| Business Startup Ideas That Utilize Your Skills

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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If you’ve always fancied being your own boss and you think you can handle that entrepreneur lifestyle, you can often spend time wondering what sort of business you’d be good at owning. One of the best ways to work that out is to look at your own skills. Whether you want to go into ecommerce or open a work freelance, or even open a wholesale outlet, you can make it happen if you’ve got the relevant skills. To get your mind going and give you some inspiration, here are a few ideas to get your started.

 

Specialist Consultancy

If you’re skilled in a particular area of business, you could think about becoming a consultant. Whether you’re really great at recruitment and human resources or even a whizz with real estate, you don’t always have to open your own firm. Being a freelance consultant can be a great way to work for yourself. Not only do you have the freedom to work wherever you want, but you can also consult remotely and control your client base.

 

Product Manufacturing

Product manufacturing is largely underrated. In this day and age, everyone wants a quick way to get into business. However, you can still start up the old fashioned way. If you love a certain type of product or even know a lot about one particular market, why couldn’t you start manufacturing yourself? You don’t even need to create the products yourself, you could design them and outsource the actual production (find out more on that here – www.laserlight.com/services/contract-manufacturing/).

 

Blogging

Before blogging was big, many people started a blog as a hobby or to share their love of their topic with others. However, now that you can make a lot of money with blogging, you can start it as a legitimate business from the offset. If you have a particular area of interest, like business, photography, or even writing itself, you could create a reliable source of income from the comfort of your own home.

 

Virtual Assistant

If you’re great at organization or you have a specialist skill set with things like social media or data management, you could think about becoming a Virtual Assistant (VA). A VA is just like an assistant that you would have in a company, but they operate remotely (find out how here – https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/nov/25/virtual-assistant-small-business). The great thing about this career options is also its freedom. You don’t have to limit yourself to things like admin and email management if you have other skills. You can even list things like proofreading or contracts drafting on your website and generate business for that too.

 

Outsourcing Your Services

If you’re freelance, or you’ve worked freelance in the past, have you thought about outsourcing your skill set to larger companies? Whether you’re a landscaper or a blogger, you could generate a great source of income and boost your career by taking on subcontract work from other companies. Subcontracting can also give you great experience with international companies and big corporations that can boost your portfolio.

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| 4 Ways To Make A Fortune With Your Online Business

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Do you want to start an online business? Not just any online business, but one that makes a real fortune? Here are 4 ways you can ensure you make more money than ever before with your online business:

 

Do Proper Research

Doing proper research is key to ensuring that your online business is going to make money. You need to research the market, and ensure that your customer is out there. You also need to make sure that the keywords and things you’re using online are just right, so you can attract the people you really want to attract.

 

Use Vlogs

Vlogging is the term for ‘video blogging’. By using high quality video blogs to share your expertise and give people helpful hints and tips, you can ensure you get maximum exposure.

 

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is a must if you want to perform better consistently. Analytics should be looked at to ensure you’re attracting the right people. You can only improve what you track, so make sure you track absolutely everything.

If you fail to track these things and you’re simply guessing, you’re going to be doing your business a huge disservice.

 

Set Goals and Create Strategies

By setting goals and creating strategies, you are planning to succeed. Set short term goals that will lead you to your long term goals. Come up with strategies that will help you to experience both short and long term success. Do this just like the following e-commerce influencers did – the infographic will give you some helpful hints and tips!

 


credit to Red Stag Fulfillment

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| Retailing Online: The Secrets To E-commerce Success

Posted in Small Business at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Over the past few years, the e-commerce economy has grown significantly, with more and more businesses opting to create e-commerce websites to support their ventures. Although e-commerce businesses are expected to grow significantly over the next few years, you can only expect success from this type of venture if you approach it in the right way. This means taking note of the secrets of success below, which all the most prosperous e-commerce businesses swear by.

 

Don’t Rush the Launch

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One of the most important things when it comes to e-commerce success is not to rush the launch. Sure, you are excited about your idea and want to share it with the world before someone else comes up with a similar concept and beats you to it, but that doesn’t mean rushing things. If your e-commerce site is going to be successful, it’s crucial that you take your time launching it. Be selective about the domain name, hire an experienced web designer to ensure the site wows visitors, and invest in SEO, to make sure that the site shows up in search engines. Before you launch, it’s crucial to get your website spot on, so whatever you do, don’t rush the process, take your time launching.

