It’s A Good Time To Invest In E-Commerce

pexels-photo-230544 (1)

If you have a business that’s in the traditional model of buying and selling, it’s time to bring your company to the forefront of the 21st century by setting up e-commerce capability. It’s been proven that e-commerce has been exponentially on the rise since it’s conception in 2006, and for very good reason: as more and more shopping habits change because of societal changes and new generations, so do the companies that sell to them.

Lots of work goes into these numbers. With these thought points in mind, here’s a few reasons as to why it’s a good time to invest in e-commerce, and why your business could benefit from an online marketplace bringing in billions annually.

The Ease of Use

If you have something to sell, there’s always going to be someone out there who is interested in it. Finding your niche can take a little bit of time, but the amount of exposure you garner just from being online means they will always come to you.

The ease of setting up and cultivating an e-commerce website has always astounded people. Think of auction sites like Ebay, and their personal portals for each user to build a base for themselves. It’s from these kind of launching platforms that people can get a headstart. Find yourself a trusted distributor, of which there are many ways to do, such as drop shipping, and you can build yourself a good reputation.

Advertising is also easier online, due to tools such as SEO and affiliate programs. Even though it’s an untraditional medium, and a lot of people are still being reached through the TV screen, it’s very much a stable up and coming technique.

There’s an Expected 25% Growth

E-commerce is popular, and that shows every day with sales reaching the billions across the world. However, the guess on the amount of new sales that are going to crop up is an increased quarter on the original amount worldwide! Within the next year alone, the e-commerce market is expected to have about anything up to 25% in terms of growth, with a past 5% growth from 2013 in the USA alone. This is mind blowing to consider, and shows the future of the marketplace is online.

That makes it an excellent market to move into, whatever the type of business model you have. With sales often making themselves based on good web layout and the ability to shop day and night, you’re going to make more off of a mobile app than a physical location.

Bigger and Better Target Populations

The attractiveness of the internet gets shinier every day when we consider that anyone can reach you from any location across the globe. Unless your site has blocks on certain regional areas, you’re going to be able to make money off of customers you never would have reached in a business lifetime just being on the ground.

It’s become a lot easier to buy domains and design websites with conversions and pay per click customers in mind; of course, it’s its own niche market. With developers like that of Forix Commerce on the horizon, more mobile conversions to loyal shoppers and online retail sales than ever are coming through company websites, opening up a huge avenue for any business that’s trailing in the dust in terms of their target market.

A lot of the work in the e-commerce world is already done for you, thanks to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media platforms allow you to advertise on a person’s own level, and mean your ads are always going to be seen.

Businesses Always Benefit

Once again, in the US alone, e-commerce is worth about $220 billion, with the rest of the world not far behind. Considering big companies like google were worth $110 billion in 2009, and now have reached $375 billion, this is a momentous drive up in such a short period of about 5-10 years.

That means that you can be secure in any option you opt for when it comes to setting up your own e-commerce marketplace. The main way: setting up a website to reach these target populations, which you can now seriously account for when you decide to do international shipping, meaning you can get more features for your initial technological investment money. Mailing lists and member’s clubs are always a popular business option to keep people loyal to your brand, as discounts can often be made back double at the cost of a subscription.

It Keeps Startups on Their Feet

It’s so much easier for someone to build themselves a big business without any of the real estate and running costs when they’re online. That means more people can create and sell and build rapport with customers and investors without having the extraneous worry of physical security. It’s no wonder that the majority of sellers turn to it, including 80% of the customer population.

Without this physical hindrance, more and more gaps in the market are being filled, and more and more people are being serviced as a result. It’s an incredible complementary move to those who are in retail on the shopfloor, due to the amount of customer needs that are wiped away that would be otherwise unserviceable based on time and effort. Using stationery shopping online, clients have their own space to make the perfect shop for them.

Of course, not everything is peaches and cream in the e-commerce world, and customer traffic and website load times are always going to be a bit of a hindrance. It can take time to get on your feet online, as you have to carve out your own customer base in the possible millions, and people can’t take a physical look at the products they are buying. However, this goes hand in hand with easier returns policies and customer feedback, and you’re always going to be able to find a little interest. It’s the best next logical step for any business that provides a service.

The Art Of Making Your Content Go Viral

25661800750_0af7faf7a9_b

“So, content is King is it?” I can hear you saying it now, “I have the content. I have lots of content, but why aren’t I king yet?”. There are many reasons why (besides living in a democratic republic or not being next in line to the throne by blood) your content may not be making you king. You see, when Bill Gates made that statement way back in 1996 he misled a lot of people. It’s not having content that makes you King (although the quality of your content is a major factor), it’s the way in which you implement and share that content, whom you share it with and when that will determine its success. There was a time when simply having some form of content marketing (however ill-strategized) gave businesses a leg up, but those days are long gone. Content marketing is no longer a novelty, in fact it’s used by around 94% of brands. In order to make your voice heard among the masses, you need to give yourself a viral boost. But how?

If there were a single, foolproof way to make your content “go viral”, everyone would be doing it and the exercise would be pointless. However, there are some ways in which your content can be tweaked to enhance your likelihood of going viral.

What is “going viral”?

Many use the term “going viral” in relation to online content without a particularly clear idea of what it means. So, for the sake of clarity, virality is how quickly and widely a piece of content is shared around the world. When content goes viral it’s very often a case of the right people noticing, consuming and distributing the content at the right time. The rise of social media celebrities means that certain people are well placed to share content with their sizeable following and boost its distribution exponentially. These people are called influencers.

