Author Archives: James

Top 4 Tips for Success in E-commerce

While selling on platforms like eBay or Amazon may seem like the easier way, creating your own e-commerce website is always a preferable option. Apart from the obvious reason of cutting out the middleman, you are also branding your business and providing your products with more legitimacy. Still, just making an e-store is not enough for success. In order to get there, you need to learn the rules of the game. With this in mind, here are top four tips that can ensure your e-commerce platform is on the right path from day one.

1.      Don’t despair over high shopping cart abandonment

A lot of people in the e-commerce business obsess about the issue of shopping cart abandonment.  However, you should be aware that about 17 percent of all people who leave your store are just conducting research and plan to return at a later date. Dismissing all of them simply because they left without making a purchase is a preposterous concept, which sometimes makes people eager to fix problems that aren’t there in the first place.

On the other hand, not a single person from these 17 percent will return if they find a better offer elsewhere. In order to make them come back, you need to make sure that A) your prices are competitive and B) you offer special shipping offers. These two ideas alone can be enough to propel you to the very forefront of the industry.

2.      Focus on the visual

Think about traditional resale for a moment. Even with live-testing and showcasing, the only way for you to check the quality of the product is to buy it and test it yourself. So, how do people try to evaluate which product is the better quality one? Well, sometimes they look at the brand name, other times, they read reviews. Some people look at the price, assuming that the more expensive product is always of higher quality. In most cases, however, the product that looks better tends to be evaluated as the superior one. Therefore, you need to focus on the visuals.

For an e-store, this means creating quality photography and knowing how to present your products in the best way possible. Needless to say, for this, you need someone who is both an artist and a marketer. You would be surprised at just how much of a difference flatlay photography can make for the appeal of your products. On the other hand, when selling a clothing item, you can achieve much more with the ghost mannequin technique. It’s all about creating a context.

3.      Be transparent about your prices

Even though tricking people by making your prices appear lower might compel them to make a purchase, you can achieve so much more by being transparent about your prices. One of the tactics that often gets used by e-commerce retailers is showing the price without the tax and the cost of shipping. Earlier on, we talked about the shopping cart abandonment rate. Well, about 25 percent of all people who leave your store without making a purchase do so over an unexpected shipping cost.

Being transparent about your prices might lose you some one-time patrons, however, it also stands to earn you some repeat customers. Price transparency boosts your credibility and even increases the overall user experience, and in turn, this causes your audience to come back at a more consistent rate. Seeing as how 40 percent of all your profit is a result of purchases made by only 8 percent of your regulars, this is definitely an idea you shouldn’t underestimate.

4.      M-commerce is the future

Finally, you need to keep in mind that mobile users are currently the fastest growing demographic online and, as such, should never be forgotten or neglected. In fact, an average adult spends about 59 percent of their total time online on their phone. Therefore, make sure that your platform is optimized for mobile browsing and shopping. In fact, the simpler the checkout system is, the more appeal your e-commerce website has for your audience.

Conclusion

While having a great product might provide you with a bit smoother start, you need to keep in mind that your price, retail infrastructure and your ability to showcase what you’ve got might carry more weight than the quality of the product itself. Furthermore, you need to learn to accept that sometimes, bad metrics (such as high shopping cart abandonment rate) do not necessarily mean that your business is not on the right track.

How to Make Your Telecommuting Efforts Efficient with These 5 Tech Tools

Nowadays, technology has allowed various businesses to expand their reach and employ workers from all over the world. That means that companies are no longer limited to their location, country or even continent for that matter. Instead, they can look for top talents and employees most suited for their company culture across the globe. However, managing remote workers isn’t an easy task.

There are many challenges to overcome, such as different locations, time zones and many more, in order to ensure that your remote teams are efficient and that they feel like a valuable part of your company. Luckily, technology provides aid yet again. There are plenty of tools out there designed to improve the efficiency of telecommuting efforts for businesses that have remote offices and employees. The key is in finding the tools that suit your needs best. Here are a few tech tools that will help you improve your telecommuting efforts.

Project management

Project management tools are simply essential for every organization that has a remote workforce. Basically, these tools help gather everyone together on a single platform, as well as improve collaboration and communication company-wide. Tools, such as Basecamp, Trello, Active Collab and others help you assign specific tasks to different teams or individuals and set clear deadlines.

What’s more, each member of your organization can have a better understanding of the scope of the project with a project management tool. In addition, your employees can communicate and share information, while you monitor their progress.

Employee monitoring

Tracking your employee activity and productivity isn’t easy even when everyone is in the same office building, let alone when they’re scattered across the world. However, monitoring your employees is important, in order to ensure that everyone is doing their job and that they’re right on schedule.

With an employee monitoring solution, such as WorkPuls, you can track when your employees come to work and when do they leave, as well as track how productive they are during working hours. Moreover, you can track their time spent on individual tasks and have an insight into the applications they are using. You can even schedule screenshots regularly to effectively monitor your employees’ progress.

Communication

Establishing an effective line of communication with your remote workers is of the utmost importance. If you don’t communicate with your employees, there’s no way to encourage them to be more productive, drive engagement with your workers or know what kind of issues they might be facing. Furthermore, employees need to be able to communicate with each other and with managers as well.

That way, no important information will be lost and everyone can share data, as well as simply chat in order to feel cozier. For instance, Slack is a good example of a communication tool. It allows employees to chat in real time and you can set up channels for every team. Most importantly, Slack gives away a feeling of being present in the office, which is important for remote employees’ morale.

Video conferencing

It’s crucial to have face-to-face time with your remote workers. The main reason is that it prevents them from feeling isolated from the rest of the company and it’s a good way to improve their motivation, as well as their productivity. Moreover, your remote employees can attend meetings as if they were actually present in the office.

