20 Tips to Saving Money

save-nowI believe that saving money is an important life skill to have. It is extremely difficult to have to balance everyday expenditures with investments and savings, so a little bit of know how is required.

You need to learn to save money smartly, and to do so would mean to pay a bit more attention to your daily expenditures.

What I have noticed with a lot of people is that while they rarely spend on big ticket items, they end up spending small amounts of cash everyday without realizing that it amounts to much bigger expenditures in the long run.

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5 Time Management Tips to Help Your Lifestyle

save-timeI have always believed in the phrase “Time is gold”. In other words, every second you waste on doing something unproductive is another second you lost forever.

This means that you become less efficient, produce less, and have less time for other things in your life.

Procrastination has always been an unpleasant habit of many students and workers because it sacrifices productivity and quality because of the need of having to rush their work. [Read more...]

How to Smartly Buy-to-Let a House

Running-a-buy-to-let-business-as-a-limited-companyFor those that want to go into the buy-to-let business, there are many pitfalls that you have to watch out for. As an entrepreneur, I to have dabbled in buying homes just to rent them out to others.

Investing in properties can be risky, but I you do it right, it can be a great source of income with a considerable return.

Your money is well invested if you go for a buy-to-let business.

Just remember, as with any business venture, you have to be smart with it. You need to plan out carefully and watch for any trouble that may come your way. To smartly buy-to-let a house, read onwards.

High net worth

You may want to purchase a buy-to-let house with high net worth.

A house that has a high net worth not only has a sizable resale price, but it also comes with a higher price tag if you rent it out.

A high net worth house is also more in demand than other types of housing, as many would choose it because of the luxury that the house has to offer.

Manage how much you borrow

Model house with to let sign. Image shot 01/2004. Exact date unknown.It is easy to go overboard with the borrowing and spending.

Sure, you will need to invest in your house, but you should make sure that you do not borrow more than what you can pay back to the bank.

Manage your spending and borrowing and understand how long it will take for you to pay back all of your debt.

Mortgage rates can be insane, especially with the current housing market in the UK. Otherwise, you might end up bankrupt an in a lot of trouble with the law.

Spend only enough to add value to your house

Yes, you will want to spend money to make money, but you have to be smart about it. Your buy-to-let property should have investments that add value to the house.

You may want to add a fancy new fireplace to your home only to find out that it adds absolutely nothing to the final money that you make from your income.

Screen your tenants

Always screen your tenants and do a background check on them. It is better to have one or two reliable tenants who pay their rent on time, than to have 10 tenants who never seem to pay their rent.

Ask whether they can provide you with access to their income, as well as the receipts to their bills for the past five months. Checking their bills in the past will help you make a decision on whether or not they are reliable in paying their dues.

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A buy-to-let property is an investment, so you should not let yourself be carried away with promises of easy money.

The truth is that many people spend themselves into the poor house because they were not very smart in managing their money and screening their tenants. Practice good business sense and be prepared to handle any issues that may arise.

How to Get Your Children Involved in Business Early On

 

As an entrepreneur, I am building my business to provide stability for my family and myself. My children will benefit from my business more than anyone else would, and when I grow old and finally leave this world, I want my children to take over everything that I have worked for.

 

They will have the stability that I wanted for them, but of course, I want them to be prepared. One thing that I have noticed is that a lot of parents who have their own business want their child to take over some day, but fail to involve them early on.

 

What happens is that their child is usually not interested in business and entrepreneurship. There are many reasons for a child not wanting to follow in the foot steps of their parents, but often times, it is just because they were simply not involved in the business as a child.

 

Here are some tips to get your children involved in business:

 


Enrol them in an after school club

Getting your children to enjoy maths and science is a great way to start them off on the path of entrepreneurship. These subjects foster critical thinking and problem solving, which are highly applicable in business. If you live in London, you are in luck – there are many after school clubs that focus on science and a bit of mathematics.

 

If your child is intimidated by these school subjects, an after school club can also help them get over their fears and enjoy it for what it is.

 

Get them to start advertising by themselves

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I know that the best way to advertise an after school club in London would be to use social media as an advertising platform. If your child is old enough to use a computer, you can help out his or her after school club by asking your child to make their own advertisements and to post them on social media.

Meanwhile here is a video about Child Care Business Training:

 

It does not even have to be a real advertising project. You can turn it into an arts and crafts activity for your children to enjoy, with a little bit of business savvy thrown in.

