Five Excellent Reasons Your Business Should Give to Charity

How to Give to Charity

If you have a successful business that is bringing in money, you may feel inclined to pay some of that profit forward in the form of charitable giving. Making financial donations is one of the best ways for a business to contribute to its community. Here are just a few of the great reasons your business should be giving charitably.

1. They're Tax-Deductible

The simplest explanation for why charitable donations are such a great opportunity is that they're tax-deductible meaning you get to keep some more of your business' taxable income when you make them, all while also helping out a worthy cause. Working with your company's accountant can help you to make sure you're getting the most out of your potential charitable deductions. If you're leaving potential charitable deductions on the table you may be missing out on the opportunity to benefit from the remaining excellent perks of giving presented below.

2. Donations Are Great Public Relations

Making a charitable donation is a great way to get positive coverage of your company while also having a positive effect on the community. Whether you're sponsoring the hole at a local PTA golf outing so all the players see your company's logo or making a donation to a local food bank which draws news coverage, getting your company associated with positive feelings while also helping out the group you donate to is a win-win situation. The more donations you make which draw press coverage or get highlighted by the organization you are donating to, the more awareness for your brand you receive, all of it in a positive light.

3. Responsible Behavior Raises Morale

Keeping your employees happy is one of the most important tasks at any company. Not only does high morale result in better performance from employees, but it also makes it easier to retain good employees and attract compelling candidates for new postings. Everybody would prefer to work at a company they feel is having a positive effect on the world, and making charitable donations is one way to ensure your company fits the bill. As you expand your company's charitable giving portfolio, you, in turn, are making it a more appealing place for workers, both those who are already with the company and those you would like to add in the future, letting you build the strongest staff possible.

4. You'll Expand Your Company's Network

The business world is all about networking. The more people you know, the more opportunities you have to find clients you would have missed or get better deals on products or services you need. Working with charities helps you to forge connections with staff members of that charity as well as others who donated if you attend events held by the charity. These new connections can pay off big time down the line.

5. It's the Right Thing to Do

Setting aside all the positive benefits which come from making charitable donations, you should consider it for your business because it is just good practice. Take it from Neill Sullivan, who donated the Sullivan Community Center to West Oakland where it now serves the community, giving back to your community feels good because you know that you are doing good, and providing a service to those who need and deserve it. You'll feel better knowing you're making the right decision when donating, and your community will do better as a result of your donation.

When your business is giving to charity, everybody benefits. If you've got money in your budget you can afford to allocate to charitable giving, start seeing what options are available to you. Find one or more charities you believe in and give them the boost they need to succeed.

Preparing for Holiday Sales: What You Need to Know

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As the leaves begin to fall and the temperature dips, the seasonal market picks up. It's that time of year again: fourth-quarter sales. Bonuses are coming; Santa's list needs to be filled. This is the chance to make money.

With holiday ads beginning to emerge and decorations adorning store shelves, think about how much you've done to get ready. Have you found something to entice clientele? Have you thought about strategies? This is the time that may make or break a year's profits, so consider the following in preparation for your upcoming sales.

Market It

Don't overspend. You don't want to be stuck with boxes of merchandise in January. In fact, having to give deep discounts or write off materials is not a good way to end the fiscal year. Instead, invest in price analysis software. Maintain inventory lists, and allow the data to drive your future spending. Use this to determine how much you should purchase as well as a good price point for the belongings. It's not about having mass quantities. It's about investing wisely.

Advertise It

Find a focal point, and sell that to the community. Are you going to promote something special? Maybe you've found a great kid's toy or the perfect sweater. Putting in on a shelf is great, but getting clients in to see it is better. Get the word out through social media, making posts every few days for specials or sales. Show off your customer service, taking pictures of helping the community. Don't forget the local schools. Sometimes educational institutions may include you in signs or newsletters. Simply agree to provide a percentage of sales back to the establishment if the advertisement is mentioned or shown.

Theme It

Are you a small market store competing against a big box outfit? If so, you'll need to go that extra mile to encourage traffic. How can you do that? Do you plan on hosting events to get people through the doors? Host a winter theme day. During the event, teach people how to make the most of your products, and offer some tempting morsels such as hot chocolate, non-alcoholic cider, and sweet bites. Are you selling a product from a local or regional celebrity? Invite that person in to talk and sign items. Get creative. The more time customers wander about, the more they may buy.

The winter festivities are ripe for revenue. Sell your store and your products. Get the word out, and make it fun.

How to Protect Your Company Data

Protecting Company Data

Running your own business can be a lot of work. In order for your company to see the success it deserves, it can be a good idea for you to think about ways to improve your current operations. Security is always a good area to focus your attention on.

Today, protecting your company data has become just as important to a business’s future as investing in security cameras and alarm systems. Unfortunately, many business owners struggle with regard to finding the most sensible data security solutions.

Though you may not feel like you have an in-depth understanding of cyber attacks and how your data can be compromised, there are some easy ways to create a more secure work environment. Consider these tips on how to protect your data and make the right changes to your current operations. 

Encrypt All Data

There are times when you want to share your data with people. Perhaps you want to send out an email containing pertinent information about upcoming events your business is sponsoring. While you want consumers to be able to look at and understand the information you are providing in the message, you definitely don’t want some of the more sensitive data attached to the email to fall into the wrong hands. Encrypting your emails is a great way to make sure only the desired data can be taken from any promotional materials you send out.

Encryption can take many forms. In some cases, you can protect a message or a file by having an encrypted password placed on it. This means that only people who have this password will be granted access to your encrypted data. To take advantage of this option, look into applications and programs that can help you encrypt your messages. Both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS come with free encryption tools for users to explore, but you may want to find a program that suits your needs a bit better.

Update Your Software

Technology has been evolving at a rapid pace. You probably are aware of this already, but it doesn’t mean you are exhibiting the best practices when it comes to the latest updates. Every so often, your computer will inform you that your operating system has an update that can be downloaded and installed on your computer. While this is a simple way to keep your system current, countless business owners neglect to take the time to install the newest software updates for their computers. This is an easy way to create an unsafe environment for your data.

Updating your software at the exact time you are advised is a must if you want to keep your business and your assets protected. Most systems release updates to improve the overall functionality and security of an operating system.

When you sleep on your updates, it means you could be compromising your system by making it susceptible to the exact threats the update is meant to prevent. Get into better habits about updating the software on your computer, phone, and other devices whenever prompted and see what difference it makes to your security.

Make Copies

While encrypting data is a wise way to begin, you also need to think about additional ways to protect this sensitive information. Professionals in the tech industry like Hari Ravichandran, a Member of the Board of Directors at Endurance International, suggest backing your data up in the right ways. This means having your data stored in multiple locations and on different servers at the same time. Taking this step can be a lifesaver should an issue arise and cause data on a particular server to be compromised. Instead of losing everything, you’ll have additional data copies elsewhere.

