5-Step Formula for Women to Bring their Business Ideas to Life

If you have a great business idea, then it’s important you find creative ways to bring it to life. This is the only way you’ll see your dreams come true so it’s time you need to take action immediately. With that said, I’m surprised at the amounts of women who have awesome ideas but don’t have the resources or know-how to take their idea to the next level. 

Over the years, I’ve worked with many women helping them start a business, while also teaching them how to better show off their expertise and passion. For many women that were already in the workplace, but looking for a better job or position, it was also important to show them the importance of having a great online profile and personal resume. Sometimes it’s not just about the continued education and work experience, but also using the right action verbs and showing off your expertise in the right way.

Whether its through a traditional resume, a social profile or even an established business, it’s important to make sure you understand what your goals are and knowing how to attain them. and would love to share some of the advice with you. I believe if you have a clear path on what to do, you’ll be able to build your business and make your dream come true sooner than you think.

Today, we’ll be looking at the following:

  • Research
  • Getting started online
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Outreach

Research

For your idea to come to life, you need to know who your audience is so you know if you have an actual market. Many ideas fail because there simply isn’t a market for the idea of the audience is way too low. With no one reading your content or purchasing your product, you’re going to have a hard time engaging people and increasing sales. The good news is you have a free way of starting your research through Google search. I like to type in a keyword related to my idea and see what type of search results pop up. If you have several sites show up in the search results, then you know you have a popular idea and will be able to make money from it. 

I know many of you get nervous when you see others already doing the same thing as you, but I love it because it gives me a chance to learn so much from them. By studying your competition, you’ll be able to find out about your audience, what marketing methods work, what you should focus on in terms of products and content. Once you have done your research and know you have an audience, you can move onto the next step.

Getting Started Online

It’s time you register a domain, and this can be done on sites like GoDaddy.com. I recommend choosing a domain which represents your brand and is no more than 8-12 characters. The shorter the domain, the easier it will be for people to remember, and this means they won’t have a problem coming back to your website. 

Once you’ve registered your domain, you can purchase hosting so you can go live with your website when it’s time. The hosting package will depend on the type of business your running, but I would recommend starting with a simply shared plan. This is very affordable and allows you to upgrade as your business continues to grow. I know when starting a business, the costs can get very high so it’s better to always start with the lowest possible plan and upgrade after. With your hosting plan, you’ll be able to install WordPress which is a free platform used to build websites. There is an installation tutorial in the backend, and it doesn’t take more than a click of a button.

You have your domain, hosting and WordPress installed. Before you start thinking about a design, I would watch a few tutorials on using WordPress if this is your first time. There are a lot available online and on YouTube. You have access to many free themes but before designing think about the following –

  • Your main colors
  • Your purpose
  • Layout (visit other websites to research)
  • Font
  • Navigation

Design

The design of your website will either increase or decrease engagement so it’s important you do your research to get it right. One way is to study your competition and see what they have done with their website. They’ve been around longer so I’m sure they know what works and what doesn’t.

Just like how we referenced the importance of creating a professional resume or online profile that can help you stand out from the crowd, the same can be said about your website or blog. It needs to look professional and grab the interest of the user, while also gaining their trust in the process.

Visit 2-3 competitor blogs and take some notes on their design before implementing them into your site. Here are a few things I know work very well –

  • Font – make sure the font you are using is very easy on the eyes. The more readable, the more engagement you’ll get because visitors won’t leave. 
  • Color – use colors that are easy on your eyes because hard colors push people away. I’ve been on so many sites for only a few seconds because the colors would be too hard to look at.
  • Right sidebar – this is the best location for the sidebar because people are used to it. Right sidebar has become accustomed for many bloggers and readers expect to see the sidebar there. This is a great place to add banners, recent posts, new products and services. 
  • Top navigation – have the menu at the top because this is the first thing you want people to see. They’ll be able to explore options and navigate to where they want to go. 

Marketing

For any business to be successful, you need to find creative ways to market it. But, the internet has expanded your options greatly so start exploring what’s available. I recommend starting with social media marketing because you can increase brand awareness for very cheap. I’ve advertised on Facebook for a penny a “Like” and this has gone a long way to building brand awareness. To further increase your loyalty, you should create a brand page so people can join and follow. 

You should also do a quick search on Google, and read resources on other marketing channels because there are a lot of good ones available. I would recommend the following which I have tried and tested –

  • Social media (Facebook)
  • Adwords.com
  • Bing.com
  • Media Buys

It’s all about trial and error because some will work better than others. Make sure you try each one for 30 days and keep track on the statistics. By doing this, you’ll know which traffic source has brought the best amount of traffic and what channels convert. Marketing can get expensive so make sure you set a monthly budget so you don’t overspend. I like to set a budget of $3.00-$5.00 per day, and I’ll let it run for 30-60 days.

Outreach

One of the best ways to build your brand quickly and it costs nothing. This requires a lot of effort because you need reach out to other bloggers within your niche. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because you are both promoting each other’s business. Imagine reaching out to a fellow blogger who has 100,000 twitter followers? This can generate a lot of traffic in a very short time. Start by creating a list of blogs within your niche and getting in touch with the owner. It helps to interview them or create content based on their brand because this increases the likelihood of them sharing your website afterward. The key is to contact them genuinely and let them know what you are trying to do so you can work out an agreement helping each other.

The best way to do outreach is to not give up after contacting a blogger the first time. Sometimes, you’ll hear from the blogger right away, and other times you’ll have to do a quick follow-up. 

Final Thoughts

If you have a great idea and you want to bring it to life, then follow the steps outlined above. These are proven steps and I’ve worked with women in the past setting up blogs, doing research and marketing. Try out different things and stick to what’s working for optimal success.

14 Ways to Ensure Company Growth Doesn’t Outstrip Business Communication

Some businesses have seen a period of massive growth lately, especially those that deal solely with online sales and services. While this development is promising, it also opens up a business to another problem — that of having their growth outscale their ability to communicate.

Business communication deals with how the company interacts with and informs its employees and its clients, which includes the overall branding promise. Naturally, a small company is likely to have a different approach to a larger one, simply because of the scale of the communication involved.

However, as businesses grow in size, many of their focus areas and key elements that helped them get to where they are today tend to fall and get lost in the mix. Unfortunately, this happens to a great majority of businesses and brands, and it just doesn’t have to be this way.