 

Get them to sell things by themselves

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I am sure that everyone is familiar with lemonade stands and girl scout cookies. Having your child sell goods by themselves is a great way to foster business skills from an early age.

 

You do not even have to limit yourself to cookies and lemonade stands – you can have a bake sale, make bracelets, or even sell artworks if your child has the talent for it.

 

Bring them to work

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I am a big fan of “bring your children to work day”. It is a great way for me to bond with my children while introducing them to all of the things that I do. Of course, now that I am in a home office, my children are there with me all the time, helping me with small things such as stapling my papers.

Connect with your children and start early, so that they too can become great entrepreneurs when the time comes.

5 More Time Management Tips to Help Your Lifestyle

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For those following this blog, I am sure that you have read my first article that was listing five time management tips to help your lifestyle. I have heard suppliers of paper sacks for dry dog food as well as other companies use these tips in their daily lives.

In fact, whether you are a freelance professional or the CEO of a large company, using these time management techniques will help you become more productive and efficient over time.

 

Now, here are five more time management tips to help you along in life and business.

 

1. Schedule appointments and activities in blocks that are arranged by their priority ranking

Scheduling alone will not help you organize your lifestyle. What you need is to schedule your appointments and activities in time blocks and have them arranged by their priority. The most important items should all be placed together so that you know which ones you have to do first.

 

The lower priority items can then be placed at the bottom of your schedule, since you will likely get to do them later. This leads to better time management and a heightened awareness of the tasks you need to accomplish throughout the day.

 

2. Take at least five minutes to collect your thoughts before starting a task

You need to take at least five minutes to collect your thoughts before starting a task. Collecting your thoughts and taking the time to prepare amply for the task at hand will lessen the likelihood of you making a mistake during the process.

 

It also makes you more aware of the goals you plan on achieving, and how long each task takes before you can finish them.

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3. Find the time of day when you are most productive

Remember those time blocks that I mentioned above? This is where it can come in handy – Several people have certain times of day where they are more productive than the rest of the day.

 

For some people, they are most productive in the mornings, while others are more productive in the afternoons. Those with evening schedules often find themselves mos productive in the early evenings.

 

No matter what your preference, do your high priority tasks during your peak hours to improve your productivity. This will boost your output and also create more efficient work schedules.

 

4. Stick to your schedule

Even if you manage to create a schedule, a schedule is worthless if you are not going to stick to it. If you find that you have been writing schedules but have been winging it anyway, change your habits and learn how to keep track of your daily tasks.

You should also learn to finish your tasks at the time allotted. If you run out of time, stop, and continue with the task that is next in your agenda. You can always tweak your schedule the next day in case the time you allotted is not enough.

 

5. Take breaks

Finally, take breaks and make sure that you are properly rested. A properly rested body is more likely to work efficiently.

Consider Training Your Staff Further

To have a good business, one that runs like a well-oiled machine, then you should always think about your employees. They are a big part of the business and it is important to make sure that they grow and do not stagnate.

 

By that, I mean that they don’t get complacent in their positions and just do their jobs without putting in any extra effort. They may even get so relaxed that they start getting lazy.

 

Staff growth is important for a dynamic and nurturing work environment. It also translates to better staff performance over time, leading to better numbers for your business. To improve staff efficiency and proficiency, it’s important not to let them stagnate and grow static.

 

So now you might be asking yourself “what can I do to counteract that and make sure there is growth in my staff?” Well, read on and find out.

 

Hold Meetings

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If you don’t already hold regular staff meetings, then make sure that you do. It’s important that you hold meetings because then you can assess performances, talk to employees, and see where improvement can be made, and where changes are required.

 

This is also a good way to stay connected to your employees and make them feel like a valuable part of your business—as they are. Never treat your employees like slaves or peons, they are valuable people and deserve to be treated that way.

 

Frequently Challenge Your Staff

Without challenges, people get complacent. And of course, they end up not learning anything new. So constantly (but don’t burn them out of course!) challenge your staff—have them do tasks they are not accustomed to, or switch up their tasks every so often so things remain fresh.

 

You can even challenge them outside of work—if you are the type of boss who likes to be friends with your employees too.

 

Get Additional Training

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First of all, you can get additional training not only for your staff, but also for yourself. If you feel as though training can help you to become a better leader, then go right for it and get training.

 

You may even learn a few things that can help you to better run your business. As for your employees, make sure that they regularly get training for their jobs or something that is relevant to it.

 

Of course don’t just repeat the training over and over—find new things and ways in which they can grow and learn. You can also get them training in something that is not exactly related to their job, but can be helpful in general.

