Every time a woman goes into business for herself, she’s making a statement whether she’s aware of it or not. She’s telling the world that she’s not prepared to accept the fundamental inequalities which still plague the world of work. She’s showing the world that she’s not prepared to wait centuries for the gender pay gap to finally close. Moreover, she’s setting an example for her kids and for an entire generation of little girls. She’s showing them that when the deck is stacked against them, it’s time to get a new deck and play the career game on their own terms. These resourceful, brave and all-round fabulous ladies, after they’ve broken the mold must be careful not to falter as a result of their own success. As their businesses prosper, thrive and grow they must be sure that they are well positioned to grow in sustainable ways so that her enterprise doesn’t trip over its own feet or collapse under its own weight.
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to assume that growth is an inevitability; a natural consequence of doing what you do well. The truth, however, is that growth needs to be carefully managed. Just like any aspect of business, there is huge scope for things to go wrong. That’s why if you want to grow your business like a diva, you’ll have to avoid the common mistakes made by lesser entrepreneurs…
Make sure your tech support is scalable
Whatever the nature of your business, it’s likely that you rely on technology on a daily basis to keep your business afloat and facilitate its many functions. As your business grows, so too will it place increasing demands on your IT infrastructure. This is why outsourcing an IT Consulting and Strategy business is vital in making your growth sustainable and manageable. They will be able to implement scalable solutions that grow in accordance with the needs of your business without the disruption caused by overhauling systems or training employees in the use of new tech.
Keep a close eye on the numbers
Few of us have all that much of a head for numbers. Heck, many entrepreneurs don’t. But the great thing about numbers is that they don’t lie. As your business becomes more and more successful it’s numbers like sales figures or online engagement stats that tell you that growth is necessary. But these numbers can also tell you that your spending is disproportionate to your growth.
Make sure that your standards do not slip
As your business rises to accommodate increased consumer demand, this will inevitably place more strain on your business’ infrastructure and your employees. If you’re not careful, this will cause your standards to drop. Your employees’ increased workloads may prevent them from giving the kind of customer service upon which you built your reputation or you may not be able to deliver the same quality of product. In this instance, it’s essential that you invest where necessary to ensure that your customers enjoy a continuity of service despite your increased workload.
Navigate these pitfalls and you’ll stride through the challenges of business growth like a diva!
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past five years, you’ll have noticed the rise of VR. In fact, there’s a high chance that it is in the workplace right now completing tasks. Don’t worry because the robots aren’t formulating an uprising just yet. Virtual technology software exists even if owners and CEOs are unaware. For example, chatbots are artificial intelligence programs which operate with little input. Merely regulate the settings and let them do their thang.
Another tactic is to hire people from far and wide. After all, international recruitment is an effective way to boost standards and limit gaps. To keep costs down, you let them work from home. No boss needs the added pressure or overheads, especially when telecommunicating is as efficient. By all means, operate from your bedroom. It doesn’t matter as long as the projects get completed on time.
Negatives do exist though, and the main one is a lack of a connection. Some people are happy to be lone rangers with zero interaction whatsoever. However, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Thankfully, the right methods and equipment make it possible to manage employees who live tens of thousands of miles away. Here’s what to remember.
Invest In Tech
In the past, bosses would have to speak face-to-face with employees to communicate. At the least, a phone call would have been necessary. Today, there are enough instant messaging services to keep everyone happy. WhatsApp has become the industry gold-standard at the moment, yet there is Hangouts and Facebook Messenger. And, that is without mentioning the video-conferencing apps such as Skype.
A plethora of resources exist and businesses should have them on hand. But, don’t pat yourself on the back for downloading the apps. The key is to use them semi-frequently to maintain a strong team ethic. For example, conduct meetings via a video calling application. Sure, it’s as easy to speak via email but it’s nice to see their body language and gauge their answers. Plus, virtual employees love to put a name to a face.
Remember that you are the role model setting the example. So, if you use videos for meetings big and small, workers will feel as if they can follow suit.
Pick Up The Phone
Regardless of new-age media, the old equipment still has a place in our hearts. There is a reason for that – it’s useful. Sure, the tech geeks will harp on about a new processor with 8-bit RAM and a 2.4lt engine, but they are nerds. No offense to these men and women, but it’s important to see their lack of objectivity!
Phones are by no means modern or cool or exotic. It seems rewarding to use social media and video-conferencing for these exact reasons. However, a phone call is direct and to the point and it allows both parties to thrash out issues. When someone has a problem, it’s not a good idea to tweet a direct message or email them because it’s impersonal.
Speaking on the phone to your virtual services provider shows an element of caring. Some people wouldn’t even bother addressing a concern in the first place. If there is nothing wrong, a phone call is still a fantastic way to keep up to date with their plans. There is nothing worse than missing a deadline thanks to a lack of communication.
