Monthly Archives: June 2012

Three Inexpensive Ways to Promote Your Business

Entrepreneurship is one of the pillars of the American Dream.  People want to be able to market their great ideas to others, but in today’s economy it can seem nearly impossible for a small business to make it.  We may be in an era of box stores and online retailers, but that doesn’t mean that’s it’s impossible for small brick and mortar business owners to make it.    The key to business success is successfully promoting your business, and you’d be surprised to learn that it’s actually relatively cheap to do so.

Celebrate Your Opening

There’s nothing like a big opening day event to draw out crowds and promote your business.  Don’t think you have to break the bank in order to do this, a little food, music, and special opening day discounts will be all you need to bring the event to life.  Finger foods like pretzels, crudités, cheese and crackers, and hot dogs are inexpensive, popular, and won’t make a mess in your new store.  Promotional prize wheels can help give your event a fun carnival like atmosphere and customers will be excited to participate.  Fill the wheel wedges with offers like 20% off, buy 1 get 1 free, and 10% sales prices and get customers to spin the wheel while their items are being rung up.  They’ll enjoying winning the discount prize, and you’ll get your products into the hands of potential repeat customers.

Alert the Press

Write a press release about your business’ opening and send them to all your local media outlets.  Newspapers, news websites, and TV stations are always looking for stories about local residents, and a business opening is almost always considered news worthy.  Submitting a press release is free, simple, and a great way to promote your business.

Utilize Social Media

It should seem obvious that businesses should use various social media platforms to promote themselves, but you’d be surprised just how many people either aren’t using it or don’t know how to properly write for a social media audience.  Remember two rules when it comes to social media: keep it frequent, and keep it interesting.

Be sure to get on as many different social media platforms as possible, your business should at the very least have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and a Pinterest account.  Have an employee handle all of your accounts, make sure that they make posts frequently and comment on other people’s posts too.  And above all else, don’t treat any of your social media accounts like a sales page.  You can talk about your products and certain promotions, but make sure you write about industry news and trends as well.  If you’re a remodeling business, talk about EPA standards for green living and write tips for home remodeling projects.  If you’re a mortgage lender write about the housing market and news about federal mortgage reform.  As long as you write about related topics, you’ll have interested followers.

Matt Haran is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @thatdoodmatt


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Have you thought about what your next product’s going to be?

Have you thought about what your next product’s going to be?

Maybe you have an idea of what you’d like to produce and expect it to succeed, but is it really worth all your time and effort if nobody is going to buy it?

I know you don’t want to waste your time trying to give someone something they don’t need. You’d be better just flushing thousands of dollars down the toilet. You still end up wasting money, but at least you’re not wasting your time.

Find a way inside their head

The best thing you can do is give people the exact thing they want. It could be something they’ve been looking for but nobody else is serving the market. In order to do this the first thing you need to do is find out what they want.

There is plenty of ways to do this but we will concentrate on 3 of the best ways which guarantee great results.

People will buy something they’ve helped create

The easiest way to find out what someone wants is to ask them directly. This can either be through your email list, social networking platform, or you can write a blog post about it and ask them to comment.

Be prepared to make much more sales than usual because this tactic has a hidden benefit. People are more likely to buy something they’ve had a hand in creating. They won’t know that you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect product.

Your readers will appreciate that you’re taking their needs into consideration and allowing them to help you make the product even better. It’s a win-win situation. You can’t lose.

Going one step beyond

Asking people what they want is a great way to get answers, but there is a way to make it even better. You could make up a survey and ask people to fill it out for you.

The first thing you will notice about a survey is that you can ask a lot more targeted questions. This can really help you drill down their exact wants and needs. You have a much better chance of a reply if you keep it short and sweet.

It’s going to save you time as well. You won’t need to bother organizing all the individual emails and bundling them into categories that makes sense. The answers are already neatly tucked away inside the confines of the survey.

