What You Can Do To Reduce Downtime In Business

What You Can Do To Reduce Downtime In Business

Downtime is a serious issue for any business to face. When an unexpected problem pauses productivity within your company, it’s going to have consequences. Money is lost, and time is wasted, but there are even bigger disasters to contend with. Being unproductive could mean disappointing your customers, which can harm your reputation. Sometimes, legal trouble can even occur. As stressful as this may be for you, it affects the employees too, impacting staff morale and productivity. With that in mind, here are ten things you can do to reduce downtime.

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1. Educate The Entire Team

Employees are the backbone of any company. Without a team of hardworking individuals, your business won’t survive. Because of this, it should be no surprise that employees can be one of the largest contributors to downtime. If the workers are always making mistakes, it will begin to affect productivity. The trouble is, employees won’t know what to do unless you teach them. Even the best workers make mistakes, but they will make less of them with proper training. 

2. Work On Staff Communication

Every great leader knows the importance of communication. Unless your employees talk to one another, they won’t collaborate effectively. This means that work will likely suffer, impacting productivity overall. While an open plan office would allow for easy communication, it doesn’t work in all situations. Some employees work much more productively in private spaces. If you offer private offices or rooms, make sure that your staff can talk using email and messenger. 

3. Stick To Maintenance Schedules

All companies have equipment that they rely on. Sometimes this is little more than computers and printers, but other times, your staff will need special tools to carry out their work. When this equipment doesn’t work as it should, it can result in downtime. Thankfully, you can usually avoid this issue with maintenance. Not only will this reduce the number of unexpected breakdowns, but the equipment will last longer too. This means that you’ll have to pay out for fewer replacements.

4. Upgrade Any Old Equipment

Even when you take care of technology, it won’t last forever. Eventually, all equipment has to be replaced. Rather than wait for an unexpected breakdown, you should invest in regular upgrades. This means that you can make plans to reduce the effect the replacement has on the business. Avoiding these upgrades might save you money in the short-term, but it won’t do any good overall. It will become difficult to repair certain devices, as the parts will be harder to source. 

5. Bring In Professional Help

Good equipment operators should have no trouble in diagnosing and repairing many smaller problems with their tools. However, you will need an expert for any complex issues. Trying to fix problems you don’t understand could make them much worse. Because of this, you should research nearby IT experts and find help that you can trust. It’s particularly important that you have professional help in large and complicated scenarios, like relocating the business. 

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6. Plan For Power Outages

Working technology is little use to you unless you can power it. A power outage could bring your company to a halt, especially if it relies heavily on technology. Thankfully, there are several ways to limit the impact. With variable speed drives, you can continue to feed power to conveyor belts, plant machinery, and other equipment, even if power output dips. A backup generator would also help to keep the business up and running until you could get the power back on again. 

7. Reward Your Hard Workers

Punishing an employee for causing downtime would be a natural response of many employers when that employee doesn’t perform. Some bosses would dock pay or cancel benefits to those caught sitting on the job. However, this isn’t the best way to motivate your staff. A much better approach would be to treat those staff members that are working hard. There are many ways to reward employees, from paid days off to fancy lunches and even gift cards for local stores. 

8. Make A Healthy Office

Sickness can cause chaos within a workforce, seriously affecting productivity. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone on your team is functioning at their very best. They must be capable of handling the work you delegate to them, or huge issues could arise. Making a healthy office will prevent sickness, as well as injury. When a worker is sick or hurt, you should offer your support. Showing that you care in this way will motivate your staff to get back on track.

9. Look At Your Budget

While downtime is costly, resolving the problems that cause it isn’t cheap. After all, electricians, replacement tools, and backup generators can all be pricey. For this reason, you must take a look at your budget and plan how to cover the costs associated with downtime. If you were to build an emergency fund, for example, you would be able to dip into that whenever you had an invoice to pay. Make sure that you also have a great business insurance policy to fall back on.

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10. Give Each Other Feedback

Unless employees are told they’re making a mistake, they will continue to make it. It’s for this reason that performance reviews are so crucial. Giving your workers constructive feedback lets them improve, benefiting them and the company. Just remember that you can improve too. Make sure you also allow your staff to offer advice of their own, whether it be face to face or using a suggestions box. Staff productivity is just as much your responsibility as it is the employees’.

Nearly all businesses experience downtime at some point. However, that doesn’t mean that your venture should be destroyed by it. Downtime may cause chaos, but you can protect your company. With the advice above, it’s possible to prevent downtime in your business, saving time and money, as well as unnecessary stress. If you can’t avoid downtime, the tips above should still help you to limit the impact that it has. 