Believe In Interactive Content
As far as content goes today, videos and images are the joint kings. People are less bothered about reading reams of text on a page. It’s boring and it hurts their eyes. More importantly, it isn’t as enjoyable because nothing is engaging about the post. Vids and pics are visually pleasing and fun to look at from a marketing point of view.
It is possible to use advertising tricks on the virtual team in the same way you would with customers. Don’t see this as sneaky because you’re not trying to sell them anything. Instead, it’s vital that they feel as if they are connected to the company. Take a simple “Meet Us” page. Images of the employees who work for the firm are visible to anyone who visits the site. Names are a wise choice, too.
Why? It’s because they tell a bigger story. Workers see this and instantly see themselves as part of a group. They don’t need to work in the office or engage in the daily banter – they’re there in spirit.
Leverage Social Media
Again, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram et al. are platforms mainly used for targeting shoppers. Interact with them online and they will more than likely choose the company as a partner. All it takes is a basic gesture, such as a retweet, or a funny post to grab their attention. Twitter wars are famous and instantly raise awareness of the brand. Does anyone remember the “war” between the Clown, the Colonel and the King?
Flipping the dynamic is essential, as in the same way as using interactive media. After all, remote workers aren’t in the office and don’t receive much feedback or praise. The excellent thing about social media is that you can tag anyone who has an account. So, don’t be scared to advertise the great and the good of the company and give a shout out to the culprits.
When they see it, they will feel happy and vindicated as well as loyal. A weekly email blast with examples of strong pieces of work is also effective.
Organize A Get-Together
Although tech has got the bases covered, there is no substitute for meeting in person. Speaking face-to-face allows everyone to laugh and joke and connect on a different level. Of course, this is impossible when everyone is miles away and is only connected via the internet. The solution is to organize an event with the sole purpose of bringing employees and employers together. Hire a function room, pay for the bar, and let the guests circulate. Covering travel expenses may be necessary too.
Your team may be far away but do they have a group mentality? If the answer is no, what can you do to change the atmosphere?
As more and more homeowners learn the value of energy efficiency in homes, the trend toward efficient building gains speed. Over the last summer, the U.S. hit an important milestone: the Home Energy Ratings System (HERS) evaluated its two millionth home. Similar to the Energy Star program for appliances, HERS evaluations are a labeling option that makes it easier for home buyers to see, at a glance, how energy efficient a home will be.
Major Gains in Sustainable Homes
Under the HERS system, the lower a score is, the more efficient the home. A score of zero means that the home produces as much energy as it uses throughout the course of a year. Points are assigned for factors that include air leakage rates, insulation, and others.
Home buyers are able to compare the energy efficiency of more homes than ever. In 2016, roughly one in five new homes built used the HERS system. Of those, more than half had HERS scores of 62 or better. Energy-efficient advances in homes include:
- high-efficiency HVAC systems. These were present in about half of homes. Since heating and cooling are responsible for a great deal of a modern home’s energy usage, this is a significant improvement.
- low air leakage rates. Reducing air leakage means that less energy must be used to keep the home’s temperature comfortable.
- energy efficient windows. These were present in around two-thirds of rated homes.
Room for Improvement
While we’ve already come so far, many homes still waste a great deal of energy. About 45% of HERS rated homes receive an Index score that is over 62. The higher the score, the less energy efficient the home is considered.
Luckily, there are many improvements that could be made to existing homes that could make them far more efficient. At the current time, only about seven percent of homes use any sort of on-site power production, for instance. A move toward sustainable power created at the site through technologies that include wind, solar and geothermal can improve many existing homes and be a feature of new construction.
The Next Steps
With so far to go, what could help builders make the next steps toward even more efficient homes? Some experts believe that economic incentives could make it more affordable for builders to create houses that are more sustainable. In turn, these incentives could mean home that did not force buyers to choose between efficiency and price. A recent survey indicated that buyers are willing to pay around $7,000 more for a home that saved them $1,000 every year in utility costs. If improvements that make a home more efficient could be kept below that ceiling, home buyers are likely to be far more receptive.
As more home buyers learn about the environmental and financial benefits of sustainable homes, demand will continue to rise. If builders are able to meet this demand while also offering affordable homes, they will gain the interest of not just early adopters but home buyers with a range of preferences and priorities.
Author: Tony Gilbert
While running a startup and achieving success can be a difficult task, it gives you joy and a sense of fulfillment. Among the critical decisions that business owners have to make revolves around financing. When your business is relatively new, getting a business loan can be daunting especially when you don’t have the required credit scores and collateral.
The fact that most financial institutions have limitations when lending to small businesses, founders are easily tempted to settle for any offer that comes their way. Basically, you must be realistic when searching for business credit but it’s also up to you to ensure you get the best deal. Here, you will learn about what you should give thought to taking the loan.