 

Focus On the User

The most crucial thing when it comes to creating a successful e-commerce business is to focus on the user because if your site isn’t user-friendly, you will lose customers. This means thinking about navigation, how easy the site is to use, and how quickly it loads. For a site that loads quickly using a server made for a professional website, such as Windows VPS hosting, is important. Otherwise, your website may load slowly as the servers won’t be able to cope with the amount of traffic that you are getting. What you want is to ensure that the design of the site makes the experience good for the user – any experienced web designer knows how to do that. Unlike a traditional store, an online one doesn’t allow users to touch, see, and feel products for themselves, which is why you need to ensure that your store offers customers other things instead. Little things like offering free shipping, making the checkout process as easy as possible, and offering discounts on a regular basis are ideal.

 

Test Your Site Out

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To ensure that your website is as good as you would like to think it is, testing it out is crucial. The important thing is to look at your website objectively and get an idea of what it would be like to use it as a customer. If you’re not able to be objective about it, it could be worth asking friends or relatives to test your site out and see what their thoughts on it are.

 

Incorporate Social Media

When you are running an e-commerce business, social media is the key to success. Using social media properly can give your website traffic a massive boost, increasing how successful your business is. Although it’s perfectly fine to have a social media manager in place, it’s important to stay involved in your business’s social media, so that you can get to grips with what your customers want and need. Linking to social media on your e-commerce site is crucial. It’s not just about having your social buttons there, but it can also be good to add snapshots of your social media feeds to your website – this gives visitors an insight into what’s going on, on your social media channels, encouraging them to follow you on there.

 

An SEO Optimized Blog Is Key

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When visitors land on your site, you want to make sure that they stay on it for as long as possible, right? As well as having a site that’s easy to use and navigate, adding a blog to your e-commerce site can make it more likely that visitors will spend longer on your website and return again and again. This is because a blog captivates people, it shares interesting and informative content that keeps visitors’ attention and encourages them to return to your site time and time again, or at least, it can do if it’s well written. For a blog to add something to your e-commerce site, it needs to contain well-written, unique and interesting content that is SEO optimized. This will increase your website’s visitor number and should reduce bounce rate.

 

Don’t Stop Evolving

Last but not least, never stop evolving your e-commerce site. If you want to be successful, you need to ensure that your website is constantly evolving and growing. Over time, what your customers want will change and you need to ensure that you constantly meet their needs by evolving and changing as a business.

Take note of this advice, and you can ensure that your e-commerce business is a soaring success.

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| Don’t Make Your First Employee Your Last: The Best Boss Guide

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

If your business has got to the point where you need to employ, give yourself a pat on the back. This is what dreams are made of, and all your hard work is finally paying off with expansion. But becoming a boss isn’t all about celebration. It’s important to note that your business is about to become a different beast. You are going from an entrepreneur to a manager, and those are two very different things. The chances are, you put some thought into this when you started out. But, with the time finally here, we’ve some tips on how best to move forward.

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WHAT TEAM DO YOU NEED?
First, it’s important to consider what team you need behind you. This includes every aspect of employment, from the types of people to the size of your team. The chances are that, though things are on the up, you don’t have much money to waste. So, it’s important you don’t employ too many people at this stage. Work out a skeleton crew. You can always get more people if need be. Think, too, about which types of people you need on your team. It may be that you value qualifications more because you need someone skilled. Or, it may be as simple as hiring someone you warm to. This is important if the job is not a skill specific one, but the two of you will be working in close proximity. You could even consider hiring freelance workers instead of physical ones. This is often a good idea at first because it means you don’t have to worry about paying for holiday or working out taxes. Plus, with Skype and other programs, it’s never been easier to make this work. At the end of the day, your business is your baby. It’s important to take time considering who you want to hand it to and how.

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MASTER MANAGEMENT

It’s also important you get up to speed on management know how. It may be worth doing something like an online masters in management. Studying remotely means you can continue to work, and earn, as you go. But, a course like this will help you know everything you need to about being in control. Having the know-how will help you stay calm under pressure, which is a skill every manager needs. It’s also worth turning to the internet for information about legal responsibilities. Not having that knowledge could end with your getting sued.