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Can You Turn Your Business Green?

Can You Turn Your Business Green?

With climate change and helping to preserve the environment becoming the most important issues of the day, it’s more vital than ever that your business can jump on the bandwagon. Consumers are becoming more and more savvy and picky when it comes to the companies that they choose to do business with. If you don’t have the eco credentials, your niche market may move elsewhere. It doesn’t matter whether you import ball bearings, or whether you create custom made tee shirts from home, there are some simple ways to turn your business a more palatable shade of green. 

You may think that morphing into a sustainable startup is expensive. While costs will be incurred, the possibility to pass this onto the customer can end up making your venture more profitable. People actively seek out companies that have a policy of being sustainable and are willing to pay a higher price for this luxury.

Lighting 

Office blocks around the globe are full of inefficient strip lighting that causes a ridiculous amount of light pollution and costs a small fortune to keep on. Strip lighting isn’t natural and doesn’t create a pleasant ambience for offices. While they are cheap to install, they don’t last long and will regularly need replacing. More energy saving LED lighting will create a more comfortable light for your workplace. The bulbs themselves may be more expensive to buy but they can last five times longer than other bulbs. They also don’t contain the toxic mercury that is present in incandescent light bulbs. 

The culture of your workplace also needs to be refreshed. Have an away day with your staff team and explain the new emphasis that you are going to place on saving energy. Whereas you may have had a policy of keeping your office lit overnight in the past, this wasteful act now needs to be banished. If your team leaves lights on when they aren’t using a meeting room, this needs to change. This will save energy as well as money for your startup. 

Recycle As Much As You Can 

When you are trying to be green, you need to think back to your school days of reusing, reducing and recycling. You might wonder what on Earth you can recycle. After all, you are a business, not a charity. Only ever consider recycling something when it is no longer of use to you. If you were going to throw it away anyway, you may as well give it to somebody who can use it. 

Laptop computers that are obsolete to you could be great for a local school or hospital. As you are a startup with plenty of confidential and sensitive data on your hard drives, you need to simplify erasing computers with WipeDrive. Using this simple program, you can ensure that your assets remain secure, are fully wiped and don’t slip into the wrong hands. 

Recycling doesn’t end with laptops and hardware. If you are refurbishing your office space and replacing the desktop booths with collaborative meeting pods, give the obsolete versions to somebody new to utilize. If you are keen on swapping the dull artwork with some local photography, give the framed pictures that you no longer want to a charity shop. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

Plastic

If you have seen a nature documentary recently, the chances are that it will have shown the shocking effects of disposable plastic in the world’s oceans. While everyone loves a bottle of cold water, you don’t have to succumb to the single use plastic variety, and you should place a ban on these in your office. Instead, fork out some cash and make an effort to install a water filtration system. This way, you no longer have to rely on the water cooler tanks, and your staff can enjoy freshly filtered water direct from the tap. Again, this can be costly, but it is a clear example of your commitment to help the environment that you can plaster all across your website for your potential customer base to see. 

Being green doesn’t mean losing money, becoming less productive or forgetting about your other business priorities. You need to consider what really matters to you personally and professionally. With the emergence of public figures like Greta Thunberg, it’s time to get in on the eco conscious action and play your part in trying to save the planet. With some simple tweaks and a re-evaluation of your company ethos, you can turn your business the perfect hue of green.

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Is A Website That Important To My Business? Yes. Absolutely.

Is A Website That Important To My Business? Yes. Absolutely.

Is your business off the ground and doing pretty well? Cool. Well done. That stage is often super annoying and tedious. Turning your idea into something that you can actually make money from doesn’t exactly happen smoothly. You’ve probably got everything nailed at the moment, but are there a few things you’re lacking? You can always improve.

Nowadays, pretty much every single business should be up and running online. They should also have a website to accompany everything they’re trying to achieve. Websites are now a staple in the business world, and if you don’t have one, you could be missing out on a lot. Almost every single individual on the planet has access to the internet now, so you might as well make the most of those eyes.

If you’re not online, then you could probably still get a few sales and generate some good money. It happens with some firms. But they’re so important if you want to make serious strides. Let’s go into a little more detail as to why they’ve become an essential part of this game. 

First Point Of Contact  
When something goes wrong with a product or someone just needs to get in touch with a company, they don’t really phone up anymore. This generation is jam-packed full of phones, but many don’t really use them to call anyone! Instead, they’ll want to deal with someone in a live chat, or they’ll want to read the FAQ. A website provides that comfort and that welcome. It’s like a home for the entire company.

