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The Coolest Offices From Around the World

Imagine a typical office. Is it boring and stuffy? Is it filled with grey cubicles, with harsh lighting thanks to the ceiling strips overhead? You may think that this is how all offices look, but thankfully that isn’t the case. In fact, some offices are even cool! Around the world, companies are breaking free from the mould to create workspaces that are inspiring, comfortable, and above all, fun.

Here are some of the best offices around the world:

Autodesk

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Autodesk is a software company, renowned for their work with 3D design. In fact, the designers actually used Autodesk technology to develop their designs of the office space. They wanted the office to reflect the minimalist yet futuristic nature of 3D printing, which is why you’ll find a simple colour scheme and plenty of geometric shapes throughout the building. Different teams and parts of the office are connected to one another via the community tunnels, the walls of which double as whiteboards. Meanwhile, the adorably named ‘Cozy Corridor’ is instead a place filled with quiet nooks, for those in search of a tranquil spot to get in the zone. The office is made all the more special by the company’s quest to keep things environmentally friendly, with chairs made from 100% recycled materials and many other pieces of furniture sourced from local suppliers.

Airbnb

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Each Airbnb office around the world has its own unique vibe, and nowhere is this more true than at the company’s international headquarters in Dublin. Airbnb is a global platform that allows individuals to rent out spare rooms or even entire homes to travellers. The décor of their HQ pays homage to the company’s purpose, with each meeting room offering a completely different style. Local staff provided the finishing touches to the décor, putting a personal stamp on their work environment.  In terms of desks, the design follows a ‘neighbourhood’ concept, with 29 separate (and yet connected) work areas designed to give employees a bit of privacy. Alternatively, teams can gather in the central space and work collaboratively. The ample choice of seating means staff can socialize and engage with members of different teams.

Pixar

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For those of you who have been living under a rock, Pixar is a film studio that specializes in computer animation. The team at Pixar are responsible for creative classics like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. With so much creativity involved in their day-to-day work, the top dogs at the company decided that the office should be a place of inspiration. In reality, it’s much more than that! The Pixar office in California is made up of a lap pool, beautiful gardens and open plan steel frame buildings that look more like aircraft hangers than office spaces. When do I start?

WeWork

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WeWork offices are co-working spaces, designed for companies and individuals to come together and be inspired by their surroundings. The company has work spaces in the UK, US and China. Shanghai’s office sits within what was previously a series of laneway houses. The building’s past is honoured in design features throughout. Visitors will also be impressed by the play of light and shadows, and the way such an open space can somehow feel enclosed and private. In honour of the local community, motifs from the streets of Shanghai are displayed within, while the wallpaper in each meeting room gives a nod to traditional Chinese games that are popular in the area.

Urban Outfitters

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The company was previously spread across Philadelphia in six different buildings, but can now be found on one giant campus in the city, which was once a navy shipyard. If you’ve visited an Urban Outfitters store then the office interior will seem familiar. It boasts the same mixture of the old and the new, meeting in a pared back, open and airy design. However, that doesn’t mean it feels empty. Instead, bursts of colour give the place a homely feel, and can be found everywhere from the giant sofas and the office chairs, to the spacious canteen. Since moving to the new premises, Urban Outfitters have reported an increase in staff morale and a decrease in the amount of sick leave being taken. It’s also lowered the staff turnover by 11%. Evidently, it’s a place that employees are happy to

Selgas Cano

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As an architecture firm, Selgas Cano decided that their office should be an example of their expertise. And their office in Madrid, Spain, surely delivers. It’s sleek and futuristic, and in direct contrast with the surrounding nature. The north-facing wall comprises a 20mm thick curved acrylic window, while the opaque south-facing wall is made of layers of fiber-glass and polyester, offering employees shade, and a touch of privacy from the outside world. At one end of the building, a hinged mechanism allows for the wall to be lifted, giving the office a natural ventilation system. Due to its size, the office has limited space for employees, but that doesn’t’ mean it’s cramped. Instead, employees enjoy giant desks, and control of their own lighting.

Cisco-Meraki

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Bright colours and open spaces are in great abundance at the Cisco-Meraki office in San Francisco. The company is a world leader in cloud-controlled Wi-Fi, routing and security. When the company moves offices in 2013, they began by asking employees what they enjoyed about their current workspace, and any requests they had for the future office. Taking on-board their feedback, Cisco-Meraki moved into a spacious, hangar-sized complex, with meeting rooms ranging from formal and fancy to relaxed and homely. Yurts, cabanas and phone rooms found within the building offer employees a moment respite from the lively atmosphere, while giant chalkboards and corkboards promote collaboration. To get from space to space, staff are welcome to walk, or hop onto one of the company unicycles and pedal. Colour plays an important role in the Cisco-Meraki office, working as a space separator, as there are few walls.

7 essential tech tools to support your small business

If you’re a small business and offer services such as commercial cleaning in Glasgow then  you’re likely to be quickly realising that you need all the help you can get when it comes to making your business a success, espcially online.

That might mean taking on staff members, contractors or even unpaid help – but then again, sometimes just a few extra hours in the day would be the most desirable options.

There are no time machines on this list – but if you want to maximise the time you do have, we can recommend some great time and sanity saving tools!

  1. A website designer

Mention web design and you could be forgiven for thinking of complex lines of code and years of training.