Thrown on some camouflage and get ready to mix

People with interests hang out in forums where they can chat with like-minded people, or ask questions related to problems they’re having. You automatically have a target customer and a problem they’re facing.

This is exactly what you need. Now all you need to do is watch out for questions that repeatedly come up. If certain problems are encountered numerous times you know there is a market of people who are likely to pay money to solve them.

You can even take it one step further and ask people what they need help with. You don’t want to seem like a spammer so make sure you’ve already built up a presence on the forum.

Follow these 3 steps and you won’t have to worry about if your product will sell or not. It’s exactly what people want and they’ll be throwing their money at you.

This post was written for our blog by guest blogger Vadim Kirichenko. He is a VP with Business Media, a leading wesite design company based in Toronto.


How Can Retail Managers Lead Their Teams More Effectively?

Managerial Challenges

There are many challenges that face the modern retail manager. Whether you work for a large company in one of hundreds of retail stores for a huge company, or run your own retail business, different challenges are thrown up every day to be dealt with in as quick a manner as possible.

In the modern world, where business costs are higher than ever meaning our headcount will likely be severely compromised, managers need as many tools as possible at their disposal in order to help them carry out their job effectively. Modern POS systems are one huge factor in giving managers this power. What benefits can modern POS systems bring not only to retail managers, but to businesses as a whole?

Knowing the Team

In a world where generally, sales figures are a whole number giving a total store performance, it can be difficult to understand which employee is adding value to your company, and which isn’t earning their wages. Using modern POS systems, today’s retailer can quickly analyse many aspects of employee performance and importantly, have the evidence at hand to take action, whether this be in the form of praise or otherwise.

POS systems can be used, for example, to monitor employee attendance and punctuality, as clocking machines can easily be integrated into POS systems. Other simpler methods, like asking an employee to sign into the system when they arrive, can also verify their attendance and timekeeping. Other business critical issues such as sales performance and even task management can also be viewed on POS. One popular way to drive sales at till points, for example, is to have a promotional product offered to all customers. Using the POS systems, managers will be able to quickly see which team members are performing better in this area of the business.

Business Owners

Modern POS systems can be extremely effective to business owners who are operating across multiple sites, or for area managers in larger businesses. Analysing and understanding trends from store A to store B, for example, can help business owners drive accountability and implement positive changes across their estate in order to ultimately make more profits. POS systems also act as the platform for the managers to understand how each business is performing, as well as the team members in each business.

Having this knowledge will enable business leaders to use POS systems much more effectively, and to impact on their business’ performance.

Posterita is innovative (POS) software that allows large or small stores to manage every conceivable aspect of their operations via a web-based platform.


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How to Avoid Early Onset Career Burnout

You may think you’re too young to hit the career burnout phase that many seem to hit later on in their lives, but the truth is that given the right circumstances we can all be hit by a potentially heavy case of it. By knowing and treating the symptoms of career burnout we can advantage ourselves with the ability to find freedom within our jobs, ease in spotting opportunities that benefit our job satisfaction, savings because of knowing what investments are worth making for ourselves and of course better living through lack of stress. Sound too good to be true? Well career burnout has many causes and few cures so it’s not as easy as we would all like it to be, but it’s also not impossible to dodge the burnout bullet.

Know Thyself

Firstly you need to know who you are genuinely and stop listening to the advice of close ones who may have the best of intentions for you but fail to comprehend who you are. For example if you’re up for a great promotion in a job that you don’t enjoy, they would very easily encourage you to take it without realising it might make you miserable to be stuck in for the foreseeable future. Treatment for career burnout includes getting out of situations where the situation is most likely to occur; if you’re unhappy now imagine where you’ll be when the stress is piled on. Hard work doing something you love is passion but hard work doing something you don’t is just stress.