TREAT COLLEAGUES KINDLY
We all have an experience with mean management at some point. Make sure to remember any bad experiences you’ve had to stop you doing the same to your colleagues. A lot of power is about to fall into your hands, and it’s easy to get carried away. But, if you let the power get to you, you could find yourself with staffing problems. Be kind to your employees. Try to strike a balance between being the boss, and also being a friend. Nice bosses get better results!

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| Effective Ways To Increase Productivity And Retention At The Same Time

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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A study conducted in the UK by Oxford Economics found that to replace an employee, it will cost an average of £30,614 (or about $40,000). The reason for this is that there are of course logistical costs. Placing an ad is one thing, but if you want to attract the sort of people that you want to work with, you may have to advertise on expensive websites. Secondly, you have to interview all of the prospective candidates which costs both time and money. Thirdly, your HR department will need to agree on all of the details of your new employee’s contract. However, another major cost associated with finding someone new is all the money that you do not make in lost productivity. Training someone to the level of the person that they are replacing also takes time and money but until they reach that stage your business will not be as efficient or productive as you may be used to. This problem is compounded by the fact that the turnover rate for American businesses now is 15.1%. Employee retention should; therefore, be a major concern for every business owner. Not only that, employees can be rather capricious. Another study found that a massive 35% of people said that they would look for a new job in the next year if they did not receive a raise. If you cannot afford to pay your employees more but you also cannot afford to lose them, here are a few ways that you can keep your staff while making them more productive at the same time:

  1. Incentives come in many different forms. One that obviously appeals to a lot of people is earning more money, but there are other benefits that you can offer your employees too. For instance, you can agree to pay for their college tuition in return for them staying with you for a certain number of years. This may sound expensive, but if you offer to pay for a course such as msc accounting online for instance, you can keep your employee and make them more valuable to you at the same time.
  2. Another way to increase productivity is to have a strong, open company culture. A lot is said about company cultures and it can easily seem like a rather vague idea. However, it simply means that you employees need to know why they are doing what they do. Profit is one thing, but if you instill in them the idea that they are offering an excellent service and improving the lives of their customers, they may be more motivated to stay and work hard.
  3. One of the simplest things you can do to keep people turning up every day is make the environment in which they work more appealing. This may mean investing a little more in comfortable chairs or covering the costs of the company cafeteria yourself. Either way, if people look forward to going into the office, they will want to do it for longer.
  4. Lastly, while it may not seem conducive to an adult workplace, you need to make your employees feel valued. Tell them that they have done a good job when they deserve it. You will be amazed at how effective simple praise can be.
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| The Best Ways to Fund Your Business Expansion Plans

Posted in Business Financing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Most business owners have big plans for the business and where they want it to go in the years ahead. That’s perfectly normal, but how are you going to find the money to fund all those plans? It’s easy to come up with plans for a business expansion, but it’s never so easy to actually fund them. It’s a problem that many business owners run up against. However, there are plenty of interesting ways to generate the money you need for your expansion.

 

Selling Shares

Selling shares is a great idea if you’re willing to relinquish a small amount of control over your company. You can still make sure that you own the majority of the company’s shares, meaning you retain control. Every share you sell will raise a small amount of capital. If you sell enough of them, and your share price is fair and reasonable both for you and you the stock market investors buying them, you could raise a considerable sum. This money can then be used to grow your business and take it in the direction you think is best for its future.

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Invoice Factoring

Does your business have a lot of old invoices that remain unpaid? It’s a problem that is all too common for businesses. However, you can get around this problem by using those invoices as a source of funding for your business. This is called invoice factoring, and it’s something that more and more small businesses are starting to make the most of. There are plenty of external companies that can help you out with this kind of funding. Just do some more research into it, and learn as much as you possibly can about it before making your final decision on the matter.

 

Appealing to Investors

Another way to get money from investors is to appeal to them directly. This involved presenting your idea and information about your business to a small number of investors. They might be investors who have a particular interest in your market sector. Or they might be venture capitalists looking to see a relatively fast return on their money. You need to be professional, have some strong ideas, and be able to present them in a coherent and appealing way if you want to make a big success of this. It’s not easy, but it can be done if you take the right approach.