One great option to consider when it comes to backing up your data is using a cloud server. In the past, a company could only store important data on an internal server. Cloud technology makes it possible for people to store important data on external servers located all over the world. This can be helpful because it offers peace of mind when you want to make sure your information is in a place where it is secure. Explore the different cloud storage solutions available to you and discover which option is the best fit for your needs.

Delete Old Files

Finally, don’t forget the importance of deleting old files. In the past, companies would dedicate a lot of time and energy to shredding old documents filled with sensitive data. Since everything is digital now, it can be easy to forget that you need to still take this precaution.

When you no longer need specific files that contain data you don’t want to be released, delete the files and be sure to overwrite them. Overwriting ensures no one can come on your computer and attempt to find the deleted files using the right tools. 

There are many ways to protect the data of your business.  Take your time to get into better habits and see how your security improves.

Simple Strategies To Boost Your Chances Of Business Success

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No one goes into business intending to be unsuccessful. However, many people do experience times when profit is so lean that they almost go under. Of course, any successful business person will aim to avoid such failures and maximize their chance for success. A topic you can get some advice on in the post below.

Hire the right people 

One way to maximize your chances for business success is to make sure that you hire the right people for the job. Now, this is something that can be considerably more complicated than most people first think. 

In fact, you have to satisfy the legal requirements such as permits to work. You will also need to make sure that the people you choose to interview have the right skills and attitude. 

Additionally, knowing about their personality and how they can work can be very useful too. The reason being that this can help you assign tasks and put them in the right teams. It can even help you to manage them in the way that most effectively promotes your business and will make it a success. 

Have a robust plan 

Directionless businesses rarely succeed. In fact, if you want to maximize your opportunity for success, you will need a clear and robust business plan. 

With that in mind, be sure that you have contingency plans in place in case any part of your original aims do not work out. Then you can be sure to progress your business, even if things don't always go your way. A situation that is more than common in the business world, and which you will need to adapt to if you are to succeed. 

Invest in yourself as a leader 

For your business to be as successful as you would like, you absolutely need to be an effective leader. Happily, this is a skill that you can develop just like any other. In fact, many leaders build up their capabilities by starting in mid-management positions and gaining experience there. 

Additionally, some choose to do things like this online MBA degree program while working. This being an opportunity that allows them to work on their business skills in a community of peers. Something that can help them become a very effective leader indeed. 

Diversify your income streams

You may have heard the phrase 'putting all your eggs in one basket' before. Of course, it relates to banking your chances of success on one single thing. Something that in business can be a terrible idea indeed. 

In fact, if you want to boost the chances of your business succeeding, you need to diversify your income streams. That is you need to have additional ways of creating revenue than just your primary purpose.

The advantage of this being that even if the market does fail, or you encounter unexpected issues, you will still have other streams of income flowing in. Something that can help to continue to make your business viable and boost its opportunity for success in the long term. 

Simple Ways to Save Money as a Solopreneur

The task of running your own business almost single-handedly is a challenge at the best of times. But when money concerns start to creep in too, it can make your task of keeping everything on track even more challenging. To help you out, we’re going to discuss the things you can do to save money on a regular basis as a solopreneur.

Make Sensible Food Buying Choices

This might sound like a strange place to start, but a lot of us spend too much on food. If you simply made your own lunch rather than buying pre-made food from a store each day, you’d save yourself a lot of money over the course of a year. Eating out less will obviously also result in big savings. 

Connect with Your Target Customers in Ways That Are Free

Many solopreneurs make the mistake of spending a lot of money on advertising and marketing techniques when in reality they don’t need to. When you’re starting out, there are plenty of organic and free ways to connect with your target audience. You can use SEO to your advantage and create a following on social media with great content that engages people.

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Make the Most of Sales

If there’s a big purchase that you need to make, you should wait until a sale is on before you buy it. This can help you save money on a lot of office necessities and things of that nature. Black Friday Circulars can help you to save money, so make the most of them. If you can afford to wait for that big sale, be sure to do so because your bank balance will certainly thank you.

Find the Right Suppliers

Finally, you need to take the time to find the right suppliers. This is often easier said than done, but if you take the time to compare options, you’ll find that there are good deals out there to be found. Good suppliers don’t grow on trees, but they can be found. Don’t stay blindly lot to your existing suppliers if you don’t feel that they’re offering you a good deal because that’ll lead to a lot of wasted money.

Saving money as a solopreneur doesn’t have to be an impossible mission for you. It can be done if you’re willing to make tough choices and work harder to make your money go further. It’ll be more than possible and it should help you to secure the outcomes that’ll be most productive for the long-term success of your enterprise.

Cut Down Monthly Outgoings and Subscriptions

If you’re going to be working from home, it makes sense to consider the things you’re paying for in your home. If the monthly outgoings in your home are too high, you might be causing yourself extra financial problems without even realizing it and that’s obviously not a good thing from your perspective. Cut out subscriptions that you’re paying for regularly if you think you can do without them.

The Most Important Aspects of Designing Products

The product design process can be a long and complex one. You want to create products that are unique and that stand out from the other options already on the market. At the same time, you need to ensure your target audiences are interested in what you’re creating. It’s a tough balancing act but it’s one you’ll need to get right if your business is to succeed. Here are some of the most important aspects of the product design process.

Perfecting Function

The function of your products is always going to be important. If they’re not functional, they’re not going to be of any use to your customers and the people who will eventually be using them. Sure, other aspects of design matter too but they only matter once the core functions of the product are correct and suitable for their purpose. This should be your team’s number one priority.

Focus on Goals

Before you start the product design process, you should set a range of goals for what you want to achieve. These goals are important and they shouldn’t be cast aside as soon as the actual work of designing the products has begun. It’s important that you stick to your goals and keep reminding your team of them. When you do that, you’ll ensure the product aligns with the things you originally wanted to achieve.

Solve Real Problems

Any good product that sells to the public in high volumes solves a real-world problem. People buy products that benefit them in various ways. They want to invest their money in things that meet a need or solve a problem that they have in their day to day lives. That’s what so many very successful businesses are built-in and you shouldn’t ignore that. If it doesn’t solve a real problem, people won’t feel that urgent need to buy it.

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Making Them Viable and Affordable

They also need to be viable and affordable products. Remember, if a product is expensive to create, it’s going to be expensive for your customers to buy too, and that immediately limits its appeal and market potential. Research the things that you need and check for compatibility with other products. If your product is meant to be used alongside, liquid level sensors, for example, make sure that’s possible.

Simplicity Isn’t a Dirty Word

You should remember that simplicity doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing by your business when designing products. People often like simplicity and the beauty of many great products lies in their simplicity when compared to other options. So, your business’s new product doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be good and appealing to the public.