That’s why it’s important to establish means for good video conferencing. Tools, such as Skype and Google Hangouts can be invaluable for live video communications. After all, it’s important to meet up with your remote workers in person, so to speak, and allow them to meet the rest of the team as well. It helps build relationships and it also improves teamwork.

File sharing and storage

One of the most important things you need to take care of is ensure both your in-house and remote workers can store and share files and documents. Tools, such as Google Docs, Google Drive and Google GSuite for businesses, are a perfect fit for organizations with a remote workforce.

If you have any of these, not only will your employees be able to work on the same file, but it will also be safely stored in the cloud, which means no more lost files or broken hard drive issues. What’s more, creating spreadsheets and important presentations is easier than ever. Also, your remote workers can effectively collaborate and share files no matter where they are.

Telecommuting is an important aspect of any business that employs remote workers. In order to make the best out of remote work, you have to ensure that communication and collaboration between employees and managers alike is it its best. That’s why you should utilize various tools to make remote work more seamless and your telecommuting efforts more efficient.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Outsource

While traditionalists may argue that everything should be done in-house, more and more businesses are starting to take the idea of outsourcing more seriously. The reasons behind this are numerous, most prominently, due to the fact that outsourcing is more cost-efficient, it gives better immediate results and it is more convenient. Furthermore, the idea of outsourcing itself has evolved in the past several years. Here are five additional reasons why outsourcing might be the right solution for your SMB.

1.      Improve the focus of your company

When running a small operation, you will have trouble focusing on your core tasks due to the fact that you have to manage several departments at the same time. Therefore, outsourcing certain departments, such as IT or HR, can improve the focus of your company. These fields already require a high level of expertise that you probably don’t possess, which means that you will finally be free to dedicate your full attention to areas where you’ll be able to contribute the most.

2.      Easier budgeting

Even though you could start your own in-house departments instead of outsourcing marketing or customer support, outsourcing simply makes budgeting much easier. You get a fixed price for the set of services you’ve insisted on and that is precisely what you have to pay for them. Seeing as how you are negotiating directly with the representative of the agency you are outsourcing to, you won’t have to worry about benefits, paid leave, sick days, holidays, overtime, incentives or micro-management of their employers. As far as you are concerned, you have a financial obligation towards the agency you are dealing with, an obligation that can be fulfilled by simply paying what you owe on a due date.

3.      Expanding your talent pool

The next massive advantage of outsourcing is access to a much larger talent pool. Think about it, when hiring in-house employees, unless you’re willing to bring in remote workers, you are forced to work with the local talent. In 2018, however, offshoring is a viable option. Instead of working with a limited talent pool, you can hire a copywriter from Hong Kong and get a much better service at a more affordable price. Needless to say, in this particular situation, having a greater offer to filter through results in a direct boost to your company’s productivity. This is especially true when hiring people for jobs that require creativity.

4.      Prepare for the future

The next important reason why outsourcing is a good idea is that it arms you with an invaluable experience that you will definitely need in the future. You see, as a business owner, you will have to learn how to deal with an increased workload, sooner rather than later. As your company grows, you might be tempted to try and penetrate a foreign market or simply start an international office in order to diversify your brand a bit. Either way, outsourcing early on can prepare you for the challenges that come with these practices. Furthermore, outsourcing your IT, customer service or copywriting tasks is a great way to safely scale up in the world of remote collaboration.

Outsource

5.      Greater expertise

Even if you do manage to hire the right people for the job, equip them with high-end tools and provide a top-notch training, it will take time until they are competent enough to rightfully call themselves experts. Sure, you have to start somewhere but what if you need some immediate results and you can’t afford to wait? While this may sound impatient or even unreasonable, the truth is that no one is going to cut you any slacks just because you are new to the business world. So, if you have the feeling that time is working against you, outsourcing might provide you with just the experienced assistance you need.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there are so many benefits to outsourcing but there are a couple of flaws, as well. First of all, you no longer have a direct control over your operations like you used to. Second, there is always a question of security, seeing as how unverified personnel might gain access to the otherwise sensitive information. Finally, there is the issue of calculating the long-term costs. The longer you postpone starting your own department the more money you stand to lose. Still, some companies reach the conglomerate status without ever giving up on the idea of outsourcing.

Top 5 Employee Recruitment Techniques

Customers are the most important aspect of your business – if it weren’t for them, well, obviously, there wouldn’t be any business to conduct. Right after the customers on the priority list come the employees. Unless you’re running a one-person show, you’re going to need a solid bunch of workers behind you – a dedicated team of experts. It is true that it all starts with recruitment, which is why we’ve listed the top 5 techniques that follow.

1.     Treat the applicants right

…and treat them with the respect you’d show to your customers! This is especially important when it comes to your candidates – if treated in the right way, your future employees will come to respect your company before they even start working for you.

However, the reasons for treating the applicants with respect transcend the possibility of employment – even the candidates that don’t make the cut are potential advertising tools – treat them as equals, and they will spread the good word about you without even working for you. Besides, your company is your legacy, and you want to nurture your professional and respectful appearance, don’t you?

Respect and high option packages will pay off in the long run when it comes to recruitment.

2.     Creating a breathable atmosphere

Let’s assume that you won’t be making a multinational conglomerate with a world-wide army of employees, at least not for the time being. The more likely scenario is that you’re building a small- to moderate-sized brand. One of the biggest mistakes startups make when it comes to recruitment is the mistake of over-hiring. Sure, broadening the number of positions that you may need as your company grows seems like a smart and logical move, but this is rarely the case, as an employee clutter can lead your business straight to its demise.

Most extra positions can be patched up through freelancing – even if you can afford a regular employee, some positions are best outsourced. Before you decide to hire, think long and hard about outsourcing any particular position.

3.     Use your current employees

One of the main benefits of not having a huge amount of workers to deal with is a more intimate, personal vibe to the entire workplace. This really brings a world of cool opportunities to the table, for instance, being able to use their network of friends and acquaintances to acquire potential candidates that somebody can actually vouch for!