While many books and articles claim to be able to impart the secret of virality, the truth is that it’s a process that will occur organically under the right circumstances. While you can’t force these circumstances, there are some things you can do to help yourself…

Invest in regular, high quality, relevant content

Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it? The fact, however, is that too many businesses think that they can build a powerful content strategy on cheaply sourced, poorly written or irrelevant content, just as you can’t build an impenetrable fortress on sand. Your content should be posted regularly (for regularly read daily), and should be of high quality, written in a way that is SEO friendly (use the Yoast plugin if you need guidance with this). Outsourcing your content is all well and good, but the more specialized your field, the more specialized your content should be. Your content should be attuned to the demands of your target market and address issues, news and trends that matter to them.

Dare to be different

In an age where more providers than ever are dishing out free content to your target audience, it pays to do what you can to make your content look or feel different. For example, turning a regular series of blog posts into an instant Flipbook gives your content the look and feel of a magazine. This will be more appealing to readers and increase their chances of sharing it.

It’s okay to make lists

A small but vocal online subculture look at list articles with disdain, but look at Buzzfeed and you’ll see that some of their most shared articles are in fact lists. Lists are popular because they represent digestible yet information dense format that’s suited for consumption in small doses while on the go (which, in case you weren’t looking is how people consume their content these days).

Have personality

Aside from providing specialist information and the kinds of insights that only you and your insights can give, it’s important to have personality. After all, intelligence is attractive in our friends and loved ones but nobody wants to hang out with a walking encyclopedia. Finding the right balance between personality and making your content feel weighty is a tricky one. Your tone should be engaging without glossing over salient details. You should be funny without being flippant, you should be articulate without being confusing and information dense without being dry.

Finally, know your onions

You can have the punchiest and most engaging prose style in the world, but if your information is incorrect or unfounded, audiences will not forgive you for it. Having someone tear your insights to shreds on social media because you didn’t do you research isn’t a good look on any business.

First Impressions: Wow Your Clients With Your Office Space

white-2591357_1280

When it comes to making first impressions on your clients, your office space says it all. A cluttered office says that a business is unorganized and that may put clients off. A dank and dreary space could affect your client’s mood and may lead to them taking their business to your competitors, who have a light and airy office. If you’re not thinking about how your office represents you when clients come to visit, you may be unintentionally giving off the wrong vibes. So, how can your office make the best impression?

Office Furniture

The furniture you use is important for both your clients and your employees. Using light colored furniture will give the illusion that smaller spaces are larger than they are. Adding pops of color to the room with cushions, bean bags and accessories will make the space seem inviting. Of course, the furniture also has to be functional and comfortable. Your employees need furniture that will help them to be productive. Look for fun and bright ergonomic chairs for employees to sit on and a meeting table that stands out from the crowd to impress clients.

Remodeling

There comes a day when every office needs to be remodeled to suit growing expectations. If you’re hiring civil engineering companies, make sure they use materials that won’t block the signal you’re receiving in the office space. The last thing you want to return to is slow internet speed and frustrated clients. If you invest in data hardware throughout the office, you can be sure that clients visiting the office space won’t have to put up with slow signals. It’s also vital for when you’re making presentations. The quicker you can get through them, the happier your clients will be.

Show Off Your Brand

They say that the one thing that makes a business look trustworthy is a great brand. As soon as your client walks through the office doors, it has to be obvious where they are. After all, the client may have spent all week visiting your competitors, so your office space needs to say who you are and what you’re about immediately. One of the best ways for your brand to stick with a client is to plaster it over the little things in the office. Let your client walk away with a pen that has your logo on it, use mugs with the logo on it to serve coffee and any paperwork the client takes away should have a clear and concise header.

Use Digital Storage

No client wants to walk into an office that seems to be in utter chaos. If your employees are running around trying to find hard copies of files that could easily be stored online, it’s probably time for a change. Not having hard copies around makes an office space look much tidier, far less cluttered and it’s more impressive if someone can find what a client needs with the click of a button, rather than a rummage through the filing cabinets.

Make your client feel at home and you’re on track for a great relationship.

The Small Things: Overlooked Necessities Every Business Owner Needs

pexels-photo-273222

When it comes to running a small business, there are certain things that you know you’re going to need. A laptop or desktop computer, a smartphone, office supplies, business cards… the list goes on and on. But then there are the more subtle things that you end up forking out for last minute down the line. The little bits and pieces that you had never even thought about but end up paying premium prices for in a hasty rush. It’s best to avoid this where possible. After all, you’re only digging into your own profits. Preparation and organisation is key to every business, so it’s time to get up to date with the seemingly minor things that prove relatively essential when it comes to keeping the bigger things ticking over. Here are a few overlooked necessities that every small business owner should be aware of and well stocked up on.

Eyelets

Eyelets. Everyone’s seen them, but (until you get started with your own business) have never purchased or considered purchasing before. Now, you may think that eyelets belong the realm of shoe designers and shoe manufacturers, but they actually have so many more uses and chances are that you’re going to need a few in the not too distant future. One of their main uses is in advertising. Ever seen a huge banner declaring the opening of a shop, a sale, or a special event? Well, the string that keeps it hanging up isn’t just magically attached to the banner. Take a look at Eyelets for Banners and Flute Sheet | Eurotech. This will help you to get a better idea of how a banner is set up. An eyelet will generally be placed in each corner, where the string can then be run through, allowing you much more control over the positioning and placement of your advertising. So, what kind of eyelet will best suit your needs? Clear plastic ones are perhaps best. They are transparent, meaning that they won’t clash with your banner or draw attention away from its message. They also won’t rust which is extremely important considering the banner is likely to be left outdoors to face the elements. Perfect!