There’s no one way to design products that your target audience will want to buy. It’s not as simple as that. But by following the advice outlined here, you’ll stay on the right track and develop strong ideas and designs for products. That’s what’s most important.

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Smart Solutions To Common Small Business Conundrums

Whatever type and size business you run, there will always be obstacles to overcome. Of course, when you are operating a small business, there are some conundrums you are more likely to encounter. The good news here is that they are often very solvable in simple, smart ways. Keep reading to find out more. 

Lack of staff skillset 

One of the issues small businesses often face is that they do not have enough employees to cover all of the skill sets they need. For example, a small online t-shirt retailer won't have an IT specialist to build their site or run their network. There are also unlikely to have a marketing professional to create their strategy.  

Luckily, two solutions can be applied to this problem. The first is to outsource the projects that you cannot complete yourselves. This is an option due to the gig economy. Of course, with outsourcing, you will still need to shoulder a significant cost, as the best people do not come at a cheap price. 

Alternatively, you can remove the need for additional specialist skills in your business—a task that is now possible by using products like SimplyClouds hosting service. In fact, this service is designed to be so simple to use and manage that you won't need any specialist IT services.

Smaller marketing budget 

Smaller businesses often come with smaller budgets. Of course, this applies to all departments, including marketing, which can be problematic. After all, marketing your business lets your customer base know what you have to offer and helps to convince them to buy. Without marketing your small business, it could struggle to sell as many products as it needs to be successful. 

There is hope here, however! This is because effective marketing doesn't have to be expensive.

Of course, now with social media, search engine marketing, and SEO, it is possible to create marketing content that fulfills your small business goals—all without having a sky-high budget. In fact, the focus is now on content that is entertaining, informative, and engaging, rather than slick big-budget campaigns and productions. This means that small businesses have just as much chance of being successful in their marketing campaigns as any multinational conglomerate. 

Restricted income stream

Finally, an issue that can plague many small businesses is limited income streams. When a company only has a single stream set up, this makes the whole enterprise risky. 

Planning to have multiple streams of income from the outset of launching your business is the way to go. You can do this by appealing to different demographics or by diversifying the products and services you offer. This approach will help you to create a stable income for years to come.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

Adding Wellness into Everyday Living

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Incorporating wellness into our everyday lives can be difficult but it’s critical if we want to feel, think, and look better. Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay makes wellness much easier to add to our everyday lives with her soon-to-release platform, Wellness In Real Life.

With this innovative new platform, she allows therapists to host events in their local areas, local businesses to promote certain deals to Wellness in Real Life members, and general wellness professionals to access exclusive events, programs, and deals. Sign up on Wellness In Real Life to be notified when the platform launches later this fall.

Dr. Holland Kornegay is also holding a wellness social “A Taste of Self-Care” on October 12, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm at 1702 Sheriff Watson Road, Sanford, NC. Refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres will be served from Catering Works. Vegan food options will be available. Attendees will also enjoy live music, chair massages from LoDo Chair Massage, as well as variety of other wellness services.

All of those interested in attending should send an RSVP to Tasha@TashaGuru.com.

How Failing Businesses Perennially Spin Their Wheels

You may be aware that businesses of all kinds are formed each and every day, but only some can make it to success. Some of them may never know true success, but can break even and keep the operation going, keeping everyone paid and relatively happy. This may not be considered just as successful as a brand taking over their industry, but it can be considered a favorable outcome.

However, because we wish to become successful ourselves, we often find that we ignore those businesses that fail, hoping to avoid their failings through not taking tips from them, or being advised by them in any way at all. And yet there is a certain wisdom in learning of the failings of certain businesses, and in developing a better progression towards things.

The carrot and stick technique is best, in that we should pay attention to the businesses that are successful and we wish to replicate, while also being fully informed of how things can go wrong. So, in the spirit of clarity, let us consider how failing businesses perennially spin their wheels year after year:

Failing To Change

When a business fails to change with the times, it can often become irrelevant. In the modern, technologically-led climate, this happens sooner than later. Consider using a bank in 2019. Most of us expect our bank to be compatible with online banking options, and most of them provide this. 

You even have banks that are solely based online with little need for branches. But if a bank didn’t offer this? Or contactless payments? Or the ability to register for Google, Apple, or Samsung Pay services? How about the ability for fingerprint logins on their app? Unfortunately, there are still some banks that miss out these vital modern features, and it’s not hard to see how many clients may switch to a new bank due to this. This limited example shows that it’s always important to stay up to date. Stagnancy has never been more of a punishment for a business.

Avoiding Modern Marketing Practices

Sure, magazine ads, billboards, television advertisements, and flyers still work out well, but they are hardly the modern standard. Modern marketing practices, such as learning who is the best SEO company, how social media targeting might be affected towards your audience, and sponsoring content that people enjoy can all give your firm a more direct and purposeful reach over their audience. When you apply this carefully, you can ensure that your marketing efforts have a modern edge to them, and they will likely give you much more to work with in terms of reach.

Failing To Listen To Feedback

More than ever, consumers are aware of their spending practices and wish for a great experience. They wish for you to continually justify their business, not just depend on it. This means that without taking a forward approach to listening to feedback or thinking you know the best about everything, you can actually take giant mis-steps. Think about how Apple is now starting to become less of a popular choice due to overpriced devices being lower spec than the rest of the competition. This is a direct choice to ignore feedback, and it’s hurting them, even if slightly.

With this advice, you are certain to shake yourself from business stagnancy by identifying where you are spinning your wheels.

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Community Partnerships With Non-Profits – A Powerful Way To Promote Change

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The importance of a partnership between community leaders and non-profit organizations should never be underestimated. It is a powerful combination that can provide countless opportunities and benefits to both entities. Although it is not always an intuitive relationship, charities, nonprofits, and religious organizations often have an abundance of influence in communities that may go unrecognized by community leaders. This type of partnership is significant because it works, and while the benefits are flowing, the community grows. Here are some steps you can take to promote partnerships in your civic area.

Recognize a Need

Most communities have many unmet needs, so identifying a possible initiative to strive for or resources to fight over may not be difficult. The problem is often finding a need in the community that fits into the mission of the nonprofit, too. For the partnership to be successful, both sides must feel they are benefiting from the actions of the group. This can be essential in the further partnership efforts for the benefit of more community actions.

Prepare a Plan

Although it sounds easy, when you begin to prepare a plan of action from two distinct points of view, it may take some work to hone the exact proposal. Grasping the full extent of the problem and identifying possible issues connected to the issue may take weeks. Let your potential partners know the ways you can imagine addressing the situation, ask for feedback, and then realize the solution may change as more information pertaining to the community comes into view.

Identify Partners

Identifying potential partners may be one of the most difficult tasks. Not only must the company or non-profit have a possible stake in the situation, but the problem must also be something they are actually aware of. If the group you approach is unable to partner with you at the specified time, you can learn how to ask for donations to your cause. Government agencies, coalitions, businesses and other organizations are often happy to donate to worthwhile causes when they are unable to partner.

