Five Small Details Entrepreneurs Often Forget About

Five Small Details Entrepreneurs Often Forget About

By Nigel Hilton

When it comes to building a business from scratch, many entrepreneurs become overwhelmed with the tasks ahead and forget to pay attention to small details that make a huge difference in their reputation and branding. Below you can find out more about the commonly forgotten details that can potentially change the outlook of your new business.

  1. Business Stationery

You might think that in the digital age, you don’t need a business card or a leaflet, let alone invoice pads. You are likely to come across customers who prefer written communication, and are not techies. To accommodate their needs, you might want to invest in some cheap business checks and add some branding messages. You need to grab the opportunity to get your name out everywhere you can, let it be the internet or a printed magazine.

  1. Professional Profile

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You must look and act professional at all times. This means that you need to create a professional page on LinkedIn and other sites, including directories and social media. The more information you show your potential customers about your company, the more likely they will trust you. The main issue with online businesses is that anyone can claim fame without having to prove it. If you can showcase your skills online and offline, you are more likely to gain your customers.

  1. Requesting Feedback

When you make your first sales or get your first customers, you are likely to be too preoccupied with the job, and fail to request a feedback. This is a huge mistake. To make your business more successful, you need to overcome the fear of asking for recommendations and feedback. Today’s customers are looking for reviews on social media, and if you have none, your search engine rankings and reputation will suffer.

  1. Transparency of the Website

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We all want a flashy website that captures the attention of the customer, but hardly ever create it wearing the potential client’s head. Make sure you know what their main concerns and questions are and answer them on the landing page, instead of forcing them to scroll through several pages. The sooner they can get the answer to their question, the more likely they will be to contact you for a quote or place an order.

  1. A Clear Social Media Account

Some entrepreneurs fail to review their personal social media account before they start a business. When their potential customers look them up, they don’t look professional, at all. Clear up your profile from negative comments, bad language,and those drunk night out photos if you are serious about your business. Make sure your personal profile reflects your brand’s values and mission, as much as it can.

It is important that you pay attention to the details and maintain the good reputation of your startup business. Make sure that you check your social media posts, build a professional profile on LinkedIn, and focus on increasing your brand’s reputation every day. Make your website straightforward and transparent, and you will beat the competition.

 

Tech Tools Every Startup Needs

Tech Tools Every Startup Needs

By Nigel Hilton

If you’re starting out on your own, then like many entrepreneurs your new venture can be met with some trepidation. You are likely to also want to spend money sparingly and starting off things in the business small. No matter how small you want to start things, though, you will still need some technological tools to help your business to grow and to compete with your fellow counterparts. Certain pieces of tech can help you to make more money for the business but they can help you to save time too. No tech is going to run your business for you, but it is going to help you get things going.

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LED Backlit Monitor

Having a laptop or a tablet is all very well, but when it comes to office equipment, you need a large monitor to help working at a desk much easier. When you’re not having to strain, it can mean a more relaxed neck, back, and eyes. So if you find working from a desk uncomfortable or get pain from sitting or looking at a screen, then this can be a big help to you. If it is LED backlit, then it does help to reduce the strain and glare on your eyes. You don’t want to miss out on anything important or make yourself ill when you’re trying to do your work.

Wireless Printer

Being able to print out your work, wherever you are in the home or office, is going to be helpful. You might need to quickly print out an email before dashing off to a meeting, for example. So having a wireless printer that is ready to go can be most helpful. Just make sure that you get good quality printer ink for the printer too. Then all of your documents can be printed quickly, as well as looking good.

Smartphone

It is an obvious one that you will need a smartphone. But having a phone that will allow you easy access to emails is key for business. Internet access is also going to be really important. It can be a good idea when you’re going into business to have one phone for business use and one phone for personal use. It can help you to be more productive when on your work phone, as you won’t have to deal with any personal emails or social media notifications that pop up.

Wireless Router With Apps

If you have got a growing office, then your router needs to be able to take the strain. It can waste time and money to install ethernet cables, so the best idea is to go for wireless. One like the Belkin Play could be a good option as it will still enable you to use around the office but according to reviews, has unparalleled connectivity. In an office that will be filled with people and radio waves, you need a router that is going to be able to get to everyone and keep a strong signal.  

Do you have a favorite piece of tech for your office?

Why You Shouldn’t Dismiss Mobile Gaming

Why You Shouldn’t Dismiss Mobile Gaming

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By Nigel Hilton

The overwhelming opinion, especially in the gaming community, is that mobile gaming is a waste of time; the games are no good and many are so bad that they’re only played by bored housewives and little kids. Basically, its value is totally dismissed, and some pretty unfair assumptions are made about it to the point that mobile gaming rarely gets any coverage at all.

Of course, there ARE lots of bad games available on mobile platforms, but that’s true of PC and console gaming too! However, what is also true, but a great many people aren’t willing to concede, is that there are some pretty good titles available in the mobile apps stores too. Sure, they’re a bit different than PC and console games most of the time, but at the end of the day, a good game is a good game.