In actual fact, there are quicker ways to get an online presence.

Take a look at a tool like Wix or Squarespace. They’re both ‘drag and drop’ style site designers and can see you with anything from a holding page to an online store in literally a matter of hours.

You don’t need to have the eye of a designer either, with a series of great looking templates you’ll find that dropping in your own logos and products makes a site uniquely yours with a fraction of the project management effort needed to get a traditionally coded site in place.

In the long term you might decide to look at something more flexible – but to get you out of the gates, especially when money is tight, these tools can be invaluable.

  1. A project management tool

If you’re putting a team together, whether that’s with permanent or freelance staff, having a central place to coordinate your efforts is worth its weight in gold.

Rather than hoping that everyone’s going to take great notes or read and reply to emails as diligently as you do, you might want to think about a tool like Basecamp, Trello or a similar alternative.

With tools like these you have a central ‘board’ or virtual office space to work from. You can do virtually anything you would in a real office, from having discussion areas, post to-do lists, allocate tasks, share files, invite guests to collaborate and much more.

If keeping everything in one place is becoming difficult, opt for a free trial and see what a project management tool does to your productivity.

  1. Book keeping software

It’s easy to let money management matters go to the back of your head when there are more pressing jobs at hand – but when there are some exceptionally quick and easy tools to use, you really don’t have to – especially when putting that stuff off causes headaches at tax return time (or a telling off from your accountant…)

Take a look at tools like Xero and Quickbooks, they’re modern book keeping tools that, dare I say it, actually make keeping tabs on your finances quite good fun. Both have nice looking and very usable apps with quick functions that allow you to categorise your transactions with a sweep of your finger.

You can link them with your bank accounts and online payment gateways – as well as being able to quickly scan and categorise expense receipts. You can even generate or pay invoices on the fly. It’s incredible how one app can revolutionise your business financial dealings.

  1. Collaboration tools

Although tools like Basecamp and Trello have some collaboration tools built in, you’ll find that true collaboration comes with a tool like Google’s G-Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365.

With these options you can almost entirely abandon your office space and set up online!

Setting up folders that you can share with your team means there’s no doubt where that proposal, brief or invoice is to be found – and when it comes to collaboration there’s no longer a need for emailing versions of files to one another. Instead, you can access a document, spreadsheet, presentation or much more and work on it virtually at the same time.

Then, no need for emailing attachments – just share the file and it’s with someone else in the blink of an eye. What’s more, you can message, call or video call from within the service too, meaning you don’t even have to move your chair to work next to someone else.

  1. Email marketing tools

Despite social media’s rise to the top of most people’s marketing hitlist there’s still an enormous amount that can be done with a good mailing list.

Equally, with the right tools in place you’re going to struggle with the sheer magnitude of putting a mailer out – especially with new data protection laws looming.

This is where tools like MailChimp and Get Response come in. Starting with a list of emails and a drag and drop mail composer you’ll quickly find yourself putting together something beautiful that ticks all the necessary compliance boxes. You’ll find dozens of great templates to work with if you don’t have an eye for design and a few clicks later you’ll have your mailer either sent – or scheduled to go at a time that suits you and your customers.

  1. A central social media desk

If conquering social media is on your list of things to do you’ll quickly realise there’s a lot of logistics involved – not least remembering a massive number of passwords so you can cut, paste and post across them all.

Using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer takes a LOT of the effort out of your social media activity. Connect your accounts, then send your communication from the one central desk – choosing which of your feeds it’s posted to. You can even handle replies to direct customer interaction too, making it a great way to keep all your social communication in one quick and easy to use place.

  1. An online calendar

Our final suggestion is one that’s easy to use – but also easily overlooked!

Having an online calendar is essential if running a tight schedule is important to your business. Microsoft’s Outlook or Google’s Calendar provide simple interfaces and sync with your mailbox and other apps, meaning missed appointments, double booking and needing to get back to people when you’ve checked your diary is going to be a thing of the past.

8 Reasons Why SEO is Important for Your Business In 2018

Keep hearing SEO and think of it is as a buzzword? Sure, it is part of digital marketing jargon, but it is also an awesome marketing technique that seeks to drive traffic to your website. With the right targeted keywords and some professional guidance, your website can take the first position on search engine result pages.

Everything and everyone is online now! Hence, crafting an effective, engaging digital presence is critical to the success of any commercial venture today. If you want people to find you on the worldwide web, then SEO is going to be the tool that does this magic for you! Unfortunately, there is no free lunch and requires some marketing dollars to be invested.

The great thing is that digital marketing is effectual yet friendly on your company’s financial belt. You do not need to break the bank to tap into the power of SEO. But before you loosen the purse strings, you should comprehend the essence of SEO and the reasons why SME owners aspire to be at the top of Google’s search results with the help of companies such as SEO Edinburgh.

Awesome User Experience

A lot of individuals are under the misconception that search engine optimization is all about ranking websites. Whilst that is certainly true-SEO is also about fashioning user-friendly, streamlined websites that offers your visitor an auspicious online experience with your brand. To break through the clutter, companies are now mostly opting for minimalistic sites with a clean, clear look. When a customer has direct access to clear-cut information about your product, he will loiter around your website and browse. This will effectively reduce bounce rates and improve the number of page views. Providing pertinent, interesting content will definitely capture his attention.