Correction Fluid

We all make mistakes and when you’re in an office, these can mount up pretty quickly. People often make orders over the phone and rapidly change their mind once you’ve already written down their initial request. If you throw out each piece of paper that contains a mistake, you’ll quickly end up with an overflowing waste paper basket. Not only is this terrible for the environment, but it eats into your profits too. So, stock up on correction fluid. Opt for fast drying options that allow you to continue writing over previous errors as quickly as possible. Foam wedge applicators are also generally preferable, as they allow for precise but even coverage. Alternatively, try out correction tapes. These perform a similar task but you don’t have to worry about drying at all.

Keyboard Protectors

When you set up a small business it’s likely that you’ll be carrying out much of your work online. This means more time spent tapping away on the keyboard of your laptop or computer. The more you type, the more problems your device can face. After all, you’re more likely to get crumbs or spill drinks on the keys causing potentially serious damage or, in the best case scenario, sticky keys. Invest in a thin keyboard protector. This will simply slot over your keys and prevent any foodstuffs or generally dust and dirt from slipping behind the keyboard. It will also help to protect your keypad from the potentially excessive wear and tear of everyday use. This means less money forked out on repairs or replacements. While you’re at it, consider laptop cases and carry cases too. These extras will each protect your device in a different way.

A Drinks Machine

It’s not until you start going through your expenses that you start to realize just how much you end up spending on drinks throughout the working day. You need to stay hydrated. You could also probably do with the caffeine boost that many hot drinks offer too. So why not invest in a machine for your office. Water dispensers are brilliant, as most have the option of dispensing room temperature water or cold water. You can choose between the two depending on your current preference. A coffee machine is also a good investment that will also be much appreciated by your employees.

Whenever you notice there’s a little something missing from your small business, take steps to implement whatever it may be. This will help you to be more productive and in turn generate more profit.

How to Choose the Right Loan for Your Small Business

calculator-calculation-insurance-finance-53621

As a small business owner, or an entrepreneur about to launch a startup, you will know what its like working with a small budget. However, did you know that money problems are the second most common reason behind business failure?

While SMEs and startups do not necessarily need huge funds to thrive and grow, if your business begins to experience negative cash flow, it could be the beginning of the end.

When your business needs a cash injection, you may be tempted to apply for a Market Invoice business loan. A loan can help your business thrive but with so many what might seem complication options to choose from, you may be unsure where to start.

To help you apply for the right loan, here are some things to consider about borrowing for your small business.

Secured and Unsecured

There are two types of loans: secured and unsecured. The former is secured using business assets, which ensures that should you fail to make repayments, the lender can recover losses by selling your assets. This could include business cars, property or equipment. The latter involves no collateral but does often require a longer trading history by way of guarantee.

It is important to note that the type of loan you will be able to secure will depend upon your company’s history, trading time and credit history.

Research the Criteria

When applying for a business loan, your company will usually have to meet a certain set of criteria. For an SME, many lenders will ask to see two years trading records, turnover and profits, as well as your credit history.

For startups, the required criteria are usually more basic and may include permanent UK residence and less than two years trading.

Tip: After ensuring that your business meets the conditions, make sure you have all documentation required to make the application process quicker and smoother.

Fixed and Flexible

In addition to secured and unsecured, you can choose between fixed and flexible loans. Fixed loans have fixed payments. As such, when you agree to the loan, you agree to pay the same fixed sum every month until the debt has been cleared. Flexible loan repayments, on the other hand, differ depending on interest rates.

Both types of loans have their benefits, as fixed allow you to predict and allow for expenditure, while flexible loans could save you money if interest rates drop.

 Purpose of the Loan

Before applying, it is important to think about why the loan is needed. Think carefully about how long you need the loan, how much money you need to borrow, how quickly you need the money and what you can secure the loan against.

Considering these questions will help you to determine what type of loan is best for your business.

There are a range of business loans available on the market, with some aimed at SMEs and others tailored for startups with no-to-little trading history. Before applying, do some research, think carefully about what type of lending is suitable for your business and take your time, to make sure you select the right loan.

 

5 Interaction Channels That Create Unparalleled Brand Loyalty

pexels-photo-273691

With the explosion of e-commerce retail, customers now expect the shopping experience to be cohesive and connected. In other words, if consumers have a dispute to settle, they want to receive timely and efficient customer service on the channels — phone, email, social media, live chat and more — in which they spend a majority of their time.

But the quicker your business recognizes the channels that are most optimal in providing a positive brand experience, the sooner management will see a bigger return on investment. Plus, happier customers are never a bad thing. Here are five popular omnichannel options to consider.

1. Texting

These days, anything can be done from the palm of our hands. Knowing people send upward of 100 texts per day to family and friends, why not make it yet another option for customers to reach your support team?

Indeed, give the people what they want. According to Marketing Sherpa, 27 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 prefer to receive communication from brands via text versus a paltry 6 percent amongst those age 65 and older.

Additionally, an eWeek study concluded that 89 percent of consumers want companies to offer multiple channels in which to respond to support requests. Of that same group, more than half (52 percent) said they would prefer having a conversation via text conversation with a customer support rep.

 2. Live Web Chat

Looking to save time, drive more business to your website and keep your customers satisfied? Implementing live chat support on your e-commerce site could do the trick. In fact, this feature provides the immediacy that consumers want — without having to pick up the phone and wait on hold for an eternity.

Not only does live chat provide more in the way of efficiency, it can also save your organization time, particularly if the feature employs AI to more quickly provide answers or tips. Because most customer service issues addressed via live chat can be solved in 42 seconds, these interactions often don’t need to be escalated to the phone or via email. Moreover, 63 percent of customers are likely to do business with a brand whose website offers live chat capabilities.