Additionally, your employees can help you by reviewing resumes of potential candidates, and even assist you during interviews! This is what true collaboration means.

4.     Outsource HR assistance

Knowing the ropes around the majority of company-related stuff is an impervious quality of a solid CEO. However, no entrepreneur can expect to become proficient in every single aspect of their own business – this is exactly what expert employees are for. The same goes for the HR aspect – you can’t expect to become a full-blown pro here, and you can’t really hire an entire HR department in the early days of your startup. This is where professional assistance from companies such as HR Expert comes to your aid – an instantaneous access to a large number of templates, resources and HR managers with top-notch practice can go a long way in allowing your business to thrive!

5.     Don’t disregard external advertising

Although we’ve mentioned a couple of non-conventional recruitment methods, the value of the traditional, external advertising still remains a big deal. External advertising should complement every single one of the mentioned methods.

The 5 mentioned employee recruitment techniques go hand-in-hand with each other, and are best applied in combination. Always strive to treat the applicants right, but be careful not to create a cluttered employee atmosphere. Turn your current employees into a valuable recruitment resource, don’t be afraid of outsourcing and don’t disregard external advertising.

4 Simple Tips to Get Your Online Trading Business off the Ground

Every start is hard and when it comes to business, it can become incredibly risky. Sometimes, a single bad choice can result in you losing the money you’ve been saving for years, gained through a loan or acquired by selling an asset. This is why you shouldn’t venture into such an endeavor head first. With this in mind and without further ado, here are four simple tips that will help you get your online trading business off the ground while exposing you to as little risk as possible.

1.     Position or day trading

The first major choice you will have to make as a beginner online trader is the question of whether to become a position or day trader. The major difference here lies in the fact that day traders make massive decisions based on the daily fluctuations on the market, while position traders invest their money and wait for weeks or months in order to make a sale. Needless to say, while both of these styles are completely legitimate, for a beginner, day trading might be a better choice, seeing as how it gives more opportunities to learn right away.

2.     Trading and investing are not one and the same thing

Another thing that every ambitious trader needs to learn in time is that investing and trading are not one and the same thing. A lot of people may confuse position trading with investing but even here, there is a massive discrepancy in long-term expectations. You see, with investments, you want to create a passive stream of income, which is why most investors prefer to diversify their investments. On the other hand, online traders only pick those stocks, commodities and currencies they believe will become more valuable in the nearest future.

3.     The right digital tools can make all the difference

The next thing you should keep in mind is the fact that with the right digital tools on your side, you can make a huge difference. Nonetheless, this means that you have to look for the right online forex broker and a platform that is capable of providing several important features. Needless to say, your first priorities are some technical issues like latency and execution. After all, you don’t want to make the same purchase twice only because the platform lagged and failed to register your first order right away. Apart from this, you might want to look for a platform offering a demo trial, or at least one that has been covered by numerous reviews.

4.     Investing more than you’re willing to lose is bad practice

Finally, with the right attitude and a cunning use of stop-loss order, you can still make money even if most of your trades are unsuccessful. For this, you would have to set your stop-loss order low (under 1 or 2 percent of your total net worth) and your stop-gain at a decent percentage (6 percent is more than reasonable). While it may appear that setting these orders here may be a bit restricting, keep in mind that you’re not in this line of work for the thrill but for profits. This is also why you should never invest more than you’re willing to lose, hoping that you could get rich overnight.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, one of the reasons why online trading is so popular is due to the fact that it allows you to set the game on your own terms. Different styles, strategies and commodities customize your trading experience to the extent where you won’t even be able to recognize the game. So, by adhering to these four simple principles, you will be able to adjust the game to your own needs and habits. Keep in mind, however, that it’s your money that’s at stake, which is why safety should be your No. 1 concern.

Top 5 Traditional Marketing Techniques that Are Still in Use

No matter the marketing guide you decide to check out in 2018, chances are that you will encounter terms like influencer marketing, VR and AR marketing, as well as more than a few digital marketing terms. Of course, we are living in the digital world and these trends do more than bring positive ROI, but, what about the traditional marketing? Did it suddenly become obsolete once all of these new trends emerged and got empowered? Of course not. Here are top five traditional marketing techniques that will still be in use in 2018.

 

  1. Face-to-face meetings

In the age of IMs, conference calls and emails, why would anyone ever meet in person, right? Well, when it comes to the B2B outreach, scheduling a face-to-face meeting with your potential business partners can have a massive impact on your trust-building efforts. Furthermore, taking up some of your valuable time to check in on your clients in person may make a huge difference in the way in which they perceive your commitment to them.

  1. Telemarketing

Another powerful B2B tool is telemarketing. You see, the email you’ve sent to your clients might have been a template you’ve used a thousand times, or something quickly drafted by a person at an entry-level-job within your organization. On the other hand, a well-structured telemarketing call, consisting of effective questioning, efforts to get the next step commitment and even scheduling the call appropriately can make all the difference in your brand’s public image.

  1. Promotional material

When doing a research about content marketing, one of the first tips that you will receive is that you need to make content that brings value to your audience. Now, this isn’t as nearly as difficult as it sounds but it is definitely something that is achievable more easily with promotional material. By giving someone a promotional hat, an umbrella or a t-shirt, you are actually giving them something practical, something that they’re actually going to use. Furthermore, by ordering large quantities of promotional material, like going with bulk t-shirt printing, you will get a surprisingly great ROI.

  1. Handwritten notes

The thing about marketing is that it doesn’t end once a person closes a deal or buys something from you. Why would it? About 27 percent of people who purchase from you have a chance of coming back, while people who purchase something twice have a 45 percent of chance of returning for the third time. In other words, by finding the right tool to engage them in this post-sale segment of the buying cycle, you can easily transform them into return customers. Handwritten notes are a more efficient, more personal version of an email that can do wonders in this field.