Never Stop Learning

It’s a normal stage of life and we all do it, but we shouldn’t ever consider our diplomas or degrees to be the deciding factor on the rest of our lives. Career burnout syndrome is most apparent when we feel as if we are stagnating and sticking to one skill set for the rest of our lives will do that quicker than you realise. While we do need to bring home the bread, expand your skill set in your own time and always be hungry for new knowledge. So while it’s great that you have that qualification you should neither rely only on it for the rest of your life and you should never think you’re done learning.

The Power to Change is Yours

One might attribute the definition of a career burnout to the factor that it is simply one career that eventually breaks down like an old car that was once shiny and new. With this in mind, we should always remember that at any time we find ourselves unhappy that doing something about it is not impossible. In fact we have the power and ability to reinvent ourselves anytime we want. Preparedness for this is key because it’s easy to become a slave to the wage, but with a bit of saving we can be financial free for a transition into a new career; one that’s still shiny and new, at least to us. The best recovery for a career burnout is to change things up and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we can change our entire careers should we need to. These are three things that can go a long way to help us realise that career burnout is not a threat because we have the power to put on the brakes and change things up anytime we truly want.

Eugene Calvini is a writer and career consultant at office space London; he enjoys sharing facets of wisdom for those on the lookout.


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Creating a Standout Business Card


Advertising your business, whether it’s the services you offer or consumer brand recognition, can make the difference between a successful business and unemployment.

Major high street companies spend millions of pounds a year advertising their products and bombarding the modern day consumer, from the latest what to wear accessories to the technological gadgets that fill households throughout the country.

But for the individual sole trader, freelancer or Joe Bloggs starting up their own business, the avenues of advertising available won’t be as broad or as penetrating as the multi-national industries that scour our TV and Spotify streams.

From short radio jingles to door-to-door leaflets, advertising your own personal business can be a tough nut to crack without breaking the bank. However with the continued evolution of digital design, people are flocking to the printers to get their hands on cheap and cheerful ways to expand their advertising base. Welcome to the world of business cards.

Business cards are a great way to create awareness and to generate leads for your company. They are also exceptional marketing and network tools that will allow you to open up your clientele and expand on a relatively cheap basis, depending on what materials you use.


Visually appealing, business cards should stand out from the offset. Firstly the layout and design should be spacious, uncluttered and easy to read. The purpose of the business card is to allow quick communication in a precise and detailed form, thus the colours and materials used should reflect how your business operates. For example, builders and contractors tend to use thicker and tougher paper to print their information on. It is crucial in ensure that the company logo stands out, attracting potential clients to the services you offer. Use the back of your card too. It is important that your business has as much exposure as possible, so don’t leave big blank spaces.

Important information only

Business cards are essential in situations where networking is crucial. People don’t want to read company bios and descriptive, in-depth info, they just want the good stuff – how to find you. Basic information such as company name, address, telephone number, email address and website are must-haves on your business card. Optional information such as customer testimonials and quotes can also give your card the edge.


For a business card to work, it must apply to a specific field of interest. For example, a business card promoting an event at a club will be different to a business card handed out by corporate employees. Therefore, make sure your card is designed and fits the description of its intended purpose.


The texture, weight and general sturdiness of your card is one of the first things a person notices. To avoid flimsiness, make sure your card is made with high-quality paper with a glossy or matte finish. This will make for a sharper look and hopefully lay down a lasting impression on your potential client.

Get personal

Mutual trust between a business and a client is the key to a lasting and profitable relationship. If you’re advertising your personal services on your business card, why not add a face to a name. It’s easier to warm to someone if you can see them, so putting your face on your card can help build up customer relations, especially if you’re working in an environment when direct, face-to-face communication is essential.

Our guest blogger today is Zoe, a freelance writer and professional blogger who is presently writing on behalf of Brookson, to help promote their online accountancy services for small and medium sized businesses.




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Top 5 Tips To Improve The Office Environment

Many people think that those who work in an office have it easy but only those people who sit in that same place for 8 hours a day know how difficult it can be, mentally and physically. Therefore it is vital that the environment in the office is the best it can be.