3. Email

The speed, efficiency and record-keeping capabilities of email no doubt allows this communication channel to remain popular throughout the business world. Plus, no matter your industry, email is bound to be a popular communication tool to connect with colleagues, customers and clients any time of the day.

In fact, 91 percent of all consumers use email every day, providing a basis for this interaction channel to be standard in your customer service offerings. From inquiries related to distribution and service downtimes to account balances and missed payments, email provides a host of opportunities to easily rectify most customer service issues.

Plus, easy-to-use, navigable interfaces via Gmail and Outlook mean most employees won’t need a rigorous onboarding session, as most employees use a similar system at home. And with tools like MailChimp, you can select from a number of email templates that can be tailored to best communicate with your audience.

4. Voice

Despite monumental tech advances in recent years, consumers still want and enjoy the ability to have a two-way conversation with support reps to rectify an issue. In fact, customer support via phone still accounts for 68 percent of all customer service interactions, according to New Voice Media.

Like email, most consumers expect the brands in which they do business with to offer phone support. For many, it’s the speed and convenience of picking up the phone and speaking with someone directly that makes this interaction channel appealing. Of course, long hold times and call transfers can be a major turnoff.

But cloud-based customer engagement platforms can eliminate some of these pain points. In fact, cloud contact center solutions, including those sold by Aspect, provide flexible options that allow businesses to more efficiently provide answers to questions and inquiries from any number of service channels.

5. Social Media

The ability to instantly connect with brands via social media not only provides you more ease and flexibility, but it also lets you hold their feet to the fire should certain companies not respond in an efficient manner. Indeed, calling out a company directly on Twitter can have massive implications on how it handles future customer service inquiries.

And this communication channel is only continuing to grow in popularity. Case in point: An estimated 1 in 3 consumers who use social media prefer this channel to communicate with brands versus phone or email. Plus, the ability to have instantaneous back-and-forth conversations between company and consumer via social media is meaningful: Consumers spend 20 percent to 40 percent more time and money with brands that respond and engage via social media.

So who are these consumers? According to Marketing Sherpa, 18- to 34-year-olds are most likely to use social media as a customer service tool, followed by consumers ages 35 to 44. So, on which channels should your brand be providing customer service? While social media and email remain the more popular options, do some research to determine how your customers like to communicate.

 

Startup Ideas: How to Generate Them

It’s pretty basic, but you can’t start a startup unless you have an idea to work with. Of course, having an idea in itself doesn’t necessarily mean you can set up business either – you need a good idea; an idea that people will like and pay money for – but nevertheless, the process of becoming a business owner starts with the humble idea.

That means you need to know how to generate ideas. We all think we know how to do that – I mean you literally just think about things, right? Well, yes and no. When you’re looking for a startup idea, you can’t just idly sit around and daydream (although that can occasionally work out pretty well) – you need to think in the right way; you need to think in ways that will generate ideas. Here are a few ways you can do that, which might just work:

Watch TED Talks

Visit Ted.com and start watching videos, any videos you like. Pretty soon you’ll be inspired by some of the most interesting and innovative minds on the planet, and with their inspiration and your own unique way of thinking, you might just hit upon that big idea that will change it all for you.

Look at Existing Products

Spend some time looking at the products you own. Think about what they do, what makes them good and particularly, what could make them better. Taking an existing product and adding a feature or making a change so that ti performs better and gives more value is one of the best ways to set up a successful startup. Good examples of this would include clik clik magnets, which make it possible to renovate ceilings without the need for ladders and other tools and astroturf which makes keeping a clean, tidy, well-mowed lawn practically effortless. There are hundreds more examples of companies who have taken an existing idea and improved it to make their fortune, too, so it is a great way to get ideas!

Keep a List of Your Pet Peeves

On a similar vein, it might be a good idea to keep a notebook in which you write down your pet peeves. Writing down the things you’re grateful for might be more in-vogue, but if you want to generate new startup ideas, nothing will help you faster than identifying the things that annoy you and then coming up with ways to solve them! Unconventional?Maybe. Effective? Definitely!

Read Reviews

Again, in a similar vein, reading the bad reviews that companies and products get can help you to come up with ideas to do what they’re doing, but better. They might not be totally original ideas, but if you implement them well, you will get business!

Think of the Future

By this, I mean think about how future generations will view us. How will they consider us backwards in the ways we think, act and work? Those are the areas where innovation is most likely needed and by thinking carefully about them, and how you would rather we’re viewed, the ideas will just flow.

Now, all you need is a little extra help from the startup muse, and you’re good to go!

Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Quick Guide

pexels-photo-266176

In this modern technological world that we live in, digital marketing needs to be part of your business plan. Businesses and consumers are all going to be looking online, so if you want to get their custom, then having a good online presence is the way to help that happen. If you’re just starting out with your business, then it can feel like a pretty overwhelming place to be as it can be ever changing. So here are some of the sure fire ways that you need to be implementing as part of your digital marketing strategy; are you doing any of them already?

Know Who To Target

To market your business in the best way that you can, you need to know who your business is trying to target or who the ideal customer is for you. You might have an idea of this, and may have designed your business in a particular way for a certain demographic. But when you use online platforms, you can actually check who your business is marketing. Using online tools related to your website, you can check the location of people that view your site. You might not have intended to go global. But if you have plenty of viewers from overseas, it could mean you targeting your audience or product to suit those overseas too, for instance.

Identify Goals

Having an idea of what you want to get out of your online presence is a great way to be specific with what you decide to do. Do you simply want to get more followers on social media or more hits and shares on your blog posts? Do you want to rank on the first page of a Google search for a specific keyword? Do you want to double your current revenue from your online store? When you identify a goal, you will then be able to take the right steps to achieve it.

