across in a way that you perhaps couldn’t yourself.

They can also help you to focus your job search on specific job sectors, for example there are recruitment companies that deal solely with office jobs, those that deal in the hospitality industry and even recruitment to recruitment agencies. Don’t just hand everything over to them and expect them to find you a job though; work with them and continue your own efforts.

Don’t Be Afraid To Change Things –

If it has been a while since you started your job search and you still haven’t received many responses from the applications you have sent out then you shouldn’t be afraid to change things. Review your CV and covering letter and see if there is anything that you can improve. There may be things you have missed out or a better way of wording something so that it makes you sound better. Failing to realise when something isn’t working and re-evaluating it to change this is tantamount to knowing your fate but doing nothing to avoid it.

Treat Every Open Door As An Opportunity –

The sad fact is that when you are out of work there is no room for turning down opportunities and therefore you may have to accept something that may not seem the most desirable option. It is important to treat these instances as though it is the first step back into the job world. It is a lot easier to get another job when you already have one but if you find yourself continually turning down opportunities then your unemployment may end up being a lot longer than you expected or can afford it to be.

Featured images:

Chris Mayhew has recewntly spent an extended period out of work and knows how tough unemployment can be. He is working for Ashley Associates who are a recruitment to recruitment agency helping people get back into work.

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Work On Your Home Office

If you plan on setting up a home office you need to remember that it’s no easy task. You can’t just throw a table and chair into the spare room and expect it to look great. You need to make sure you plan everything carefully before you do anything. It will help if you ask yourself a few questions and once you answer them you will know exactly what you need to do. Let’s look at them now and you can write down the answers as you go through them.

What work will you be doing?

Before you worry about what you need to buy you will first have to decide what kind of work you will be doing. If you’re just going to be sitting at a computer all day you won’t need much space, but if you have a creative job you might need room for moving around. If you use a lot of technology there will need to be room for it inside your office. Once you have a list of everything you will be doing on a daily basis you can move onto the more in-depth questions.

How much money do you have?

You will need money if you want to fill your office with everything you need. If you don’t have any in your savings account you can start saving more right now. When you know how much you have to spend it will be easy to work out a price limit for each item you need to buy. If something isn’t essential you might decide to buy it at a later date. Don’t sacrifice a quality chair or desk because you want a whiteboard for the wall.

Do you need to share?

You might not be the only one using your office. Perhaps you have a partner who also works from home and they will need to squeeze in too. If you have someone else working for you it might be necessary for them to work alongside you. If you don’t have the entire office space to yourself you will obviously need to change a few things. The room you are planning on using might not be big enough and you will need to set up the office somewhere else.

What furniture do you need?

Now you can start trying to decide what will go into the room. You can measure how much space you have and when you’re buying anything you won’t have to take it back to the shop because it’s too big. How do you want your office to look? If it’s going to look like a professional office you won’t be able to buy certain styles of furniture. You might prefer to work in an office that has a more relaxing feel to it. You just have to decide before you start looking for anything.

Where will everything go?

Everything will need a home and once you know what furniture you are going to buy you can decide where it’s going to sit. If you need to plug-in any electrical equipment it will need to be positioned near a socket. If you want to look out of the window while you work it doesn’t leave a lot of places your desk can go. Get a little piece of paper and try to sketch out a rough copy of what the office will look like when it’s finished.

Does any work need to be carried out?

Before you buy everything and start setting it up you might need to get someone in to carry out some work. If there is not a lot of light in the room you could get an electrician in to fit more lights into the ceiling. If you don’t have enough plug sockets you can ask them to put more in. You’ll also probably need a phone jack because when you’re running a business you will need to answer the telephone. Get the room sorted before you start putting stuff inside it and it will make your life much easier.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.andertoons.com/business/cartoon/6599/i-want-detailed-analysis-educated-guess-and-wild-speculation/

Today’s guest post is contributed by Ruth Kenny, a leading dealer of home office furniture. He is quite impressed with the concept of having a home office as it provides flexible work timings and intends to have one made for himself. Apart from his usual work, he also indulges in reading novels in his spare time.

Three Business Essentials You Need To Get Right

Setting up a retail business can seem like a risk, especially in these difficult economic times. With so many high street businesses losing money due to the financial downturn, you could be forgiven for thinking that the retail sector represents a road to sure-fire financial ruin.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Running a successful shop is tough, certainly, but by getting a few key basics right to start with you could find yourself with a nice little business and a highly rewarding career to boot.

Find the Right Products

If you’re going to set up a shop then you need to sell something and if you’re going to be successful you’ll need to sell something people actually want to buy. It might sound obvious, but carving a marketplace niche for yourself is the quickest way to make any real money in the retail game.

The key here is research. Make a list of products you are interesting in selling, then explore your local area to see which businesses you are in competition with and what prices they are charging. You also need to make note of the demographics of people in your area to get a better idea of what products will appeal locally.

Although you should definitely take an interest in your products, it’s a good idea to be wary of selling items that you are too passionate about. If you’re an avid snowboarder, for example, you might be unable to see that setting up a snowboarding shop in a sleepy country village is probably not the best way to turn a profit.