Amplify Brand Awareness

It does not matter whether you have been functioning in the business arena for twenty years or only twenty days, building brand awareness will always be one of your primary long-term goals. In order to maintain growth rates, especially, as a small entity or start-up, it is imperative that you continue to attract customers. When you deploy the right marketing strategy and utilize both traditional/digital channels of marketing, your website will appear at the top of all search engine results. This will mean that you are generating the correct keywords and buzzwords in your content that your customers are familiar with and apply when seeking out your brand. Of course, your website traffic will grow and eventually lead to an increment in sales.

Economical Promotion

As a start-up, you may have limited access to cash and may need to tighten the financial belt whilst simultaneously striving to increase your current volume of sales. Search engine optimization provides an effective return on your investment as it can be customized to match the parameters of your marketing budget. As one of the most economical marketing instruments available, it will aim to build your digital footprint over a lengthy period of time with marked, quantifiable results. The reason for this is because every marketing dollar you dedicate to SEO can be accounted for.

Stronger Conversion Rates

Websites that are backed by search engine optimization are easier to use due to fast loading times reader friendliness, and general responsiveness. Not only that, the process of SEO permits you to gain access to your most relevant customer segment. The reason for this is as the power of SEO exists on its associated keywords. You an estimate and predict the capacity of incoming orders through keyword analysis and understand the size of the market potential. It is important to remember that many SEO gurus combine behavioural reasoning to infer the intent for keyword selection. Once this has been understood, you can amend your brand as per your clients’ issues and truly be a solution provider.

Strategic Consumer Insight

Once your website jumped on the internet bandwagon, ensure that you set up your Google Analytics account as this service will become your best friend.  You will be able to view and analyse your visitor base from sundry dimensions such as their topographical situation, what time they visited, what time are the most active, what keywords they implemented, how much time they spent on each web page, and how they ended up at your website. These insights can be incorporated into your marketing plan for better targeting messages and promotional efforts.

Without engaging content, any SEO strategy will render useless. It has to be a part of a combination of efforts which enforce other channels. Then only, will it make your brand more visible, credible and win your customer’s trust.

Everyone is Online

A study conducted by Bright Local, an SEO company, discovered that ninety-seven percent of online users searched for all kinds of brands within their district in the year 2017. Out of this sample, fifty-four percent frequented the web at least once a month for such research purposes. One cannot disagree that any brick and mortar entity may not require a digital presence. Yet, it can benefit from positive online reviews, structured consumer information and location data. Hence, local search optimization may prove to be an effectual marketing means to gain consumer trust.

Smartphone Usage

The world is getting more and more addicted to its smartphones. As a species, we are spending more time interacting with our network via our mobile phones. It also means that we are using the internet more through this medium. This implies that websites have to be SEO-backed to appear on SERPs effectually.

Social Media

Social media platforms are evolving into trusted forms of search databases. SEO and social media go hand in hand in improving your brand’s visibility. Let’s not forget that brands that come recommended from references and friends will have a higher probability of sales than your competitive counterparts.

Implementing a Disaster Recovery Plan

The Disaster Recovery Plans Value

A Disaster Recovery Plan when in place is the instrument that ensures the company has the tools and knowledge to efficiently and effectively recover from an incident, event or disaster with the minimal amount of downtime as possible!

The Planning and Responsibility of the Disaster Recovery Plan

The responsibility for the planning and implementing of the Disaster Recovery Plan is that of a senior managers function who must have the support and backing of the rest of the management and higher-arci of the company for the plan to succeed.  Once the plan has been approved and tested it must be made clear to the rest of the company’s staff!

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The Disaster Recovery Team

The Disaster Recovery Plan is vast and concerns most of all departments of a company, so a Disaster Recovery Team should be established.  The team members should comprise of a manager or supervise from each department and or various department functions, for instance in IT you may need a person from the Infrastructure Team, another from the backup team, another from the support desk team, etc.

There should be a timeframe in place for the deadline of the plan to be in place.

The plan should be tested, maintained and updated on a regular basis the times of which must be agreed upon by the DR Committee.

DR Team Roles and Responsibilities

The Plan should include the roles and responsibilities of each of the key members of the DR Plan and or the DR Committee.

Although each key member of the team will have a specific function and duty to perform considering a disaster, event or major incident it should be the explicit and documented role of the DR Manager or Co-Ordinator to declare a disaster and the put into the action the Disaster Recovery Plan.
This will require sign off and authority from the governing bodies and heads.

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Some of the Procedures to Include:

There must be instructions on who and how to contact key personnel in event of various situations, as well as any suppliers, standby teams and remote teams.

There should be clear and concise instructions on what constitutes a major and or minor disasters with the policies, procedures and various contacts for both scenarios.

Conclusion

A comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan will include the phone number of the Fire Stations, Electricity Boards, The police, Hospital/ambulance services, Disaster Management, Environmental Agencies, etc.

Using Title Loans To Launch Your Startup!

Working a conventional 9 to 5 job isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It involves you sitting behind a desk everyday and constantly trying to satisfy your boss. If the company is under stress, you will be too. If it prospers, hopefully so will you.

However, having said that, a typical work life does not reward you a daily degree of flexibility. As a salaried employee, you must work extremely hard to catch the attention of upper management and earn a promotion. Being your own boss is an appealing notion.