Recommendations and Tips in on How to Ensure Your Company Growth Doesn’t Outstrip Business Communications and Engagement

We consulted 14 entrepreneurs from YEC about the best ways for a business to ensure that their communication keeps up with their business growth. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Be Open to Feedback and Change

Maintaining effective communication through growth is something that’s hard to get right. In my experience, the trick here is not some grand multi-step strategy. You’ll never get that right — at least I don’t. The trick is to be able and willing to listen. When you’re receptive to feedback, your team will inform you when they lack context. I see my job as listening and adapting.

Alex Furman, Invitae

2. Create Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines can be a one-page document that helps the whole team understand what is on or off brand. Having the guidelines written down helps if they need to be changed as well, which can happen if there are changes to the business that need to be reflected back in the core brand guidelines (example: acquisition of another company with a different brand positioning).

David Boehl, GoLastMinute

3. Replicate Your Voice

In an ideal world, you can just hire employees who “care” as much as you do about staying on brand. In reality, it’s next to impossible to find those employees, and it takes a lot of time to properly train them. As such, the next best thing is to “replicate your voice.” You can do this through company documents, training materials, videos, websites, social media and even a message to callers who are on hold!

Bill Mulholland, ARC Relocation

4. Build a Strategic Communications Plan

Create brand guidelines that define tone, style, etc., and make the guidelines available to your communications team(s). Build out a strategic communications plan that maps the various outreaches, both internal and external, that will be needed as part of the business’s growth. Make it clear who is responsible for each communication and who signs off on its compliance with brand standards.

Traci Beach, Craft Impact

5. Leverage Automated Tools

Make sure you have automation tools and systems in place. This way, the brand can scale without heavy manual oversight, and creative roadmaps can receive the proper attention they deserve.

Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

6. Audit Communication Channels

The larger your organization is, the more detailed of a process that will need to be laid out in order to ensure continuity and correct messaging. Like a game of telephone, conduct an audit to understand where gaps in communication may be occurring and be prepared to revise your process.

Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

7. Create a Chain of Accountability

As your business grows, it’s critical that everyone stays on the same page. When you add new departments or see massive growth in one of your teams, assign leaders to keep each group accountable. This chain of accountability ensures that everyone’s on the same page.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Have Daily Meetings

For rapid and sustainable growth, you must have daily meetings to make sure your communications are on brand. Nothing goes out without several sets of eyes on it and those working on these communications are held accountable for performance and delivery. We check in multiple times per day — it does not need to be long, but a morning and afternoon signs-of-life check does wonders.

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

9. Maintain Personal Connections

Because most of my employees work off-site, it’s important to communicate as often as we can with one another and that they feel supported by me. We hold a quarterly all-hands staff meeting where we go into more detail and ensure that everyone gets to know one another. With a rapidly growing business, unless we have regular get-togethers with our team, people start to lose that personal connection.

Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc

10. Create a Schedule

Like everything else, communication needs to be planned to be effective. This means investing in the right tools, creating fixed weekly meetings, quarterly appraisals, one-on-ones and more. Use calendars and create reminders for these meetings so that they’re all in place and clearly communicated. It’s just a matter of planning “up” as your business grows.

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

11. Establish a Single Tool

The means of communication are becoming endless, from Slack to email to phone or IM, so it is no surprise that interoffice communication becomes a problem the larger a team becomes. Put a process in place that streamlines communication on certain topics into one single location and on one identified platform. This way, everyone knows where to go to stay up to date.

Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

12. Take a Step Back

Sometimes you just need to take a step back from all the craziness that comes with day-to-day management of a business and ask yourself, “Is this on brand?” If you continue to ask the question and be true to your core values, communications will remain on point.

Josh Weiss, Reggie

13. Train and Delegate

As your business grows, it’s not realistic to think that you can maintain the same level of interpersonal communication as before. The next best step is to train key people in your business to communicate on your behalf. Lead by example and also create documentation that outlines what to discuss. This will keep things consistent across the organization.

Blair Williams, MemberPress

14. Hire a Content Marketing Agency

When you need to scale communication both internally and externally, it’s helpful to hire some help. A content marketing agency can help you with everything, from your company blog, to bylined content, to internal communications and speeches from executives, and can ensure that everything is consistent and on brand.

Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

How to Focus on Growth and Business Communications

For most businesses and brands, it’s all about the bottom line and trying to reach new goals and levels every quarter. However, the last thing you want to do is hit your goals while jeopardizing your customer and B2B relationships that you’ve worked so hard for.

To best accomplish this, we highly recommend you go through each of the tips and expert advice featured above and start implementing these solutions into your own business or brand.

If you enjoyed this content today, be sure to read our other expert tips on how to handle a PR crisis and increasing traffic to your site while working with a low budget.

12 Ways to Keep Your Employees Protected at Work

EHS is a general term for rules, standards, programs, and regulations that may protect the safety of employees and members of the public from work-related environmental hazards. There are lots of ways that organizations can protect their employees. Organizations can use EHS programs to identify, monitor and control existing, and potential work-related hazards in healthy ways. Even though there are lots of EHS programs, they aren’t enough.

Organizations must also implement certain strategies to promote safety. Keep reading to learn about a few ways that you can keep your EHS employees protected at work. 

1.      Use the Right Programs

Managing your paperwork for training, audits, and reporting can be a challenge. Without the right program, your employees may be overwhelmed. Find EHS software that can streamline transparency and document management. Some of the most important things to look for in the software include; safety, custom tracking, compliance, and modern tools. 

With the right EHS management system, it is for organizations to comply with the existing regulations, and detect the risk of adverse events that may harm employees. EHS managers that focus on operational excellence save money in the long-run. Prioritizing employee health and safety may increase their productivity. 

Companies that leverage technology for good performance can minimize work-related injuries and illnesses. They can reduce their environmental impact and safety concerns. The right software can reduce emergency work almost completely. 

2.      Understanding the Existing Environmental, Health and Safety Concerns

It is impossible to address EHS concerns if you don’t understand them. The management must put in some effort to understand existing threats and how to address them. Come up with ways to define and document EHS policies depending on your organization’s needs. Do your research and come up with an EHS policy that can:

  • Mitigate losses that may arise from accidents or serious occupational exposures
  • Improve EHS performance
  • Comply with the existing regulations

Once you understand your policy and come up with a policy statement, review and revise it regularly depending on the changing needs. Top management must continue researching to detect emerging changes. That way, they can ensure that employees are always protected.