Look For An Agency or Mentor

If you have only got a small team of people at work, none of whom are particularly savvy when it comes to digital marketing, then it could be a good idea to look for an agency to outsource the work to. You could also look for an online mentor to help you, such as someone from LDI (Lifestyle Design International), for example. If you’re not sure what that is, then you could look up a Lifestyle Design International review to see if they could help you achieve what you want to do. When you want to achieve online, then you do need to get the best advice to help you.

Audit Your Owned Media

At the heart of what you will do with your digital marketing strategy is your owned media, which will essentially be the content that you have. If you have a website, then anything from your about or contact page needs to be looked at, as well as blog posts and anything relevant you are sharing that way. Boost the posts, use keywords, images, and social media posts to help.

The How What and Why of Starting an Online Business in Singapore

startup-photos (10)

With everyone steadily moving towards the world of Digital everything, it is no surprise that there have been a rise of online businesses being set up in Singapore. With the rise of technology and also, unfortunately, the rise of costs associated with maintaining a physical business in Singapore, owners are now turning to the online world.

Aside from reduced costs, online businesses are a much easier way for individuals to set up shop, keeping overhead costs low and profits high. E-commerce is one of the up and coming markets in the industry and one that is certainly extremely promising. and it is certainly extremely promising. In today’s article, we bring to you The How, What and Why of Starting an Online Business in Singapore. Read on to find out more.

Quality Hosting Is Key

Before you can embark on running your online business, you will also need to ensure that you have purchased quality WordPress hosting. Hosting can truly make or break a website. If your host or their hosting plan is unreliable, you are setting yourself up for a lot of problems down the line.

Research, Plan and Get Writing

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were any businesses. The first step in your journey is to structure a good business plan. Research into what the market needs at this point of time, and try to cater to said needs. There is no point in catering to a need that has already been met. Market research is crucial, and can assist you in building the stepping stones of your business. Research can give you a thorough idea on how successful your business will be or if you will need to alter and fine tune things in order to be the best version of yourself, on this this case, your business. Only the best version of the business should be advertised to the world!

Now, there is no point in planning everything in your head –  you need to put it down on paper. This is to ensure that you don’t forget anything, and so you can show your investors or business partners what you actually mean. You can use visuals, you can write an essay or make diagrams – just make sure that everything has been penned down and is kept safely! This is called your working plan of action and will eventually be turned into the blueprints for your ecommerce business.

Time To Get Started

Now that you have your business plan, blueprints and web hosting in order, it’s time to enter the playing field. Of course, with each country comes different laws. Singapore is no different. Below we will look a little deeper into some of the laws in Singapore which you will need to familiarize yourself and abide with.

Funding and Financial Assistance

The Singaporean government is always trying to ensure that the nation’s economy stays stabilized and prosperous, and thus tries to ensure that all businesses manage to stay afloat and succeed. When it comes to registering your business, setting your website on and so forth, things can start to get expensive and frustrating. Thankfully there are ways around this with government funding and financial assistance.

Business Loans

Most of us would probably be familiar with the age old business loan. The plus side of a bank loan is that you will always remain the sole owner of your business. However, on the flip side, you will also forever be indebted to your lender and be free of debt once it is fully paid off. In an instance where things do not take off, you are putting yourself at risk. With regards to bank loans, it is something you need to take time to ponder over thoroughly in order to ensure that your credit is secure and not tarnished.

The Other Option, Government Funding

One of the perks of starting your online business in Singapore the fact that the government has been extremely hands on when it comes to new startups and are always on the search for new opportunities. There are a number of initiatives that allow start-ups and specific industry businesses to access government funding. Some of the perks will include grants, business incubator schemers, and tax incentives.

Next Step, Incorporating Your Business

Once you have finances set up, the next step is incorporating your business. Business incorporation is extremely important because when you register your business, you will need to decide on your business structure. The structure you choose will then be a gauge or measure for your taxes, how much you are liable to pay and will also determine how you are supposed to run your business.

The most common business structure chosen is to incorporate a private limited company. This has numerous advantages and it will assist in helping your company rise at a quicker pace. The registration process is simple and only takes up to a day to complete.

Finally, Gather Your Arsenal

Last but not least, it’s time to gather your arsenal. This is a step that will rely heavily on the service or product you are planning to sell and is not as simple as it seems. There are a few infrastructural things need to be sorted in order to ensure the diligent sale and delivery of items and services to your customers. Choosing the correct infrastructure will reduce your workload and benefit your business by leaps and miles.

So, what are some of the infrastructures that you need?

Website Development

You will need to ensure that along with your reliable web host, you have a great domain name, and proper design and development for your website. Your website is essentially your online space, and you want it to look as good as a physical store would.

Marketing/Advertising

The best way to ensure you get as much traffic to your website as possible is to create consistent, quality content and dip your toes in online marketing and social media advertising. Starting Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter pages are also a fantastic, cost-free way of marketing your products and services. People can also leave you reviews on these platforms, ensuring that everyone knows how great your products and services are.

Bookkeeping

Lastly, bookkeeping. Finances need to be handled with a great deal of care, and can be managed on your own or by hiring a professional, which is what we would advise doing. Even when hiring a professional, always remember to play it safe and still check the finances yourself make sure they all balance out at the end of the day. Keeping on the ball ensures no disasters occur in the future.

_____________

We hope that this article has been useful in educating you about the steps you need to take when starting up an online business in Singapore.