People Lazily Look For A Site
When you want to know about a certain topic, person, or event, what do you do? You research it online, don’t you? The instinctive thing to do nowadays is to open your computer or whip out your phone and surf the web. So, what if someone sees your company and wants to know more? If you don’t have a site up, then they’re going to Google your name and check out a little more info. If there’s no website there, then they’re going to be a little let down. That’s just how it is these days!

Millions Of People Are On The Web
As we briefly mentioned before, there are lots and lots of people online. Right now, there are millions scrolling through search engine results, social media, and other stuff. You have to get in amongst all that if you want to push on as a company. If you’re not with the times, you might end up getting swallowed by competitors that are willing to do so.

People Expect A Website Nowadays
We’re now firmly stuck into a society that is caked in technology. Kids these days are literally baffled at how we lived our lives before all of this. They don’t quite understand what it was like before all of this convenient button-pushing. That same spoiled mentality has crept into pretty much everyone’s line of thinking these days. If you don’t have a page that has a pretty website design, then you’re going to be judged negatively. Standards are only going to increase from here on in, too. 

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Want To Be The Next Steve Jobs? Here Are The Top Seven Degrees You Should Take

Want To Be The Next Steve Jobs? Here Are The Top Seven Degrees You Should Take

There are many different routes into a successful career as an entrepreneur. Many of the worlds most famous entrepreneurial spirits, like Richard Branson never even went on to higher education or college. They just had that million-dollar idea and turned it into a successful endeavour.

However, that being said, no matter how sure you are that you’re about to become the next Steve Jobs or the like, it is always a good idea to have a solid educational background to fall back on in case everything doesn’t go to plan. Here we’ve outlined a few degrees that could help you to become a successful entrepreneur

 

Business Degree

Of course one of the most obvious choices for a budding self-starter is a business degree. Learning about business can equip you with many of the different skills that an entrepreneur would need. Along with teaching you how to negotiate and communicate effectively, it can also teach you how to excel at presenting as well as planning and being assertive. Business degree programs also ask their students to learn about different relevant fields such as psychology, finance and economics. Having a thorough knowledge of these subjects are a great way to develop a well-rounded skill set, which will only make you a strong contender for success when it comes to owning your own business. Have a look at the University of Alabama Birmingham and see if they have a business course to suit your needs.

Marketing

Knowing how to sell and promote your business can only stand you in good stead of becoming an entrepreneur. Being able to think creatively and package relevant sales information to audiences in a palatable way, is important when you want to make sure that your customer has a great affinity and sentiment for your product.  You’ll also be able to promote your products and services more effectively because you’ll know exactly what works. You’ll also have a good handle on the social media and public relations efforts that are needed when working for yourself.

Psychology

A huge part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is understanding people and how that relates to your business. For this reason, taking a degree in psychology could be hugely helpful to a hopeful entrepreneur. In the fledgeling days of your business, you will more than likely be encountering lots of people every day, including potential clients, suppliers and employees. Because of this, you will need to be persuasive, confident and astute, all of which can be learnt by taking a degree in Psychology. You’ll also learn critical skills in decision making, personality traits, and psychology when it comes to business which may be particularly helpful.

Finance

Knowing how to deal with and manage money is an imperative skill in every entrepreneur’s life. Being self-employed means that you have sole responsibility for how much you make and how your money is spent. By learning to be savvy about managing your finances, how to budget within a business setting and how to effectively manage expansion, can help your business go much further, much more rapidly. For this reason, those who are great at analyzing data,  numbers and numerical patterns can make incredibly successful entrepreneurs.

Communications

A degree in communications is an excellent choice for an entrepreneur. The nature of this work demands that you communicate effectively and efficiently with people from every aspect of life. You’ll want to be able to express your ideas for your business effectively and be able to convey important matters with ease. So an aptitude for communication is a must. When studying a communication degree you learn specific skills in public speaking, project management and teamwork all which can prove very useful when you’re a budding entrepreneur.

IT Degrees

In today’s climate, almost everything is done digitally. From registering your business name to processing payments from customers, we have an ever-increasing need for technology and computers. With a degree in IT, you can find yourself ahead of the game. The tech industry is huge right now and there and hundreds if not thousands of profitable and well knows tech startups that have emerged in the last few years so a strong background in computing and IT will gove you a massive advantage. Also knowing how to utilise the many programs and software applications that come with working for yourself would be a definite plus. Another great thing about pursuing an IT degree is that it is also a very undersubscribed profession, meaning that if you do decide to fall back on your chosen degree, you’ll be able to find a lucrative role quite easily.