3.      Employee Education 

One of the most effective ways to protect your employees is by educating them. Lack of proper information is one of the main causes of security breaches. If they don’t have correct information about proper online behavior, the use of personal protective equipment, and data sharing. All security strategies should have employees as the lowest common denominator. Their education is not only important for the safety of your organization but for them as well. All organizations must use training programs that work. Even though it can be difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of a training program, you must come up with a strategy that works. Safety must be a part of your corporate culture. 

Whether you plan on creating new regulations or enforcing the existing ones, you must have the assurance that all employees have understood them. Two-way communication is important for this. Employees should have the chance to seek clarification where necessary. Consider requesting that they all sign an acknowledgment. That way, you can hold them accountable if they fail to observe the guidelines. 

4.      Create a Safe Environment

Ensure that your employees work in an environment that is free of hazards. Identify the hazards in your place of work and the possible ways to address them. Some of the most important things to do include:

  • Minimizing hazards
  • Getting rid of falling objects
  • Training your employees about the proper use of tools
  • Training employees about cybersecurity, and how to identify threats

All employers have the responsibility to assess their environment and determine the appropriate PPE. When trying to make the workplace safe for employees, there are a few gaps to be considered. They include Regulatory compliance, near-miss tracking, integration, automation, and visibility. 

5.      Update Your Policies 

Having policies in place is not enough. You must update them regularly to keep up with the emerging threats. They should outline everything that your employees need to know. This includes security threats and how to handle them. Your policy should cover:

  • Visits by non-employees and how to handle them
  • What areas are off-limit?
  • Are there times when you need to heighten restrictions?
  • How can visitors obtain authorization?
  • What are the restrictions for employees, if any
  • Visitor identification-should they provide a photo ID, pass, or badge? Do they need to be escorted?
  • Can employees on leave visit?
  • Can employees leave during non-working hours?
  • How should former employees be treated?

6.      Be Proactive

Being proactive allows you to solve problems before they happen. Take steps to address the welfare of your employees and protect your company against attacks. Your IT department should have effective strategies to control the access data, control your encryption keys, and encrypt private data. Encourage your employees to be proactive as well. Think about their environment, health, and safety ahead of time and make appropriate plans to protect them. One of the best ways to be proactive is by using software application that can:

  • Manage EHS training
  • Help in the management of your employee health and safety 
  • Help in incident investigation
  • Manage spill response

With the right software, you can stay on top of all emerging issues. Set up regular audits to identify existing and potential hazards. Even though OSHA does not require companies to perform self- audits, they are a great way to determine where your organization stands. The extent and type of audit you perform depends on your needs. Plan for inspections, hazard and exposure assessment, permits, event investigations, and employee feedback. Do not wait until you have a problem.

7.      Enforcing the Guidelines

EHS managers invest a lot of time and effort in creating safety guidelines for their employees. However, it is useless to have rules if they cannot be implemented. The guidelines exist to promote better working environments for employees and safeguard the interests of an organization. 

Come up with a clear and effective strategy for guideline enforcement. It should be fair and consistent. If employees fail to comply with the existing guidelines, there should be consequences. Come up with a clear disciplinary system to discourage non-compliance. 

Alternatively, managers may come up with an incentive system to reward compliant employees. 

8.      Proper Incident Management

All companies must have the skills and tools to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses. They must be able to identify health concerns and track progress in addressing them. Without the right incident management tips in place, an organization may lose its employees. The remaining employees may have low morale and productivity. 

Companies with reliable incident management techniques have good corporate images. They are likely to attract some of the top talents in their industries. 

OSHA’s Recordkeeping regulation states that covered employers must prepare and maintain the records of all major occupational illnesses and injuries. The information is not only important to employers but also employees and OSHA. It makes it possible to evaluate workplace safety and understand the existing hazards. Without the right records in place, it may be difficult to manage incidents. 

9.      Management Review

The management of an organization should review their EHS management system regularly to ensure that it is effective, sustainable, and adequate. When conducting a review, some of the most important things to think about are:

  • Assessing the opportunities for improvement 
  • Analyzing the need for change in your management system
  • Reviewing your EHS policy and objectives
  • Communications from all the relevant parties
  • The results of your management system audits and external audits if any
  • Preventive action
  • Suggestions for future improvement 

Eth results from a management review should state any decisions and actions that may relate to your EHS objectives and policies. 

10. Chemical Hygiene Plan

All management systems should focus on identifying EHS concerns and avoiding them. Unless chemicals are controlled, they can result in injuries or illnesses. They may cause damage to the environment. All laboratories must focus on chemical safety. It is an OSHA requirement. 

The goal is to minimize the exposure of employees to chemicals that could harm them. 

According to the OSHA Laboratory Standard Hygiene Plan, a ‘Chemical plan’ is a written program that employers create and implement to set forth equipment, procedures, work practice, and PPE to protect their employees from the health hazards caused by chemicals in their workplace. 

If an organization carries hazardous chemicals, employers must develop and implement the provisions of their Chemical hygiene plan. The plans must cover topics such as:

  • Emergency preparedness 
  • Chemical management 
  • Employees’ responsibility for chemical hygiene
  • Lab housekeeping
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Basic operating procedures
  • Emergency action plans in case of accidents
  • Compressed gas safety
  • Radiation safety
  • Environmental monitoring 
  • Basic training
  • Chemical waste policies

11. Annual Chemical Inventory

It may be difficult to manage your chemicals if you don’t know how much you have. Keeping a chemical inventory is essential for the safety of any organization’s employees. Come up with a clear system to maintain accurate inventory of your chemicals. Benefits of regular chemical inventories include:

  • Ensuring that the chemicals you have are stored properly
  • Getting rid of expired or outdated chemicals
  • Promoting the efficient use of laboratory space
  • Replacing torn or missing labels 
  • Ensuring that you have appropriate shelving cabinets
  • Updating hazard warnings 
  • Making it easy to find chemicals when you need them
  • Minimizing the cost of educating employees about the available chemicals
  • Compliance with record-keeping regulations

Creating a chemical inventory is not enough. You must update it regularly. All organizations should perform a physical inventory at least once every year. Even though different companies may have different ways of going about it, a basic chemical inventory should include the following:

  • Chemical name (Including its synonyms) and Abstract Service number
  • The location of a chemical within a room, and the room number
  • The chemical manufacturer and owner

The information makes it possible to track chemicals when necessary and minimize the need for frequent inventories. Consider the safety needs of the employees who perform the inventory. Ensure that:

  • They wear the relevant PPE 
  • They are familiar with the existing safety requirements 
  • They use a step stool to reach the chemicals on higher shelves
  • They stop every other activity in the lab 

12. Risk Management 

If you prepare for possible risks adequately, you can prevent them before they affect your employees. Risk management does not only protect your employees but also improves their productivity. When they know that an organization has their best interest in mind, they can have better morale for the job. Preparing for risks can protect a business from both financial and people losses. 