Craft an Approach

The implementation of any strategy can require many hours of processing, planning, and reevaluating. It is important to involve the community, partners, and any organization involved in the project with appropriate and frequent updates. This allows for timely objections or protests about possible key solutions or resolutions to the problem. Allowing each of those involved to have a voice can prevent possible negative feelings or publicity.

Evaluate Results

Evaluation is a step that starts a few days after the project begins. As the collected data signals the impact the project is having on the community, it may also identify problems that were unnoticed, critical issues that require immediate resolution, or problems in the information presented. As with all projects, there may be questions that are left unresolved.

Making positive changes in your area often requires working with community leaders to foster a partnership. Whether it is where you work, live, or socialize, the collaboration can help further shared goals. By approaching the plan together and combining workforce, ingenuity, and skills, the task can be completed much more quickly, and to the satisfaction of all.

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Boosting Sales With Mobile Payments

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Unless you’re quite tech-savvy it’s pretty understandable that you might not know precisely what a mobile payment gateway is. A payment gateway is, essentially, an application that can be used by e-businesses and high-street stores alike to process credit card payments. When this becomes portable, you get a mobile version of the service.

As a small business owner or founder, you’ll know that your point of sale (POS) is one of the most important parts of your business. In this guide, we’re going to look into mobile card processing further. It used to be that providing a mobile POS solution for smaller business people meant a purchasing a lockbox with a cash float in it, but your options are more varied now.

How Mobile POS Can Boost Your Sales

Have you ever had people visit you at a market or crafts fair only to leave without purchasing something because of a lack of cash and no ATMs in the area? What walks away is more than a single sale, it is a potential lifelong customer, who could also market your business to others. This is where mobile payments come in handy; if you are able to accept card payments, or, better still, mobile equivalents like Apple Pay and Google Wallet you’ll make the life of your customers much easier.

Where this comes in handy as a marketing tool is if you ensure that your customers know they have the option to pay this way by putting up signs around your stall, pitch, or store. Advertising that you have a mobile POS might even tempt people who wouldn’t have even come over to look (assuming that you’d only take cash) to give you and your products a chance. So, as you can see, if you use your contactless point of sale correctly you can bring in new customers and please existing customers; a win-win situation for you and them.

How To Choose a Mobile POS

There are many different forms of mobile payments that can be taken advantage of when you’re in need of more payment options at your business. Cashless payment was a big innovation when it first came out, but these days you don’t always even need a card to pay.

Apps, and innovations like Apple Pay, have revolutionised the way we buy and sell goods. Mobile payment options these days include portable card-reading terminals that connect to tablets and smartphones. The benefits of this kind of technology are pretty self-evident; as a consumer, you have more options, and as a vendor, you boost your potential customer base by making payments from credit cards and even mobile phones viable. This doesn’t have to be limited to your online store or physical shop, however, you can also use affordable, wireless hand-held card readers that can be used in mobile settings such as outdoor markets and conferences. It is possible to set up this kind of system by yourself, but there are plenty of companies that will set up, maintain, and manage such a network for you for a very reasonable fee.

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4 Things Every Single Retail Store Should Have

You’ve managed to get your initial idea up and running, huh? Good. Not many budding entrepreneurs managed to actually turn a piece of imagination into something real. Your business plan’s looking good, and you’ve got the funds and the wherewithal to make your mark. You’ve worked hard to get to this stage, but the hard work doesn’t end here, you’ve got to keep it up if you want to be successful.

You build up enough of a brand and a following to open up a store. Selling product solely online just isn’t going to cut it anymore. For whatever reason, you need to create a front-facing and interpersonal store that can do an amazing job of selling and continuing the relationship with the customers. But it’s not just about buying a property, opening, and hoping that people will walk through the door in droves. There are lots of things to consider: some are super simple; others are a little more complicated – for example, psychological cues and how they might manipulate a potential sale.

For now, though, we’re going to focus on the basics. Without a nice, comfy foundation, you won’t be able to build more advanced and specific parts. These aren’t difficult to comprehend, so you shouldn’t have much trouble, don’t worry!     

A Clean And Organized Area

Imagine walking into a store and seeing nothing but dirt and dust. The place smells a little, and it looks like it hasn’t been treated with any love whatsoever. Are you going to be tempted to re-enter that store again? Probably not, right? It doesn’t matter if they’re selling what you want, you don’t want to have to be in among that kind of thing.

Now picture yourself as a customer in your store. How do you want the overall feel to be? Obviously that of a sparkling, shining emporium! Keep the store maintained; do some work on it at least every other day.

Think about the layout, too. It doesn’t matter whether you want to have lots of items on show, if there’s too many, then things will get cluttered. Create a smooth and simple design that would be nice on the eyes. You don’t want to overwhelm anyone; all they want to do is browse and maybe buy something!

Wonderfully Trained Staff

You might get away with having a few clueless guys and girls, but that will only get you so far. If you have passionate people that actually care about selling your goods, then you’re going to have a much better tenure in this property. Your outlet will only be as successful as the staff wants it to be. If they’re firing on all cylinders, then so are you.   

The Ability To Accept All Payment Methods

How annoying is it when you walk into an old or low-budget place and are greeted with a big fat ‘we only take cash, sorry.’ Super annoying. Make sure you’re able to handle whatever the customer needs. Things like credit card processing should kind of go without saying these days, but many places are still pretty archaic, unfortunately. You can find an entire list of the best credit cards for your small business here.

Complete And Utter Safety  

Keeping everyone safe while they browse through your store is super important – you don’t want any legal action on your shoulders. Make sure everything is good to go before opening. You’ll need to be safe in terms of security, too. CCTV cameras, alarm systems, and even guards should be contemplated.  

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

Being An Entrepreneur Starts With The Basics

When it comes to business, we may think that too many people are jumping right into this, without first thinking about the basics of business. It’s now so appealing to be your own business, and to have a company of your own that’s providing you with a solid income. It’s well known that working for a company, and being stuck in the corporate cycle is just not something that’s appealing anymore.

But this large influx of people who wish to set up their own business is creating a crowded market, so now is the best time to think about doing it. But diving right into it without first understanding the basics is one of the worst things that you can do. But naturally, not everyone is geared up to run a business, or to understand everything that it entails.

Given this, this article is going to aim to introduce you to the basics of business, and how being an entrepreneur can grow from something you’re doing on your own, to something that’s going to grow into an empire. So have a read of the points we’re going to make below, and see if you can learn something you didn’t know before.

