Author Archives: James

About James

James is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.

4 Habits of Tech-Savvy Entrepreneurs

Every successful entrepreneur knows that their personal life might affect them professionally. This is why they also understand that a boost to their personal life (that often comes from various gadgets), might also come to reflect on the performance of their business. In a competitive environment, even the tiniest of advantages can make a stellar difference. With that in mind, here are several ways in which tech-savvy entrepreneurs exploit this phenomenon to their benefit.

1.      Smart mattress

As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to be the first one to arrive in the morning and the last one to leave at the end of the workday. If you add to this the fact that you simply have to leave some room for your friends and family (work-life balance is crucial), it will become more than apparent that you won’t have much time for sleep. Still, while the quantity of sleep is what it is, the quality can be improved with a purchase of a smart mattress.

With the aid of such a mattress, you can fall asleep much faster, wake up without an alarm and keep tabs on your sleep. This last part is more important than it may sound, seeing as how a lot of people with a sleeping problem might not even be aware of what the issue is. All they know is that they get up as tired as they had been when they went to sleep, but they fail to recognize the cause.

2.      Fitness gadgets

The next thing you need to understand is the fact that in order to keep your mind sharp, you can’t afford to allow your body to hold you down. Now, as an entrepreneur, it’s not that uncommon that you spend an entire day on your feet, in which case feeling guilt over not working out might be quite unfounded.

One of the best ways to get ahead of this issue with a gadget is to get an Mi Band 3. Truth be told, this is as much of a health gadget as it is a fitness gadget, seeing as how it measures your heart rate, sleep quality and controls several other aspects of your health. The battery can hold for up to 20 days, which means that this is not something you’ll have to worry about very often. For an entrepreneur, one worry less can be a major boon.

Mi Band 3

3.      A smart suitcase

Smart suitcases have taken the business travel to another level. First of all, a smart suitcase is break-resistant, which is a huge plus for someone who travels a lot. Second, it comes with a GPS, which, due to the fact that these suitcases often contain vital information, is more than important. Lastly, there’s a slot for a portable power pack to be stored, so that you can use your suitcase as a portable charger. This alone can prevent you from having to make unnecessary stops on your daily itinerary. In other words, this also saves you quite a bit of time.

4.      Smart office thermostat

Finally, you need to understand that someone with a lot of entrepreneurial spirits refuses to leave anything to the case, including the temperature. If there’s such a thing as the optimal work temperature, you can use a smart thermostat to set and keep it there in the most power-saving manner possible. While this may not seem like that big of a deal, it sure does make a difference.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there’s one thing that’s quite obvious – all of these gadgets save time by making you more efficient in vital activities that you can’t afford to do for too long (or even as long as you should). Of course, we’re not suggesting that a smart mattress can replace hours of sleep or that you can instantly get in shape by using an Mi Band. Still, as we have already stated in the introduction, every little bit helps, and a little here and there goes a long way.

How to Use an eGift Card and Stay Safe

Buying gifts can be a wonderful way to express gratitude or appreciation for another person. But when you don’t know the recipient very well, it can be a problem. Putting thought into your gift and getting something that will be liked and used is great, but sometimes you don’t have a clue where to begin. Wrong gifts can create an awkward situation. eGift cards are the perfect solution – that way the recipient can choose something they will truly enjoy. But is it safe to use eGift cards? Here are some tips on how to use them without compromising your security.

Buy from Legit Sources

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how easy it is sometimes to be lured by fake offers. If an offer seems too good to be true, believe your instincts. Whether you are buying or receiving the card, only do so if it comes from a trustworthy, reputable site. Furthermore, there are some regions that are seen as more reliable (less fraudulent) than others, which is why, for instance, issuing a co-branded prepaid card in Hong Kong, may make it somewhat more credible. If you receive a text or email saying you got an eGift card, make sure that the link actually leads to the official online store of the company in question. Check carefully to see whether there are any spelling mistakes in the URL – if there are, it’s likely a fake. The gift buyer should always have the courtesy to let the recipient know they got them a card, and let them know which store it is from.

Don’t Brag Online

Taking pictures of everything in our lives and posting them on social media is such an ingrained part of our daily lives that we sometimes forget to use common sense. Posting a picture of your eGift card is a big no-no. By doing this, you are essentially giving everyone all the information they need to use your card. Beware strangers lurking over your shoulder too, don’t lend other people your phone, or leave it lying around if it’s not locked with a complex PIN number. Basically, an eGift card is just like cash, and you should treat it as such. You wouldn’t leave your wallet unattended, so don’t leave your card information either. Cybercrime is very much real, but it is also something that can be avoided if you act reasonably.