Opening a Business in Cyprus

pexels-photo-331990

Nowadays, opening a business in Cyprus seems to be more appealing to several people. Yes, of course, the reasons are quite obvious. Firstly, Cyprus gives you a warmer Mediterranean climate. We can a slow-paced lifestyle here. And finally, the country reports a low crime rates. Above all, the world language “English” is known to almost everyone there. Undoubtedly, Cyprus is a hot spot for conducting businesses abroad. To open a business in Cyprus, you must learn how to get Cyprus passport as the first step. Then, read the following article to know about the essentials here…

Conduct Extensive Research:

So, you know how to get a passport to Cyprus. Now, what? You must conduct an extensive research about the place, its history, culture, demographics, and business settings. In this line, as Cyprus has become a part of the European Union, all the EU citizens are free to open a business or carry out a self-employment here. As such, these people don’t require a local partner or a minimum investment to start a business here. So, if you are an EU citizen from another country, you are good to go! However, I would ask you to make sure about the business regulations before stepping foot.

Select a Name and Register:

As a first step, you will have to select a proper, as well as distinctive name, which you can check at the “Registrar of Companies”. Then, you must submit it to the “Registrar” for approval. After you have been granted the name, the articles of association must be prepared. Then, your incorporation process will continue with your submission of the registration files. These would include the following essential things:

  • Articles of Association
  • Appointment statements for the secretary and the director
  • Registered office
  • Lawyer statement

If the registration is successful, you would receive the following certificates:

  • Incorporation
  • Shareholder
  • Directors/Secretary
  • Registered Office

Once this process is over, you will receive a unique tax number along with a VAT. Remember, opening a business in Cyprus is said to be one of the easiest as the entire process is quick. The whole process will not take more than ten days. After the successful registration, one must also register his/her business for social contribution at the country’s labor ministry.

Cyprus Business Ideas:

It’s been observed that most businesses that are started by foreigners in the country are associated with catering and leisure activities. The next common businesses include property development and related investments. Overall, the interests of the foreign businessmen lie in the areas of:

  • Bed & breakfast
  • Villa
  • Apartment
  • Cottage
  • Bars
  • Café
  • Restaurant
  • Shop
  • Property agency
  • Translation Bureau
  • Language school
  • Watersports
  • Tennis
  • Golf

No matter what type of business you set up, you must first establish the required infrastructure, which includes the bank accounts, lawyer, and an accountant. This way, you can make sure that you are heading towards the success in your new business.

Offline Is Off-Trend: Why It’s All About Online

pexels-photo-205316

Okay, so technically the idea of everything online being the way forward isn’t anything new. But in saying that, so many of us think that we’re operating entirely online, when in reality we’re not. You may have an online business, selling services or with your own online store, but could your business be classed as entirely online? Probably not! Because we still tend to conduct a lot of our everyday process offline, out of habit above all else. From writing notes to store information and even dealing with clients, so much of it is done in real life. But here are five reasons why you should consider moving the bulk of your operations entirely online.

It’s Quicker

Point one is often enough to convince most people. Because anything that takes too much time is always one, frustrating, and two, unprofitable. So when you say that doing something is going to be so much quicker when it’s carried out online, could be enough to convert you. Take your documents, for example. So you might like having them stored in physical files, but how much time does it take you to go through them? With everything stored online, it’s available in an instant. And that, couldn’t be any more satisfying.

It’s Cheaper

If that hasn’t sold you, then this one sure will. Online operations, more often than not, can be cheaper. So you want to deal with your supplier offline, just because it’s what you’ve always done. But why do that when you’re paying over the odds. Relationships are great, but they don’t always make profit. Just take this point: Shopping Online = Cheaper. And when you’re making great savings, earning more, and generally bossing it online, offline shouldn’t even be a contender.

It’s Accessible

So maybe you’re not even in this for yourself – you’re all about the customer. And when that’s the case, you want to make sure that they’re getting the better end of the deal. But they always are when you operate online. Take the approaches Online Flipbook: 12 Benefits Over Printed Content outline. Because accessibility speaks for itself. With online documents like this, more people can receive it. And when you’re looking for reach, online blows that pretty little printed number right out of the water.

It’s Interactive

And then there’s the quite significant point of online efforts always being interactive, whereas offline can’t always keep up. Engaging with your customers online is easier, as these creative ways clearly show us. But you can’t always access your customers offline; there reach isn’t there. So when you want to wow your customers and get to know them better, it’s online all the way.

It’s Live

But the best thing about operating online? It’s in real time. And this can undoubtedly be more efficient for not only your business, but your customers too. When your online operations are live, you’ve got no waiting around, no delays, and definitely no time wasting. And when you’re trying to run a business and make money, that’s always going to be your top priority.

4 Processes Every Startup Should Automate

business-innovation-money-icon-40218

The Small Business Association (SBA) estimates that more than 627,000 new businesses are created every single year. While this is great news for consumers as this gives them more opportunities to find the exact products and services they’re looking for, this also means that there are hundreds of thousands of new entrepreneurs trying to figure out just how to make their business ideas a success.

Part of achieving this success involves automating as many processes as possible, ultimately saving you and your growing company time as you work extremely hard to create a name for yourself. But which processes should you focus on automating first? There are four.

Your Data Backup

Though you may have the best of intentions with regard to manually backing up your data, starting a business can be chaotic at times. This means that it can be extremely easy to forget this incredibly important task, putting all of your hard work, client data, and proprietary information at risk.

Instead of leaving this process to fate, set up or create a system that will back up all of your files automatically. How often should you be backing up? Best business practice recommends daily backups, but, at a minimum, never go more than a week without saving your data.