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Technology Is Power

Business is now led by technology with more people setting up businesses that are online based. Your basic brick and mortar shop seems to be dying out, but that’s only because our generation and the generation we’re raising, is now so focused on technology and using it. So as a business, especially those of you who are web based, you need to think about all of the software you can have that will benefit your work. Even the basics, such as the Microsoft Office Suite for Mac, is becoming ever so important.

You can do so much with this from creating contracts to send to customers or suppliers to managing your finances through spreadsheets. But the software you can use extends further than this. There are software solutions that can help you to manage money, time, marketing… the lot! You just have to do a bit of research, and find out which one is going to really benefit your business.

Reputation Is Key

As a small startup, reputation is something that can be hard to build, and is often not focused on from the beginning. But you’ll admit that when you’re just starting out, this is the time that you’re most likely going to make mistakes, and perhaps build a bit of negative feedback, but that’s only because you’re getting used to how your business works.

So right from the beginning, focus on the basics of building a good customer rapport, which will in turn build an even better reputation. The more people you can get talking about you for all of the right reasons in the beginning, the more attention you’ll attract. Try actively encouraging customers to leave positive reviews on your social media pages, and web pages, for all to see. Word will spread as long as you market your company well alongside this.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

Safeguarding Your Online Business This Year

Safeguarding Your Business

Running an online business takes a lot of time and dedication, and when done well it can have a huge impact on your life and the notoriety you can find in the business world. When it comes to running a successful online empire, it is important for you to keep it safe and secure. 

Although technology can open up the door for plenty of opportunities, it also puts you at risk of losing your assets. An online business shows a stark difference to a physical one because rather than having a bunch of paperwork and a warehouse full of products, you simply have a database with your data online. Having every asset of your business online holds several risks and this is why it is important for you to think about the ways that you can protect it. 

Whether you decide to use an identity verification service for all authorized personnel or use a cyber security program, there are plenty of ways to safeguard your online business today. 

1. Close your door

When you come home after a long day of work, you enter your home, and then you close and lock the door. If you want to ensure that you are safe and secure all year long, it is important for you to close the door on your computer when you shut it down. This door can be a piece of software or code which will act as a barrier against malware and it can make a huge impact on your security. There are tools you can use for your computer, laptop, tablet and phone. 

2. Write an IT policy 

If you are running a small business which employs others, there is a huge responsibility for you to safeguard everyone in the business as well as educate them on online safety. This is why it is time for you to create a security policy for online data, which has to be followed by everyone in the office. A policy can include any of these things:

  • Approved applications - This can be a list of approved applications and software which your employees are welcome to download onto their machines, This will allow people to download tools they need as well as ensure that these downloads don’t have an effect on your machine. 

  • Passwords - a policy can be put in place to choose a password which is 10 characters long with a number and special character. An extra policy should be put in place to change passwords every three months to ensure that all computers are safe against hacking.

  • Enforce consequences - when creating a policy for anything, you need to add some conditions to them. If a policy is not followed there should be consequences and this is something which will make all the difference to your business. 

  • Proper use - when using the company computer, there should be a set of guidelines to show people what they can and cannot use. For example, you might allow them to use YouTube to watch videos while working, but only as long as it doesn’t cover the whole screen. You can also think about the way in which people use online shopping on their lunch breaks, as this can be an issue for security. 

  • Emails - teach people about SPAM emails and how to avoid falling for a scam. 

3. Manage your online persona

One of the most important things to manage as a small business is your online reputation and tone of voice. When looking to gain positive recognition from your audience, it is important to be social, professional, and trending. You need to make sure that the people who are able to post on behalf of your page know what they are doing and how to act online. Be sure to teach your social media manager how to come across online and also make sure that they stay politically and religiously neutral online as to not risk alienating part of your audience. 

4. Protect with passwords

We’ve already mentioned the importance of passwords today, however we want to really delve into this idea more to ensure that you have the best possible chance of staying safe. 

One way NOT to create a password is like this:

Alpha123

This kind of password is too easy to detect and will be caught immediately. There are several ways to make a great password and today we will look at a few. 

The first way is to bash the keyboard and use whatever comes out: 

Rnebrnfr;aeicr2n 5fu0 

All you need to do now is save the password somewhere, such as with a tool like LastPass, and it will be there when you need it. 

Another way is to use random word association:

Mangopandacheese586

By using a few words together, it will be easier for you to remember however it will be almost impossible for anyone to guess the words. 

5. Look for security packages 

When it comes to choosing a security package for your computer, it is important for you to think deeply about every possible tool and ensure that you choose the best ones for you and your needs. Take your time and do some real research into the security packages which are available in the world and this will allow you to choose the best one for you.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

Qualities And Characteristics You Need For Success - And How To Acquire Them

Success

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/_6HzPU9Hyfg

Success is a wonderful word that we all want to be associated with in one way or another. When you hear the word, you immediately visualize good things. It can put you in a better mood instantly, just by the power of imagination. 

But who’s to say what success actually is? How is it measured? Sure, a lot of people picture a successful person as someone with too much money and all of the thriving business in the world. If that’s how you solely picture success, then good for you – you have high standards, and you’ll probably push yourself to reach them. Not everyone will reach the pinnacle, however, because it’s a place that’s reserved only for a select few. 

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and that’s how most of us view it, too. Whether it’s perceived as something small or big, it’s that feeling of achievement. In order for anyone to find success in anything, they need to have something about them. Nothing ever falls comfortably on our laps (well, perhaps they do for some people). 

Whether you’re tackling something that nobody has ever managed to tackle before, whether you’re trying to reach a personal milestone, or whether you’re trying to overcome a personal hurdle, you’ll need to have certain qualities. You don’t have to be Mr or Mrs Perfect and be flawless at every task you face, but it helps to have the skills to accompany your mission.

If you’re interested, let’s go through a bunch of different skills, traits and characteristics that are possessed by successful people.      

Organization 

In order to reach a good level in terms of your work or your overall standard of doing things, you need to have a degree of organization about you. Nobody ever got very far by stumbling along and hoping for the best. Being organized means having everything together – and that means everything. From your general plans and schedule to the bits and pieces that are assembled on your desk. People that manage to get lots done often have a working plan ahead of them. Hopping from task to task on a whim might sound like an easier idea, but it’ll only get you so far.  

Perpetual Motivation 

Motivation is something we all need just to function on a daily basis. Without it, we’d all just be sat around wondering what the point is. If you want to reach your goal and reap the rewards, you’ll need to be mentally switched on at all times. The way we get up in the morning is all based on how motivated we are to get the jobs done. 

When you’re struggling for motivation, it can be quite hard to pull it out of seemingly nowhere. You can, however, train your mind and get the motivation you need. You can watch videos, listen to podcasts and read up on the stories behind successful people. The law of attraction is also a popular method of getting what you want and being driven to do so.   