 

And helpful in a good way, of course. Take for example what I did; I got my employees trained in many different things—staff training such as a 3 day first aid course is just one of them.

 

My employees also know CPR, which is beneficial not only for them, but also for my customers who may end up needing it someday.

Holding Business Meetings More Professionally

When I was first starting out in the business and entrepreneurial world, I have to be honest—I was young, fresh faced, and I didn’t have all that much experience. That’s how everyone starts out, anyway.

 

So of course I needed a way to be and to look more professional, so that people wouldn’t just look at me and decide that I wasn’t worth the time or effort, or even money (when I started trying to make business deals and partnerships).

 

Business meeting.

I wanted to look more professional because I wanted to be able to leave a good, positive impression on the people with whom I interacted because they could potentially become business contacts, people I would end up doing business with.

 

And because I always wanted to leave good impressions there was a time that I was always looking for facilities in Leeds for my business meeting, whatever meeting that was.

 

Looking professional is important to me, even now.

 

But back then, when I still needed to do pitches (and even now, when I need to give the occasional pitch) and when I wanted to build relationships and rapport with other businesses and businessmen, it was even more important.

 

And here’s why.

 

Finding Opportunities

When you leave a good impression, you can actually end up opening doors for yourself. By that I mean you can end up getting more opportunities from people who have become impressed, or people who begin to believe more in you.

 

It may come in the form of business offers, or perhaps even partnership offers. Or it could be people offering funding and capital for the business idea that you have.

 

This is one of the biggest reasons why I don’t compromise when it comes to trying to impress people. Of course, don’t try too hard, or you might scare them off too.

 

Setting a Good Tone for Your Meeting

I’ve mentioned before that I always looked for venues where I could hold my meetings. I did that because I wanted to set a good tone for the meetings—when people are happy, in a good mood, and liking their surroundings, it usually can result in easier agreement between everyone.

 

That and people will more easily and more happily part with their cash. So why not spend a little on renting a meeting place—the return could be exponentially more than what I spent.

 

Business Meeting

 

Prevent Prejudgment

If you are new to the scene, the tendency is people will judge you as being inexperienced. As a result they will not be as eager to do business with you.

 

At the beginning that was the case for me—people weren’t exactly jumping up to do business with me. But do your best to look professional and act professional and it will help you to look more trustworthy and even skillful, despite your inexperience (if you truly are inexperienced).

 

It will help you to make up for some of the things you might lack—trust me. I’ve been there.

A Short Introduction to Customer Relationship Management

 

Any up and coming small business will know that customers are the lifeblood of your company, so taking care of your company’s relationship with them is tantamount to ensuring that you are making a profit.

 

After all, your customers and their willingness to spend on your products and services are the end game to everything that you do for your business. Marketing, resource management, product development – all of them are there to increase your sales and to ensure that your customers are satisfied. The better your product, the more likely they will come back for more.

 

But no matter how good your product is, if you customer relations is sub par, people are less likely to purchase for you. What is worse, bad reviews on websites and word-of-mouth will negatively affect your reputation and turn off others from buying from you.

 

Of course, in order to effectively communicate with your customers, you will need to use a Customer relationship management (CRM) system. By implementing a CRM system, you can easily keep track of all of your clients in an efficient manner.

 

There are several characteristics that you should look out for when putting together a good CRM system. I have listed them below to give you an idea of how to go about it.

 

1. Quick and efficient service response

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The hallmark of a good CRM system is that it uses a quick and efficient service response. Usually, customers will prefer to have several options available especially if you plan on putting your business online.

 

Take a look at this video about the advantages of CRM in your business:

 


Part of my CRM system is the way my website is programmed. I ensured that the FAQ section of the site is visible and easily navigated, and I provide several contact options as well. Along with e-mail and an SMS response option, I also have calls on stand-by to provide the customer with real time assistance.

 

2. Automation of sales information

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As part of customer relations, automated responses and confirmation improve the client’s experience. This is especially true for online stores and online services. For example, my restaurant’s website has an option where you can reserve a table at a click of a button.

The server automatically gives them a confirmation that their table has been reserved, and also provides them with some advertisements that lists the finer points of my restaurant in addition to the specials and promos that are available for that day.

 

3. Use of technological solutions

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Gone were the days when handwritten letters got lost in the mail. Modern CRM system use complex computer algorithms to provide a smooth and easy user experience not just for the client, but for you and your employees as well.

Data is easily accessed, aggregated, and protected from malicious entities all with the help of new technology.