Still not convinced? Here are some things that might change your mind:

You Must Accept that Mobile Gaming is Different

Of course, you’re going to dismiss mobile gaming if you hold it to the same standard as your favored method of gaming, whether that be PC or console because they are not the same. Mobile gaming, by its very nature – smaller devices, touchscreen, different hardware-  combined with the fact that a wider range of the population have cell phones and tablets than consoles, means that mobile games will be a little different, and yes, many of them will be filler for people to play on for a few minutes when they’re standing in line at the bank or whatever. However, just because there are some low-quality titles out there, doesn’t mean you should dismiss the medium as a whole.

There is Something for Everyone

Contrary to popular opinion, mobile gaming isn’t all about simple side-scrollers and Candy Crush style-time sucks – there are as many different genres of mobile game as there are PC games. Yes, it might take you a while to separate the wheat from the chaff, but isn’t that true of the Steam store or your local video game store too? From MMOs like Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire to great mystery/puzzle-based titles like Layton’s Mystery Journey and the ever popular Minecraft – whatever you’re into there’s a mobile game for you. You just have to be willing to give them a chance.

They’re Extremely Portable

Of course, there are a few  consoles, like the recently released Nintendo Switch that allow you to take your gaming on the go, but no device is quite so convenient as your phone or tablet, which you likely carry with you everywhere and can do a whole host of other things like make calls, enable you to work, draw, play etc. all in one tiny little package. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be able to play anywhere and everywhere, you really should give mobile gaming a chance.

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They are Good for Killing Time

In a similar vein, mobile games are good at killing time. Despite as I said above, some people dismissing them all as trash that is created solely to make money and keep people occupied while they stand in line, this is a definite benefit of mobile gaming. Whenever You get bored and away from your PC, you can whip out your phone and play something for a few minutes and play something, and it doesn’t have to be Angry Birds or Candy Crush – no it could be Ragnarok Online, Age of Empires, Minecraft or any number of other interesting titles.

The Medium is Only Going to Improve

With augmented reality, virtual reality, ever improving mobile hardware and the increasing popularity of mobile gaming amongst ordinary people, you can bet your bottom dollar that mobile gaming is only going one way – up.

It Increases Reaction Times

If you are a dedicated PC or console gamer, then you might find in switching it up a bit and playing a fast-paced mobile game, which allows you to use your hands even more in ways you might not be used to will improve your reaction times, so that you can play more effectively on all platforms.

You Have the Device So Why Not Use iI?

Chances are you have at least one mobile device, so why not use it to play a game or two now and again? Even if you think they’re mostly trash, you can play chess, Scrabble, and all kinds of fun games that aren’t too taxing and which will give you a break from the more serious gaming you do.

To the app store!

A Simple Pre-Launch Checklist For Software Startups

A Simple Pre-Launch Checklist For Software Startups


 

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by Lina Martinez

If you’re in the software startup game and are slowly creeping up to your launch date, the chances are you will be feeling a weird mix of incredible excitement and intense trepidation. All that work you have done in the past, the pain and suffering you have been through, and the countless sleepless nights spent as a startup owner, it’s all going to come to fruition – or not.

There is a lot to do in the pre-launch phase, and unless you are incredibly organized, you are likely to be worried about getting things wrong. So, you look online and find some articles with 50, 100, 250-item checklists – and you start to panic. Well, this post is designed to help you feel much better about your launch. The truth is there are only a few things you need to worry about on the whole, and today we’re going to go through them to ensure your software product is ready to roll.

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Build. An. Email. List.

The most important thing you need to do before getting anywhere close to your launch date is to start building an email list. Ultimately, when that time on the calendar arrives, and you don’t have an email campaign ready to go, your launch party is going to be a damp squib. You need to attract, maintain, and engage with the right audience if you want to make sales, and all the time you spend cultivating your list, the better results it will give.

Check your market’s trends

Unless your startup is ready to launch a couple of weeks after you had the idea, you need to be keeping a close eye on market trends – even in the build-up to your release day. Even if your overall target market doesn’t change much, you will need to have a unique value proposition for each of the customer segments you intend to target. And these smaller segments tend to change a lot faster and more dramatically than an overall picture, so, what was the case a year or 18 months ago might not be the same now.

Avoid perfection

Are you a perfectionist? If so, you could be stopping your product from succeeding. A lot of software developers postpone their launch dates time and time again, pushing the release day and trying to create the ultimate product rather than the most viable. It’s a huge mistake. As pointed out over at Exceptionless.com, bugs need to be found and ironed out, but as long as you understand what your customers actually find valuable about your software, there’s nothing wrong with launching an imperfect product. No technology is launched without any problems – don‘t expect yours to be any different.

Commit

If you make a date for launch, commit to it – unless you have an exceptionally good reason. You will also need to commit to other things, such as your pricing structure, level of customer service post-launch, and training up employees. According to knowtechie.com, you might want to record a few series of webinars to help new customers iron out any common problems experienced by your early adopters or focus groups. Ultimately, the sooner the product is out there, the sooner you will know how viable it will be – and what changes you need to make as you move forward. Good luck!