This is where your own business comes in handy. Business is more of a lifestyle than a profession that requires devotion and struggle. Starting a fresh business requires no age limit and no educational degree. All you need is a solid business plan, some stable capital and you’re good to go.

For most young entrepreneurs, a startup can be difficult to begin. This can be due to no access to capital or to a weak business plan. While we cannot really help with reinforcing your business plan, we can definitely suggest how you can raise capital.

Use Title Loans to Fund Start-up

The working mechanics of a title loan are like that of a traditional loan. But the catch is that your property title or car title acts as the collateral.

Basically, a title loan is a secured loan where the lender such as https://toploancompanies.com/title-loan-lenders/ puts a lien on your property or your car and keeps the copy of documents until the loan is returned with an interest sum. It is an excellent entrepreneurial opportunity for individuals to launch their startups especially when the capital is unstable.

Hence why most entrepreneurs turn to title loans to run their fresh business seeking solid returns on their investment. If the loan is paid back due time, everyone goes their merry ways. But in case the borrower fails to return the loan, the lender can possess the title, sell it and equalize the debt.

How to properly utilize your title loan for a startup

To run a successful business, it is very important to have a solid business idea. With a perfect game-plan sorted out and the best business idea finalized, you can claim a title loan as a capital. But remember, your capital is a loan that you must return it in due time so it’s very important to secure monthly payments to the lender while sensibly investing the loan in to your products or services.

Loan terms

The average loan term is typically of 30 days. In case you’re unable to pay, the lender can extend the loan to another month increasing the interest rate and the fees. But the law regarding title loan varies from state to state. Before taking the title loan, it is important for you to educate yourself and make yourself aware of  your state law.

State Licensing

Rules and regulations vary from state to state and company to company providing these title loans. In case of car title loans, the lender may or may not keep the car you have surrendered as a collateral, until you return the loan. Title loan businesses are required to be certified in many states.

Know what you’re competing against

Ask any successful business owner and he’ll tell you one thing: know your competition. Running a business with no goals or aims is just like walking into a golf field blindfolded. For a successful business, you must always be two steps ahead of your competitor to maintain dominancy.

Benefits of using title loan as a capital for your startup

Title loans for a startup can be advantageous in many ways such as:

  1. Fast application process

Unlike a traditional bank loan, a title loan is quicker to claim and does not specifically require any document for proof. Hence, the hurdle of going through all the paperwork is saved. All that is required of you is to provide the title of your vehicle or property that shall act as a collateral for the. The loan usually gets approved within 24 hours and is irrespective of applying online or physically.

  1. A quick and easy way to repay your loan

The lending companies provide an in-depth explanation regarding the complete process of paying back the loan and its rates etc. There are many easy strategies you can use to repay your loan.

Many companies provide flexibility in the loan term period and renewing the loan term. Using specific strategies, title loans are also faster to repay. Loan amounts are covered quicker regardless of the size. Moreover, if you have thought your startup through, the profit can be utilized to easily repay the loan faster.

  1. Cheaper than traditional loans

Title loans are cheaper than a traditional loan. This is usually because you share the title of your property or vehicle with the lender and they have keep the collateral as a security.

Therefore, in case of worst case scenario, the lender can utilize the collateral property or vehicle to clear the payment of the loan. Having this security affirms the lender’s trust and often interest rates are decreased depending upon the value of the collateral.

  1. You can still use your property/vehicle

We mentioned earlier that the lender may keep your car until the loan is returned-but that is hardly ever the case. Hence, the best part of utilizing the title loan is that the collateral property or the vehicle can still be used by you.

The company however shall assess the value of the collateral property or the car regularly to make sure that the value of your collateral hasn’t depreciated. The lender however will keep the stake in your property/car and duplicate keys/registration. The keys and title will ultimately be handed over as soon as you repay the loan amount.

Is it really worth it?

All such schemes have pros and cons. To be on the safe side, it’s important to understand both side of the coin.

  • Some companies intentionally target those with an unsecured secondary form of credit. Young entrepreneurs must be aware of such controversies.
  • In case your business fails to float, you will be unable to make monthly payments and will ultimately lose your property or the vehicle.

Considering these factors, if you have a solid business idea or a secondary credit source, a title loan may be a good idea since the risk percentage is not relatively high.

A title loan is a good option that can be used as a capital to start business and get it going until you stabilize. Since you’re handing over the title of your property/vehicle, it’s important you must have a solid idea for your startup keeping in mind all the aspects such as repaying the loan via monthly payments.

With a good business pitch, the loan can easily be returned with the profit generated while maintaining dominancy over rivals and gradually increasing the demand of your product or service.

Business Debts – How To Budget More Effectively and Cut Costs

Debts are not fun to experience, are they? But thankfully when it comes to our personal finances we can avoid them. Sure, we can sometimes be struck by bad luck or an emergency that means we have no choice but to go into debt to prevent a potential problem from getting worse.

But those rare occasions aside you can usually avoid debt by staying on top of your finances and budgeting. However, if you have a business then debt is likely always going to happen sooner or later especially in those early days of your business’s operation.

But that doesn’t mean you have to just put up with it even if it is considered the norm. Remember you will need to get out of debt as quickly as possible or at least be able to manage it effectively. So, how do you do that?

