How To Get People Offline & Into Your Store

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Although many retailers are focusing their attentions on their online sales and their website presence, for many of us our businesses are all in bricks and mortar. Having a retail startup in the digital age comes with its own set of challenges. Whilst online retail is all about getting traffic to the site, physical retail outlets are all about increasing foot traffic into the store.

With the continual rise of online shopping it has never been more important to be looking at unique and creative ways to make our retail stores thrive. So today we are sharing our top tips on how retailer startups can boost foot traffic by using different approaches to garner attention in-store.

USB Chargers

This is a bit of a new development when it comes to the sorts of things that shoppers are looking for. Providing USB outlets within your store is a great new way to keep people in your store for longer than they would usually stay. Have you noticed people gathering around USB portals in train stations and airports? We have such a dependence on our mobiles now that keeping them charged has become really important.

So whilst it might seem like an unnecessary detail just think about all that extra time shoppers will be spending browsing as they wait for their phones to charge. It is a super simple strategy to creating a solution to the age old problem of how to keep shoppers in your store for longer periods of time.

Free Wi-Fi

This again is tapping into our love of mobile phones. With many mobile phone providers no longer offering unlimited data, people are now turning to more and more places and areas that offer free wi-fi. Advertising in your store window that you offer free wi-fi can seriously boost the foot traffic to your store. A recent study revealed that over 60% of shoppers spend more time in-store after they have tapped in wi-fi details. So again this is a simple trick to getting more people inside your store and keeping them there for longer periods of time.

Your Entrance

If your entrance looks shabby and old then you are going to struggle to get people through the door. Think of design features such as aluminum canopies to offer shelter to customers coming in and out, whilst also offering an attractive design feature. Focus on your window displays in order to best show off your products and keep these fresh by changing things around every month or so. You can even ensure you bring in dog lovers, by offering somewhere for people to tie up their dogs with a bowl of water (and even biscuits, if you want to show that you really, really love dogs). You’d be surprised how much custom is lost by customers not being able to find anywhere to tie up their dogs, so use little tricks like this to your advantage.

In-Store Events

All store owners should be looking at ways to promote their company and ways to peak interest in the local community. In-store events and clubs, depending on the type of products you sell, are one of the best ways to do that. Look at your store as a way of being a key member of your community, a company that pulls people together and a company that thrives to connect the local people through the products that you stock.

You can also think about sponsoring and co-hosting local events, again to raise your profile and to have a bigger and more well respected presence in your local community and stronger relationships with your customers.

So, as you can see, it only takes a few simple details and a bit of strategic thinking to get more foot traffic to your store and to increase the profile of your store in your local area. So get thinking about the different ways you can ensure the success and future growth of your retail business.

The Big Move: Taking Your Home-Based Business Into Premises

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A huge number of businesses start on very little. They start with an idea in the mind of a wannabe entrepreneur, who often has nothing but a laptop to help get them started. The idea begins to progress; a business website is built, a strategy developed, a business plan written– all done from the comfort of the entrepreneur’s own home. These businesses are home-based, a wing and a prayer, someone trying to see if they can turn their idea into reality.

If you’re lucky and aren’t afraid of hard work, a home-based business can begin to take off. It generates a supplemental income; then it’s generating enough money to make it your entire income. The work comes thick and fast, and still that entrepreneur is huddled on their sofa, conducting an ever-growing business. It becomes clear the business idea is strong enough to require a move away from the comforts of home and into official, professional premises.

How Is It Done?

If you find yourself contemplating a move from your home into premises, then here’s the key point: Don’t panic. It might seem like a daunting task, but it’s a leap that your business needs to take so it can grow. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how it’s done.

Step 1: Locate Premises

Ideally, you want something within a reasonable commute from your home. You can scan business listings for yourself, or contact a commercial realtor to assist.

Step 2: Furnish Your Premises

With your premises found, you’re going to need to turn your thoughts to furniture, fixtures, and equipment– commonly known as FF & E. You don’t have to think through an entire office space design for yourself; there are plenty of companies that excel in delivering FF & E on behalf of business owners like yourself. Hire a company to kit your office out with everything you need and save yourself some stress.