  1. Old-fashioned networking

Finally, going to industry events and just mingling with your peers is a great way to establish personal contacts which could, in time, grow into partnerships. Sometimes, even people who may appear to be your direct competitors end up being your closest allies. For instance, a large company with a workload that their infrastructure can’t support is more likely to redirect their clients than just drive them away. By nurturing great relations with their management, you are increasing the chance of that excess work being sent your way.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the fact that these five techniques are still in use and that they are as effective as ever doesn’t mean that you should use them instead of digital marketing. This kind of false presumption is what leads to 50 percent of small business not having a website even in this day and age. What this means is that you shouldn’t write them off as obsolete just yet. On the other hand, by combining them with digital marketing you can perhaps get the best of both worlds.

Should you Apply for Jobs at IT Startups?

Working for an ITstartup sounds attractive. Their job descriptions usually include things like “room for rapid improvement” and “fun and casual work environment”. Joining a startup can be a smart, fun, or even a life-changing move, but not all startups have the budgets or ambiance of large tech companies, nor they are run by genius visionaries. However, a new business can offer a great opportunity to learn everything about building a company from the ground up.

In many cases, working for a startup means hard work with less pay, but it can eventually pay off handsomely. It’s no secret that it involves a lot of risk, because 3 out of 4 startups fail, according to the Wall Street Journal. But even if your startup fails, you can still gain valuable skills and experience to add to your resume. Are you thinking of applying for a job at a startup? Let’s balance out all the pros and cons related to working in such young companies.

1. Are you comfortable with change?

Developed companies have well-defined procedures and processes, as well as tens and hundreds of employees that repeat the same actions every day. IT startups, on the other hand, are able and prone to make quick changes. They frequently change things from job titles to reporting structures to project plans. Some startups move their offices sever times in a few months. If you’re a type of person that needs to get acclimated to the place of work, these constant changes can be frustrating, but if you want to succeed in a startup environment, you should be afraid of the chaos. You have to embrace it. IT startups aren’t afraid of personnel shake-ups and have their eye on picking motivated, young professionals.

2. Skills and experience

Startups differ from large corporations because there are no specific job descriptions that can limit one’s duties, requiring from you to adapt and move between sets of duties. If you’re not intimidated by the startup “sink-or-swim” attitude, then this can be a wonderful opportunity for you to gain various valuable skills. Due to frequent change in job descriptions and assignments, you’ll wear a number of shoes and learn things on the fly. If things don’t work out, you’ll have added things to your resume to make it more impressive.

Working at a startup also gives chances to be a part of projects you might not get near to at another company. These projects are often high risk, but high reward, affecting the startup’s overall success. Since the entire startup culture is focused on fast growth and success, you’ll learn new skills fast. You’ll learn to do different jobs, so expect to take on more than what you were hired to do. The advantage of taking on multiple positions is learning things much faster than you would in any corporate position. In case your startup succeeds, the payout can be huge in the end.

3. Work-life balance

What makes most people stressed, when it comes to their work life, is the inability to achieve a good work-life balance. The startup culture is often presented as laid-back and relaxed, with people riding scooters to work where they’re awaited by positive and good-humored colleagues and a cup of good coffee on their tables. The truth is, startups need people that are passionate about seeing a product/service come to life, which often means working odd or long hours. Every individual is expected to be dedicated, without the assurance that they’ll have their jobs for years to come, which is not seen at a big business or corporation. The long-term success of your startup can greatly depend on each individual employee’s hard work.

Startups are quick to hire and quick to fire, so working for a startup is probably not the best choice for you if you’re looking for long-term stability. In case you are looking for something more stable, you might be better off at an established company in a stable industry, such as Youi.

However, startups are fast-evolving and dynamic work environments that value initiative, which is great for personal growth. It’s the place for all those who want to excel, grow, and find out that they’re best at.

IT startups are filled with people who are willing to have dinner while working on a project and go the extra mile, working late nights, weekends or odd hours. If you thought that you were spending a lot of time working when employed at another company, it’s nothing compared to the work you have to put in when building a startup from scratch.

4. Benefits and salary

The workload may be massive, but at least the payout isn’t huge. Hmm, wait a minute. If you don’t get paid enough for such work, why should you consider applying for a job at a startup? Money is often tight because startups are working in order to get funding. This prevents them from paying employees competitive salaries that other companies are paying to their employees. Many startups manage to counterbalance the lack of benefits and potentially low pay with different perks. For example, some startups may offer free meals and lunches, the option to work remotely from your home, or an open leave policy. On the other hand, benefits can be more abstract, and come from the satisfaction felt after a job well done.

Startups combat low salaries by offering benefits that are more intangible, such as a piece of equity in the company or the chance to build something from the ground up. Despite all these downsides, if the company goes well, there will be rewards to reap. For instance, startups often give their staff stock options early on, which will be valuable if the company takes off. If you were with the company from the beginning, there’s a potential to be promoted to a better position, which means you could become a company executive in just a few years. In businesses with a conventional hierarchy, this can’t be done that easily.

People working in startup companies are often very talented in their respective fields, and are there because they want to build something valuable. The startup becomes their life, turning a simple job into something more of a mission. Regardless of the fact that there are so many things they could do that offer better remuneration and security, they choose to do something they believe in. They take the risk and find it inspiring.

Startups aren’t for everyone. What you find as cons other person may see as pros. Before you make a move, evaluate where you see your future and what you want out of a company. A great number of startups fail, so the chances of success a low, but you’ll definitely walk away with more experience and skills that will help you find your next job.

Why Small Companies Need to Hire an Accountant

When it comes to startups and small companies, more business owners turn to coaches and mentors when they want to ask for help. On the other hand, their senior counterparts (long-time business owners), are more likely to rely on the services of bankers, lawyers, and accountants. When we take into consideration that many startups fail within the first year of business, they must realize the importance of working with dedicated and experienced professionals.