 

4. Opportunity Management

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CRM should include opportunity management, which allows your company to evolve and survive despite unforeseen circumstances. Good forecasting of sales projections are an invaluable resource when managing your relationships with your customers.

When to Outsource Tasks for Business

When running a company, especially a small, start up venture such as the ones I handle as an entrepreneur, you will have to choose whether to outsource a task and whether or not you should relegate these tasks to in-house recruits instead.

Outsourcing has been part of businesses for the longest time, and helps other companies to save time and money. It also fosters trade between other companies and creates more job opportunities.

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For example, I once required some engraved metal tags for a small project that I was doing. The metal tags are to be personalised and attached to the products that I wanted to sell, as a limited edition offering.

Since none of my employees were specialising in metal working, I decided to outsource the tags to another company. The company specialised in cutting metals using a laser, which made it easier because they have the experience and the equipment to do it for me.

In fact, outsourcing can be used for practically any aspect of your business. Whether it is through accounting, web design, manufacturing, and much more, outsourcing can streamline any process. The trouble is when to decide to outsource a task and whether or not it would be more beneficial to source in in-house instead.

 

Here is a short guideline to help you decide when to outsource a task.

 

When the activity isn’t central to your operations and to generating profits

Often times, an activity simply is not central to your operations and simply is not entirely part of generating your profits. It can be easier to just allow someone else to handle the task for you instead of focusing on it and using up valuable resources.

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When the job wastes time and money because of routine

You should also outsource a task if it is a time waster that costs you money. If doing it in-house costs your employees time and does not allow them to focus on their primary tasks, you may need to outsource. The most common outsourced task due to routine is accounting.

 

 

 On the other hand, Here is a video tutorial about the best outsourcing strategy:




When the task is only a temporary venture

Like my metal tags mentioned above, temporary ventures are best outsourced. This is the case if you require something on the more creative side or if your company needs something only for a short time, such as during an event or convention.

 

When the task is more cost efficient if outsourced

If it is cheaper and more cost-efficient to outsource a task, it is a good idea to do so. For example, a large animation company would prefer to work on primary animation and would relegate the tasks to an outsourcing company for when they need to do in-between animation.

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Since it is cheaper to outsource it to junior animators than the senior ones, it becomes more cost-efficient, increasing your profits.

 

When the task requires highly specialised skills that your employees lack

Certain, highly specialised skills can only be provided by an outsourcer. If your employees in house simply do not have the skills to do a task, it is better to outsource. This kind of work can be temporary, until your in-house employees can learn the skills required.

The Importance of Being Punctual in the Workplace

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If you have ever taken training in business communication skills, they will probably tell you that punctuality is a good virtue to have. While punctuality is expected for even casual engagements, they become especially important at the workplace.

Even if you are running an online shop, timeliness and punctuality are needed. If your client has a query that needs answering, it is considered good business practice to write back to them within 48 hours of their query.

If they are ordering an item, you should make sure that you ship their item in a punctual manner, so that they receive their item within the time you have promised.

Here are some reasons why you should always be punctual at the workplace:

 

It shows that you are respectful

Whether you are attending a business meeting or shipping a product, being punctual shows that you are respectful and that you value the other person’s time. This is especially true if you are at a workplace where you have to work with others.

If you submit your work late or if you do not arrive on time, tasks have to be relegated to others in order to keep on schedule. This means that your tardiness is affecting the schedules of others, not just your own.

 

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It proves that you are reliable

Being punctual proves that you are reliable because you can be counted on to always reply on time or to submit work on time. Being labelled as a reliable person or a reliable company in general builds trust and rapport.

It also helps build up your client base, as this gives you a better reputation as an individual and as a company.

 

Increases company output

Being on time helps increase your company output because you have more time to work and to focus. If you are tardy, the tardiness affects your work schedule and leads to more procrastination.

It also stresses you out more because you have to spend more time catching up on your work than simply working on it at an efficient pace. Work that is finished using procrastination is usually sub par in quality.

 

It builds up personal relationships

Being punctual helps build rapport with your clients, your employees, and your partners in your business. Even small home companies that rely on online sales will see an improvement in their personal relationships with their clients if they provide services in a punctual manner.

Meanwhile here is a video about How To be On Time All The Time:

 

Being punctual is the quality of professionalism, which increases the respect a client has for your company and your product. It also increases the chances of your client referring your company to someone else.

It also increases the chances of your customers giving you a good review and returning for more of the services that you provide.