Managing business debt can be done by following many of the similar tips and advice that would be useful for dealing with personal debt. However, not all the advice is the same and it can’t all be done in the same way either. Dealing with business debt (even with a small business) can be much more complicated.

So, let’s break it down and examine how business owners can deal with their debts more effectively with our budgeting tips.

Cut Your Spending

This is much more difficult than it might sound in many cases and it could even take some rejigging of your businesses budgets. But usually, there will be at least one or two ways you can cut your businesses costs.

If your business is still in the early days of its conception, then you’ll need to spend money, won’t you? Those advertisements are not going to pay for themselves, are they? But you can be smart and find ways to carry out your businesses operations for a fraction of the price.

For example, instead of printing posters or flyers for your business stick to posting them around social media instead, it’s free after all. If you need to kit out your office get furniture second hand and look for deals when it comes to software programs if you need them.

Also make sure you’re not overindulging on things you don’t actually need, sure fresh fruit for breaktimes and fancy stationary might make your business very popular with your staff and customers. But if you’re struggling with debts they are a cost you could do without.

Consolidate Your Debts

This tip is actually part one of two possible paths you could take to cut debt, consolidating your debts is an effective way of reducing them because you’ll be able to pay all your creditors in simple monthly instalments.

There are a number of ways you can go about consolidating your debts but one of the most popular is to use an individual voluntary arrangement. Commonly known as an IVA these arrangements can be carried out by a wide variety of different groups such as The Debt Advisory Service but in order to work, you will need 75% of your creditors to agree to the arrangement.

There are some downsides to IVAs which may make them a poor choice for dealing with your businesses debt or you might wish to simply pay your creditors individually. If that is the case, then the next tip will likely be of interest to you.

Prioritise Your Debts

So, if consolidating your debts isn’t something you think will work for you then you should instead prioritise your debts. This might sound like obverse advice, but you’d be surprised how many business owners can make mistakes. Your repayments should be carefully structured so that debts that have the highest rates of interest or have been outstanding the longest are paid first.

It might be tempting to focus on smaller debts first, so you can get rid of them but in order to tackle debt effectively, you need to be able to prioritise payments. Interest rates can make a difficult debt unmanageable in some cases so make sure those monthly payments are made on time.

Find Away To Increase Your Profits

What business doesn’t want to increase its profit margins? If you’re finding yourself struggling with debt then you should start looking for ways to attract more customers, sure that’s easier said than done right?

Especially when the first tip was all about cutting costs, but it can be done and no one said running a business would be easy. Be smart about it though, for example expanding into a new location might increase business and attract new custom but it will certainly be adding to your debts so is it really worth risking?

Instead, focus on the small-scale by increasing your local marketing efforts and social media presence. Depending on the type of your business you could do all kinds of things to attract new customers and raise profits. Like hosting community events and offering special discounts for a limited time.

Stay on Top of Your Debts

Again, this might seem like advice that everyone who runs a business will know, by whether you’re a veteran businessman or a complete beginner staying on top of your debts can be very tricky. There is a lot the average business needs to keep track of and even if your business is only small it can be a difficult and time-consuming job to ensure everything is paid on time.

You can get so carried away with things that you can easily simply lose sight of your creditors, but they won’t forget you. To borrow a phrase from one of my earlier tips you need to prioritise your debts at all times. If these means a new plan, product or deal as to wait a bit longer then it will usually just have to wait till your business is in a stronger position.

So, that’s five tips to dealing with business debt, in many ways personal debt and business debt are very similar. But your business sinking due to debt is something everyone wants to avoid so be smart and follow our advice to ensure it never happens to you.

3 Broad Legal Issues Content Marketers Must Watch Out For

The phenomena known as content marketing has taken the branding world by storm. It is an effective method of informative and promotional communication that aims to engage your target market through the creation, disbursal and amplification of relevant content.

The purpose of this marketing tactic is to educate a prospective customer about the niche in which he seeks information and to help him make better informed decisions.

Whatever your overall marketing objective maybe: brand awareness, lead generation, customer education etc, content marketing is a powerful tool to attain it. Unfortunately, the diverse applications of content marketing also come with a range of legal issues.

In this day and age, where user content is constantly shared or spun by others-a fine line exists between originality and copyright problems.

One has to be extremely cautious as the utilization of content marketing is primarily for business reasons and if used wrong, then could hold financial implications for your commercial venture. To evade such a situation, it is imperative to know the litigation boundaries to operate within when designing your content marketing strategy.

1.      Intellectual Property Issues

According to The Callahan Law Firm Unless you are promoting or sharing content that you created with your own resources, it is vital that you be aware of the intellectual property rights given to the content usage. No matter what the format: videos, infographics, audio, photographs, etc-there will be a framework of law that it will fall within. You and your brand team must ensure that you have the permission to use someone else’s content assets such as hashtags, logo etc. Not only that, you will avoid lawsuits if your marketing agency and your workforce are familiar with the following steps:

Publish Legal Content

Now when we give the above statement (to share legal content), what we mean is that you must distribute information that either you have created or that you have the written consent and support of the original author to disburse. Of course, you must give due credit when required as well. It is important to understand that all content has been drafted by someone and is owned by them. In order to share it on your own marketing platform, you must identify the author and make sure you touch base with him. Get his blessing to publish it and when you do, acknowledge him as the original creator. However, if you are unable to identify the author of a content piece, then the recommended route is to not share it.