Understand the available types of loans
Before you decide to borrow for your business, it’s good to know the most appropriate option. Business loans come in various forms and they have different features depending on the purpose and the financing institution.
When you are considering buying new equipment for your startup, you might want to consider equipment financing. Here, the same equipment will be used as the collateral for the loaned amount. But if you need financing that will help you iron out cash flow issues, taking business lines of credit can be a great idea. With this loan, the financier will allocate you a certain credit ceiling and you can take the money at any time you need it as long as you don’t exceed the limit.
The APR’s and fees
Irrespective of the type of financing, you need to be certain about the interests charged. This is one of the major factors that determine the exact amount you are expected to pay back. Today, there are lots of lenders who are willing to work with you. As such, it’s prudent to take your time and shop for the least expensive loan.
At the same time, you must make sure that a lender doesn’t have hidden fees. While these won’t have an effect on the interest rates, they will definitely increase borrowing cost. At times, it’s better to settle for a nation 21 loans lender with a higher interest than one that has several fees that make it expensive.
The length of the borrowing cycle
The length of time it takes to pay back the loan will influence the total amount you’ll pay. Before making the final decision, ensure you’ve talked with your creditor and study to understand the available loan terms. Depending on your requirements, you can choose a short or longer loan term.
Some lenders will penalize you if you repay the funds early before the term ends. As such, if you want a loan that can be paid quickly, it’s best to settle for an option that doesn’t have prepayment penalties.
Your credit scores and collateral
The credit scores reflect your creditworthiness and lenders will make a decision through the credit profile. When your score is high, it becomes easy to qualify for a loan with favorable terms. On the other hand, lower credit scores limit your options but this doesn’t mean you won’t get a loan. The only tradeoff is that you might be charged high interests since you pose a higher risk to the lender.
Some lenders will ask you for collateral before you are given a business loan. This insulates the lender and they can sell the item to recover the funds just in case you are not in apposition to repay the funds. You can decide to use your inventory or equipment as the security for the loan. In its absence, a lender may still allow you to borrow but such loans tend to be more expensive.
Your current financial situation
One of the critical and important aspects to consider when borrowing funds for a startup is your financial background. By simply taking a quick glance at your budget will help you figure out whether you will afford to handle the loan are required.
When you are constantly struggling with your finances, taking a huge loan can leave you in a worse situation. As a rule of thumb, you must ensure that you can manage to submit all scheduled payments on time without missing any payment. In order to ensure the continuity of your venture, you should carefully consider all the cash flow as well as realistic financial projections before deciding the exact loan amount to take.
Borrowing is an important decision for any business and its effects can stretch for several years. Nevertheless, a loan can assist your startup grow quickly and stamp its authority on the market. As long as you are diligent throughout the borrowing period, you can reap the benefits of responsible borrowing.
Before you choose to inject some borrowed funds into your business, make sure you consider the things discussed here. While not all businesses are the same, most startups will be better off when utilizing credit within its capabilities.
Author: Daniel Bailey
When you want to start a business in a particular industry, there’s always going to be a lot for you to think about. These days, it seems like everybody is starting their own thing. And when they’re doing it online, that’s definitely a lot easier than it is to set up a physical business. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the better option. If you’re really interested in setting up in the automotive industry or manufacturing or electronics or lab work, then you’re going to want to go for it. If you have worked in the particular industry before, then running your own business is definitely a good idea. But you will need to spend some time really planning this out and thinking about what you need to do. So let’s take a look at what you need to know before you get started.
Get To Know The Market
First of all, you’re going to want to get to know the marketplace that you want to enter. As we briefly mentioned, if you have already worked in the industry for years, then it’s safe to say that you’ll know a little bit about it. But, you may know more about your exact job than you do the actual industry itself. So you’re going to want to spend some time doing market research into competitors and your target audience too.
Find A Premises
From here, you’ll then need to find yourself suitable premises. When you’re manufacturing, dealing with motors, running a lab, or working with electronics, you need space. This isn’t really the kind of business you can start in your basement! So start to look for business premises. Even if you’re just seeing what’s available and the kind of budget you need, for now, to help you apply for any funding that you need.
You also need to start to connect with your suppliers. When you’re working in an industry, you will need all of the right equipment to be able to do the work. So whether that’s a digital flow meter or a CAD machine, you need to start your research early. Again, if you’ve worked in this job for a while, it may be worth considering the suppliers that you’re used to, particularly if you like their product offerings.
While that’s most of your set up steps thought about, you will also want to make sure that you have a viable business deal on your hands. So you’ll want to make sure that you know how you’re going to market your business, how you’re going to get interest in your products and start landing your first sales.
Finally, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re running a cost-effective business. The reason that so many online businesses pop up is that the overhead is minimal. However in industry, you’re often looking at large overheads. So it’s always going to be important for you to run your business in a cost-effective way to ensure you’re generating profit and not just revenue.