Step 3: Focus On Your Contracts

Spend a few days going through all the contracts you will need at your premises. These should include:

  • Phone lines
  • Broadband
  • Electricity, and other utilities if you have them
  • Mail redirection if you have been using your home as your business address

Get these set up and set on a direct debit from your bank account, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Step 4: Move In

You might be thinking of how you need staff — at the very least, a personal assistant — before you move in, but there’s no rush. For a week or so, move yourself into the office and get back into the habit of commuting. This also gives you a chance to iron out any problems you have with the office until you introduce staff into the mix.

Step 5: Recruitment

If you’re going to be recruiting, begin when you’re relatively settled into your new space. It’s advisable to only begin to assemble your team when you can offer them a functional working environment, so your solo week trial is necessary to meet this need.

Step 6: Get Down To Business

The above may simplify a little, but for the most part, it’s an accurate reflection of the process of moving from home to office. Use a company to help, spend a few days working through the bureaucracy, and hold off staffing until you’re settled– if you keep these in mind, your move will be as seamless as possible.

Bringing Reliable Community Transport to Residents in Need

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Transportation is a major concern for many communities. Everybody has the need for transportation whether it is commuting to and from work, visiting the supermarket or for socialising. Whilst a large percentage of people drive, there are still those that do not or unable to. Public transportation is often expensive, unreliable and does not get you to where you need to go.

Residents in Need

This creates an issue for many people, but particularly the older generation, those that have a physical disability or mobility problem and those with learning or mental health difficulties. Whilst some residents may have a support network that can help them to get around, there are those that do not. The solution to the issue is community transport schemes. In addition to mobilising residents and helping them with daily life, these schemes can engage communities and provide social opportunities.

Helpful Transport Schemes

So, what makes a good community transport scheme? You should offer a range of services, including door to door transportation, door to store trips, transport to and from centers for older people and social excursions. There should be assistance for those that require it, the vehicles should be comfortable and spacious and it should be an affordable service (usually there is a membership charge and small fee for each trip). It should encourage social inclusion and be a service that residents of the community can rely on.

Getting Started

To get started, you need a determined group that works together to identify the flaws in the community’s transportation system. This knowledge will allow you to develop a plan and create a new system that will address these issues and benefit the community. Costs need to be drawn up and this will include vehicle cost, permits, insurance, fuel, salaries, marketing, utilities etc. You should then secure funding so that the operation can be properly financed and you can determine how to turn profit.

Suitable Vehicles

As a provider of community transportation, the key investment will be the vehicles. The type that you purchase will depend on the services you plan to provide, but they should have space for multiple passengers, have wheelchair accessibility and plenty of storage space. Specialists like Allied Fleet Mobility have adapted and specialist vehicles designed for social transport. Companies like this will help you to identify exactly what you need and help to get you up and running.

Marketing

Much like any new business, publicity and marketing will be vital to get you off the ground. A website and social media presence is important, but keep in mind that the target audience may not be users of these mediums. Therefore, traditional marketing such as flyers, posters and radio adverts are crucial. If possible, advertise your community transport in relevant social spaces. This could include care homes, supermarkets, hospitals, social clubs and other key community spaces. As with any new business, word of mouth can be extremely powerful.

Transportation within the community is essential, yet there are many that struggle to get where they need to go. A community travel scheme should help those that need it most and address gaps in public transportation. This will bring long-term social benefits to residents.

6 Rules for a Next Level Company Party

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A lot of good things can come from throwing a first-rate company party, so if you’re in the planning stages then make sure you dig deep and make it worth your while. A company party can no longer just be good; it has to be great. By following the six golden rules we’ve outlined below, you can rest assured that it’ll go down in the memory books for all the right reasons.

For The Team, By The Team

This party is about your previous clients, prospective clients, and your staff. Your clients will just have to suck it up and enjoy the day because they’re not getting a say in what the party will be like, but your staff? They should be the ones who are coming up with all the ideas. This is not the type of thing where you should be arranging everything yourself. Have everyone on your team come up with ideas, and then actually use them. It’ll be a crazy mish-mash of ideas, but boy will it be fun!

An Eclectic Bunch

There’s a lot of different types of people connected to your company. The money men at the top, the creative clients you work with, the young, twenty-something band of employees who are always doing fun things. You should invite them all. The best parties are always when there are as many different types of people as possible. This can be a party that showcases just how eclectic your company is.