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Reinvesting Profits

If your business is looking to expand and branch out, it must already be making money. So, why not start reinvesting some of the profits that the company is currently raking in? Rather than paying yourself more or paying out dividends to investors, you could use that money to take the business further and expand it in the way you want to. Of course, this only works if your business is in profit and managing to more than cover all of its existing costs. But if that’s not the case right now, maybe expansion shouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind anyway.

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| Why Businesses Need To Learn To Love Apps

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

It wasn’t so long ago that businesses could make do with having just an internet website to fulfill all their online needs. Then they needed a landing page to make sure that their customers were funneled through to the right products. After that came the social media revolution and companies realized that if they were going to succeed, they needed to be on social media websites as well as have their own.

It looks as if we’re moving to a new paradigm: the app. Recently estimates suggest that both the Google and the Apple store now host more than 1.3 million apps each. Some of them are terrible, of course, but the majority is designed to help businesses make more money. There are apps that help with all sorts of things, from organizing finances to planning your next hire.

But companies aren’t just using apps to make doing business easier: they’re creating them too. Some experts have suggested that the number of apps on the app markets has reached its peak and that we’re entering a period of consolidation. But that’s not how marketing expert Marcos Sanchez sees it. In fact, according to his estimates, apps will continue to swell as individual businesses start to realize their utility for things like in app advertising and as the price comes down. The average app used to cost more than $100,000 to develop. But now the figure is well below a quarter of that, making it something that is affordable for the majority of SMEs.

 

Businesses Need To Get Going

In the early days of the internet, there were a few businesses who put their stores online and succeeded while the rest waited, not realizing something truly disruptive had taken place. They soon caught on, but by that time, it was too late. The market was already saturated, and they’d missed the boat.

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When it comes to apps, this is really the last chance saloon. Companies that don’t build apps today will find themselves falling further behind their competitors tomorrow. Sanchez says that one of the problems is the fact that many business leaders are older people who didn’t grow up surrounded by digital technology. It’s all happened so fast, it’s difficult for many of them to keep up or realize the utility. But using apps is becoming almost as common as using websites, especially for interacting with companies. Apps make going online and doing shopping much easier than using a browser which explains part of the reason why so many companies are making the investment.

 

Apps Are Ready For the Next Stage

If you’re a large company but haven’t yet made the jump to apps, then you might want to think about doing it now. Sanchez says that consumers no longer see apps as a luxury: instead, they’re just a standard way of interacting with firms. We could see a decline in browser use on mobile devices and an increase in app penetration. If this happens, regular internet-based companies without apps are screwed.

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| 21st Century Retail: How To Make It Work

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Running a retail business in 2017 can be quite the challenge. Now we have fully embraced in the digital age many people argue that retail as we once knew it – actual physical stores – is dead and buried. A huge proportion of sales are now made online, and it cannot be denied that many people do these days prefer to shop online. However, there still is a place for retail in the modern day, especially depending on the nature of your business. So, what do you need to do to create a successful retail business in the face of a primarily digital world?

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Great Staff
The number one most important thing that differentiates a physical store from an online one is the fact that a physical store has staff in it. Online transactions are pretty impersonal, no matter how much they are dressed up with friendly copy and eye-catching graphics. Many customers still appreciate the fact that they can go into a store and be greeted by a member of staff and have a conversation with them. There is a clear benefit here of the customer being able to ask questions and seek advice on the product of their choice in real time and get an immediate answer. With a business that is purely online, the client may spend some days or even weeks waiting for an email response about a query they had. So, it is obviously essential that you man your premises with friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Functional Transaction Equipment
If you want your retail business to stand any chance of making it into the online market, you will need to have the best transaction technology at your fingertips. There’s nothing worse than being in a store about to make a purchase, and the shop’s ancient card reader won’t scan your bank card. If this happens in your store and the customer cannot pay, you then open yourself up to losing that sale; as they may go away and think about the transaction, and then decide not to purchase the items after all. Avoid this entirely with quick and easy payment options. If you’re not sure what is available to you, look into merchant services account rates. If you have all your merchant services dealt with by the same company, you can be sure that if something should go wrong, you only have to contact one person in order to sort it all out.

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A Presentable Store
Part of the beauty of online shopping is that you can find everything you want easily without having to wade through rails and rails of trash. Apply the same concept to your store by making it aesthetically pleasing and keeping it tidy. After all, you want to attract customers in there in the first place, so make sure you have an eye-catching window display to draw people in. Keeping the place clean and tidy will also encourage customers to browse and make a quick purchase, as well as it being easier for you to keep track of stock.