Find the Right Premises

Location is all important when it comes to finding the right retail premises, and what location is right for you will depend heavily on what you sell. Sellers with a niche market can afford to use premises that are a little bit more out of the way – a “destination” of sorts – while those who are going for mass appeal will probably need to stay close to their competitors. Of course, prime locations can command high rent prices, too, so be careful not to overburden yourself with expenses.

You’ll also need to make sure that your premise has everything you need in terms of facilities: enough shop space, a storeroom and an office, for example. If possible, look at premises that have parking attached, too, as giving your customers a place to park can be a great draw for trade. If you do find a place with a car park, you’ll need to manage it to prevent non-customers from using it. Consider contracting a private car parking enforcement service, as these organisations can massively reduce the hassle of maintaining a parking area.

Get the Right Marketing

With your location and products chosen, it’s time to start publicising your business. This is one area of running a business that has been transformed over the last few years, with Internet-savvy shop owners now able to start publicity campaigns for a fraction of the cost it would take to run traditional poster and flyer campaigns.

Social media is a must. At the very least you need to give your business a presence on Facebook, with Twitter also a good option for businesses targeted at a younger demographic. Make sure that your social media marketing is interesting, too. Use it to engage with your audience and run competitions, not just bombard them with advertising messages.

However, traditional offline marketing is still important. Building a relationship with the local press, running a grand opening day for your business and joining your local trade association are all good ways of getting your business in the spotlight.

Stuart Edge is a retail expert and store owner. He’s had significantly fewer parking-related grey hairs since he contracted a private car parking enforcement firm to run his car park.

Ingredients For Cooking Up Your Homemade Business

Could 2013 be the year of the entrepreneur? It certainly seems like it could be! The sound of a home based business to many is of pure perfection, especially when they consider the perks that come with one.

The biggest is of course that you are at home and are always close to your family, yet other big perks include being able to work on your very own schedule and there is of course the savings you can make on everything from travel expenses to  buying food on your lunch break.

A small business can turn into a large one with hard work and the correct planning; however some people do like to keep them small. So whether you are planning world domination with an offshore company formation set up or just looking to do something you love, it has to start somewhere.

Though a home based business sounds like a dream come true, many people make a variety of mistakes that can eventually result in their business turning into a failure. These mistakes often range from not making sure they are complying with government regulations, not putting into practice an effective marketing strategy and simply not having the correct business plan in place.

For this reason I am going to warn you of the mistakes you should be avoiding if you are seriously contemplating starting a home based business.

Mistake Number One – Ignoring Planning

Many people dive into a home based business without drawing up a business plan; they play it by ear and often get themselves into trouble. A business plan can be instrumental in helping you to find much needed funding, keeping you on track during the tougher times whilst also ensuring that your business develops and progresses year on year.

If you do not get a business plan together you could find that your business will start to suffer financial loss and eventually fold.

  • Check with your local and national government to find out if there are any regulations your home business should be complying with and make sure you have everything from the correct paperwork to some form of business insurance set up.
  • Take time doing some competitive research, which means finding out who you competition is going to be. Look at what they seem to be doing successfully and what they are not doing as well at as they should be.
  • If you are hoping to get some form of business loan, a business plan is essential. You will need to ensure that it is well presented, thought out as well as being completely accurate and honest. It will need to include any research you have done on your competition as well as your profit and expense forecasts.

Mistake Number Two – Borrowing either Too Much or Not Enough

In instances where people want to start a home based business but do not have the capital to do so, they will have to go down the route of looking for loans, finding some investors or even getting a business credit card.

  • If you do have to borrow money, ensure that you get the amount right. Do not overspend on things you may not need, as having too much debt when setting up your company can end up putting it in jeopardy. On the other hand, not having enough money when starting out can cause plenty of problems too.
  • Only purchase what you really need. Make sure that what you are buying is going to be needed early on, things such as additional equipment and materials can be purchased later on when your business starts turning some good profits.

Mistake Number Three – Not Enough Marketing

Marketing is of massive importance for any new home based business, which really does not have to cost an arm and a leg. A very effective method is to make use of the many free or low-cost resources available to get your word out to your particular target audience, with these generally being via social media, blogs and of course radio stations and your areas local newspapers.

  • Get help from your friends and family by asking them to spread the word for you. They could do this verbally or through their own social media outlets.
  • Make use of the biggest social media devices that are free, like Facebook and Twitter.

With these tips of what mistakes to avoid in mind, you should be in a better position to ensure that your home based business turns into a success.

Bill Jobs has been an expert in business for many years and likes to share his thoughts through writing his own guest blogs. Whether you need advice on offshore company formation or simply want some tips on how to market your business more effectively, he is the man who can help you.

Five Tips To Ensure The Success Of Your Online Video Marketing Efforts

One of the most effective weapons that small business owners have at their disposal is video marketing. With the rise of social media, small business owners no longer have to spend lots of money to advertise their companies on television. They can make their own videos and distribute them online to millions of people all over the world. This is a huge asset that small business owners would be foolish to ignore. Here are five tips that small business owners can use to boost their video marketing success.