One of the main reasons why young entrepreneurs don’t seek the services of a professional accountant is cost. However, they shouldn’t consider their services as an expense, but as an investment. An accountant should be a year-round business partner, as their scope of work doesn’t end just with tax preparation. They can provide perspective and expertise in your industry to help you navigate through an uncertain economy and help your business grow.

The truth is that you should consider working with an accountant, and here are several strong reasons to support our belief.

1. Businesses need a plan

You’d be surprised to know that many businesses fail because they didn’t have any or valid business plan from the very start. This where an accountant can partner up with your business, analyze all the data, and help build a solid business plan. Having this kind of professional on your side can greatly increase your chances for success.

2. A new perspective

Business owners sometimes fail to see the whole picture, because they get entailed in all the daily business operations. An accountant is removed from the business, and can provide a different perspective that you, as the business leader, may have missed. Sometimes, all it takes to come up with the next big idea is meeting with an accountant, which can be like taking a big step back in order to look at the whole picture and gain a fresh perspective.

3. Find work-life balance

Many startups are usually small operations run by a few associates who break their backs to keep the company running. Thus, they often struggle with finding the right work-life balance, which eventually becomes their top challenge as startup owners. Accounting tasks are an aspect of work that you may be less than thrilled to handle, and they can be taken on by professional accountants. On the other hand, you’ll be free to focus on other things, such as selling, marketing, customer service, or a nice game of soccer with your friends after work.

4. They have reach

An accountant is someone who has knowledge and insight across hundreds of industries and businesses. Receiving a guidance from someone with that kind of reach shouldn’t be underestimated, as they not only get to know the financial information of entire industries, but also know the mistakes that have led other businesses to failure, as well as the best practices for avoiding them. Having this kind of insights is invaluable to your startup.

5. Analyze data for profitability and growth opportunities

If you have tons of data gathered in your databases, what are they worth if you’re not interpreting and using it to drive your business decisions and directions? With an accountant who can help you understand all the numbers, you won’t miss on a great opportunity for greater business profitability and growth in the future.

For instance, an experienced accountant will know when your Australian business might benefit from some small business lending in Sydney and provide you with means to grow your business and improve your chances of future success.

6. Vital to a company’s reputation

Startups are baby-companies that have to build their reputation from scratch. A good accountant will represent your business in the best possible ways, helping you to build strong relationships with players that have a key role in your success (such as banks).

It takes about 6 months to go from business idea to opening, because young entrepreneurs and startup owners are quite passionate. With such quick growth, business owners don’t have time to get bogged down with issues that don’t help their companies continue to grow. In these situations, they ask for accountant services. So, can your baby-company survive without the help of an outside accountant? Probably, but with the extra expertise, guidance, and insight, an accountant can provide additional means that will make your business prosper.

Outsourcing Cybersecurity – Why It Works

Cybersecurity is becoming a bigger issue for businesses with each year that passes. Whereas before smaller companies were usually safe from any major attacks, nowadays, even the smallest companies have to worry about someone breaking into their system, stealing their data and/or keeping it for ransom. Since the majority of smaller and even many medium-sized companies have limited budgets, they usually go outside for their cybersecurity. And this is a very good idea.

Expertise

The first reason why you should outsourced cybersecurity for your company is the expertise you will be getting from an outside partner. Cybersecurity is a field that transforms on a daily basis and, for someone who is not absolutely in the loop; things get very chaotic very soon. An outsourced cybersecurity partner will know exactly what your vulnerabilities are (after doing penetration testing), how to address them in the best way possible and how to deal with possible attacks that do take place.

Tools

In order to be able to handle attacks from all over the world, a company needs to be supplied with the finest tools that are available on the market. Unfortunately, such tools cost an arm and a leg, and a smaller company can never hope to afford them. Your outsourced cybersecurity partners, on the other hand, will have all kinds of tools at their disposal and they will be ready to deploy them for you when need be.

Costs

There are a couple of ways in which you can put a price tag on your cybersecurity. For example, you may start putting together a budget for your own dedicated team of employees who would do nothing but take care of your cybersecurity. You factor in their salaries, the space they will be taking up and the tools they will need and you soon realize it is an insane expensive proposition, even if your company is doing well.

Then, you start thinking that maybe it is just not worth it and that you can leave your company wide open to attackers in the hopes they will not target you. Now, think about what it would cost you to close down your company for a few months, not being able to do a single thing. That is a reality if you are hit by even the crudest piece of ransomware. What are the costs there?

In the end, it is more than obvious that the only logical solution is to hire an outsourced cybersecurity partner who will handle your security at a fraction of a price that you would have to pay to handle it yourself or to ignore it.

Education

Last but not the least, we also have to mention the value of proper education in cybersecurity matters. Education of business owners, C-suite, managers and individual employees is a basis of every secure company and that is where your outsourced cybersecurity partners can also come in handy.

Namely, you will often find that such companies are ready to put together a class or two on cybersecurity basics for the people in the company. And these are actually the right people to be telling you about their industry. There is nothing worse than when someone who never worked in infosec tries to tell people how to keep their company systems safe.

Closing Word

When you go through all the reasons why outsourced cybersecurity makes sense, it really makes no sense to go any other way. You get expertise (perhaps even education) and tools and you get them at a price that more than makes sense.

What is not to like?

Why You Should Always Outsource App Quality Testing

There are many issues to deal with in software development. In today’s ever-changing technical world, it’s very difficult to keep a development team focused and on track, work within a budget, decide on a methodology, gather requirements, and lock down scope. App quality testing is still one of the most overlooked aspects of the software development process because both developers and producers can make mistakes, even when they think that their coding is flawless.