Unique Venue

Don’t even think about having in the office. Even those smart, swanky city-center venues are off-limits now. For a party to be memorable, it needs to be held in a unique venue. Look around: there are interesting places everywhere, and many will be capable of hosting parties! With heater and chiller rental options, you can turn any space into a comfortable party setting. Take a look at things like old tube stations, old stately homes, warehouses on the edge of town, and the like. You’re showing off how cool your company is as well as how good it is!

Killer Taste

You’ve got the guest list, you’ve bagged that one of a kind venue. What’s next? The food and drink, of course. Again, this type of party is a chance to do something different, so don’t just go for the tried and tested champagne. Break new ground. Get in touch with local beer and food producers, and have them provide your party with refreshments.

#HashtagFun

On the day itself, you’ll want to encourage everyone to get involved. It can get a bit tiresome playing cringe-worthy icebreaker games, but people will happily get their phones out and get involved that way. Have people taking photos, and upload them to your social media accounts using a special hashtag.

Ditch the Job For a Day

Finally, remember it’s a party and that you’re not in work. Ditch the corporate responsibility for the day and have a good time. Work can always begin again on Monday!

How To Survive A Cash Flow Crisis

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Cash flow is the total amount of money going in and out of your business and is a big problem for most small business owners. If your sales projections weren’t quite what you expected, or you have a customer or client that hasn’t paid you on time, it could mean that you don’t have enough money to cover the day to day expenses of running your business. This, of course, is a big issue and could result in your business going under. If you want to avoid this possibility, then ensure you read the tips below.

Cut Down On Non-Essentials

One of the first things that you should do when you have little money coming into your company is to cut down on expenses that aren’t bringing in profit. If you have a business landline but always have customers and suppliers calling your cell, why not consider having it cut off? It won’t save you massive amounts of money, but it’s money that could be better spent elsewhere. The same goes for any services that you may be subscribed to.

Push Back Bills

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to put off paying for things like your rent or mortgage, but you may be able to negotiate an extension with your suppliers, especially if you have a good relationship and have always paid on time before. In fact, if you seem to be having a cash flow issue the same time every month, you may want to ask them to push back you due date permanently, and pay a couple of weeks later from now on instead.

Consider Increasing Prices

We live in a world where everything is slowly getting more expensive, and that should include your products and services too, especially if you’re having cash flow issues. However, you don’t want to just raise prices on a whim; You need to be strategic about it. Don’t increase your prices by massive amounts, and try to keep them below the prices of your competitors. If you increase your prices by too much, you’ll risk losing customers to cheaper competitors. Visit business.tutsplus.com for advice on how to raise your prices.

Give Them Incentive

If your cash flow issues are caused by customers making late-payments, you may want to consider offering a discount to customers who make their payments early. However, you may find that this costs you more money that you’d like, so you could also consider doing the opposite, and make your customers aware that they’ll be charged extra for making a late payment.

Get Some Credit

If you’re really strapped for cash, then you may want to consider applying for a business credit card or a working capital loan, to help you cover the day to day expenses of running your business, as well as payroll and marketing. Workingcapital.co compares some of the best working capital loans, to help you find the best one for your business.

Once you manage to get out of your cash flow crisis, you need to make sure to come up with a plan on how to avoid any future financial problems.

Don’t Fear the Future: Using Tech in Your Business

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Technology is impossible to ignore if you own a business. You might as well be living in the Stone Age if you’re not taking advantage of all the things tech can do for you. Some people are unsure about where to start with using tech in their business, though. If you need a bit of help to get started, try these ideas.

Get Organized in Your Office

Keeping your office running smoothly takes a lot of work. Most businesses start off using various pieces of software to make office tasks and organization easier. The tools you use could range from accounting software to productivity tools.

Try Telecommuting and Mobile Tech

If you want to run a business these days, you don’t even need to have an office big enough for all your employees. Many businesses don’t rely on full-time employees either. With remote working and mobile technology, you can have people working for you all around the world – or just on the other side of town.

Boost Communication and Collaboration

Collaborative and communication tools are some of the best ways to use tech for your business. Getting everyone working better together produces better results for your business. Tools ranging from cloud storage to instant messaging can help you.

Use Tech in Your Customer Service

Your customers expect you to use technology to keep up with them. There are several ways that using tech to enhance your customer service experience can help you improve things for your business. For example, a chatbot can help your customers get the help they need faster.