The only time that it is accepted for you to be tardy is during an unavoidable emergency. Otherwise, it is your responsibility to be punctual and to adjust for any circumstances that may make you late.

Drive Business Value Up With Hashtags

hashtag-imageOne of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur and owning a small business online is marketing. Marketing is everything, and is the only way for you to get your business out there, building your reputation, your client base, and to meet new collaborators and partners.

 

Marketing strategies are synonymous with business and you should be sure that you are using all of the tools you have to become efficient at marketing.

 

Social media is perhaps one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal when it comes to marketing.

 

Social media has been the preferred choice of advertising since the mid 2000s, ever since the rise of the all of the major social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram.

 

Now, you know how to put up status messages on your Facebook and Twitter account, and you notice that they seem to be getting a pretty good response from your followers. People are sharing and re-tweeting your posts, and this is gaining you more traction and more followers.

 

But what if you wish that you could somehow improve your sphere of influence beyond your followers and your followers’ friends? Well, there is one simple solution for that, and it does not require any extra costs: hashtags.
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You may have noticed that hashtags carry the pound symbol (#) and that they are clickable. Clicking or searching for a hashtag will automatically bring you to a list of all the recent status updates that contain the hashtag. Hashtags can be found anywhere at the start, end, or middle of status message, and they can be identified by the pound symbol. For longer phrases, the spaces are removed to include them in a hashtag.

 

And now here’s an advanced twitter hashtags for business…….

So how do you effectively use them to drive up your business? Well, think of hashtags as keywords. They are searchable metatags that point people to your content. The more hashtags you use, the more visible your post will be. However, it is considered unethical to use more than five hashtags per post, as they are supposed to be a catch all tag that summarizes what your post is about.

 

You should always use hashtags that are related to the topic you post. It is a great way for others to search you and your products.

 

For example, if you are selling dog food wholesale, you may want to advertise sales by using common hashtags such as #dog, #dogfood, and #wholesale. These are all acceptable hashtags that will point those who are looking for dogwood in your direction.

 

Of course, hashtags have also become a sort of humorous outlet for a lot of people, using unique hashtags that people will likely not search for specifically.

 

This is great if you want to make your business seem a bit more hip and approachable, but such hashtags are mostly used for the benefit of people who are already your followers.twitter-image

 

Finally, hashtags can be used as a way to keep track of posts that are related to your business. This will allow you to catch a glimpse into the general opinion of your audience and their attitudes towards your business. You can then adjust accordingly to meet their needs.

How to Manage a Successful Online Shop

online-shoppingInternet shopping is becoming more and more popular as many people would rather stay home instead of braving the huge crowds during a sale.

It is also popular because of the ease of finding exactly what you need in just a few clicks of a button.

The internet has also become a great place to find items that are otherwise rare and difficult to find in local stores.

Now, I am sure that you want to manage your own online shop and know how I managed to be successful. Well, here are just a few tips to get you started.

Focus on a certain theme

We all know that online, niche marketing is extremely important. After all, the internet is a very large place, and you are likely competing with multiple stores in your immediate area, and in some ways, with all other stores all over the world.

That is why it is important to stick to just one specific theme, so that customers will be able to find you based on just one keyword. Once you have a loyal base of customers, you can then start to expand.

Here’s a step by step guide on how you can build your own online shop:

 

Focus on niche markets first instead of competing with massive “online malls” such as Amazon and Lazada.

For example, one of my earlier stores was a watch shop. I sold all sorts of different watches, from a waterproof sports watch to a fob watch which is ideal for nurses.

People started buying from me, and once I had the capital, I was able to move on to selling other things as well.

Present products nicely

You should always make sure that your products listed are presented honestly. You should always use your own images rather than relying on stock photos.

Provide multiple angles and fill out the description of your product. Include its material, its brand, and its dimensions among other things.online-shopping1

You should also make sure that your site is always updated regularly, and that you properly list items as “sold” and “available” to prevent confusion.

Interact with your customers

You should interact with your customers to show them that there is a real person behind your online shop.

If there are inquiries, reply to them in a polite, professional manner. Make sure that you reply to them within three days of their inquiry or less.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Online, credit card purchases are one of the most common transactions. However, some people do not have credit cards or simply do not want to use them.

Offer options such as cash deposits, checks, Paypal, or even cash on delivery. More payment options means that more people can buy your products.

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Market your site

You should always market your site in order to get more customers.

Go to various social media sites to spread your site around.

You can also try online advertising and SEO techniques to improve marketing. Sell your company and showcase your products well.