However, with quality assurance (QA) testing, you’ll make sure that your apps are bug-free and ready for launch. Due to issues such as small budget and time constraints, there are definite benefits to outsourcing software QA. These are some solid reasons to outsource app quality testing.

Types of software testing

Before we begin, it will be helpful to understand which specific app elements are tested, in order to get a better idea of how QA testing is truly practical and useful. There are three main types of QA testing: usability, functionality, and security.

Usability testing can include testing your app’s overall flow, content, responsiveness, and speed. Great usability is crucial for making users feel comfortable using your app.

Functionality testing includes testing search features, text inputting, menu navigation, and other elements that refer to the ease in which your app can be used. It’s done to ensure that your app’s functions meet its original design specifications.

Security testing is done to ensure that there are no poor coding errors or misconfigurations that can leave your app open to security attacks (takeover, denial of service, and data theft). Identifying security vulnerabilities is primarily done by ethical hackers, who are able to create reports that highlight potential problem areas and risks before the real hackers do.

1. Time

Saving time is one of the major reasons for outsourcing app quality testing. Experienced QA testers are able to do the testing at hand more thoroughly and quickly than your in-house staff. After all, QA testing is their area of expertise. By outsourcing these services, you’ll have more time to devote to other important tasks, while your quality testing gets done by professionals with the highest levels of expertise. You’ll increase productivity by following documentation and test planning standards that help keep track of all functional requirements.

2. Objectivity

Maintaining objectivity is one of the biggest advantages to outsourcing quality assurance testing. When performed in-house, testing is often done by the same group of people who created the software in the first place. They review the material that they’re already familiar with, and there’s a higher risk of error and bugs to go unnoticed. Defects in functionality and small errors are more likely to be discovered by a “fresh pair of eyes than individuals who worked to develop the app.

3. Cost efficiency

By using a skilled team of dedicated developers, you can drastically cut testing costs. This is a guarantee that you won’t miss functional testing, and speed up delivery time to your client. By delivering a bug-free product and expediting your app’s time-to-market, you’ll ensure maximum budget efficiency. One of the latest concepts of QA testing is crowdsourced app testing that quickly gained momentum, which consists in assigning app testing tasks to a community of professional QA testers through an online platform.

4. Ensure best practices

When it comes to software testing, you can ensure following measurable industry standards by hiring a team of professionals that is exclusively concerned with quality app testing. A good QA teams should have certain standards and tools for testing services, which means that you should do your research before choosing a QA team. These testing standards and tools should relate to mobile apps, web services, security penetration, load and performance testing, and database services.

5. Improve development quality

Software development teams either have individuals in multiple roles (designers or coders) that perform quality app testing along the way or one QA person who’s terrified of the developers. However, the number of discovered bugs and errors will be increased with a team of experienced and dedicated app testers. A team of QA testers only cares about ensuring functionality, which makes it able to reduce defect leakage.

6. Equipment

One of the most determining factors when it comes to outsourcing instead of creating your own in-house QA testing team is equipment and infrastructure. This can involve office equipment, such as office supplies and productivity software (browsers, licensed operating systems, and third-party plugins) and new hardware, such as computers and mobile devices (both tablets and Android and iOS phones).

By outsourcing app quality testing, you’ll cut down on cost, time, and liability. It will also give you the option to take advantage of these resources and services only when you need them, and not on an on-going basis, which makes the whole process more cost-efficient.

Top 5 Tips for Growing an eCommerce Business

Growth keyboardStarting an eCommerce business in 2017 is fairly simple. All you need to do is find your niche, choose the right platform and follow a quick and self-explanatory tutorial. Still, although starting may be fairly easy, growing your business, making it self-sustainable and of course triumphing over your closest competitors is something completely different. So, here are five simple tips on how you could effectively grow an eCommerce business.

1. Target other demographics
While most guides will advise you to focus on a single major demographic in order to get the most effect, every once in a while, it might be worth your while to reach out to other audiences as well. Sure, you are still better off focusing the majority of your resources on those you deem as low-hanging fruits or qualified leads, but it doesn’t hurt to make an extra effort and add an additional objective to your outreach plans.

2. Outsource
Growing your business can cost a small fortune and expanding your business rarely seems cost-effective in the long run. Furthermore, trying to do everything in-house gives you a lot less flexibility, which is why it might be a much better option to simply outsource. While there are those who hate the idea of outsourcing core-tasks, in most situations, this is where the greatest savings can be made. Furthermore, if you, for example, operate out of Sydney, you can use a Sydney-based warehouse storage solution instead of purchasing a warehouse. This way, you can also save a lot of time and effort on hiring, handpicking and training a team. Overall, whether or not outsourcing is resource-efficient may be quite situational but it is always more flexible and more scalable.

3. Market your most popular products
Another simple trick that will help you grow your eCommerce business lies in your marketing focus. More often than not there will be so many different items in your stock that you won’t have enough time, space or resources to market all of them properly. This is why, in order to get the best results, you need to figure out which of your products are the most popular ones and focus on promoting them individually. This way, you will not only boost sales of your flagship products but you’ll also increase the chance of driving attention towards your other products as well.

4. Use affiliate marketing
Whether or not traffic is a vanity metric is up to a lot of debate. Still, one thing is certain – without traffic, there is no profit. for example, your conversion rate can be 100 percent, but if you only get a few visitors on your website every month, it won’t amount to much. One of the ways you can boost your traffic is through a cunning use of affiliate marketing and PPC (pay-per-click). Even though some dislike the idea of paying for visitors, no one can dispute the effectiveness of this method.

5. Focus on return business
Finally, you need to keep in mind that the thing that will generate you the most profit is not new conversions but return business. In fact, according to research, 8 percent of your return customers are responsible for over 40 percent of all your profit. For this, however, you need to have great analytics tools and an even greater post-sale follow-up technique. Here, methods such as email marketing or even traditional telemarketing are highly recommended.