Lina Martinez has her B.S. in Journalism and a regular contributor to our Politics, Life and Money sections. She once admitted over drinks to singing “Careless Whisper” in the shower. We are still trying to get her to sing it at karaoke.

Artifical Intelligence: Coming Soon to a Business Near You?

Artifical Intelligence: Coming Soon to a Business Near You?

By Jerry Mooney

Isn’t it strange that whenever anyone mentions the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’, it immediately makes you think of the future? You might picture robots, androids, and all kinds of Blade Runner-esque scenarios, that still seem like a wild fantasy. But the reality of AI is that it is actually here, now, and with us already. And whether you are a business owner or getting high up on the corporate ladder, it’s one of the most important and relevant subjects you need to understand.

Well over two-thirds of people in the media, technology and telecommunications industries expect AI to flourish and start having an impact on business, products and services in the next five years, and the buds are already starting to appear. Here are some of the exciting ways that AI is beginning to change business – read on to find out more.

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Facial recognition

One of the most visible examples of machine learning is facial recognition. It’s far from a perfect technology at the moment – a quick look at Facebook’s efforts to introduce it are a testament to that – and there are, of course, a few privacy concerns. But facial recognition is actually being used in a lot more places than you might think. Apple and Android phones are both starting to look into facial recognition to unlock your devices, while MasterCard is working on ‘Selfie Pay’ payments. It’s not just ultra-modern companies that are embracing the tech, either – even Chinese temples are getting involved by installing it into bathrooms to eliminate the theft of toilet paper!

Recruitment

Early adopting companies are already using AI to reduce the time-consuming process of recruitment. You can go to Valintry.com for a full rundown of how this works, but in essence, many companies are beginning to automate their talent screening processes. With a blend of machine learning, social, mobile and cloud technology, it’s possible for recruiters to be faster and more engaging with their operations.

Online learning

AI is showing signs that it doesn’t just learn – it can also help humans learn. Services like Udacity are using AI to identify patterns and phrases that are used to make and close product sales, which then results in a bot actually giving information to human advisors. The human then uses the ‘successful’ words or phrases, and are more likely to sell the course to the prospective student.

Supply chains

Is it time to say goodbye to your inventory software and embrace AI instead? Perhaps – and it’s already rolling out in a number of forward-thinking companies. Take Amazon, for example. In 2012 the online shopping giant bought out Kiva Systems, a company that designed warehouse robots that could do everything from identifying stock levels, replenish produces, and even fulfil orders automatically.

Data collation

It’s virtually impossible for a human to sift through the big data that every company operating online, let alone form any valuable opinions. Enter what is known as ‘opinion mining.’ It’s artificial intelligence that can read vast swathes of data, pick up patterns in sentiment, and use the information to identify trends. If you want to make use of big data, it’s definitely worth looking at.

 

Travel Tools to Manage Your Business On the Road

Travel Tools to Manage Your Business On the Road

By Jerry Mooney

Being a traveling business person is sometimes a choice, and sometimes a matter of necessity. You might need to travel to keep your business going, meeting with investors, making sales, and networking with collaborators. However, some people also choose to run a business while they travel. With the ability to access everything you need online, you can manage your business from anywhere. If you travel a lot, you’ll need the right tools to help you stay in touch with staff, clients, and more, and to get your work done. Take a look at these essentials if you’re planning on taking your business traveling.

Pic from Pexels

Cloud Services

The first thing any traveling business person needs is the right tools to stay in touch with their company. You can’t be out of the loop for long periods if you want to keep everyone happy and make sure it’s all ticking along. You’ll need to be able to access a variety of things, from important documents to payroll. Fortunately, cloud services and software make this so much easier. Using software like Office 365 means that you can access what you need, wherever you are. You just need to be able to get online. It makes it so much easier to work collaboratively, communicate, and always have the most up-to-date information.

Travel Router/Hotspot

If you need to get online to run your business, you need to have an internet connection available as much as possible. While choosing a hotel with free WiFi and checking for local internet cafes might be helpful, it’s not always ideal. Taking a travel router or hotspot with you can help you out if you’re struggling to get a stable connection. You might be able to plug it into your hotel’s wired connection or use it as an independent hotspot if you can’t find an existing connection to use. Having a mobile hotspot could save you when you’re in a tight spot, and you really need to contact someone or access an important file.

Mobile Devices and Apps

To access everything you need online, you’re going to need the right device. And that device will need to be loaded up with all your essential apps. Your smartphone, tablet or laptop won’t just help you get connected, either. It’s also invaluable for helping you stay organized and in touch with people. Most people will have a smartphone they can use to keep a calendar, make phone calls, take notes, and more. However, you’ll often find you need a tablet with a keyboard or a laptop to do everything you need to do.

A Decent Headset

A lot of your communication while you’re traveling can be done via email. However, sometimes you need to make a phone call or sit in on a conference call. Sometimes, you might have to do this in random locations, although it’s always best if you can hire a private space. Make sure you have decent headphones and a good microphone, especially for making online and long-distance calls. You might want noise-canceling headphones to block out any activity around you.

 

Before taking your business on the road, make sure you’re prepared. You should be able to stay involved with everything that’s happening.

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