Infographic Design By Evaluate Quality

 

Why Your Invention Pitch Needs To Be As Inventive As The Invention Itself

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Inventors are in the business of inventing things – no surprises there. But often they forget that they need to do more than come up with some fantastic opportunity. An invention can be an amazing feat of human intellect. But if it’s not paired with business execution, it’s hardly worth a dime.

Marketing their inventions to prospective investors can be a headache for inventors. Investors want to see the market potential of an invention. And entrepreneurs need capital to ensure that their invention is brought to market rapidly. But sometimes inventors and investors can end up talking across purposes. Investors might not understand the real potential of the invention. And inventors may struggle to communicate it.

If you want to get venture capitalists on your side, here’s what to do.

Consistent And Clear Signals

After the recent spate of world patent marketing complaints, it might seem hard to get any traction for your idea. But the problem there was the fact that inventors weren’t focusing on profitability. When you pitch your invention, it needs to be more that just a showcase of the invention itself. Don’t just leave the ROI to the investor’s imagination. Instead, build a pitch as you would in any other area of business. The bait, of course, is the executive summary of your invention. But the value proposition for the end consumer is the real hook.

Be Polite

People looking to invest in your company want to know if you are the sort of person with whom they can collaborate. If you find yourself prone to regular outbursts of rage, then they might decide that they don’t want to work with you. The value proposition to the investor isn’t just about the dollars that your invention might earn. It’s about the quality of their day-to-day life as they work with you.

One way you can show investors that you care about their personal well-being is to tailor your pitch. Some investors will want to invest in businesses with short-term profitability. Others are more interested in playing the long game. Knowing which type of investor you have on your hands will change the way you approach them. There are plenty of ways you can find out which type of investments investors are most interested in. A simple search online will usually inform you of investment history. Or you can just ask them straight up where they have invested in the past.

Be Emotionally Engaged

Mike Makropoulos is the founder of High Impact Funding. And he knows a thing or two about playing the VC game. He reminds startups that they should always be emotionally involved in what they’re saying. Investors and VCs see dozens of pitches every month. And so if you’re going to get their attention, you need to hold their attention. A person who is passionate about what they’re doing is much more likely to engage an investor than an individual who is reading off a script.

The advice from Makropoulos is to develop a compelling story that is also believable. Your pitch must have impact – but it must also make sense.

Internet Marketing: Getting To Grips With The Basics Of Twitter

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If you’ve ever seen a business owner trying to get to grips with Twitter, it can look like somewhat of a car crash. Some of those first few posts are filled with hashtags, symbols and anything else in all the wrong places. Twitter isn’t the easiest thing to understand from the outside looking in. However, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get to grips with it. If you’re planning to use Twitter as a marketing tool (good idea!), read on.

Short And Simple

The first thing about Twitter that you need to understand is that there is a character limit for everything that you post. Those long statuses that you post on Facebook have no place here; they won’t fit! You’ve got to be clever with how you word everything to ensure it fits within the character limit. Twitter is all about getting to the point quickly, so you want to grab people’s attentions. You can still put images and videos in there if you want, but they will reduce the amount of characters available to you.

Hashtags And @ Symbols

I’m going to presume that the most confusing thing on your mind is the idea of hashtags and @ symbols. So, what do they mean? Hashtags are a way of getting your content to be seen by more people based on relevance. For example, if I were tweeting about video games, I’d put a hashtag like #videogames. Then, everyone who searches for that hashtag will come across my post. Don’t overcomplicate your hashtags or people won’t search for them. In terms of @ symbols, these can be used when mentioning another person or company on Twitter. They’ll then notice that you’ve mentioned them in your status, and might retweet it if they want to. This provides you with even more views.

Getting The Most Out Of It

As you can see, getting lots of retweets leads to the potential of going viral and getting more views on your statuses. Getting to this point requires knowing exactly what to tweet and even the times that you need to tweet it out! This takes some time to learn, so you might want to seek the help of a social media agency. You can also go look at advanced techniques such as utilizing paid advertising on Twitter to get your content out to more people.

Direct Messages & Followers

If you want to converse privately on Twitter, you can use direct messages to do so. This bypasses the character limit, but it still has its restrictions. You’re allowed to choose whether anyone can direct message you, or limit it to people that you’re following. This choice is up to you, and it all depends on how many time wasters you get and how important customer service is to you on Twitter. Speaking of followers; you’ll want to follow the most important companies and people that you are associated with. Don’t go crazy with this, though; it’s generally a good rule to have more followers than follow lots of people yourself. It just looks more professional.