Conclusion
With these several growth hacks, you are bound to set your eCommerce on the right path towards success. Not only are these techniques optimal for creating some great immediate results but they also excel in helping you scale a lot better than your current business model. The best thing here is the fact that the above-listed five are nothing more than a tip of the iceberg and there are many other tricks left for you to discover.

 

Outsourcing: Big Help for Small Businesses

SMB Owner
Small businesses often experience the same issues as large companies. The odds might seem unjust, especially for owners of startups. Still, there are ways to combat this ‘inequity’, and one of them is strategic outsourcing. There are certain tasks that would otherwise be unfeasible for a small business. So, by commissioning a third party to help you out, you can save both money and time, which could then be diverted to some other developments.

Administrative tasks

Unless your small business is bookkeeping or accounting, the administration is probably not your primary job. Still, it is an essential part of every business operation, as it enables it to function properly. One way or another, administrative tasks are time-consuming and overwhelming, especially for companies that cannot spare the personnel. Hiring a virtual assistant is a good way of clearing the administrative mess, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Banking

As a very important aspect of doing business, banking is not to be taken lightly. There are professionals whose job is to help small businesses navigate the treacherous waters of banking. Keeping someone on board who can keep track of your cash flow, loans, credits, etc. might be too expensive considering the training and everything. On the other hand, a hired ‘deckhand’ will be able to do this quickly and more efficiently.

Social media activity

While it may sound like clicking likes and shares, keeping track of your company’s stats on Facebook, Twitter and other social media is much more than that. The good news is that it is not a demanding task, and as it doesn’t require any special skills, hiring a person for it is more than affordable. What do you get out of this bargain? More room in your schedule and peace of mind knowing that your social media presence is taken care of.

Content marketing

How can you promote your small business in an excellent, yet non-aggressive way? The answer is content marketing. Writing content that is easy to read but also informative and practical is a popular and effective way of promoting your business without actually selling anything. Following this increasingly successful strategy, many companies have executives whose job is strictly related to content marketing. For small businesses, on the other hand, outsourcing is the most reasonable option.

Artwork and printing

If you sell products or services, you need logos, website art, and promotional material. As a matter of fact, even if you don’t sell anything, you still need business cards at least. And this is where it gets tricky. Not everyone has a talent for graphic design. As much as you feel inclined and motivated to design something for your company on your own, it is best to outsource this job to professionals. There are many reputable companies who specialize in digital printing in Sydney area that you can hire without breaking the bank.

General weaknesses

At the end of the day, it is always best to evaluate and identify the company’s tasks that you are not very good at. This will give you a clear picture of what sectors you should outsource. By relegating some of those tasks, your crew will have more time to focus on things you are actually good at, which will help you develop your small business faster. And then, there is the money issue. If you compare the cost of a full-time executive and a freelancer, the lance wins any day.

Once the amount of work increases beyond the capacity, outsourcing is a popular way for small businesses to keep on paddling. Having the need to outsource doesn’t mean that you as the CEO are incapable or that your company is sinking. On the contrary, it means that you are developing at full speed.

5 Business Practices You Didn’t Know You Could Outsource

Business outsourceEven though traditionalists loathe the idea of anything not being done in-house, it goes beyond saying that in 2017 outsourcing is more than a common business practice. Sometimes, it is both cheaper and more convenient to just get an expert outsider than to try to train, equip and fund your own department. Not to mention the fact that it would take months, perhaps even years, for your team to gain the same level of the expertise. Be as it may, while a lot of companies outsource their customer support, accounting, and web design, there are other fields you could outsource, as well. With this in mind and without further ado, here are a few business practices you probably didn’t know you could outsource.

1. Research and development

A thing that makes this particular outsourcing idea… let’s say controversial, is a fact that a lot of companies tend to be quite jealous of their prototypes. You see, some even decide to sit on their most valuable discoveries for years in hope that some of their competitors will stumble upon it by chance and therefore commit a copyright violation. Still, research and development take a lot of work, meaning that such a team would have to perform demographic and market research, financial analysis and many other complex tasks. This alone is the reason most companies decide that it is much more cost-effective to deal with this overseas.

2. Presentation design

Another thing that some companies decide to outsource is presentation design. No matter how brilliant your idea might be, there is always a risk that your investors won’t understand it the way you intended. Framing your thoughts in a format that is both engaging and enticing takes a lot of skill and experience, which is again why so many companies decide to entrust this function to someone more competent, like professional presentation design services providers. Features like structure, narrative and visual style play a key role in your persuasion attempts and you need someone who thoroughly understands them. Of course, training your own team-members in this field might seem like a smarter long-term choice but sometimes you simply may not have this luxury of time.

3. Manufacturing

If you decide to take a look at any guide on outsourcing, most of them will advise you to keep doing core tasks in-house. No matter how wise this may sound at first, upon a closer examination, you will realize that all major conglomerates outsource their production. Reasons behind this are usually more convenient labor laws abroad, cheaper workforce or more affordable raw materials abroad. Sure, some may still discuss just how ethical this course of action may be but no one can deny its cost-efficiency.

4. Telemarketing

One of the greatest misconceptions regarding telemarketing is that it has no place in the world of modern marketing. The truth is that it no longer gives the same stand-alone results but it still works quite well as the support of your digital marketing. In other words, these days you can effectively use telemarketing in order to boost your website traffic and in this way enhance your digital marketing campaign. Still, there is a thin line between making people interested and annoying them on the phone and crossing it can be quite costly. There are certain skills a good telemarketer needs to possess but at the end of the day, even good might not be good enough. When you need the services of the best, it might be time for you to outsource.

5. Transportation

Finally, while some companies prefer to get their own company vehicles when it comes to the transportation of employees, this seldom comes as worth the cost. The greatest benefits of such methods would be the chance to label your company as green by reducing its carbon footprint but this can be done through outsourcing, as well. As for the cost-effectiveness, like always, it is short-term cheaper to outsource and long-term cheaper to handle it in-house.