Own Rights

Today’s society devours content at an incredible rate. Your target audience is probably no different and demands high quality content frequently. Of course, as a content marketer, you will have other responsibilities and not be able to churn out enough content. It is a norm to hire remote freelance writers or independent contractors to serve this need. When you draw up a contract with them, insert a clause that you own any content generated by them for your company. General copyright law requires this. Then, you can recycle any content created in different formats as you wish.

Accumulate Licences for Images

A lot of stories have circulated on the Internet where well-meaning bloggers published pictures on their sites and were slapped with unanticipated license premiums or even lawsuits for infringing on copyright law. Now, you do not want this to happen to your or to your customers. Acquire and monitor all associated licenses and permissions with any visuals that you wish to share. Remember there may be limitations to this as well and it is important that you function within those parameters.

Give Credit

To demonstrate that your content marketing practices are legal, give due credit to any content format that you republish. The majority of content creators are open to their work being re-shared, however as long as their hard work is acknowledged.

Trademarks

Have a clear branding guideline that you and your team can follow for content marketing purposes. Whenever necessary, ensure that you publish pertinent disclaimers when utilizing trademarks that belong to other players in your industry.

2.      Advertising Compliance

Content marketing is a class of advertising only as the purpose is to generate leads and sales conversions.  As such, then the laws of advertising do come into place as well.

Honesty

If you are aiming to share content with a customer segment group that is sensitive in nature, then you must take additional measures to ensure your message is honest and not misleading. These customer groups can include seniors, children or people with special needs.  Remaining ethical when marketing to such segments is of the utmost importance as is to maintain content transparency.

Actual Claims

As the Brand Manager, if you make any claims about your product, do make sure they are true. If you claim your shampoo is the number one in its category, please do your market research to substantiate this claim. We recommend that you avoid tall stories such as that! Hire an external third party if you must, to verify the marketing claims that you make.

3.      Customer Testimonials

Getting existing consumers to sing your brand’s praises is an effective content marketing strategy. it can make a powerful impact on your prospect’s decision and be the difference that pushes him over the purchase line. When engaging in such a practice, it is essential to implement the following.

Information Omission

Do not create customer testimonials that exclude vital information about your brand. Even if it is negative feedback, make sure you share the whole picture.

Sponsored Content

If you are exchanging anything in material for a customer testimonial (tickets, money), that must be disclosed. For example, if you are a restaurant owner and sponsor a food blogger to write a review for you, then you will need to share that openly.

Get your in-house legal department to provide you with the required guidelines to avoid any content marketing problems. Draft policies and checking procedures that will help you stay on top of your game and will ensure that no hassles come your way.

Getting started with Risk Assessment

Risk assessment

The ISO defines Risk as being “The effect of uncertainty on an object!”
The “effect” would be any possible outcome that would deviate from the usual objective

We make plans based on various assumptions

We make plans nearly every day, for instance we are going to awake at six am to be ready to leave for work by eight am, leaving about forty minutes for travel time to work we should be there well before nine am because the average trip time to work in my own car, is only twenty minutes so you allow for another twenty incase of unusually heavy traffic.

In making plans we are making a prediction of the future.  We are stating that by following a certain routine or pattern we will achieve our desired result or goal.

In this, we have made various assumptions as to how certain elements and factors that surround us will work and perform.

Sometimes assumptions can misfire, and our predictions can go awry by a near miss or completely off the rails.

Thus, any of the assumptions we had made that were wrong will bring about very different or varied outcomes some that could have a minor effect and others a drastic effect giving rise to various questions:

  • What were our assumptions when we set about constructing the plan?
  • What uncertainty arises about the value of our assumptions?
  • To what degree does our uncertainty vary over those values?
  • What is the potential effect of that uncertainty on the desired outcome?
  • What can be done to cut down on the level of uncertainty?

risk - Getting started with Risk Assessment

Looking at the left for work scenario we would see that the following assumptions were made:

  • My car has enough fuel in it
  • My car is mechanically sound, and I am not expecting any trouble with it
  • There should be no major traffic delays that would delay me beyond the average of twenty minutes
  • There are no route detours or deviations for any reason

Now let’s identify the various risks with this scenario as should just one of these assumptions be wrong it could seriously impact and delay my journey:

  • The car does not start for some reason thus causing a delay whilst I must call a mechanic
  • The car either runs out of fuel or I must stop a petrol station which due to the time of the morning may be incredibly busy which would delay my journey.
  • There is a major detour on the route to work due to roadworks or an accident. Never having takenthe allotted detour, I stand the risk of getting horribly lost which would cause a delay, or due to the amount of traffic being funneled through the detour it causes a major delay in my journey

Conclusion

Risk Assessment is a vital process for any company no matter how large or small.  By establishing the various assumptions of the day-to-day operations and then evaluating the risks factors of those assumptions a company can create a valuable risk treatment and management process.

5 Types Of Software And Tools You Need For Your Business

If you are looking to increase the productivity and success of your business, there are important pieces of software and tools you need to invest in that will help you do this. While some software and tools out there will help you save time, others will help you to streamline and focus your business efforts more precisely therefore helping you to make money. Furthermore, there are even some that will increase your company’s leads and sales.