Don’t Use Shady Apps

When it comes to apps you can use for eGift cards, it’s best to stay on the safe side. Your best bet is to use official store apps. The process is simple: you create an account on the official website of the store, then download their app and log in with your account username and password. After that, you can use the app to make your purchase. The recipient of your gift will typically receive a notification email with a barcode. Official apps are also the safest way for recipients to save their cards. Alternatively, there are a few reputable apps that you can also use for storing the gifts, such as the Google Wallet, Apple’s Passbook, and the Gyft mobile app. Wallets like the Google one and GoWallet have their own scam and fraud monitoring systems, which brings added safety. These security systems ensure that no transactions can be made without the owner’s authorization. If fraud is detected, the account is immediately suspended for the user’s protection.

The most important thing is to be vigilant and reasonable. In case your phone gets stolen, lost, or if you suspect it has been in any way compromised, it’s best to be prompt. You need to pause or suspend your account before the eGift card is redeemed. However, if you follow the few simple security rules we’ve mentioned, you will surely be able to enjoy giving and receiving gifts without any trouble at all.

Future-Proofing Digital Marketing of Your Website

One of the main traits of black-hat marketing lies in the fact that they prefer to exploit loopholes in the system in order to give one a competitive edge. The problem with this method lies in the fact that these techniques only work until the next patch, after which they become completely void. So, in order to future-proof your marketing and avoid the need to reinvent your entire digital marketing strategy after every algorithm update, you need to take the path of the white-hat. Here are several tips on how to do this most effectively.

1.      Quality content

The first thing you need to recognize is the fact that quality content brings you leads, followers and promotion. This is why one of your first decisions should be to make a blog and fill it with the above-mentioned quality content. If people like your content, they’ll use it as a reference in their article which will generate backlinks. People on social media are going to share it and it will drastically increase your reach. Aside from this, quality content will make people come back for more, which means that they’ll turn into return visitors, perhaps even return customers, at one point.

2.      SEO

The next thing you need to understand is the fact that the visibility of your website and your content affects its maximum potential reach at any moment. In fact, about 95 percent of all searches end on the first page, while about 33 percent of people click on the first link that pops up. This is why you have to get to the top. This boost in your website’s SEO comes in two parts, on-site and off-site optimization. While it’s preferable to hire an expert to deal with your SEO, you would be surprised at just how much you can achieve through do it yourself SEO, provided that you have the right platform on your side.

3.      Become active on social networks

It’s completely natural for your business to be represented on social networks in 2018, however, in order to achieve your goals, you need to be as active as possible. Try posting something every day, even if it’s not original content. This will remind your vast audience that you’re still out there. Remember, your competitors won’t just sit idly, which is why you shouldn’t do this either. It would also be smart to do some research on the optimal posting time on various networks so that you get the maximum out of your online activity. The reason why this method will stand the test of time is due to the fact that social media only grow in prominence and influence with each passing day.

4.      Share other people’s work

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours; this is one of the oldest rules of the business world. It transferred pretty well into the digital environment, as well. This is also what makes it so ideal for our list, seeing as how no matter what change happens in Google’s algorithm, the good old tit for tat strategy is bound to work. Nowadays, you can do this effortlessly by promoting other people’s content, commenting on them and promoting their business, in general. Fortunately, this method also transfers well into most other types of digital marketing, as well.

5.      Google local business

Another trend that we see, which is bound to pick up its pace in the future is one of the local registries. People looking for a local business are more likely to turn towards a platform like Yelp or at least look for an answer in the Google Local Business directory. There are other such lists that you need to get your website and business on, so don’t hesitate to look for them on your own.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, in order to understand the direction that you should take, you need to understand goals and objectives and Google as a company. Their main goal, since the very beginning, is a better user experience, which means that every time you take a step in this direction, you’re aligning your website with their agenda. This inevitably leads to future-proofing of your business. It really is that simple.

5 Tips to Organize a Memorable Business Trip

Whether you’re a business owner or an employee assigned to a client abroad, things can get rather monotonous when the time comes for you to represent your company in your official capacity in a different city or country. From the hours you’ll spend at the airport, all the way to long meetings, it takes effort and dedication to leave the right impression, but also to make the most of your journey. So, why not do it with style and enjoy as much as you possibly can, since that will boost your productivity?

Let’s see how you can leave stress out of the equation, simplify your time management and organization, and plan a memorable trip that will ultimately boost your business!

1.      Plan and book ahead

Whether it’s your responsibility, or that of your company, to pay for your airplane tickets as well as accommodation, think in early-bird terms. The sooner you start looking for the best, most affordable, as well as suitable stays and travel options, the better your chances are of finding what you need at fair prices.

That also means you won’t have to squeeze your flight to be too close to your key meeting, thus risking you miss the event altogether in case your flight is cancelled or delayed. Always plan to arrive a day early, so that you can prepare in the comfort of your hotel room, and rest before the big event.