Timesheets, Attendance & Payroll

Even if you only have a few employees in the beginning, tallying up their hours worked and how much pay is due to each one can take a decent amount of time—time that could be better spent handling other tasks that require more of your brain power. One way to automate these particular processes is to put some online tools into use; such as an attendance software that will keep tally for you.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

Not only does this save you time when figuring out the numbers by hand, but it also makes it easier to work with employees that may be travelling or stationed around the globe because they can enter their hours worked right on their mobile devices. Plus, you’ll likely have fewer mistakes because everything is computer generated.

Incoming Email Responses

As a new startup, you spend a lot of time reaching out to potential clients, trying to get them interested in your products and services. However, all of your efforts can instantly go out the window if they contact you and get a delayed response (or, worse yet, no response at all). That’s why you should always set up automatic responses to all of your incoming emails.

Even if all it says is, “Hey! Thanks for the communication. We’re working hard today, so we’ll get back with you as soon as we can!” at least the person knows that their email has been received. Also, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to type up a similar response, especially if their correspondence is one that is going to take some time to check out, such as if they’re questioning the progress of their order.

Your Schedule

Before becoming a business owner, the only one who likely cared about your schedule was you. But once you enter the world of startups, giving others access to your daily calendar can help them schedule meetings with you during your open times or see when you’re not available to handle any issues that arise. It also enables you to set reoccurring meetings automatically.

Though a number of different scheduling options exist, some of the best scheduler apps and tools on the market right now include Assistant.to, Boomerang Calendar, Calendly, and FreeBusy. All of these options are absolutely free, with some offering the ability to create a premium account for less than $20 per month.

Why Brokers Are Critical for Buying and Selling Websites

pexels-photo-440588

Are you looking to buy a new website or business to add to your portfolio? Or are you currently running a business that you’re wanting to sell?

By far, the best way to find a new business to purchase or sell a profitable business that you’ve built yourself is to contact a brokerage.Brokers are services that specialize in helping investors and business owners buy and sell websites and businesses.

Whether you’re selling an advertising site, an eCommerce site, a business that’s built around offering a software as a service, a content website, your personal blog that’s generating revenue, or a retail operation, working with a broker is one of the best ways to get the maximum value from the sale when you decide to make an exit from the business.

Likewise, if you’re looking to purchase one of these types of businesses, a broker can help connect you with business owners that are looking to sell their businesses and help you during the negotiation and sales process to ensure you’re getting a fair deal on a profitable business.

As more and more retail operations are expanding into the digital world, both buying and selling have become a lucrative venture for many investors and business owners.

On top of the earning potential, owning a digital business has quite a few different perks.  

The business is operating at peak efficiency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there’s no showing up to the office every day like a traditional job and business requires and you can make sales happen on autopilot when you have the right marketing systems in place.

How to Use a Broker to Buy & Sell Businesses

The most reliable and safe path to owning or selling a digital business is through working with a broker.

There are ways you can track down businesses by yourself, but they tend to be time-consuming and create situations where you could end up overpaying for a business you want to buy or undervaluing a business that you’re attempting to sell. Business brokers have a set of standards that they make businesses they’re going to sell adhere to and a certain set of requirements for investors looking to buy the businesses that the brokerage is listing for sale.

That means you, as a business seller, will have your business put in front of more investors that are ready to buy and know what your business is worth.  As someone buying businesses, you know that you’re only going to find the best of the best and that your money will be safe.

How the Process Works

When it comes to digital businesses, brokers will follow the same processes used to sell a brick and mortar business.  Their primary goal is to uphold your vision and meet your goals for the sale and find investors that are willing to consider your offer.

First, they will work with you to verify the information you’re providing about the business is accurate.  If it is inaccurate, investors will shy away from buying the business and it’s going to end up staying on the market longer than it needs to.

Next, they will use the information gathered and compare it against similar businesses that have recently sold to establish a fair market value for your business.  Together, you will draw up a prospectus that supports your asking price.

Then, the broker will begin marketing the business to find a buyer that is looking for a business similar to what you’re selling.

If you’re on the buying end of the deal, many brokers are going to vet your history to make sure you’re going to be the best fit for the business that you’re buying.  A broker typically doesn’t want to sell a business to someone that can’t really afford it or doesn’t have the acumen to keep the business running in a profitable manner.

You’ll need to show that you have the skills available to keep the business running and will want to provide any documentation that’s available to back up your claims.

While buying a new business is typically a financial transaction, many digital business owners are personally attached to their business and will want to see that it’s going to good hands when they decide to sell it.

How to Find a Business Broker

When you’ve made the decision to buy or sell your business, there are a few different avenues you can take.

You can either list the business for sale by yourself on a marketplace like Sedo, Flippa, or even eBay and then spend time marketing the business so you can find an investor.

Or you can find a broker that has a history of selling businesses similar to yours and has developed a reputation for receiving maximum value from the sale and helping investors find high-quality, profitable businesses. Digital Exits is one of those brokerages and have developed a long-term standing in the industry as one of the most reputable brokers currently available. They have logged hundreds of sales and have a large network of investors that they can put your business in front of when you decide to sell.  Likewise, if you’re looking for a business, they have active listings that you can go through to find a business similar to one that you’re looking to purchase.

Working with a broker is, by far, one of the best ways to either buy a digital business or sell a digital business that you’ve turned into a profitable income-generating asset.

The Best Ways To Attract Loyal, Reliable, And Talented Employees

pexels-photo-590516

Every business relies on the people it employs to be successful. Your employees are assets, and each has a significant value that you can measure. Of course, every company strives to find or develop the most talented members of staff. Creativity, drive, and loyalty are part of the package they expect. But what is the best way for a small up-and-coming business to attract such people? Is it the impossible dream, or is it really possible for your company to pluck the best from the best?