As there are a wide variety of different types of software and other helpful tools out there, it can be more than a little overwhelming for you, if you are trying to work out which are right for your business. This is why we are here to help and are going to do this by putting together a list of the 5 most important pieces of software and tools that could help your business during this new year.

Accountancy Software And Tools

Never underestimate the difference investing in a high quality accountancy tool or software can have on your business. As well as helping you to save money that can then be invested elsewhere in the business, it can stop you from using too much of your precious time on something that can be dealt with, in many situations, automatically. This also saves you from lots of headaches and stress.

Many business owners consider their accountancy software to be top of the list of tools they couldn’t run their business without.

All good accountancy software should:

  • Display an overview of the finances of your business
  • Easily keep a recorded record of payments, quotes and invoices
  • Efficiently and quickly calculate your company’s taxes
  • Offer invoice generation tools
  • Reports on the company’s finances, such as cash flow, profits and losses etc.

All-In-One Style Business Dashboards

With all-in-one style business dashboards you have access to a comprehensive overview of the business. This includes such aspects as project management, finances and tracking marketing campaigns to name but a few. They are designed to enable you to enable you to keep an eye on the many different departments of your business.

If you invest in a good quality business dashboard, you will be able to monitor your entire business and will always know what marketing campaigns and other projects you have running and how the company’s finances are looking. Whenever you want. You will also be able to quickly access any important information about your business or the people that work for you, so that you are always able to make more informed decisions, faster.

To put it more succinctly – this kind of software is a great tool for managing your business, so you know exactly what is going on with each individual part of it

Customer Relationship Management or CRM software

In the past customer relationship management tools were generally only used by the sales department of a business. However, there is now a increased need for this type of software to be available for various departments, not just sales. As customers expect modern businesses to offer seamless and improved interactions, it means the CRM tool you invest in should be able to track and record all interactions with customers, whether it is via the phone or email, on the website, Twitter or even the Facebook messenger.

Web Monitoring

Most businesses should invest in some kind of web monitoring tools, and although they can be utilised in a variety of ways. Though, they are most commonly good for helping you:

  • Keeping track and updated when your business is mentioned at all online – this is perfect for presenting opportunities to you and managing customer service for your business
  • Discover potential leads and opportunities for sales – you can use them to monitor your niche keywords and look out for leads looking for services and products that are similar to the ones you offer
  • Enhance your marketing campaigns lead by an influencer by finding a social influencer
  • Obtain better understanding and knowledge about the industry you are working in and therefore, understand your audience better

Digital Marketing Tools

This is quite a big category – digital market and everything that is included under that umbrella term, from search engine optimisation and content marketing to social media marketing and management. There is a wide variety of different tools designed to be used to improve your digital marketing strategies. By investing in one or two or even a few of these, depending on your needs, you should be able to improve traffic, raise awareness of your brand and products/services, engagement with customers and ultimately generate a greater amount of leads and sales.

Human Resources Software

In a time when there are easy to use and manage human resource software platforms available such as www.hrflow.org, it does seem kind of odd that so many business owners still insist on doing things the old fashioned way. The thing is though, while it may be okay for the running of the human resources of your small company to consist of a few spreadsheets and a pile of invoices and paperwork – as you expand and try to increase your productivity, workforce and generate more sales, this is not going to cut it.

The other alternative is to have a draconian system that is only usable by select HR professionals (if you have any in your company). Modern HR software, fortunately, is often designed to be used by everyone from management through to supervisors and ground level employees.

Essentially, if you want to run a tighter ship, in terms of organising shifts, holidays, absences and performance reviews. It can be used to help your business at every step of the way, from the beginning of an employee’s journey with your company through to the time they leave.

Although this is not an incredibly exhaustive list, we hope it serves as a good starting point if you are trying to find ways to improve your business and its growth.

6 Business Growth Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs

It’s easy to think that you know best when it comes to growing your business – but the fact is, businesses follow quite well-defined growth paths – and there are experienced people out there who know those paths better than the rest of us…

If you want to take the risk of guesswork out of your growth plans, read the following 6 tips – they’ve come straight from the mouths of some of the most knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs of our current time – and they’re tips, rules and behaviours that are guaranteed to see you grow…

You might also want to check out this awesome post for some great pointers on starting your own business!

#1 – Richard Branson – “If you strive for perfect, the only thing you’ll achieve is failure”

Richard Branson’s business and leisure exploits are so wide and varied that he’s got more experience than most other rooms full of entrepreneurs – but that’s not because he’s a perfectionist.

In fact, he tells people to move away from trying to get things exactly right if they want their plans to succeed.

Act now, publish today, launch soon, do it this afternoon.

You might think this is reckless – but in fact, it’s the principle of dealing with reality instead of ideal world thinking. For every day that passes where your product or service is still in development, there’s another day that a rival company have under their belt.

Conversely, put your product out to pasture now and you’ll start getting feedback and performance indication by tomorrow – data that’s vital when it comes to assessing you next steps – whether that’s development, product abandonment, upping production – or anything else. Without data that relates to performance you can’t hope to grow – and without action, you can’t get that data.

#2 – Gary Veynerchuk – “Work hard, keep working hard – then when you’re done, work harder again”

Veynerchuk is one of social media’s most recognised entrepreneurs – and he’s there because his work ethic is off the scale.