Here are the top 5 tips to improve the office environment:


Organisation is an integral part in ensuring that your business runs smoothly. Therefore have procedures in place to designate tasks and handle paperwork. Monthly planner display boards are great for having a visual on the tasks that have been delegated to different members of staff. For larger companies CRM systems are a form of organising tasks electronically.

Ensure that paperwork is filed and stored so that it can be accessed easily and quickly.


If your staff are sitting in the same place staring at a computer screen for the whole duration of the day then it is important that they have ‘rest breaks’ where refreshments are available for them throughout the day. Their brain will need to be kept active so having hot and cold drinks is important. Dehydration will have an effect on their productivity. The law for rest breaks is 20 minutes for every 6 hours work.


Office workers are known to suffer from back problems. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. This can cause long term pain and health problems, therefore it is vital that your staff are comfortable at their desk. Ensure that the mouse wire is long enough so that staff don’t have to stretch for it and that the chair height and seating position can be adjusted for optimum comfort. Foot stools and arm rests can also be added.


The office space can have a great effect on the atmosphere in your office. An office fit out company will ensure that desks and other furniture are arranged so that space is utilised effectively. They will also ensure that you have enough storage for your business requirements.


It is important that your employees are rewarded. People are more than likely encouraged to work harder if they know there will be a reward for their hard work. There are many ways in which you can reward your staff, anything from staff bonuses to afternoon cakes on a Friday afternoon will make a difference.

All of the above tips will ensure that your office environment is the best it can be and if you put in place any of the recommendations you are bound to notice an improvement in productivity.

Jade is employed at an online markeing company in Birmingham she enjoys blogging about various topics from health and safety to gardening.


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Outsourcing and Its Benefits

Outsourcing refers to working with one or several third party contractors, instead of regular employees, to perform certain business tasks, operations and functions off-site or on-site for a specific time period.

Outsourcing contractors who do the job off-site is commonly referred to as offshoring. It simply means working with overseas contractors, commonly from China, India or the Philippines, to accomplish some business tasks.

When done right, outsourcing helps a business grow and gain more profit. Aside from that, here are the other benefits of outsourcing in detail.

Outsourcing helps owners and managers concentrate on core functions

Owners and managers do not have to worry about the minor but necessary tasks because outsourcing will provide them the human resources to do those. This lets them put their 100% attention and effort on the core business functions that keep the company successful.

Examples are: Outsourcing security services from a contractor specializing in security; and outsourcing of purchasing personnel to take care of the expanding purchasing tasks, while the bosses take care of the more important leadership and decision-making tasks.

Outsourcing helps save money

A company does not need to spend so much effort and money to address complicated back office tasks. Outsourcing contractors who are experts in back office functions will help. Aside from providing excellent back office operations, it also reduces the overhead costs.

Outsourcing is cheaper than hiring additional employees to perform minor tasks. Also, it keeps a company from spending money to expand the office space and buy additional equipment for the new employees.

Outsourcing provides flexibility

Outsourcing provides a company with additional human resources during peak seasons or when the demands are high. In addition, it allows the company to release those staff when the job is done or when the demands are manageable.

For example: A company outsources from an accounting firm to help the accounting department during tax and auditing seasons.

Outsourcing provides stability

Outsourcing is a great solution for departments gone out of control. Contractors can help in sorting out priorities and providing better management skills. They also provide human resources to help the department accomplish the projects on time and at a lesser cost.

Outsourcing provides continuity and risk management

A company can rely on outsourcing once there is a high employee turnover. It helps the company continue the operations despite the people leaving for some reasons.

For example: Outsourcing keeps the administrative tasks from being unattended or abandoned when an administrative assistant leaves abruptly for a new job.

Outsourcing helps a company’s employees grow

A company can also count on outsourcing when there is a big project in the works and its employees do not have the skills yet to accomplish it. Outsourcing experts and making them work with the current roster of employees will not only accomplish the project on time, but also help the employees learn new skills.