Risk management tools should apply to EHS organizations. They minimize job-related illnesses and injuries, improve workplace safety, and compliance with the existing regulations. With the right risk management strategies in place, you can save a lot of direct and indirect costs. 

With a standardized system, reliability improves. It sets the pace for consistent improvement and a proactive approach to problems. 

The role of an EHS manager in an organization cannot be overstated. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Job hazard analysis
  • Implementing safety and health management programs
  • Risk management 
  • Conducting incident investigations
  • Industrial hygiene and collaborating with industrial hygienists
  • Worksite safety observation
  • Collecting and analyzing EHS lagging indicators 
  • Running safety committees
  • Sustainability performance management 
  • Ensuring that the company is compliant with the existing regulations

The managers have lots of responsibilities and it may be necessary to split the tasks. 

In conclusion, there are lots of ways to keep EHS employees safe at work. Some of them include risk management, being proactive, creating and implementing a chemical hygiene plan, using the right program, proper incident management, and proper employee education. The need for EHS software has increased significantly over the past few years. The right software can have lots of benefits. Some of them include: protecting the interests of employees, improving transparency, connecting employees, and saving time and money. Implement the options that apply to you depending on your organization needs and budget. In the end, keeping employees safe and happy is one of the most valuable investments a company can make.

What Entrepreneurs Should Consider When Buying Life Insurance

When you launch your own business, you’ll quickly learn how important it is to protect yourself, your assets, and your future. Not just from the standpoint of your business and customers, but also how your personal life, finances and family might be affected by your decisions down the road.

For example, you might need to get a professional indemnity solution that will defend you from any incidents that occur with your company and invest in long-term solutions that should help you to keep earning cash when sales start to slow.

However, one of the most critical ways that entrepreneurs can look after themselves in this current landscape, is also something that we often forget about – life insurance. It’s not a fun topic to talk about, but the reprecussions of not having a life insurance plan in place can be detrimental.

For these reasons and more, it makes sense to ensure that your family has the tools they need to sell off your company and deal with any debts that you might leave behind when you’re no longer around.

The question is, how can you figure out what you need? That is exactly what we will be covering today.

Research the Market

The first step in choosing a good product is always doing your research. Before you choose a supplier for your product, there’s a good chance that you spend some time reading about their history and checking out online reviews.

In the same way, you should also look into the options that are available for you when it comes to life insurance too. Think about the different policies that are available in the market right now and ask yourself which one is going to give you the best peace of mind.

Remember that you don’t have to jump into a deal with the first provider that you come across either. You can get a wide selection of quotes from different providers and set up meetings with agents to learn more too. 

Interpret Your Personal and Financial Needs

Once you’ve researched the market, you can begin to think about what you need most based on what you’ve learned. These decisions and plans are often looking outward for decades, and are hard to fathom being used in the short term–but it happens.

For instance, you might decide that you want a settlement clause built into your insurance coverage. If you or your company ever gets into a tight spot, then selling your life insurance policy for cash could help to get you back on track a lot faster.

If you’re not sure what kind of protection would be suitable for you, then the best option is usually to speak to an advisor. There are financial experts out there that can look at your company and your earnings and tell you what kind of coverage is most suited to you.

Don’t be afraid to get some help, and nearly all of the life insurance providers out there have easy access phone numbers and support teams to help in your decision.

Consider Extra Factors

Finally, remember that there are a variety of things to improve the value of and reduce the cost of your insurance if you know where to look.

For instance, some companies might be willing to give you a discount on your premiums if you buy health support at the same time or acquire policies for your employees from the same business. If you belong to a professional organization or trade group, then you might be able to find additional saving opportunities by speaking to specialists in your field.

Whatever you do, make sure that your search for savings doesn’t mean that you cut corners. You need to ensure that you’re not leaving your family in a dangerous position when you’re no longer there.

Life Insurance is a Must for all Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

No matter how successful you might be right now, or think you will be down the road, it would be a huge mistake to not have a life insurance plan in place. This is especially true if you have a family. If not, it might not be that high on your priority list… but who’s to know what might be around the corner.

The truth is, “life insurance” is “insurance”… and it’s there just in case something does happen. After reading through this article, you should have a few things in mind to start looking for to help in your life insurance planning and decision process.

Advantages Of Taking Your Postgraduate Studies Online

The competitive world of today will challenge you to take your yearning for professional development and personal growth. One of the most recommended ways to do this by going back to school and starting your postgraduate studies. 

Doing so shouldn’t take you back to the same situation you had back when you were just earning our bachelor’s degree. Around this time, you must have found full-time employment, running a business, raising your own family, or miles away from the university you want to enroll in. Although traditional schooling seems to be the ideal way for most to earn their masters and even their doctorate degrees, your options do not end there anymore.

Online Postgraduate Studies 

Online postgraduate studies is also called distance learning. It is called so because you can earn your diploma even if your university is miles and miles away. A lot of prestigious universities around the globe have options that allow people to take their classes online. This is complete with a virtual package, self-learning kits and manuals, modules, learning assessment, and instructions from a professor. 

Have you ever thought of earning your post-graduate degree from a university overseas without ever moving to that country? This is completely possible by studying online. You can inquire in some of the universities abroad wherein some of them even offer scholarships to deserving students. Everything, from the classes to your diploma, can be achieved virtually. 