Most people think you’ve got to have exceptional talent to grow a business – but the truth is actually different. People have great ideas, but are inherently lazy – if we weren’t, we’d all be multi-millionaires. The thing that separates the super-successful from the masses is a LOT of work.

If your business is going to grow, you need to work hard. Get up an hour earlier and you’ve suddenly bought yourself an extra 360 hours growing your business each year – that’s a staggering 10 extra work weeks a year (or 5 if you work as long and hard as Veynerchuk!)

Don’t procrastinate, work to a tight schedule, set yourself big targets and work until they’re achieved. Success isn’t easy.

#3 – Tim Ferris – “Subtract before you begin adding”

Ferris, the author of the highly successful 4-Hour Workweek explains that we need to break free of our ‘more is better’ mindset – and the rule applies in a host of ways for businesses.

Unless you’ve got efficiency perfectly dialled in, you’re wasting your time bringing more people onboard or rolling out more services or products.

So, you might think you’re winning because you need to take another sales person on – but what if you could squeeze your current sales person’s conversion rates so you get double the productivity out of just one person? Better situation, reduced spend – and an astronomical step up when you do take person number 2 on.

Conduct through and strict assessments of every process and look for ways to improve all the time.

#4 – Tony Robbins – “If you fall in love with your product, you’re screwed”

Robbins success is built on making other people successful – so you better believe he’s got some tips on growth that are worth their weight in gold.

His quote about avoiding falling in love with your product is essentially one about objectivity – and the people who are the most objective bunch in the world – your customers.

He suggests you fall in love with your customers and listen intently to what they want. If you become blinkered and nurture the idea that your product is fantastic (even if you’re being told otherwise) – then you’ve lost a crucial part of your business sense.

Remember who’s going to be buying your product – then learn about those people and what they want.

#5 – Warren Buffett – “Surround yourself with good people”

On the surface, Buffett’s idea sounds like the basis for a good party rather than a good business – but actually, the type of people he’s referring to might not be the people you’d end up inviting to a party at all…

By ‘good people’ – he means people who are going to hold you to account and assess your performance. You might be the boss, the company director or the leader of your team, but that doesn’t mean you’re right.

If you can encourage a working climate in which no one is afraid to speak out – no matter how harsh what they say might seem, you’re in a great place for growth.

This idea really stems from the idea that; A. We’re not very objective with our own thoughts, and; B. We have a tendency to think we’re right. If you combine those with a sense that you can’t be challenged, your team might have no option but to let you fly the plane into the mountains when it comes to growth – but they’ll be patting you on the back and agreeing with you all the way.

Do you want nice people? Or do you want effective people? Pick and nurture accordingly.

#6 – Richard Branson – “Keep a notebook, don’t ever lose an idea”

As one of the wealthiest people in the world it’s forgivable that Branson features twice on this list! Branson has commented a number of times that if he had his time again, he would go through all his notebooks and start up all the ideas that he didn’t do first time around.

So, if it’s good enough for Sir Richard Branson, it’s good enough for us mere mortals.

Keep a note book – or many – and in them, record every idea, contact, opportunity or anything else that presents itself on a day to day basis. You brain will not store everything – but a pen and paper does.

Don’t just save the good ideas either – save everything. About to launch a product? Journal about how it goes. Information is power – and when it comes to launching your next product you’ve got a full run down of what happened last time, meaning you can avoid the situation occurring again.

Risk Assessment vs Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis

To fully protect a company from disasters, threats, security risks and be fully ISO-compliant it is good practice for them to have both a Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment which is vital to any BCM and Disaster Recovery Plan.

Understanding the differences between Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment

Although the two practices complement each other and the foundations to any good Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan and have some common grounding and overlap they are different processes each contributing necessary information towards an efficient Business Resilience Plan.

Risk Assessment

Is a valuable process by which potential threats are identified and various actions are put in place to either prevent or to minimize the risk thereof by an acceptable degree of loss, downtime or failure.

By systematically managing these potential risks with various resources such a patching of Windows systems, upgrading of alarms, installing better VCR security systems, etc.

Risk Assessment focuses on all potential risks and what their chances of occurring are and it focuses on the potential impact of events.

Risk Assessment also takes the potential risks and breaks it into whatever components may make up the risk, failure, error or causality.

bia - Risk Assessment vs Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Business Impact Analysis

Uses RTO’s (Recovery Time Objectives) to calculate and assess how a business would fair during downtime.  By assuming worse case scenarios and what the organization would stand to lose under certain conditions.

The Business Impact Analysis or BIA is more concerned with the impact on the stakeholders due to limited or no normal services and what the recovery time would be as to the acceptable tolerance level of such an event.

BIA makes use of various granular statistics and company data such as markets, account impacts etc.
By considering the entire companies operation and what it stands to lose during any disaster, event or crisis that would bring these operations or parts thereof to a stop.

Insight into BIA and Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment is usually done after the BIA has been done to priorities and measure the risks identified by the BIA.

The BIA, on the other hand, does not rely on the information from a Risk Assessment for any analytics to be processed.

Conclusion

With the different ISO standards that govern the BIA process and industries adopting these standards as stricter and tighter audit requirements and controls are put into place.  BIA and Risk Assessment practitioner can become quite confused with the different regulatory requirements for each.
With that in mind, there are many Business Continuity Software templates that can aid in the process.