So those are the benefits of outsourcing that may help you decide if you are going to outsource or not. Just remember, study your business well. Know its needs by heart. This will help you tell if outsourcing is right for you.

This article is written by Louis Liem. He is a fulltime blogger and an online marketer. You can visit his blog Homebiz Resource that contains helpful resources about blogging, SEO, social media and freelancing.


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So you want a Promotion?

Hard work and determination aren’t the only things you’ll need to achieve that much wanted promotion. Improving your skills, by returning to university, can often be the advantage you need when applying for a new job. In today’s rapidly growing consumer market, industry trends are frequently changing, often making it difficult to maintain the highest knowledge of the latest products. Industry policies also regularly change, particularly in the finance and business sectors, making it all the more important for professionals to maintain a thorough understanding of up to date procedures. With hundreds of enthusiastic graduates completing their qualifications each year, it is vital that you gain an advantage to secure that highly desired promotion.

Upgrading your Qualifications

Choosing to further educate yourself and upgrade your qualifications can be the difference between whether or not you land that highly sought after promotion. Particularly if you are employed within the business sector, there is a large range of options available to you, when upgrading your course. Dependent upon your current qualification, you may choose to study a specialised master’s degree, a graduate diploma or even a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Upgrading your skills and expanding your variety of knowledge can assist you in achieving a promotion within your company, or externally, within your chosen sector.

Exemptions and Recognition

If you have previously studied or have extensive knowledge in your chosen industry, you may be eligible for subject exemptions or recognition of prior learning, when applying for postgraduate study. Furthering your study, in order to achieve a promotion, does not need to be hard. Obtaining deserved exemptions can ultimately save you time and hundreds of dollars in tuition fees. Many postgraduate courses are offered through online education providers, making it even easier for people to continue working full time when returning to study. Subject credits allow you to complete a course upgrade without unnecessarily repeating course content which you have already mastered during previous study.

Building Character

Not only will further study help you to improve and update your skill set, but it will also show your employer what kind of person you are. If it is your ambition in life to have a successful career and reach a senior management level, you must display a strong character. Many employers agree that workers who opt to further their study are often more serious about their careers and show high levels of initiative. If you are seeking a promotion within your company, show your employer that you really mean business by being proactive and taking the next step in bettering your career.

Obtaining a promotion can often be difficult, in today’s ever competitive workforce. Furthering your study and upgrading your qualifications can often help you to achieve that much desired promotion.

Susan is an expert on Career Development from Sydney, Australia. She believes that postgraduate study is important to put you ahead of the pack. Susan is currently writing her first book on career fulfilment which will be in stores late next year.


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How to Keep them Coming Back: Maintain Customers through Email Marketing

Congratulations! You’ve successfully gotten a customer to access your site, browse through your products, and make an online purchase. Now that you’ve gained a new customer, be sure to maintain the relationship.

In everything from Amish furniture to trendy designer clothing, staying in contact with your customers via email is an important step in making sure they continue to buy your merchandise. Sending customers regular newsletters, PDF brochures, notifications of new products and especailly special offers is a sure way to make them buyers for life.

Keep them in the Loop

Customers love to hear new information about a product line they use. Expand on the favorites with info on a similar product. If you add new pieces to your line, be sure to tell your customers!

Also, be sure to notify customers of any decision to stop manufacturing specific pieces. Discontinuing items can be a touchy subject with customers. No matter how poorly a certain chair or dresser is selling, at least one person out there loves that product.

However, by letting customers in on your decision to withdraw the item, you can tone down potential frustration. You also give them a chance to stock up on the product before it goes away.

Make sure you advertise items similar to the one being discontinued so customers don’t go to your competitors to find comparable items in the future. Many companies also offer discounts on discontinued furniture, which is a good way to appease customers and entice them to buy.