1. Keep it Intimate and Real

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that their Internet videos need to be as polished as TV commercials with loads of special effects. In fact, just the opposite is true. Many of the online videos that get the best responses are the ones that are filmed simply and honestly. Even an iPhone is able to produce quality video that will impress customers.

2. Search Engine Optimization

This is a crucial component of any online marketing activity, including video marketing. Search engine optimization sounds very intimidating, but in fact it is quite simple. To ensure the ultimate search engine optimization for your videos, just be sure to add as many categories that relate to your video as you can when you post it. Also, be sure to write a good description that contains words that your customers will be searching for.

3. Harness the Power of Facebook

It is incredible to think about what a force Facebook truly is. It is staggering to realize that it has been around for less than a decade, yet there are very few people anywhere on the planet who have not heard about it. The majority of your customers will have accounts on Facebook, so take advantage of their presence there to market to them. Whenever you post a video online, be sure to share it on Facebook. Sharing videos on Facebook is one of the easiest ways to help them gain exposure.

4. Don’t Forget Google Either

Even though Facebook has the bulk of the social media presence these days, Google is rapidly catching up to them. Make sure that your company has a spot on the Google local business listings. If it doesn’t, then you need to go to Google+ and add your company to the local business listings immediately. Just like you share your videos on Facebook, you also need to share them on your Google+ listing as well. This is just another way that your company will maximize its exposure.

5. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Even though YouTube is the dominant player in the online video realm, it doesn’t mean that you want to post all of your videos there. You need to vary your online video presence to ensure maximum exposure. Post the majority of your videos on YouTube, but you should also post some on your website, Vimeo, Crackle and Dailymotion as well. Using as many sites as possible will increase the base of your viewers, which will in turn lead to more business.

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Jenny Whitney enjoys blogging about marketing and business. She specializes in kickstarter video marketing for online business advertisement and crowd funding platforms.

Winning in Business by Making Live Chat Accessible to Elderly Customers

Our parents had the patience to teach us how to read, ride a bike and drive a car. Now, it’s our turn to give back. We all know elderly folks love to chat, but do they know how to live chat? Does your grandmother realize she could circumvent 30 minutes of waiting for a live agent while listening to the Muzak version of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ by jumping onto her laptop and chatting with a customer service rep online? Probably not. But that’s no fault of your grandmother.

I’d guess the businesses she works either don’t offer a live chat option or don’t advertise it enough to their over 65 customer base. Your hip grandmother would love to ‘live chat it up’ but she probably doesn’t even know it exists! Businesses are funny that way in that they aren’t going to push anything if they don’t think it’s going to be received well (except Pepsi Kona & Pepsi Clear – totally pushed out). Why introduce live chat to your elderly customers if you think they are going to scoff at it? Hey business, you’re wrong.

Regardless of what age group you hail from, live chat works as a customer service and sales gateway and should be presented to all customers, especially the elderly, as an alternate communication channel. Grandparents will not only use live chat to communicate but it’s a way better method of communication for their age group because it caters to their learning strengths.

Live chat interactions harken back to the days when the customer came first. Companies that offer live chat as a multi-channel interaction are basically saying ‘Hey customer, I love you. I know you may not want to waste time on the phones waiting for an agent. You are a multi-tasker. I understand that and totally respect your POV. Just jump online and I’ll answer your questions while you do other things.’ Live chat is as much a part of great customer service as cookie dough is an essential part of a great ice cream flavor. But can live chat be used to improve customer relationships to an over 65 client base? You bet!

If you are a small business with a large over 65 client base and thinking you shouldn’t invest in live chat because it’s going to be as popular as a McDonalds kiosk at a vegetarian convention, think again. The over-65 age group is growing twice as fast as the general population. More people = more customers = you should have multiple communication channels to please the communication tastes of a broader audience. If you enjoyed that last ice cream analogy, think less single flavor and more Neapolitan. If you show up at a party with that Neapolitan half-gallon, you are going to make more people happy than rolling in with the strawberry alone.

Maybe you aren’t impressed by population growth statistics or analogies involving frozen milk. Maybe you think live chat as a customer contact channel for the elderly is more of a ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ issue, so why bother. Well, consider these facts. In the last 3 months, the age group of 65 – 100 recorded the biggest gain in Facebook users. And the second largest gain was from the 55 – 64 age group. Furthermore, the fastest growing age group among tablet users as a whole is the elderly (65+). The elderly are embracing technology. If your business isn’t adopting new communication technology like live chat, you could be losing out on winning over the hip grandparent market.

Implementing live chat could be the difference between winning and losing the business love of any age group. 65% of American shoppers use it. 20% say it’s the best way to communicate with customer service reps in real-time. Most importantly, it’s an easy technology to use. No complicated website navigation or learning curve. If you know how to use FireFox and how to type, you can use live chat. That’s good for the elderly because researchers have found that as a group, they are more easily distracted than younger adults when learning something new.