Flexible Schedule

Since it is different with a typical classroom session, schedules for each class can vary depending on the student. In most cases, the student has a choice on their learning schedule to accommodate other more important daily activities. As such, you can start your online class after your work shift or duty, and even after you have hit the gym. Even if this is the case, some school work is still bound in deadlines, but these are also made more flexible. These allow people to have individualized learning that makes them proceed at their own pace.

More Choices

You do not have to be stuck in the same school all over again and stay in the same academic tradition that you have always been exposed to. To actually learn more, you have to take in more experiences as much as possible. Taking online classes for your postgraduate studies will help you with that exposure. As mentioned at ECU Online, an Australian University that offers online classes, there are various course choices that can be taken online with differences in duration as well. You can have a full diploma or earn  certificate with the other equivalents. 

Avoid Travel Woes

The internet has created a global village which will enable you to leave your comfort zone, virtually and explore more options all around the world. If you want a more diverse learning environment, you can enroll in online classes which allow you to experience being a foreign student without having to spend costly travel expenses. 

Before, people mostly opt to go to the nearest university in their area because going to a more preferred school would mean that they would have to move places and travel more hours a day just to attend class. This isn’t ideal anymore since a lot of schools permit students to only log in their website and have their classes online. So imagine if you have no choice and you want to learn abroad. You would probably have to pay as much money to travel as your tuition fees in school. Not to mention, you would be away from home where your family, loved ones, and friends are. 

Working While Studying

Even in the past, people have been studying and working at the same time. This has been a common practice no matter how young a person is. Even at a younger age, kids learn to take on summer jobs and college students take one or more side jobs just to pay for school and other expenses. While these are all noble ways, these are totally different from the job that’s providing you with the money you need to live day today. If you want to continue studying, you should do so, but without having to sacrifice your employment for it. 

Schools in the past have actually made this possible by conducting post-graduate classes at night. While these are favorable to people whose work ends at five and who do not have other commitments and family to go home to, this does not apply to people who work night shifts and have a family to go back home to every day. With online learning, you take your education with you at home while you go out and do your job for your family during the day.

Opens Opportunities

Taking your postgraduate studies will present you with a lot of opportunities later on especially in your career. Become a specialist in your field and vie for that promotion in your company. You can also have opportunities to take a teaching profession since you have complied with the requirement of having a postgraduate education. This will greatly give you an edge so you can stay on top of your career. Furthermore, with lesser cause of disruptions that can prohibit you from completing your studies right away, you can earn your degree faster so you can also earn the rewards sooner. One advantage of going back to school is that you are given an opportunity to know about the latest development across your field and  do your own readings regarding it. With the support you can get from your lecturers online, you can take studying onto the next level.

There is no stop in learning and the modern competitive world is one great advocate for it. In growing into a better professional and learner, you can earn the perks from global postgraduate studies without having to leave the comfort of home and sacrificing your daily routine. Studying has never been this easy, so grab the opportunity and get that master’s or doctorate degree you need to make that next step.

Basic Information Needed to Generate an Online Invoice

Generating an online invoice is an option that is available to everybody conducting business in this age of high-speed communications. It doesn’t matter if you are an offline business, a sole entrepreneur or even a blogger or affiliate marketer–we all need to get paid, and invoicing is one of the most popular ways to accomplish this.

When it comes to requesting or making payment, invoices work best, as they act as record of transaction for both sides. By implementing an effective invoice creation tool and solution in your day to day operation, this option makes doing business easier, because one does not have to create invoices manually or from scratch. 

There are many templates available on the web and most of them are free. Let’s now take a look at what an invoice is, why your business should be using them, and how to get started with your first invoice template today.

What is an Invoice?

An invoice is a document that records the sales or transactions of any business. Whether you are a freelancer or a company, creating an invoice for every service that has been provided is important. The invoice establishes an obligation that the customer or buyer of the product or service will pay to the service provider. The invoice contains all the necessary details that establish an agreement between the two parties. It is a bridge between professionals.

Basic parts of an Invoice

Invoices can have a unique template or look for every freelancer or business, however, there are basic parts that should be present in order for the document to be considered an invoice.

  • The label “Invoice” should be part of the invoice.
  • The seller or service provider’s name, address, and contact details should be included. 
  • The buyers name and address should be included.
  • The date that the invoice was issued and the payment due date should be present within the document.
  • There should be a specific invoice reference number for every invoice issued.
  • There should be a description of services provided or rendered, including the breakdowns of each transaction.
  • The total amount charged and tax information, if available, should be present.
  • Available payment methods should be indicated, such as cash, credit card, and other payment methods available for your company, your business and in your area.

Given that the basic parts of an invoice should be present, the style or format for them is flexible to the needs of a business. 

Online Invoice Generators 

There is much to be said for the online invoice generators available on the internet now. While most of them are free, providing a user with a basic template with which to fill in information, there are some that epitomize the cutting edge of the online invoice generation, such as FreshBooks Cloud Accounting. By using this intuitive invoice generator not only can you create basic invoices, you can also customize them into twelve different languages, include estimates and proposals, accept credit cards directly through the invoice, and even get updated instantly as to when the invoice is viewed and also when it is paid. The invoice service can be accessed by an app on your mobile phone which gives you more versatility as an entrepreneur or a freelancer.

Invoice Templates

Making use of a good invoice template will save you time making your invoices in the old fashioned way of actually writing them out physically and also in figuring out a complicated template online. Simplicity is key so that you can focus your time and energy on your business instead of worrying about creating a professional invoice in order to get paid for your services.

 

A good invoice template should help you accept payment in different ways. It should also help you organize your invoices and save you time. This means that you will not have to fill in the template every time you use it. It should be customizable so that it reflects a professional look as well as a unique visual signature that you may want for your business or service. Sending invoices online and even through an app on your mobile phone is great, but you may also want to consider the template you are using can be downloaded and printed easily so that you have physical records of your transactions.

The Invoice Process

Whether you are using an invoice template that you will print out or are sending the invoice to your customer through the internet, keep in mind that the invoice is prepared after the service is provided or the product has been delivered. First, the customer is clearly identified. And then, the product or service is clearly defined. This includes the name of the product or service, the quantity of the product as well as the length of time that the service was provided, and also the rate of the service (per hour) or item (per unit). Each item is identified and given a line on the invoice. All the lines are then totaled for the final amount. 