2.      Look for reliable services

From the moment you arrive until the final moment of your business trip, you will need to rely on a whole range of different services that will either make your stay smooth or turn it into chaos. For example, if you are expected to take your clients or business partners to a dinner, you should look into restaurants that have suitable menus – perhaps there’s a vegan among your guests.

Then again, a part of your professional image entails arriving everywhere on time, and in style. That is why booking corporate cars in Sydney and other major cities has become a staple of business travel, as it combines convenience and luxury with reliability. This is equally important if you’re not traveling alone, but with a team, and relying on the local public transport may result in late arrivals and other inconveniences.

3.      Stick to carry-on

If possible, it’s best to be a minimalist traveler who can pack all of their essentials into a single bag. This is especially wise if you’re going on a short trip for only a day or two, where you’ll need only a single business attire and few other basics for grooming and style.

This means you won’t have to worry about any lost luggage or think about transferring your heavy bags to the hotel in case of bad weather.

4.      Limit your workload

The leitmotiv of your entire trip is business, so there’s no need to bring all of your daily chores with you if you can delegate to others at the home office. It’s important that you can focus on the key objective of your journey, and plan for achieving your goals without worrying about other, less relevant issues.

Make sure that your colleagues have all they need to take care of your business back home, while you either filter your calls and emails or postpone responding to them for the duration of your trip. There’s no need to add more stress to your trip since traveling can be enough taxing as it is.

5.      Make time for fun

If you have planned for your trip in time, booked the right accommodation in the best location for your needs, then you will notice a number of useful gaps in your itinerary that are just waiting to be filled with a fun, rewarding experience!

Spending a few hours exploring a new city will give you plenty to talk about with your clients, it will help you clear your mind for the important meetings, and serve as a stress detox. Ultimately, adding some fun time will help you present yourself in the best possible light even during professional events.

Tips for Making a Strong Social Media Brand

A strong brand can both withstand the test of time and yield some immediate results. However, if we’re talking about a social media brand, you need to change the way you look at these things by quite a bit. First, you need to know exactly who you’re talking to. Second, you need to find an angle that will allow you to portray your brand as unique. Finally, you need to keep measuring, testing and tracking everything in order to ensure that you’re on the right path. If not, this will give you an opportunity to pivot in time. So, here are several tips you need to keep an eye out for.

1.      Looking out for metrics

When it comes to building a brand, it’s all about awareness and relevance, which is why even vanity metrics matter. However, you need to ask yourself whether it would be better to focus on those metrics that really help your business make that extra step. We’re talking about the duration of visit, engagement rate, conversions, activity and reach. Some of these metrics can be tracked quite effortlessly. However, there are some that might require a specialized tool. We’re talking about brand mentions and similar, a tad more abstract terms.

2.      Include user-generated content (UGC)

The ultimate goal of every brand is to make a buyer feel like the member of the team. We all know the “Is Pepsi ok?” meme, which is a unique case where the consumer is so loyal to a brand that they tie their identity to the product. In fact, they are even ready to get offended if someone suggests they should try something else. The online beef between Android and iPhone users is another great example of how this works. One of the best ways to get there quickly is to allow users to become an active part of your campaign. The simplest way to achieve this is to include UGC in your marketing campaign.

3.      Entrust this to professionals

The next thing you should consider is the idea of leaving branding to a professional branding agency. This is particularly true if you have a specific market in mind, instead of just working on a generic global presence, like it happens most of the time in the field of e-commerce. For instance, if you’re looking to start a business based in Victoria, looking for a brand agency from Melbourne would speed up the process. Why? Well, because they already know all there is to know about the local market and will have a lot easier time processing all the vital information.

4.      Go through influencers

Another thing you need to understand is the psychological benefit of using influencers. Sure, it’s more than obvious that these people are promoting your brand because they have an agreement with your brand, nonetheless, it’s still easier to trust their praise than a brand that’s shamelessly self-promoting. This alone would be a reason enough to hire influencers. Aside from this, you also have to keep in mind that people who have a certain reputation in the business world aren’t too eager to get associated with a brand that’s going nowhere. This comes as a form of affirmation, on its own.

5.      Reviews and ratings

Finally, give your users a reason to leave reviews and ratings. Remember, even the most illiterate, poorly written and vague reviews still get seen as more credible than paid ads. Of course, no one states that they’re more effective, that they give you bigger reach or that they give you a superior ROI. Nevertheless, they do give you that extra bit of legitimacy that you just might need.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you need to understand that brand recognition and brand awareness aren’t one and the same thing. Brand recognition comes down to people just recognizing your brand name and logo, while brand awareness consists of a bit more knowledge about your business as a whole. For the time being, any of the two will do but in the long run, you should always aim for awareness.

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.