Open chat sessions represent an easy to follow running log of the entire agent – customer conversation. With live chat, the end-user can refer back to the conversation saved in the chat box rather than having to recall every detail spoken over the phone. Did you know elderly people learn better by reading? Studies have shown print media is best for conveying information to the elderly. This is because they can process the info at their own pace. Pertaining to live chat, this means your elderly customers can read and re-read the chat session until it sinks in, no matter how long it takes.

By this point you are probably pretty convinced your elderly customers are going to start using live chat and really benefit from it. Hooray for you! When you are ready to install it, here are some recommendations on how to make sure your live chat module is retiree friendly:

  1. Font size should be large enough for the older consumer.
  2. The Chat box should be uncluttered and structurally pretty simple.
  3. Maximum contrast in color combinations should be used to compensate for age-related reduction in contrast perception. (HINT: Reds, yellows, and oranges are best perceived by the elderly)

Now that your chat module is installed and loved by all age groups, you need to understand basic chat etiquette. Translation: how should your agents behave in a chat session.

Live chat for business isn’t the same as chatting on Skype or AIM where it’s appropriate to LOL and IDK all over the place. Here are some tips that are applicable to all age groups.

The live chatters in your organization should be warm and friendly, making folks feel comfortable and appreciated. With respect to the elderly, mimicking familiar phrases such as “Hi there! How can I help you today?” can make the chat session less alien to older folks. Be formally-informal and avoid any ‘Mr. Roboto’ type answers. But be machine fast. Instant response prevents frustrating confusion. 89% of Live Chat users say speediness is critical. Know your stuff. 93% say knowledgeable chatters are the most important factor in determining the success of problem resolution. To be universally age group friendly, chatters should be able to communicate technological jargon in lay terms.

The bottom line is live chat works and is growing in terms of a preferred customer service or sales channel. The elderly population is flocking to new technology like Trekkies to a Start Trek Convention so marketing live chat better to your elderly customers makes sense. And the makeup of a chat session works better with how elderly people learn. It’s a win – win situation!

Author

This article has been provided by Nicolas D’Alleva. Nicolas is a marketing consultant for Specialty Answering Service. In addition to basic answering service with live operator support, Specialty can also manage more advanced call applications like live chat campaigns. Please follow SAS on Twitter and Google + for more great posts.

Iron Ladies: 5 Of History’s Most Influential Female Leaders

Following the recent passing of Britain’s controversial ‘Iron Lady’, here’s a look at some of most influential women to take up the mantle of leadership and leave an indelible mark on world history;

Eva Peron

As the first lady of Argentina, Peron was never, strictly speaking, leader of the nation, but the cult of personality that sprung up around her made her a figurehead whose influence far outstripped that of her husband.

Enjoying incredible popularity among trade unions, the working class and the population at large, she founded the Female Peronist Party and was instrumental in bringing universal suffrage to Argentina. In 1951 two million people  turned out a rally in support of her and her husband, encouraging her to crystallize her standing by running for the official position of Vice President, something she declined to do.

When she died a year later three million took to the streets of Buenos Aires to mourn in a huge outpouring of public grief. Though the regime she was part of has been criticised from both the left and right, and even decried as dictatorial, Evita’s popularity was undoubtedly genuine.

Elizabeth I

The last of the Tudor dynasty and arguably the most iconic of all English Monarch’s, Elizabeth’s reign was nothing if not eventful. ‘The Virgin Queen’ managed to usher in a more tolerant epoch, helping to defuse the protestant/catholic tensions that had grown following the preceding persecution of both groups under different regimes and managed a long, largely stable reign, despite numerous failed plots to assassinate her.

Elizabeth is perhaps best remembered for facing down Spain’s attempted invasion in 1588, a victory which assured Britain’s global influence for centuries to come.

Joan of Arc

This semi-historical, semi-legendary French figure certainly had her ups and downs, with her popular persona fluctuating wildly during her lifetime and beyond. Despite being born a peasant in the 15th century she became a military leader after receiving messages from God imploring her to liberate her homeland of England’s occupying forces.

Whilst still a teenager she oversaw many major success, most notably the lifting of the siege of Orleans. However, the crown remained in English hands and she was executed at age 19 after a politically motivated show trial for heresy. She was posthumously declared innocent by the church and eventually canonised as a saint.

Indira Ghandi

Another hugely controversial figure, Indira Ghandi (no connection to her more renowned spiritual namesake) ruled over India for the best part of two decades. The nation was left in a much more powerful position globally following her time as leader and she has been voted as the greatest Indian prime minister of all time in various polls.

However, she’s also been accused of creating a legacy of undemocratic despotism. She made lasting changes to the constitution will using a ‘state of emergency’ to rule by decree, and censored the press between 1975-77. When elections were finally called she was heavily defeated.

Angela Merkel

Currently the world’s most powerful female politician, Merkel is the chancellor of the European Union’s economic powerhouse, Germany (she’s also the leader of the country’s popular Christian Democratic Union party, and the first ever women to hold either role).