Give them Incentive

While we’re on the subject of sales, make sure you inform your customers via email when you’re having a promotion. Everyone loves a good bargain, especially on a product as valuable as yours!

Some companies also offer customers loyalty incentives through email. For example, some stores send online coupons or promotional codes to their customers’ email accounts. Saving your customers money, even if it’s a small amount, is a proven method to keep them as customers.

Keep them Entertained

The average American can receive dozens of emails a day, so make sure your messages stand out! Give your emails an eye-catching subject line. If you’re releasing a new product, make sure “new!” appears in the subject. If you’re having a sale, put “10% off! Limited time only!” in the heading.

There should also be color and photographs in all your emails, so when customers open them, they don’t just gloss them over. When you develop a new brochure, make sure you send it to all your customers’ email accounts. Happy emailing!

Now that you’ve learned about emailing marketing, start messaging your customers. Whether you sell power tools, camping supplies or Amish Outlet Store furniture, email is an amazing advertising tool! Post bought to you by guest author Megan Hilands.


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Landlords From Hell

Whilst a lot of us will know someone who has had a few grumbles about a property they have rented, news stories about real landlords from hell are not uncommon. We aren’t talking about minor problems that haven’t been fixed for a short time or withholding some of your deposit for a petty reason. No, this is far more serious. Rogue landlords are guilty of forcing tenants to live in unacceptable and dangerous conditions; in fact a recent study by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health showed that one million rented homes in the UK are unsafe to live in. However, it is not only the conditions of the properties that that we have to worry about, these landlords from hell use harassment and even illegal eviction against their tenants, with 90 percent of environmental health officers reporting that they had encountered these behaviours from landlords.

Earlier this year a landlord in Reading was convicted of thirteen offences in relation to one property he had rented out. On this occasion the landlord had not maintained the supply of gas to the house, leaving tenants without sufficient hot water and heating.  He also failed to fix dangerous electric sockets and broken appliances, including a cooker, as well as leaving the ceiling in a state of disrepair. As this landlord was unable to pay the fine of £665, an additional day in prison was imposed upon him – he was already serving a four year sentence for another offence. Many would argue that this is too lenient a punishment for his omissions, which could have had serious consequences. Indeed, neglect by some landlords has been fatal. In March a landlord was convicted after a mother and daughter died in a fire at one of his rented properties. He failed to provide adequate smoke detectors and alarms, and had not ensured there was an escape route from their second floor flat.

Whilst landlords from hell may think that harassment and the threat of eviction pays, this is not so. A court case from 2011 saw one such landlord fined over £20,000 after making the lives of one set of tenants a misery over a 30 month period. The harassment campaign started after the tenants approached the council after their requests for repairs were ignored by the landlord. The utilities were initially cut off from the property and after a series of events, culminated in the landlord changing the locks and removing their property while they were out at work. Such events can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and for this couple led to the breakdown of their relationship.

However, when life is already tough, difficulties with a landlord can have a bigger impact. To add insult, it would appear that rogue landlords are targeting groups already considered as vulnerable, such as the elderly, those with a disability and who already have difficult social circumstances. These people may either be too frightened or unsure how to complain, or may feel they have no choice other than put up with atrocious conditions, as they have nowhere else to go. While unscrupulous landlords may think that they can take advantage of people who are less likely to lodge complaints against them, tightening up the law means that their behaviour is now less likely to go unnoticed.

Although the majority of landlords are reputable, the minority who aren’t still works out to be a significant number in the country as a whole. The problem largely lies in the motives of the people who are becoming landlords. Many have jumped on the bandwagon of buy to let mortgages, seeing it as an investment for the future, but without familiarising themselves with the rules and regulations and the need for rent guarantee cover that govern private rentals. Landlords who think they can cut corners on the condition of their properties to maximise their income should think again, as prosecutions against landlords is on the increase.

Anna Holt is a freelance finance writer from England who specialises in the rental market. She was shocked at just how many people had been to hell and back thanks to their landlord.


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