Conclusion

The funniest thing about this list is that it is only a tip of the iceberg. In fact, the list of tasks you can (and even should) outsource seems to be much longer than the one of the tasks that absolutely need to be done on-spot. Some honorable mentions are scheduling, voicemail support, employee retention, and healthcare. The world is your oyster, only now you might want to consider getting someone else to shuck it, coat it and fry it for you.

What a Good Marketing Agency can Do For You

Global BusinessThere is a perpetual debate being waged about whether companies should implement marketing departments of their own or should they outsource their marketing to outside partners, i.e. marketing agencies. In many cases, it comes down to money, but sometimes other factors play a more important role.

Today, we will be looking at those factors and try to find out what a good marketing agency can do for you and your company should you decide to use an outside partner.

Years of Expertise

Any renowned marketing agency will boast a staff filled with people who have spent years in marketing and who have actually had marketing education. In the world of digital marketing gurus and other charlatans, this is a huge thing as these people will actually know what they are doing. They will know how to identify your needs and the best way to fulfill those needs in the most cost-effective way possible. This is what decades of joint experience bring to the table and it is definitely not something you should ignore.

Latest Technology

Marketing has become technology-driven and it is safe to say that most companies do not have the resources to supply their limited marketing teams with all the new technology. When you go outside for a marketing partner, you know that you will be getting services enabled by the latest technology – from content producing equipment to the latest in data analysis software and beyond. With this latest technology, your outsourced marketing partner will be able to set you apart from the competition which is what marketing is all about when you get down to it.

So Many Ideas

Marketing agencies thrive on ideas and they employ people just for the purpose of having ideas. Unless you run a massive corporation with huge marketing teams, your marketing department will be limited and its members will sooner or later start to think alike. Marketing agencies are set up in a way to avoid this and to provide a constant stream of ideas and innovation. As a result of this, your marketing efforts will stand out in the crowd and your message will never get stale.

Crucial Tweaks

Marketing is a fluid concept and once you settle on a strategy, it is not set in stone. It has to be revisited on a daily basis and it needs to be tweaked along the way. In-house marketing departments often neglect this aspect of their work for a number of reasons – limited resources and vanity being the primary ones. When you hire a marketing agency, you can rest assured they will be adjusting your campaigns regularly so that you get the best possible results.

Abundance of Data

One of the most difficult aspects of marketing to master is data and data analysis. This is often considered the hard science part of marketing and many in-house marketing teams lack the expertise in this particular field. Sure, they know how to recognize when a campaign is not working out, but they lack the advanced knowledge and actual data to make models that will predict future outcomes and that will more precisely identify what works and what doesn’t. Professional marketing agencies operate with all the data you can ever need and they know how to present it to you in a way that will help you make smart decisions down the road.

In the end, it is all about being able to make truly informed decisions that will benefit your company. A good marketing agency can do that for you.

How to Use Outsourcing to Grow Your Company

GraphGrowing a company is hard work. It takes much more than just talent or a few smart moves to turn a new company into a growing business that will be taking on new employees, expanding its market share and bringing in more revenue.

Nowadays, however, business owners have an ally that their predecessors did not – outsourcing partners. Outsourcing is effectively revolutionizing the way business is done and especially the way in which companies grow.

In other words, if you wish to grow your company the smart way, you will turn to outsourcing.

Access to Talent

Let’s be honest, not all parts of the world are teeming with talent in all industries. There are areas where technical schools are extraordinary and you can easily find engineers and developers in those parts of the world. However, what if your local talent pool is shallow and you struggle to find someone to fill the most crucial roles in your company?

Well, you turn to outsourcing companies which are teeming with talent and which always have someone on call who can handle various roles that you need filling in your company. You will be getting experts with years of experience when you outsource, and usually at a fraction of the cost you would incur if you sourced that talent yourself.

State-of-the-art Tools

A growing company needs to keep growing and this is near impossible to do without all the right tools. Upgrading tools as your company grows can be costly. For instance, moving your website to high-quality dedicated hosting can be quite an undertaking and an expense which becomes a necessity at one point. And this is just the most basic thing.

Imagine if you had an IT team that once served ten people now having to take on a hundred. You would have to invest huge amounts of money in the latest tools.

With outsourced partners, you know you are getting the latest in technology, no matter what part of your operation you are outsourcing. Outsourcing companies know that their clients require the best and they understand that they need the best possible tools money can buy.

Once again, you are getting tools that are worth millions at a fraction of the price tag.

Unprecedented Versatility

Let’s imagine a situation in which your company experienced rapid growth and you went from 25 employees to 250. You moved offices and you invested millions in your expansion.

Then, all of a sudden, your industry experiences a downturn and all of a sudden, you have to cut back, letting go a hundred people and finding a way to get out of your office space contract. It soon becomes obvious that you bit off more than you can chew and you are having a difficult time scaling back.

With outsourcing, this does not happen. Outsourcing allows you to quickly scale up your operation and get all the help you need without the strings that come attached to doing so on your own. If you suddenly realize that you have to slow down and perhaps roll back some of the expansion, outsourcing companies let you do this just as quickly and as easily as you did when growing.

This may not sound like much, but it can definitely make a difference between a company that finds its way in new circumstances and one that gets swallowed by new realities.

New Ideas

When you get into partnerships with outsourcing companies, you will be tapping into a source of great expertise and knowledge and if you know what is good for you, you will spend some time analyzing the way in which they do things.

This will not only ensure that you get the best results from them, but it will also provide you with an abundance of new ideas that you might apply to various parts of your operation. You may, for example, discover an interesting way in which they handle certain requirements of the job you hired them for or they might be using a piece of software you never thought of.

It is crucial to have an open mind and to get as much as you can from your new relationship.