Given Germany’s key role in shaping the future of the continent as it struggles through one financial crisis after another, Merkel exerts an influence which impacts on the lives of hundreds of millions of people. As more and more EU nations come to depend on German money to stay afloat, the reach of Merkel’s power continues to expand.

is a blogger covering a wide number of topics, from politics and current events to people of historical interest. He writes for UK Net Guide as well as various other online publications.

Great Business Apps To Help You Run Your Business

apps

Owning and running your own business can be an extremely difficult thing. It’s somewhat like a one man show and all your bases need to be covered for it to run successfully. You need all of the help you can get and one source of this help is from the many business apps that can help you do your job to the best of your ability. In this interesting and informative article, we look at the top apps for business that one can use from their iPhone mobile and iPad.

Top Mobile Business Apps

Invoice2go

This is one of the best business apps for running a business and it can help significantly. The Invoice2go helps you create invoices as well as estimates on your iPhone or iPad. You can create a comprehensive list of all of your billable items and also use their other offering; the Receipts2go for client specific products. Even more helpful and convenient, invoices can be emailed and printed directly from the mobile business app.

Docusign Ink

Printing not only can be a costly element of your business, but it is also bad for the environment. The Docusign Ink business app eliminates the need to both print and scan documents that need to be signed. This business app lets you sign all relevant documentation electronically. One can either import the document through a cloud drive, or alternatively and very conveniently, take a picture using your mobile device. Docusign Ink works by converting the document that needs to be signed and then places a preloaded signature on the needed document.

Bento 4 iPad

This is one of the newest business apps available on iPad and its design makes it incredibly easier to both document and process data. It’s a type of spreadsheet tool that allows you to merge your tables with text as well as images by simply dragging and dropping boxes on to one of their 40 free templates. The Bento 4 iPad, one of the top mobile business apps is perfect for sales meetings where one needs to create and present a product catalogue. One can also create a comprehensive contact list and even manage a project that has many steps to it.

Concur

Travelling is a major element of many businesses and it can become stressful if one is not organised. Well among the many mobile business apps available on the market, the Concur is specifically designed for the frequent flyer. You can use Concur for an array of things from booking hotels, to checking your airline reservations and even managing your itinerary. While you are running around from meeting to meeting, let this convenient business app track your expenses as you go. Definitely one of the best business apps for travellers.

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Jemma Scott is a freelance business writer that provides information on many topics from how to acquire office space in Toronto to business apps on the market.

The Three Big Blogging Essentials

The three most important elements for your blog if you want to be successful are, traffic, quality content and monetization. All three are linked, because without traffic no one will ready your content, without great quality content, no one will read, enjoy and return again to be tomorrows traffic, and without monetization you will starve and lack the energy to create more great content.

Great Content

So where do you start? First things first….. great quality content. There is absolutely no point driving new readers to your blog if they aren’t going to find well written, useful content when they get there. The quality of your writing will make or break your blog in terms of building your readership. The primary goal of writing good content is to make your readers want more from you. Only by doing that can you encourage them to sign up for your newsletter.

Newsletters & Email Lists

There are two ways of looking at a newsletter, it can be a monthly chore that consumes valuable time, or it can be the most powerful means of contacting and connecting with a list of people who you know are interested in what you have to say.

Building your list is the most profitable activity a blogger can do and it should be a focus of attention from your very first blog post onwards.

Finding Blog traffic

Once you are happy with the quality of your content, that it is all unique, high quality and informative, you can start attracting new visitors to come and read it. There are lots of different traffic strategies you can employ including search engines, social media, traditional media and press, content aggregators such as StumbleUpon and Digg, guest blogging, blog carnivals, YouTube, Vimeo etc. The secret to driving traffic to your blog is to think of each link that you create as a new doorway into your blog. The more doorways you create in high traffic areas, then the more you will be found by people looking for content about your topic.

Quality, targeted traffic is the biggest issue many bloggers have when first starting out. Building your traffic levels requires patience, hard work and above all persistence if you are going to build a long-term profitable blog.

Monetizing your Blog

Once you have some traffic regularly visiting your blog and enjoying your quality content, you can start to think about offering those targeted visitors ‘relevant’ offers that will appeal to them. The key here is relevance. The idea product offer is to have a page telling someone the best way to do something, and then offer them a shortcut product or service that will save them time, money or both.

As with all the other areas of your blog, you should focus on quality, because your readers (people who have grown to trust you) are going to be putting their faith in you and your recommendations. Only refer people to products that you would or do use yourself, and that actually work properly. You can easily harm your reputation if you send people to offers or products that don’t work properly or don’t get delivered etc.

There are many more micro details that go to make up the perfect blog, and you can find them all in the Ultimate Blogging Guide by MillionPixelDriver. MillionPixelDriver is a blog about successful blogging, written by Dave Holland an SEO and blog traffic consultant on a mission to make blogging more profitable.

Working For Free

When most of us think of work, we think of the money that will result from it. Perhaps, we need the money to support ourselves or our families. Perhaps, we are saving for a specific purpose. The idea of doing work for someone else and not expecting monetary gain in the end may seem ludicrous to most of us.  After all, unless we are working for friends or family, most of us expect some kind of monetary gain at the end of our task. However, there is a large portion of the working class in this country that does perform their tasks for no money.