 

Discounts can be applied to your services or products. If so, they should be identified. Discounts can also be connected to the manner of payment, depending on which methods you prefer, such as cash or credit card. Another element to factor into the invoice are the terms of payment. This means identifying when you want the customer to pay or when the entire balance of payment is due. This can also translate to discounts for early payment. When the client or customer has paid in full, the invoice number or code is included in the sales receipt. This transfers an account whose payment you are waiting to receive into an account that you have already received.

Key Information of an Invoice

Invoices usually contain a company brand or logo on the heading of the document as a signature of their products and services. More importantly, they should contain the company or freelancer’s name as well as their contact information. This is actually a requirement and not just a matter of style. An invoice should also contain the name, address, and contact information of the client. An invoice number is a code that helps you to be organized about this process. It helps you keep track of your client’s payment status. It is also important for an invoice to have a date since this tells you when the invoice has been sent. These parts of the invoice help you file your invoices in an orderly manner.

 

There should be included in the invoice clear and concise descriptions of the services rendered or products provided. This way there will be no confusion on the side of your client as to what they are paying for. Matching with the description of each item or service, there should be the cost of each item or service along with the rate of each. All these costs will be added to the total amount that the client should pay for. 

 

The terms of payment are a key element for any invoice. This part spells out how the client should pay for the items obtained or the services received. If you have a refund policy, this is the part that states that eventuality. For late payments, the penalties should be clearly stated as well. Choose what payment methods work for you and state whether the client should pay through cash, credit card, check, or bank transfer. If it is the latter, then the invoice should contain the bank account information so that the client will know how to pay you.  

Standard Invoice

A standard invoice has twelve parts compared to other more specialized invoice formats. It should declare that it is an “Invoice”. Each invoice should have a unique number code to distinguish it from others. Both your company name and address and that of your customer or client are clearly stated in the document. It has a summarized description of the goods or services. Also, the dates of supply are present along with the date in which the invoice was created. The amount of individual goods or services are clearly broken down within the invoice and the total amount to be paid is present also. If there is a purchase order number, then that should be included along with the terms of payment and the instructions for paying the invoice.

VAT Registered Invoice

A business who is registered for Value Added Tax  should have a VAT registered invoice. This is not so different from other invoices, however, a VAT invoice needs to contain additional information than just what is contained by the standard invoice. Along with the unique invoice number, business name and address, customer’s name and address, and the date that the invoice was issued, there should also be a VAT number in the invoice. The VAT registered invoice should have the total amount for the items or services excluding Value Added Tax. Then, the total amount of VAT should be indicated. The price per item excluding VAT as well as the quantity of each item should be indicated in the document. Finally, it should contain the total amount to be paid which includes the Value Added Tax.

Invoice payment terms

Every business or freelancer can customize their terms of payment on their invoice. You can choose to stipulate PIA or payment in advance for new clients or those who have an inconsistent payment history. This means that you are requiring the client or customer to pay in full before delivering the goods or service. Net is a common term of payment which indicates the time before the payment is due. N30 or Net 30 means that the payment is due within thirty days. End of the Month can be added to the payment terms. This means that the time will start at the end of the month that the invoice is issued. Net EOM 30 stands for the payment is due thirty days from the end of this month that the invoice has been issued. A discount can be given to your clients if they pay within the time period you specify. Let us say you want to extend a 5% discount if the customer pays within 15 days of the invoice being issued otherwise the full amount is due within 30 days. The standard shorthand for that would be 5/15 Net 30. Offering discounts is a good motivator for your clients to pay sooner rather than later. Stage payments are usually practiced for big projects in order to minimize the risk that the cash flow will be negatively affected by a missed or late payment. Some companies or service providers may ask for the payment to come in 2 stages of 50% up front and 50% upon completion. Others may prefer different stages to be applied. 75%, up front and 25% upon completion of the project or delivery of the goods may be more convenient for you. Whichever is the case, stage payments are usually applied to big transactions.

Invoice payment methods

Cash and check payments may be more common in the local setting, but for bigger business transactions, especially those that cover long distances, a bank transfer may be more convenient for both parties. Bank transfers or Banker Automated Clearing Services (BACS) are electronic payments from one bank account to another. They usually take three days to clear and be available for withdrawal on the other end. Important information to add to an invoice with a bank transfer payment method would be the name of the bank, the sort code, and the account number. International business transactions, especially between European countries, New Zealand, and Australia require IBAN information to be present in the invoice. An International Bank Account Number allows you to receive payments in foreign currency. Most banks use a BIC or Bank Identifier Code but for transactions with companies from the USA or CANADA a SWIFT code is also needed. A Society for Worldwide InterBank Financial Telecommunications code helps identify your specific bank among all the other banks in the world. The invoice should include a BIC, IBAN, or SWIFT code if the payment terms call for it.

 

Generating online invoices allows companies, entrepreneurs, and freelancers to operate more smoothly. The ability to generate invoices that can be downloaded and printed or even sent directly through email to clients or customers even around the world sets a new standard for conducting business.

By familiarizing yourself with the basic information that is needed to generate online invoices, you are equipping yourself with tools that will help you collect payments for your goods or services.

Going Out on Your Own: How to Become a Freelance Web Developer

Are you getting tired of grinding it out at your day job? The good news is that striking out on your own is easier than it has ever been.

The internet has made it so that almost anyone can do their job from the comfort of their home. Reports show that at least one-third of the United States workforce has now done freelancing at one point in their career.

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance web developer, you have a lot to learn. Keep reading to learn seven things you need to know if you want to make it as a freelancer.

1. Learn the Basic Skills

The world of web development is vast. You won’t be able to cover everything there is in your freelance career.

It pays to know what the basics are and start there. Most businesses out there are looking for someone to help with their websites. For this, you need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Knowing these basics means you can tackle most of the work out there. Spend the time to learn everything to the point that it’s second nature.

If your developing websites, you also need to know how to make a user experience. If you’ve done nothing but programming in the past, this is a skill you need to learn. The only thing you’re doing is wasting your client’s money if you build a website that people have a hard time using.

2. Find a Niche

You might think that being a generalist will make you more valuable. You would be wrong in most cases.

Being a generalist means that you don’t have a strong message to send to potential customers. You’re going to be telling them that you’re average at using a lot of technology. People want to work with experts.