Bravery

We’re not talking about immense levels of fearlessness in terms of risking your life, instead, having the courage to commit to something. When you first set out to do something, you’re free to drop out at any time and continue on with whatever tame plans you had before. Heading in a new direction or pushing yourself to do something higher-octane takes some boldness. This doesn’t always have to be regarding something that could be detrimental or that stresses you out massively, though. There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity!

A Sociable Personality

When you’re a person that people can bounce off of comfortable, you’re going to be in with a bigger chance of getting what you want in life. That’s just a fact. Popular and well-liked figures often get more out of life than reclusive types. As a more bubbly and sociable person, you’ll get to know more and more people. Thus, more opportunities can be found, and more networking can be done. Furthermore, when you’re good with people, you’ll develop a good reputation amongst them, and they’ll be more inclined to include you in things. 

Constant communication will mean you are subconsciously practicing. You won’t notice it as it’s happening, but your brain will constantly be taking in words, phrases, behaviours and mannerisms. These learned aspects of communication could turn you into an impeccable leader someday as leadership is more than just being the face of a group. Being a leader requires many skills, and being able to talk with everyone properly is a big one.  

A Constant Willingness To Learn

It’s very easy to slow down your pursuit of knowledge when you feel like you’ve reached certain levels. It’s understandable because you’ve gotten to the position you’ve needed. The learning was a necessary piece of the puzzle on this particular journey. If you want to constantly improve and build on any success you’ve already found, then you should always remain a keen student. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert in a particular field; you’ll never know it all. You could spearhead a big firm, like Mark Zuckerberg, Cynthia Telles, Jeff Bezos, and many others – it doesn’t give you the right to stop studying. Approach everything and everyone with the attitude of an amateur – you’ll be benefited hugely.  

Honesty 

This is split into two ideas: being honest with yourself and being honest with others. If you can’t look at yourself and honestly evaluate where you are, then you might not make progress that you want. Often, when people either lie to themselves or continue wishing the truth was something else, they operate around something that doesn’t exist and any issues they had become exacerbated.

Being open and honest with others is the second point here. Say you’re a boss and you have people working under you. When you need to have a chat with them, do you want to get the best results for both yourself and them? Sure, you do. The way you do that is by being completely sincere and frank. When you lie to people, regardless of the situation, it always comes back to bite you in the backside. Even if the truth is sore, you have to speak it. 

Self-Belief 

While it’s not totally necessary to have it in droves, it’s quite important that you believe in your own ability to do things. Some are born with loads of it, so they don’t need to worry about backing themselves. For those who are a little short of confidence, however, it can be worked on. Constantly studying, getting qualifications, experience – these will all boost your self-belief in a lot of subjects. 

Patience

Good things come to those who wait is how the old adage goes. And when you want something good, it’s going to take a while to reach you. Sure, some lucky souls hit the bigtime overnight, but those are one in a million instances. You need to have patience because, without it, you could give up way too soon.

You may feel as though you’re wasting your time when you’re just around the corner from something special. Patience is also a wonderful trait possessed by leaders in terms of teaching, passing down advice and working together with contacts. 

A Positive Mental Attitude

Finally, and this is often smirked at by many, but people at the height of success view life with a glass half full kind of attitude. There’s always a brighter side to any outcome. There’s always an opportunity to capitalize on. If you’re moping around with a negative mindset all of the time, you’re going to get nowhere fast.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

4 Ways to Promote Your Business Online and Offline

Promoting an online business

Rosana Beechum

To succeed as a small business, it’s necessary to promote it. While this isn’t always what a new business owner wants to hear, the reality is that customers rarely just walk through the door unless you’re a retail store in a central position. If the business is office-based, no one knows about the company until it’s been established for some time unless you’re proactive about promotion.

Here are 4 ways to promote your business on a small budget both online or offline.

1.     In-person Marketing with Classy Promotional Materials

Producing well-designed product brochures, glossy flyers, and eye-catching posters offers a great way to promote your business to new customers. Whether you send out a brochure in the mail or market at a business expo, having exceptional marketing materials provides exposure for your company and shows your financial ability (and hence success) to do so.

An inexpensive graphics designer hired from Upwork.com or Fiverr.com is going to be able to knock out some interesting designs to get you started. Additionally, cheap printing online which you can get by visiting zoeprint.com keeps the quality up while ensuring the printer costs stay even lower than expected.

2.     Guest Post on Related Websites

Getting your brand mentioned on other websites is an effective way to drive new visitors to your site. Writing a guest post that appeals to another website’s audience and has some overlap with your own is ideal.

Develop genuine business relationships with the owners of the other websites you wish to approach to get a guest post published. Engage with the owner so they know your name when you contact them later with a guest post request.

3.     Sponsor a Local Event

To develop local business, look beyond Google local search results. There’s an opportunity to get your brand in front of local people by sponsoring an event. Event managers need corporate funding to help cover the cost of running their event so they’re usually happy to place your company’s branding prominently in exchange. When the event is in support of a great cause, that’s even better.

4.     Advertise Selectively Online

Online advertising doesn’t need to be overly expensive. By using Facebook’s advertising platform, it’s possible to target people by location. Additionally, demographics can be selected to narrow down a specific audience to market target. This makes advertising more affordable because it avoids marketing to larger groups of people, most of whom aren’t suited to your company.

It’s also possible to use the Facebook pixel, which visits your website and lets Facebook identify previous visitors to your website who are also their users. They can then be re-targeted with ads to tempt them back with a special offer. This also it makes it possible to show adverts to people who are similar to your existing customers, Facebook finding people in their database with close interests.

Promoting your business doesn’t need to be overly expensive. Whether spreading the word about the brand in the local business community or using online advertising to drive targeted traffic, being strategic about marketing can drive higher growth rates in your business’ early years.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links.

7 Steps to Building an Email List

Whether you’re brand new to building a business or you’ve launched your fifth, having an email list to critical to your selling success. To help you get started building your next email list, we’ve pulled together a list of the top seven things you can do to start building yours now.

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So You Want To Scale Your Blog Biz: What You Need To Know

Despite having been around since the very first days of the internet, blogging still remains very much a staple of the digital world.

Modern content monetization methods were all brought into existence by bloggers. And though the level of competition today is overwhelmingly tougher to contend with than it was a decade ago (or even earlier), the big improvements in technology accessibility have ensured that turning blogging into a source of income is still completely viable. 

But there’s a big difference between picking up some small amounts of affiliate commission, and making enough money from your blog that it can conceivably become your primary revenue source.

Regardless of your current level, scaling a business is a real challenge. It’s essential that you do your research first — so before you try to scale your blog, here’s what you need to know.

Automation tools are essential

Blogs almost always start out as solo operations, and there’s a decent chance that you’re in that boat right now.

Handling a business solo has its pros and cons: having complete control over everything that happens is a big positive, but it makes you the bottleneck. Only through your work can anything happen — the moment you can’t keep up with demand, your business will be left in limbo. This is why you need to free up your schedule as much as possible.