Volunteers

Adults who choose to volunteer find themselves in a unique position. On one hand they want to be actively involved with a cause that is near and dear to them. They may even just want to get out and give back to the community during their retirement years. These are both good reasons to volunteer time, effort and resources. However, this good effort does come with a dark side.

By definition volunteers undertake tasks without the expectation of monetary gains at the end. This is where the other side of the adult coin comes into play. While pouring your heart into a passion to see it succeed will make you feel rich on the inside, it will not put food on your table.  Members of the work force that work above their required forty hours per week expect to be compensated as such. However, volunteers do not get the same luxury when it comes to laws on overtime.

Unpaid Internships

At some point during their collegiate career, most students are expected to complete an internship program in their field of study. These programs can be beneficial to the student because they can gain much needed insight and college credits.

However, in a tight economy like todays, these positions can also be detrimental to the student’s ability to succeed and thrive. Working the long hours that are expected to complete these programs without pay may leave the student unable to support themselves.  If you feel that you should be compensated for wages during your internship program, you are not alone, and there are resources available to you.

Working for free does not mean workers should not be compensated. All members of the working class should be compensated as the provisions of the laws on overtime provide for them.

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Heather B is part of a team of writers who contribute to blogs and news sites on a daily basis.

The Top 6 Funniest Online Reviews

There are so many different products and businesses out there, which means that there are even more product and business reviews. While some people use online review sites like Yelp, Amazon or Google+ Local to leave honest reviews about their experiences with certain products or businesses, some people use humor to write fake reviews on funny items or companies. Check out the following list of the top six funniest online reviews.

1. Playmobil Security Checkpoint

The Playmobil Security Checkpoint is a Lego-like toy that portrays a TSA security checkpoint. While it seems like this would not be a very fun toy for a child to get, many people took to the Amazon posting and left humorous online reviews on the product. Some users claim that the toy would be better with 350 additional passengers waiting in line, while another claimed to be “disappointed” that the passengers’ shoes could not come off, making it unrealistic. Check out more funny reviews on this product here.

2. Testicle Self Exam Form

What guy doesn’t want to learn how to give his scrotum a testicular exam? Now they can (without using their own of course) with the Testicle Self Exam Form. And it doesn’t surprise anyone that the reviews left for this product have used humor. One reviewer claimed he can now go to the grocery store without making his wife sad by having to take his scrotum with him, and another claims that when whipping out the scrotum in line at the grocery store, she makes the line disappear. Check out more funny reviews of this product here.

3. How to Avoid Huge Ships

You have to be careful with book titles, but when you title your book, How to Avoid Huge Ships, and place it on Amazon, it’s likely to get strange reviews. One reviewer claimed that this book saved him hundreds of times from huge ships while another boasts at how he “shudders” at the thought of his child getting involved with huge ships. Check out more funny reviews on this product here.

4. Wendy’s

Amazon isn’t the only place generating funny reviews. Yelp is too. This guy decided to leave a review on Wendy’s, the fast food chain. Not only is his description of the food hilarious, but his additional commentary on the staff is also priceless. Well done sonnnnnnnnnn. Well done.

5. Ford’s Theater

Sometimes the review can be simple and funny, like this review of Ford’s Theater. Someone decided to take matters into their own hands and create a Yelp profile for Abraham Lincoln. Then, along with the account, they decided to review Ford’s Theater, giving it a bad review because “I was murdered here.”

6. La Donuts

When it comes to online reviews, sometimes the humor has nothing to do with the actual business but the strange story behind it. Check out this review where the reviewer discusses how he went there to hit on the owner’s daughter but then she got knocked up. After his strange story, he then goes on to say that the donuts are good.

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  •  License: Image author owned
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  •  License: Image author owned

Steven Peters is a reputation manager and expert review tracker.  He is currently sharing information on how to properly monitor online reviews.

When A Business Starts Over Online

Right now, I’m helping a business get through a difficult transition. They operated as a branch of a larger business and the CEO decided that they could not afford to maintain this branch of the business. Rather than close the doors, the manager decided to take over the lease and continue the business under a new business name. This meant splitting up the contact list, filing for a new business name, new signage and a new domain name. They are starting from scratch and must begin from the bottom to establish an online presence. For most this would seem dreadful, but starting from scratch does provide the opportunity to fix the things that were done wrong on the original site. Here’s how the new one will benefit from the change:

Better Domain Name

The original domain name targeted a very broad keyword, one that truly didn’t describe the business properly. In fact, it was a keyword that barely described the business at all. The new business’ domain name includes the business name plus keywords people actually type into search when they are looking for this type of service.

Fresher Website

The old website had fewer than 10 pages and gave people no reason to return to it. The member filled out a form online and didn’t even make payment on the site. Payment was taken in person at the facility. The website was not optimized for any keywords and despite being around for 10 years, hadn’t accumulated a single solitary back link. It did not link to any of the social networks, did not collect subscriber emails; it simply provided an overview.