You want to position yourself as an expert in a few specific web development fields. Doing this allows you to command higher rates and better target people who are looking for those skillsets.

If you want to stand out more, work on learning a web development skill that’s in demand, but not in supply. You won’t have as much competition, and your clients will have an easier time finding you.

3. Form a Company

It’s tempting to jump straight into freelancing and do everything under your own name. The problem is, this can cause headaches in the future.

It’s worth it to start a company to do business under. You can still use your name for your business, but you will do all your business under your company.

Doing this will allow you to separate your personal and business affairs. A separate bank account means you can quickly identify business income and expenses. This separation makes things easier when tax season comes around.

You can start with a simple LLC. This company structure is a pass-through entity. You’ll be able to file all your business income on your personal tax return.

4. Create a Portfolio

Would you be willing to hire someone that can’t prove they can do the job? The chances are you wouldn’t. A business won’t do it, either.

Creating a portfolio is a way to show potential clients what you’re capable of doing.

If you’re going for more technical jobs, create example web apps, and publish them on the internet. You can link to your software on your website. If someone wants to see your code, you can publish it to GitHub.

If you’re developing websites, clients will be more interested in how good you are at design. Create a few sample designs and showcase them on your site. You want to showcase your best work, so don’t put just anything out there.

5. Learn How to Sell

It isn’t enough to show someone that you can do the job. You need to help people understand that you know what their problem is, and you know how to solve it. You can’t do this if you don’t know how to sell.

Spend time learning how to focus on customers during your sales calls. Remember that people aren’t too interested in your credentials when talking to you. What they want is to improve their business.

Get your potential customers to talk about their problems and offer them solutions.

6. Network With Everyone

Don’t get into the mindset that someone doesn’t deserve your time if they aren’t a customer. Doing this means you’re missing out on a lot of networking opportunities.

Take the time to go to business events to connect with other business owners. Your goal is to position yourself as someone who solves web problems.

Even if nobody there becomes a customer, you’ve introduced yourself as someone that businesses can count on. You want to be the first person that comes to mind when the topic of web development comes up.

These business owners can be a source of customer referrals for your freelance business.

7. Learn How to Solve Business Problems

When you’re working at a regular job, your employer usually gives you your problem. There may be questions here and there, but you have a clear vision of what needs to be done. The same isn’t always true for freelance web development.

You need to learn how to ask your customers the right questions. People might not always know what they want or what problems they have. It’s up to you to figure this out so you can offer the solution that’s right for them.

Learn more about the problems enterprises and small business face, so you have the right answers available for them.

Becoming a Freelance Web Developer Isn’t Easy

It isn’t enough to be great at developing for the web. If you want to become a freelance web developer, you have even more skills that you need to learn. Use the steps above to get started the right way.

If you’re not great at sales, you’re going to struggle at getting new clients. Head back to our blog to learn the tips you need to start getting new clients.

Great Tips And Tricks For Finding A Reliable Colocation Space For Your Business

As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to streamline, optimize, and save money. Your business needs to be as efficient as possible to keep up in today’s highly capitalistic society.

This means making sure you have adequate storage for all of your data servers. You may not be able to move into a bigger builder or spend thousands of dollars renovating a proper space. However, you can look for a reliable colocation space.

But how do you choose the right one?

What to Look For in a Reliable Colocation Space

If you’re a business owner looking for reliable colocation space, there are a number of things you need to consider.

For example, how much space do you need? Where are the nearest colocation spaces? Does your data require security?

Keep reading for our top five considerations when making your choice.

1. Cost

As with any business investment, getting the best price for the service rendered is among your top priorities. As part of the overall colocation cost, you’ll need to provide your own servers and other hardware. Despite this initial expenditure, this can be much more cost-effective than leasing data from someone else’s hardware.

You want to consider the colocation company’s pricing model. Will you be paying per rack, per cage, or per room?

Remember, cheaper isn’t always better. A more expensive company may provide a more reliable colocation space with HVAC, security, higher bandwidth, and more.

2. Location

Location is an important factor when it comes to choosing a reliable colocation space. If necessary, how convenient is it for you or your employees to go to the storage site? How quickly will you be able to accomplish updates, maintenance, troubleshooting, etc.?

Additionally, you need to consider if the colocation space is in any zones prone to natural disasters. While most colocation companies carry extensive insurance, if your data is wiped out during a hurricane, it may be lost forever.

3. Flexibility

Potential growth in your business is another topic to consider while choosing a colocation company. If you plan to grow your business, can the colocation center keep up with your needs? You don’t want to have to move everything years down the road to set up shop somewhere else.

Make sure the colocation company can promise adequate space for your potential growth for at least a few years.

4. Reliability

As a business owner, you can appreciate the importance of reliability more than most. The success of your business runs on the work ethic of yourself, your employees, and any independent contractors or outside providers.

Naturally, you’ll want a reliable colocation space to store your data. Here are a few things to ask yourself before choosing the right company:

  • How is their customer/client support?
  • How good is their cybersecurity?
  • Do they have a physical security presence?
  • Do they have backup generators in the event of a power outage?

5. Longevity

Finally, make sure the company you’re trusting your data with are in it for the long haul. How long have they been around? Will they be around for long?

A colocation company’s financial stability is key to investing in the right service. You don’t want to have to move your servers in a couple of years if the company shuts down.

Want More Helpful Advice?

With more than 20 years of experience in internet marketing, branding and business, I cover a lot of different topics on this blog. No matter if it’s on the basics of how to start a business of your own or how to scale it in size, I’m sure there is a resource on this blog that will help you out.

For more valuable information or helpful advice like this article, be sure to check out the latest content recently added to the blog section of the site.

How to Create Professional Invoice Templates for All Types of Businesses

Every legitimate business entity is mandated to issue an invoice and a receipt to their clients and customers. Whether it be through paper, Paypal or an online invoicing solution, that invoice serves as a record that documents the products and services purchased, the quantity acquired, the price of each item, as well as the date and time that the sale happened.

For site owners, bloggers, freelancers and brands, that invoice can also act as a receipt which serves as proof of payment for the items listed on the invoice.

With so many different payments and charges going back and forth, it’s important for a business to be able to issue a professional-looking invoice because this document is a reflection of their brand. Not only that, but it will make it easier for the consumer to see what the company is, and what service was provided. When all of these templates and invoices look the same, it’s easy to have all of your finances get mixed together and become a big mess.