If you’re serious about scaling, you’re going to have to embrace automation. Luckily, there are many automation options available for bloggers, and it’s usually easy, free and fun.

Think about all the tasks you do for your blog on a frequent (or even daily) basis. Which parts need your creative input, and which are repetitive processes that require little thought? The latter are going to cause you trouble the larger your business gets, so it’s best to find ways around them right away.

For example, take social media and email marketing. If you want to scale your blog biz, you will also need to scale your promotion.

This is where automation will be invaluable. There’s no shortage of great email automation tools, and plenty of advanced social media tools for communicating across multiple platforms.

Think carefully about everything that goes into your average day, and hunt down tools for saving time and making your life easier.

Take shortcuts with your visuals

Your visual content on your blog is as important as your written content — it’s what’s going to grab people and reel them in, illustrate your points, and inject some vibrancy to your posts. Every blog post needs at least one image to accompany it.

And although it would be great to use original images taken with an expensive camera and edited on PhotoShop until they’re perfect, this isn’t always (or usually) possible. Time and money get in the way — especially if you’re trying to scale your blog biz.  

Thankfully, there are ways to get around this. The creation of free stock image sites — which offer millions of high-resolution, royalty-free images — is the blogger’s savior when it comes to scaling a business. It’s an easy way to scale up, offering you countless images to add to blog posts and social media promotion without the effort or money previously needed.  

Plus, if you want to further reduce the time you spend hunting down stock images, you can try a stock image plugin (if your blog runs on WordPress) to choose an appropriate image without even needing to leave the post window.

You may need help with content production

No matter how prolific a blogger you may be, and how relentlessly you can type at pace, it’s super unlikely that you’ll be able to hugely scale your content production process without suffering from burnout. Whether this is creative (writer’s block is the worst) or physical (RSI is a real concern for bloggers), or both, you definitely want to avoid this.  

That’s why you’ll need some kind of human assistance at some point. 

You may not like the idea of farming out your content to other writers (especially if your blog is your baby), but you don’t actually need to do exactly that to speed up your production. There are other elements you can hand out — like research, graphic design, networking, or even editing (you can write the rough draft, then pass it to someone else to be cleaned up, or vice versa).

How you go about it is totally up to you. You can hire a full-time employee, get a part-time employee, or hire a freelancer using a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork (there are many different freelance sites that you can choose from).

The point is that you have options. And, if you feel that you’re biting off more than you can chew when it comes to scaling, you can find ways to pick up the pace without completely sacrificing your creative integrity.

Reworkable material is invaluable

Getting the most value you possibly can from each piece of content becomes more important the more you scale.

This is because quality demands get much higher, requiring you to invest more time, effort and resources into everything you do. Uploading a blog post that ultimately gets a couple of thousand views might be solid for an amateur operation, but not for a business.

One of the best ways to increase the value you receive from a piece of content is to make it reworkable.

What we mean by this is that you can create a substantial piece of content that can then be adapted for various distinct platforms. For instance, writing a post that can easily become a script for a tutorial video, or be turned into a podcast, or cut down to an infographic. There are lots of ways that you can repurpose a blog post. 

It’ll take longer to create a comprehensive piece of source content, but that investment will pay off in the long run, allowing you to create 4-5 unique pieces of content that will attract different (and bigger) audiences. This will also allow you to showcase your expertise in specific areas, which makes you look great if you’re trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

A mix of evergreen and seasonal content is ideal

Broadly speaking, there are two types of digital content: evergreen, and seasonal.

Evergreen content covers topics that are always relevant. For example, this piece is (in principle) evergreen, because people seek to grow their blog businesses all throughout the year.

 Then there’s seasonal content, which covers topics that are only relevant either temporarily or at certain times of the year — topics like recent news stories, or public holidays, or (as the name suggests) the changing seasons. 

Each type of content has its advantages. Evergreen content is great for building up search rankings over time, because it’s always valuable to someone. Seasonal content is perfect for attracting maximum attention when deployed at the right time.

That’s why it’s good to aim for a decent split between the two for your scaled-up content — that way, you’ll cover your bases.

You should monetize everything you can

Unless you happen to be super-rich and you’re scaling up your blog business just to have something to do, making money is going to be a primary concern — perhaps the primary concern — of your blog.  

To make as much money as possible, you’ll want to monetize as much as you can without damaging your content and turning your blog into a walking, talking advert for someone else’s business.  

Here are four tips for achieving this:

  • Sign up to all relevant affiliate schemes. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, with lots aimed squarely at bloggers. When you link to particular products (many of which you might link to anyway), you can get a commission for each person who clicks that link and places an order.

  • Clearly state your willingness to do business. Many bloggers are interested in finding ways to monetize what they do, but not all of them are. If someone arrives on your site and decides that they’d like to work with you, you’ll need some copy in an obvious place to explain that you do work with brands and you’re willing to listen to ideas and form partnerships.

  • Run ads on your blog. We maybe wouldn’t advise using something like Google’s AdSense, because even a small number of automatically-loaded ads can really dissuade someone from following your website, but you can easily run manual ads. Let people know that you’ll consider ads, then figure things out as you go.

  • Start selling branded products. It’s great to have a large audience and build sponsorship deals with big companies, but making your brand marketable will really expand your range of options. Think about branding merchandise: print-on-demand shirt services are very convenient and easy to use.

  • Reach out to prospective partners. It’s always good to be proactive instead of waiting for potential income sources to find you. If you think you have an audience that would be valuable for a particular brand, send them an email. Realistically, the worst outcome is that they turn you down, and you try again with someone else.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly for your sanity, you need to know that it’s going to take time to get where you want to go.

Blogging is a slow and labored business, with audiences typically building up over years. While you can definitely get some fast results, there isn’t really any way to take a shortcut to lasting long-term success.

So be patient with your scaling, stick to your long-term plan, and don’t make any snap decisions. Good luck!

5 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your First Book

Writing your first book is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

It’s a journey, and as a new writer, you’ll learn plenty of lessons along the way. (And come out of the experience a whole lot wiser and stoic than you once were!)

One of the things that you won’t be able to avoid when you’re writing that first book is making mistakes. It’s a given, and these experiences will help to mold you as a writer. However, there are some very obvious mistakes that you can easily avoid, that will save you a lot of time and effort.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve come up with a list of the five big rookie mistakes to avoid when writing your first book. Read on for some handy tips.

Recommended reading: New Grads: How to Get Your Career Started After College

1.   Thinking your book will be perfect instantly: it won’t

This is one of the first things you need to get your head around when you are penning your first book; your book will not be perfect.  

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re writing. It’s all too easy to get frustrated when you don’t like what you’ve written so far, and when getting rid of it all is as simple as hitting the “delete” button, it’s pretty tempting to scrap the lot.