The new business’ website is being set up to not only lure local traffic for which there is no competition, it will contain a blog featuring popular guest posts who can attract their own blog and social network followers. The site is being set up with keyword optimized urls and engaging content, an email subscription field and online payment.

Greatest Benefit

The old company’s listing was followed by bad reviews in the SERPs; reviews which they had paid $5000 to push down and were unsuccessful in doing so. The new company has identified the reason for the bad reviews and is setting up their business to avoid having the business perceived the same way. Their clean slate means they can send their happy customers to the review websites and ensure they receive enough positive feedback to counteract anything negative that may be posted down the line.

To the company’s advantage, they are planning to expand this location’s offerings by bringing in well-known talent with credibility. This advantage alone merits coming to the new business versus going to the old one.

Is starting over a hassle? Sure. But, the positive is that you get to fix anything that was broken and improve on anything that worked. In this case, the trust an older domain should have offered was barely a factor in pulling in traffic and back links. Doing everything right from the beginning should naturally build the trust of the new site and quickly out shine the old one.

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Theresa Happe works with Namefind.com where businesses can find domain names and their available social handles. Visit site.

Top 5 Pieces Of Essential Office Equipment

Since we live in this age of technology, it is important that we are updated with the latest office equipment. This will allow us to work more efficiently and finish our tasks right on schedule. But with the variety of equipment in the market, how would you know which one to choose?

The Top Essential Office Equipment

• Phone system

Though there are a lot of advancements in technology, organizations will still continue to use phone systems. There are several high-tech phone systems in the market today that businesses can benefit from. Aside from having the regular functions of an office telephone, most phone systems come with a program, which is installed in a computer. This lets you control phones by means of a computer. So, you can see each extension, whether or not they are on the phone, including the people they are talking to. Voice mail messages can be set up as email messages, and call forwarding can be set up to any number.

These new phone systems make use of software so you can just upgrade your software instead of changing your phone systems. This lets you save money in the long run and makes it easier to maintain your phone system.

• Laptops, desktops plus accessories

There are lots of techie devices nowadays like tabs, 3D printers, and flat screens. Though they may be the latest and coolest devices, you won’t need them in an office. When it comes to work, people will still depend on laptops and desktops.

You will need newer laptops and desktops that have enough capacity to store the programs you need. Older ones may not be compatible with the newer programs. So it is advisable to upgrade these devices every five years or more. This way, there won’t be any problems whenever you need to run a program. Like all other electronic equipment, computers have a shell life, and they need to be replaced someday.

• Servers

You need servers to store your stuff. However, with companies going cloud-based, a server does not necessarily have to be in an office. You will only need a server if you are at least 20 people and would like to grow or if your customized programs won’t run in a cloud. Otherwise, you can continue doing business without one.

• Backups

Backup systems are essential in every workplace. You will never know when disasters could happen. You may erase a very important report by accident or your network gets wiped out.

• Firewall

All organizations need a firewall to protect their system from all existing online problems. Without this, hackers can have access to your network. This can also be open to all sorts of viruses.

Conclusion

Even if every organization is headed for the Cloud, they will still need office equipment since this is a basic need. The equipment you choose should be updated, to keep up with the programs that are being offered nowadays. High-tech equipment will allow you to do your work more efficiently than ever.

Sally writes for the Principal Corp group of companies who specialise in b2b cloud services, consumer electronics and more. Visit Principal Corp for print auditing solutions, Office Magic for photocopiers or Cameron Barclay for office refurbishment.

Small Businesses Need SEO!

Marketing is an especially critical part of the operations of successful small businesses, as they need to attract customers and build a reputation, all without the help of a large budget. This makes marketing methods that have reasonably low costs, but a high return on investment important to master. One of the methods that falls into such a category is search engine optimization, or SEO as it is more commonly known.

SEO Simplified

At its most basic level, SEO is the process of optimizing a website around certain keywords that search engine users typically enter. These keywords will be directly related to the business that is looking to improve their SEO, and if they can attract these search engine users to their website, they will be very likely to make a sale because of how targeted the visitors are. For example, a business that sells toys for pets will want to rank as highly as possible for keyword phrases that are related to toys that pets commonly play with.

Benefits

Arguably the greatest benefits that come when SEO is done right are that the visitors that it generates are free and ongoing. There are no costs involved beyond what a business has put into their SEO efforts. In addition to this, once a high-ranking in a search engine is achieved, it is typically quite easy to maintain that ranking. It is much simpler to keep a high rank than it is to gain one in the first place, which makes getting started with SEO as early as possible very critical. This also makes SEO a much better investment than other options such as display advertising, which ceases to be useful once the length of time that it is to be displayed runs out.

Beyond directly affecting sales by attracting new customers through search engines, SEO can do a lot for a small business when it comes to their branding and their positioning and place of authority within their market. When people search for companies in the market that a small business is in and that business ranks highly, these people will immediately get the impression that they are professional and trustworthy. This is a proven way for even a very small company to improve their reputation and level of authority quickly by being associated with some of the other players in their industry, especially if those other players are larger and more well established.