Company Culture

Your company culture needs to be able to stand out from the crowd. The culture you nurture and develop should aim to attract the type of people you want to have come to work for you. This can take quite some time to do. And it will depend a great deal on the people you already have contributing to your business. You’ll need their buy-in to any new ideas you have. Most importantly, you need them to lead the way and actively contribute to the cultural identity you’re trying to forge.

One of the biggest defining areas of company culture is your structure. Do you want a formal tiered management structure? Or would you prefer a lateral, team-based and collaborative approach to each project? There is no right or wrong answer here. But you need to consider the best personality for the company that will attract the personality types you’re hoping will work for you.

Your employees are more likely to enjoy their work if they can relate to and contribute to the company culture. This will help them to become more productive, and less likely to suffer from workplace anxiety or stress. If you want creative people, you need to create a creative office. You need a group dynamic that promotes creativity, and a working ethos that allows for that type of personality to flourish.

Budget

One of the biggest barriers to hiring experienced and talented people is the lack of a budget to pay what they ask. You have to remember that money isn’t everything to employees. The hours of work, flexibility in the environment, and the benefits package are just as important. Then, of course, is the company culture, the atmosphere in the office, and the ‘perks’ of the job.

Where you spend your money is up to you. It’s always worth putting a value on each person you hire. How much do they need to contribute to your company’s bottom line to justify their salary? What do you expect from them? Of course, hiring people with a proven track record and work history helps you to define and clarify this instantly.

There is another element of your budget you need to consider. Training and development are important for employees. They improve their efficiency and add to their skillset. Training can also help your workers unleash their talents and produce more of the standard of work you’re looking for. Consider what training your existing workforce could do for them and your business.

Where To Look

LinkedIn has become a firm favorite for businesses looking to hire. It’s easy to browse profiles and find the people that are actively looking for a new role. Best of all, you can find the people that your contacts have already worked with. Endorsements and recommendations are important when you’re about to invest a lot of money in a new recruit.

You should also check your trade magazines and journals. You can often find interviews and soundbites from the most talented people in your industry. Approaching them might be a challenge, though. You might need to offer more money than you were initially planning to spend.

Finally, consider using a recruitment agency with a specialism for the types of roles you’re hoping to fill. These agencies actively headhunt on your behalf. They might already have the details of a candidate that is looking to leave their active role. You will be charged a finders fee, but much of the stress and headache of writing up the role and hunting for candidates yourself has been eliminated.

How To Advertise

If you’re keen to find fresh talent with limited experience, then why not advertise yourself locally? Sometimes people just need a chance to shine. With a little nurturing and training, you might find someone that brings a lot of money into the company. Advertising in the right way is essential.

Don’t limit yourself to small ads, but don’t feel you have to go to extremes to be spotted in the local press. You might run a radio campaign as well, but bear in mind these can have a limited response. If you can figure out where people are that might be interested in the type of work you’re providing, you’re set. Reaching out is easy from that point.

Be wary of specifying the type of person you’re looking for. Instead, list essential skills and experience. Detail the role and briefly discuss the office culture and environment. It’s up to you if you want to put a salary on that. This can encourage some people and put others off. Of course, some candidates will ignore an ad that doesn’t specify the wage. This figure is a good marker for the seniority of the role and recompense for the responsibilities.

How To Look Good As A Small Business

Small businesses often operate from small offices. That doesn’t mean your office can’t look good! To attract talented recruits, you need to give your office the wow factor. Everything from the office cabinets to the desks should appeal to the type of people you think should be working for you. Think outside the box here. What about standing desks and collaborative working smartboards?

You might have a small canteen or dining area. What can you bring into this space that helps workers meet, converse, and relax? Are there formal meeting rooms, or do you have communal areas that can be used? It’s worth brightening up the place to promote creativity and to energize the workers. Think about the colors, the lighting, and the flow of the spaces you provide.

Of course, flexible working is really important too. Just how flexible can you be? Are you in a position to have workers at home as well as in the office? Is your tech good enough and secure enough to allow for this? Depending on the work you do, you might be able to encourage pets and kids to come to the workplace too.

How do you promote good health and fitness? Can you provide free fruit and vegetable snacks? What about exercise equipment or massage therapies? The more you expect of your workforce, the more you need to give back. This doesn’t have to be monetary, but it should be something your most talented employees will value. Show you care to attract the very best.

Be proud of your achievements and make sure you’re actively shouting about them. Enter for awards as often as you can. This might be people awards, business awards, or industry awards. Post copies of certificates and awards on the walls, and make sure your website brags about them too. This shows you’re working hard to achieve a lot and that you’re recognised for that. It doesn’t matter how small you are if you have recognition! This can be enormously attractive for any future employee.

Let Your Management Style Shine Through

Regardless of your preferred management style, do let it shine through from the very beginning. One of the biggest tests at the interview for a candidate is you. They want to get to know you enough to make a judgement! Ultimately, they need to work out if they can spend eight hours a day in your company or not. Nobody wants to work for someone they don’t like or respect.

You don’t have to be the most charming person on the planet. But you do have to prove that you’re keen to hear ideas and willing to listen carefully to them. Make sure your candidates know whether you’re hands-on or off when it comes to their workload. Ensure your recruits can relate to you and find you approachable. Finally, be certain you have clearly described the structure of the business. They need to know where they sit in the pecking order, who they report to, and what other roles they will work closely with.

There are a lot of considerations for a candidate. And it’s hard for you to show your business in the very best light all the time. Still, a general idea and feel for the place can be made by an interviewee in just a few minutes. Have you been welcoming and engaged? Is the building light, airy, energetic, and informal? Are the hours on offer comfortable and reasonable for the pay you’re offering?

The best way to attract the very best in your business is to put yourself in their shoes. What will be their first impression of you and your company? Do you like what you see?