To clean up and uncomplicate this process, we heavily recommend you build a better business and first impression for your brand, by investing in a custom template or design for all of your invoicing needs.

This can be easily achieved as there are already plenty of invoicing templates available online… many of which have the ability to update into your regular invoicing template or software solution.

With all of this in mind, here are some tips on how to create professional-looking invoice templates, regardless of the type of business entity.

Marketing Business

If your business is in line with marketing and advertisements, it will help if your invoice reflects your expertise in crafting effective strategies based on the latest trends in the market. Make sure to include in the invoice template the name of your business, as well as your company logo or brand. Also include both the seller and payer contact information in creating your template.

Consulting Business

Regardless of the consulting services you provide, your invoice template must allow you to personalize its content to include lines that describe in detail what your clients are being charged for. Keep in mind to include sufficient space in the body of the invoice for you to be able to specify your service details such as a specific description, your rate, the amount that your client is charged, as well as the subtotal. An elegant design will definitely reflect your exemplary services.

Legal Firm

While preparing an invoice is necessary for any business even for a legal firm, oftentimes there are more important tasks that need to be prioritized. This is why professional-looking templates will prove to be of an advantage because the invoicing process is optimized.

Just take a look at any of the top legal brands online and you will see that each of them has a unique and professional look to their sites. They probably have a custom logo design as well. All of these elements should also be included within your invoicing and master template files.

Also, ensure that your invoice includes the payment terms, as well as the due date, in order for your client to have ample time to prepare for your payment.

Freelance Business

Freelancers are often flexible, being experts at several skills. Apart from a polished invoice template, the main characteristic of a freelancer should be reflected in the invoice template they prepare. Thereby, it is important to include a space in your template where you can write specific notes for specific clients because for sure, no two clients will acquire the exact same services.

Stand Out from the Crowd with a Professional Template Design

To wrap things up, professional-looking invoice templates make the invoicing process more convenient especially to the administrators and personnel tasked to do the job. The same is true for all documents and notifications sent out from your company or brand. Once you’ve mastered this process with your invoicing and financials, be sure to scale it across all paper and electronic customer notifications you might be sending out.

As with everything associated with your business and brand, a professional-looking template also guarantees that the expertise of the company is reflected in the invoice, enabling the company to gain the confidence of their clients. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to return for service once again.

5 Quick Tips on How to Work More Efficiently as a Small Entrepreneur

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are all over the place thanks to the power of the internet. There are now no limitations on age, knowledge and school education when it comes to pursuing one’s dream of having their own business, being an entrepreneur or even launching a startup of their own.

The main reason for this, is that the internet not only makes everything easier and more cost effective, it also provides entrepreneurs with an amazing selection of tools and resources to help them launch and hit their goals.

However, not all entrepreneurs and small business owners have the same mindset, work ethics, and goal setting practices. The ones who do have a deep passion, drive, and dedication to success, are likely the ones who see much bigger results. At the same time, they also have some of the best tools and scheduling for their day to day operations and ROI on their time as well.

To help with this process, today we are going to highlight some quick tips on how small business owners and entrepreneurs can start working smarter and more  efficiently to get more done.

1 – Focus on What You Do Best and Outsource the Rest

One of the biggest problems from entrepreneurs, is knowing where and how to spend their time. As the owner of a business, you may often think it’s best to be the jack of all trades, but soon enough you will find your time is better spent in different areas and not on all tasks.

For example, if you have a website or blog that is already making money, it’s likely a much better idea for you to outsource your content creation and marketing efforts, while you focus on scaling and growing out your time.

No matter what your expertise and focus is, at some point you will realize the power of outsourcing and earning a premium on what you do best.

2 – Know How to Best Manage Your Time

Just as important as knowing where to focus your time and expertise, is knowing how to manage it as well. This is also one of the most overlooked components to finding success when one is trying to start a business or scale it to it’s full potential.

Better time management comes in many different shapes and forms. From the most simple methods to practicing better time management on your own, to using applications or even writing down your tasks on a sheet of paper — they all help further improve your allotted time ROI throughout the day.

If you prefer managing your time on the computer, this can be as simple as downloading a weekly schedule template excel sheet where you can get an overview of your work week, easily update your calendar and also better manage the time of your employees and team members around you as well.

3 – Search for Video Tutorials from Experts on YouTube

Small business owners are working on new tasks all the time. This can be anything from starting a new website and trying to learn how to use WordPress, or implementing a new CMS or software solutions into their business.

No matter what it is, trying to figure out how to do something from scratch can suck up a lot of your time.

A better solution is to look for quality reference guides and tutorials. In most cases, you should be able to find some reliable content on YouTube for free, or investing in a professional video course through a platform like Udemy.

Whenever you look for a course of video tutorial online, be sure to skim through the comments and ratings, and this will let you know if it’s worth your time and money.

4 – Take Advantage of Gmail Canned Responses

How many emails do you receive and send daily? If you are like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s probably in the 100+ range.

At the same time, how many of these emails are very similar and often ask the same question or are looking for support?

If this is the case, Google Canned Responses is a quick and easy solution for saving time and speeding through all of these incoming and outgoing emails you have to deal with on a daily basis.

Best of all, this simple solution takes less than 60 seconds to setup, but can easily save you a handful of hours every week.

5 – Use Automation and Scheduling Where Possible

A great way to save time, increase productivity, and also scale your business at the same time, is to take advantage of automation and scheduling wherever possible.

A quick and simple example of this would be to schedule out content to go live on the most popular social media platforms. By having an automated schedule in place, this could result in hundreds of hours being saved every month.

Another perfect example is to set up an autoresponder to work with your lead generation and email marketing efforts. Instead of messaging each new lead individuals, more time and effort can be spent on growing your reach and acquiring new traffic sources.

How to Grow Your Business and Expertise 

As business owners, we know what it takes to create something from scratch, while also having to compete with others in our space.

We all have a specific set of skills and levels of expertise that can give us the upper hand, however, when you start to add better time management and smarter work ethics in your day to day operations, we can all do even better.

Be sure to run through the list of recommended tips and solutions above to improve your incoming success as a small business owners and entrepreneur.