When SEO is one of the major focuses of a small business, they will quickly begin to notice that their overall online presence advances rapidly. They will not only begin to rank well for more search terms, and in turn, see increased sales, but they will also attract the attention of media outlets, bloggers and attract partnerships as a result of their improved visibility. This means that good SEO can inject success into other parts of a business that are not related to search engines at all.

Word of mouth is also another great tool that small businesses can utilize to improve their SEO, as the more their customers share about them online, the better they will rank. Rankings can be improved dramatically when customers with websites of their own share their experiences with a business and link back the website of that business. In addition to that, major search engines are now taking the posting of information on social networking websites into strong consideration when making their ranking decisions, meaning that when customers talk about a business through their online profiles, that business will be rewarded with higher rankings.

These are just a few of the reasons why SEO services are so important for small businesses to focus on today. It is a proven way to increase sales and brand awareness, all without a huge marketing budget.

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Ryan Ferguson is a copywriter and freelance blogger who writes on marketing and business related topics

Why Listening Is The Most Important Part Of Business Communications

With the development of computers and the internet, communications all over the world have been transformed in recent years and it is now easier than ever to get in contact with anyone. This is especially important for businesses as there are now more ways than there ever have been to interact with their consumer base in order to provide the perfect customer experience.

However, with all the shouting that goes on in the business world with regard to who is better at what and who can offer something you won’t find elsewhere; listening often gets left behind. When it comes to businesses communications whether it’s with clients, customers or other colleagues; listening should be first and foremost.

Social Media –

Social media has arguably made the biggest changes to business communications in recent years and it now provides an extremely useful platform for instantly interacting with your audience. However, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter should not just be used to shout about your latest products or services; they should be used to listen to what your consumers really want from you.

Never before have you been able to build such strong and personal relationships within your community and therefore you should use this to your advantage. By encouraging your online audience to interact with you and tell you what they want you can provide an even better customer experience and act in a personal manner rather than as a face-less corporation.

Telecommunications –

Even though internet communications now make up a large percentage of how people like to get in contact with businesses; the majority of people still use telecommunications to do this. If somebody rings then they obviously have something to say to you and that means that you need to be available to listen at all times. Sometimes this isn’t possible as you may be on the other line or in a meeting and therefore you may wish to install telephone systems to help with this.

Instead of leaving it to an automated machine to take a message you may wish to provide real people who can speak to your customers and offer support. There are a number of companies that can provide this call answering service so that someone is always available to listen.

I.T Support –

Because of all the developments in business communications consumers now want to be able to contact any business at any time and so if for whatever reason they can’t do this they are sure to become frustrated. To avoid disasters like this from happening in your business it is important that you look after your I.T and have I.T support on hand should it be needed. This could include installing the latest virus protection software and making sure you have the latest updates.

If your I.T goes down at any point during the day then it could result in more than a little inconvenience. Loss of profits and time are likely and your consumer base will feel that they are not being listened to.

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Chris Mayhew knows the importance of good business communications through his work with social media. He is working for Three Cherries who provide professional I.T support and telephone systems in Bristol.

Ways In Which Companies Are Streamlining Business

Time is money.  It may be cliché, but in the world of business, this will always be true.  With technology making communication as quick as it can, anyone who doesn’t use it to their advantage is not maximizing their own potential.  Different industries use advancements in technology in different ways, so whether you are an ad agency using virtual screening rooms to show your client the latest version of a commercial, a medical facility using EHR to keep records digitally, or a customer service center using private online chat rooms to help customers in need, streamlining your business is a great way to stay ahead of the competition.

Ad Agencies Are Using Online Screening Rooms

In the old world of advertising, the process of editing a spot meant spending long times in the edit studio for just about everyone involved.  Now, with the help of virtual screening rooms, an editor can upload the current revision of the spot to a secure site so that the client can view it from anywhere in the world.  The only wait time it will take is the time it takes to upload the file.  This innovation can save a lot of man hours, allowing any one that needs to see the commercial go about their business throughout the day instead of waiting around in an editing room.

Medical Facilities Keep Records Digitally

It used to be if a medical facility needed to pull up your records, they literally had to go into a filing cabinet and pull it up.  Thanks to electronic health records, or EHR, medical clerks are able to bring up your medical history with a click of a button.  Wait times are already long enough at the doctor’s office; minimizing tedious wait time that includes trying to find your information is a great way to get patients attended to in a much more timely manner.

Customer Service Now Done Via Live Chat

Calling a customer service help line can almost guarantee that you will be on hold for the remainder of your day.  The truth is, the more global a company happens to be, the more their service line will be flooded from people all over the world.  Nowadays, companies institute a live chat function to their customer service.  In this instance, you ask your question in a private chat room to a customer service representative, who can answer your question in real-time.  The perk of this way of assisting you is that a representative could hold conversations with multiple people at the same time, thereby minimizing queue times and greatly improving the overall customer service experience.

If you’re slower than your competition, chances are you won’t be in the competition for long.  Keeping things streamlined by using technology to your advantage is the best way to keep your company in the game.

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Eric Regan is a writer with a keen interest in travel, cars and technology. He has written for blogs covering all of these topics and much more

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