If the overwhelming urge to delete everything you’ve written so far and throw your laptop in the river becomes too much, take a step back. Go outside. Make a cup of coffee. Play with your dog for a bit. If you’re really not liking where a chapter or draft is going, save it away somewhere safe and try a different angle — but don’t delete. 

A note taking tool like Evernote means you will never lose track of an idea. Transferring all your notes to this app means you can tag offcuts based on chapter, character or scene. With your notes organized and accessible via a few clicks, it’s easy to keep work not deemed good enough safe, just in case you change your mind.

2.   Using inappropriate dialogue tags: “said” is enough

When we say using inappropriate dialogue tags, we mean words or phrases like “said” that describe characters speaking.

This is one of the most common mistakes that novel newbies make and it’s a clear earmark of a new writer. Dialogue tags from new writers can often be clunky and obvious, using words like “laughed” or “snarled” to convey emotion in a messy way. 

You don’t want your tag to stick out in your sentence — it should be there to gently guide the reader without getting in the way of the story, while perhaps giving an indication of the tone that the character is using. Dialogue tag mistakes can be easily avoided

Sometimes, less is more, and “said” is enough. Knowing what is effective and what isn’t will help you to craft a better story.

3.   Not seeking help: invest in book editing services

Writing a book is hard, and writing your first book is even harder.

A classic rookie mistake that many writers make when penning their first novel is not asking for expert help and then sending off their manuscript to publishers expecting it to be picked up instantly. And chances are, it won’t be. 

You need to make sure that you give your novel the best chance it’s got of being published. The best way to do this? Investing in editorial services.

Agency editors will help you fine tune your manuscript and produce the best final draft you can. Leaning on highly experienced editors save time, addresses issues with your work, and reduces frustrations, whether you’re writing non-fiction, a children’s book or a thriller.

But editorial pros do more than get your manuscript in good shape. Editing service Jericho Writers states that “when you submit your manuscript to an agent, you’ll require a synopsis, a cover letter and the first three chapters of work.” Don’t know where to start? Seek a helping hand from the experts.

4.   Mixing your POVs (point of views): stick to one character

POVs are frequently mishandled by new authors, who chop and change between the thoughts and feelings of different characters too suddenly.

Needless to say, this is extremely confusing for the poor reader, who has to struggle to keep up with which character they are currently following. It also makes it unclear who the protagonist in the story is — who are we meant to support and empathize with in times of conflict?

Mixing up your POVs is a huge no-no: stick to one protagonist’s thoughts to avoid confusion.

If writing from different perspectives is key to the concept of your story or is a valuable contribution, then you can, of course, use multiple points of view. However, it is wise to keep to one POV per chapter or section of your book. This will help you to avoid rejection letters.

5.   Being too “wordy”: show don’t tell

Getting carried away with unnecessary descriptions and excessive, over-the-top words is a rookie mistake that should definitely be avoided.  

Many new writers do this — they want to portray the story that’s stored up in their heads, but they end up rushing over descriptions, hyperbolizing and using far too many unnecessary words to get their point across.  

Laundry lists of clichéd descriptions do not make for good reading; they’re boring, and add very little to the story. If you’re going to paint a picture of your characters, do it with subtle details and show their personality through actions rather than just stating the obvious. 

Don’t dump information: weave the backstories and personalities of your characters into their actions in the story you’re telling.

Everything you write should have a reason behind it; every sentence, every intricate detail, should be considered and should help to build a character or set a scene.

It’s worth noting that another rookie writing mistake is to write weak, bland descriptions or write a book that is absent of descriptions entirely. You want to transport the reader to the setting of your novel; make them feel involved in your story and invested in your characters. The best way to do this is to paint a vibrant picture with your words. 

These are just some of the rookie mistakes that you should avoid when writing your first book. Of course, there are many more — lacking direction in your plot, unbelievable characters or dull concepts, to name but a few. It’s always best to seek a second opinion (and third, and fourth…) from the people around you, as well as proofreaders and editors. They will help you to discern what your novel needs, and what can easily be dropped.

Lastly, remember to enjoy writing! It can feel hard sometimes, but it’s all worth it in the end.

How to Start Your Own Online Trading Business

Trading

Back in October, Fem Founder published ‘7 Easy Business Concepts Every Founder Needs to Know’. The article discussed what you need to know to establish and run a business — from gaining a competitive advantage to customer acquisition, cost and everything else that matters. 

But just in case the pursuit of a traditional business — selling a product, for instance, or providing a service — doesn’t appeal to you, there are alternatives. One alternative is online trading. Here, all you’ll need is a bit of capital, internet access, a PC, and lots of knowledge, foresight, and courage. So, if this pursuit interests you, here is a primer on how to start your own online trading business. 

Trading Stocks

First thing to do here is to familiarize yourself with the stock market. The Balance defines stocks as “small pieces of a company.” When trading stocks, you are in effect buying shares in a company and earn a profit by selling them in the future, when the price increases. So, say you buy Apple stocks for $1,729.2 at $172.92 per share and suppose these stocks appreciate to $180 per share. You can then sell your stocks for that price, meaning you will have earned $70.8 from the trade. 

Once you’ve acquainted yourself with stock trading, go online, find an online stock broker, and open an account. Some of our recommendations in this regard include TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and E*TRADE, although you can try out other sites, too. From there, it’ll be about applying what you have learned, following the stock market, and buying and selling stocks. 

Forex

Forex stands for foreign exchange. As with anything trading related, first thing to do here is to learn why currency values rise or fall, and what influences these fluctuations. Once you understand this, you can proceed to opening your own account online. 

For forex, BM Magazine recommends starting with at least $1,000. Having that initial capital means you’ll have a buffer just in case you incur any losses at the start. Even if you do, it’s important to stay the course. Remember, not every venture will provide you a revenue stream right away. Study the different currencies you’re interested in trading, get the latest news, and keep trading. 

Trading Precious Metals

The process involved in trading precious metals is pretty much the same as the previous two options: learn about it, open an account online (peruse the web for this step), and start trading. Articles on Investopedia that teach you how to trade gold are a great resource and are written clearly and are easy to understand. Gold happens to be the most popular among precious metal traders, as they use it to diversify risk during tougher economic times, which might impact their financial holdings. 

As far as trading gold is concerned, there are a few options. One is through public exchanges, which are regulated platforms that are centralized and act as intermediaries. Another option, according to FXCM's article on gold trading, is over-the-counter trading through the New York Commodities Exchange. Among these two options, trading via public exchanges is the recommended as many risks, including fraud, lack of transparency, and loss of funds are mitigated. 

The most important takeaway here is the need to continue to learn as you go along, starting with the basics up to the more advanced workings of the market. The trading platforms are relatively easy to use, and the capital required is by and large within your reach. Now, it is worth keeping in mind that investing doesn't guarantee anything. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it.