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| Company Staffing Problems You Need to Avoid at All Costs

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Staffing is a major issue that all businesses have to deal with. If you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to keep your business fully staffed, you’ll have problems. Having the wrong staff, not enough staff or staff with too many gaps in their knowledge and skill set will only lead to your business suffering big problems. You can’t let that happen if you want your company to do well and find long and lasting success.

 

Training and Development

You need to train your employees and give them every chance to develop and improve themselves if you want to get the most out of them. That’s just how it works. And if your business makes the mistake of letting your employees stagnate in their roles, you will pay the price for this. You should always be on the lookout for new ways in which you can improve your employees and get more out of them. You could send them on training courses a few times a year. Or you could give them more control over the new things they want to learn about.

 

Hiring People Who Are Bad for Your Business

Hiring people is always risky, and it’s very hard to get it right every time. You should try to do everything possible to avoid making appointments that damage your business. You should check references every time, find out as much about the candidates as possible and run checks to see if they have a criminal record. In certain industries, that final point is massively important. There is plenty of information online to help you learn more about running these kinds of background checks. Hiring someone with the right history and career background will help you avoid bad appointments that damage your company.

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Managing Seasonal Workflow Fluctuations

For some companies, their workload increases and decreases throughout the year. This fluctuation often occurs according to the season. Some companies do better business in the summer and less in the winter. This presents particular problems for your staffing policies. It can be very tricky to get your approach to staffing right when you needs change throughout the year. Hiring people on a short-term basis or incorporating more flexibility into your hiring processes are ideas that are definitely worth considering. There is no reason why seasonal workflow fluctuations have to spell disaster for your staffing policies.

 

Finding Skilled People at an Affordable Rate

Skilled workers are often in short supply. When you want the kind of person that every other business in your sector also wants, and those people are few and far between, you will end up having to pay more. It’s up to you to work out the cost-benefit analysis of this situation. Is it worth paying out that money to hire a person with all the skills, experience and attributes? Or should you hire an alternative who’s not as skilled or able but a lot cheaper? The answers to these questions will vary depending on your business and what your needs are.

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| How To Find Success As A Freelancer

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Being a freelancer isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips for what you can do to make it easier on yourself…

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Be Comfortable

First of all, it’s important to have a space at home where you can work comfortably – or alternatively, you could always work in a local cafe or a local shared work space or library. No matter where you work, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable. If you work at home, make sure that you have an ergonomic desk chair, that you keep your feet on the ground, and that the top of your computer is about equal to the height of your eyes so your neck doesn’t get uncomfortably cricked.

 

Be Disciplined

Self-discipline is key to being a successful freelancer. You need to dedicate a lot of your time to it – it can be flexible which is great but if you’re not working you’re not earning, meaning that if you’re out during the day then you need to catch up on your work that evening. If you find it hard to get off Twitter and Facebook, you could consider turning off your internet for a couple of hours to get your work done.

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Be Online

Having a healthy online presence is a great idea for any freelancer. Set up social media accounts and make sure that you keep them relevant – political rants can go on more personal accounts. Being professional is far more important – unless it’s relevant to your job, of course. Make sure that you set up a site with your own domain name and a portfolio of your work on there. Set up a contact page with your email address on along with your phone number and postal address. If you don’t want your home address out there, go for a physical address company that will forward your mail to you.

 

Be Healthy

It’s important that you stay healthy – drink plenty of water during the day and make sure that you cook from fresh instead of going for unhealthy convenience foods. One of the great things about working at home is that you have access to your own kitchen so make the most of that and eat fresh salads, eggs and wraps for lunch. Make sure that you get outside and take plenty of walks – this will be good for both your physical and mental health.

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Be a Great Communicator

It’s important that you communicate with your clients effectively – great customer service is one of the most important advantages you’ll have over big companies so you need to make the most of it. Keep in contact with your clients and make sure that your tone is always cheery and professional.

 

Be Passionate

Finally, you need to be passionate about your chosen area or the freelance life won’t treat you well at all. Make sure that you love writing or the area of media you’re in or graphic design or whatever area you work in. A lack of love will make it very hard for you to settle down at your desk every day – passion and drive are what you need to succeed.

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