Once you get used to it, Twitter has massive marketing potential. Good luck!

Why Big Data Is Important To Small Startups (Infographic)

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As a startup business, you have to use any tools at your disposal to help your enterprise grow. Believe it or not, one of the best ways of helping a startup grow is by taking advantage of big data. Traditionally, big data is something that large corporations leverage to gain a competitive edge. Today, it’s a concept that smaller startups are using. Here’s why big data is so important to today’s startup firms:

Big data doesn’t have to mean terabytes of information

Despite the name, big data doesn’t mean you need a room full of servers that have information on them! Rather, it’s a term that describes a volume of raw data. In essence, something other than a single data set. Small startups can scrutinize details like membership databases to learn more about their customers. Big data doesn’t have to mean historic information that dates back twenty years or so. Nor does it necessarily refer to gigabytes of information stored each day.

Streamline the sales and supply process

Anyone that has a small business will be selling something. But, what is it that customers buy the most? When do they buy those products and services? And why do they buy them? The IT industry now comprises a vast array of data experts that can process data and report it into a usable form. Almost two million people alone last year got hired by firms to deal with big data. The infographic below details just how important the sector is to businesses:


Infographic Produced By online master of science in computer science

EP43:Gust.com Founder David S. Rose Shares How He Became A Super Angel Investor

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You don’t want to miss this episode. Super angel investor David S. Rose shares how he became successful, how Gust.com is part of 80% of angel investments around the world, how to raise capital and what it takes to be successful.

EP41: VentureFirst CEO John Shumate Explains Startup Valuations

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In this awesome interview Venture First CEO John Shumate explains how valuations are structured, why investors are starting to look at middle America startups for investment, and the shift in how business plans are viewed by investors.

EP40: Entrepreneur Nick Matzorkis On How He Built & Sold 18 Companies

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In this fantastic interview, entrepreneur turned venture capital investor Nick Matzorkis, tells how he built 18 companies from scratch, how to fail fast, and what he sees as the future for startups!

Learn What You Can About Setting up a Business Blog

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If you want your company to turn into a thriving, modern brand, you need to start a blog. But, before you do that, you need to understand and learn what you can about setting one up. So, here are some things to consider before you launch a blog for the business.

Research

Before you start your own business blog, you will need to do some research. You’ve got to understand exactly what a business blog is, and why your company needs to have one. It’s also useful to discover exactly what the process is when you want to set up a blog. There is a great deal of information online about these sorts of things. So you need to get online and do plenty of research before you do anything else. Once you understand what is involved, you are going to be well placed to launch a brilliant blog.

Contribute to Existing Blogs

As well as doing the right research into setting up blogs you might want to get involved. Blogs are an excellent place to share comments and opinions. To get a feel for what to expect you need to get involved with other blogs. So think about things that might interest you, like health blogs. Visit https://www.guestposttracker.com/blogs.php?cat=2&name=Health to have a look sites where you can guest post. This is an important part of the blogging experienced, and one that you need to have.

Come up With Topics

The big challenge when it comes to creating and launching a blog is coming up with content. You need to find topics to blog about, and they don’t always have to relate to your business. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have a bit of variety. So, you need to come up with topics, and you need to understand how to generate titles and topics yourself. Social media is a great resource to use to help you with that. You can use sites like Twitter to have a look at topics that are trending, and you can use these to generate blog titles for your business blog.

Visit Other Blogs

The best way to understand how the process works is to visit other blogs. The blogosphere is so vast and expansive, and there are blogs on almost anything these days. Of course, business blogs are going to be more relevant and pertinent to your case. So, it might be a good idea to visit rival businesses and find out if they have blogs. You could have a look at the blogs and see how they are laid out. This is a really helpful thing when it comes to gathering information and helping the company grow. It will give you important pointers that you can apply to your town blog, and you’ll know what you need to avoid.

Setting up a business blog is something you need to action as soon as you can. It’s a wonderful way of staying current and modern. It will breathe new life into the brand, and make things a lot more interesting. But, before you actually launch your business blog you should probably learn more about it. So use the points made on this guide to help you set up the perfect business blog to promote your company.