We hope this has helped you decide on the right degree for you.

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Hidden Costs of Running Your Own Business

Hidden Costs of Running Your Own Business

If the thought of being your own boss is something that’s always excited you, why not take the leap and start your own business? It’s easier than ever to do and if you understand the costs involved then there’s no reason why you can’t go on to be a huge success.

Permits, Licenses and Dues

Everything starts with paper. You need to make sure that you get all of the permits and licenses you need to operate legally. This can be expensive, but when you’ve covered the initial cost, you’ll soon find that everything becomes way easier. You also need to set some money aside so you can cover your membership to any organisations you might need to sign up for. By participating in groups like this, you can then be kept up to date with the latest changes in your industry and you can also network much more efficiently. Another bonus of signing up to an organisation is that you’ll get member-only discounts on insurance, credit cards or even supplies, so this is well worth keeping in consideration.

Office Space

Do you really need a commercial space? Before you go ahead and rent, think about what you actually need to operate your company. It may be worth renting a temporary space, or even working from home. This will make running your business way cheaper and it will also free up more room in your budget.

A lot of business owners make a list of all the equipment they need to operate their business before launch. This is great, but you may end up forgetting about the smaller expenses. This can include basic equipment like paper, pens, scanners, desks and even chairs. If you want to save money here, then you should certainly think about buying products second-hand. There are so many websites which give you the chance to do this and sometimes you may even get a warranty with them too. You should also avoid jumping to the latest model if you don’t actually need it. For example, if you need a mobile phone then choose one that’s able to hold its charge and get a good signal. You probably don’t need all of the additional high-tech extras, and there’s a high chance that you won’t use them even if you did. When purchasing items that are imperative to your business operation, it does help to spend a bit extra to ensure a quality product. This is especially the case if you need the equipment to serve your customers. So if you need a 3D printer, opt for the Creality CR-10 Max, or if you need a laptop so you can provide your customers with updates regarding their order, then shop for a new model that focuses on reliability.

Employees

Your employees are the backbone of your company. Salaries, medical leave, health insurance and even training costs are all factors that you need to consider. If you don’t invest in your team by providing them with a good wage or even a clean working environment, this could mean that you have a high turnover, and this will cost you even more in the future. If you want to get around this then it helps to offer your team perks. These don’t have to be pricey, and sometimes benefits such as having a flexible schedule can go a long way. If you’re providing your team with health insurance then negotiate with your provider annually, so you can budget for other fees more efficiently.

Insurance

It’s mentioned above that you probably need to obtain some sort of health insurance for your team. That being said, you also need to try and pay for your own business insurance too. At a minimum, you need to have public liability and employer liability cover. Having insurance for negligence, illness and injury will help you out as well. Saving money here isn’t difficult, and sometimes all you need to do is negotiate with your insurance provider. If you have a good record and have gone a long time without making a claim, then try and ask them for a lower rate. Your business is important to them, and if they think that you’re planning on leaving then there’s a high chance that they’ll try and give you a better rate. You also need to review your coverage annually so you can see if you still need the policies you’ve chosen.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage is when you lose inventory between purchasing it from the supplier and delivering it to your customer. Issues like this can happen for a huge number of reasons. You may find that you end up short on a shipment from a vendor, or that your team make picking errors. Theft and damaged goods are also another reason why shrinkage happens. If you need to safeguard yourself against issues like this then it helps to have an inventory management system. Barcodes and scanners are the way forward, as they can help you to maintain real-time data. They can also help you to pinpoint the exact moment an item goes missing so you can protect yourself against it happening again.

Payment Delays

If a customer forgets to pay, or if the bank chooses to hold your transaction then this can cause you major issues. Payment delays can hurt your bottom line, and this is especially the case when payments are necessary to cover the cost. Overdraft charges can also eat away at your credit rating too, and this can cause you even more issues in the future. To stop things like this from happening, you need to set some payment terms with your customers. You also need to try and hold them accountable for not paying too. 30 day-terms can work for bigger businesses, but when you’re a smaller business you can’t be waiting a month to get paid. If a customer does happen to pay late then don’t be afraid to pursue them. It may also be worth chatting with your bank about getting some kind of overdraft protection too. This may involve a fee, but it will be way less expensive than having to deal with bounced checks all the time.

Time

Your time is a very valuable resource. You cannot afford to waste it at all, so think about it, are you spending too much time on tasks that could be outsourced? If so, then explore this as an option. Freelancers are very reliable, and they often have favourable payment terms. Another benefit of hiring a freelancer is that you won’t have to insure them, and they’ll pay for their own tax too. If you aren’t quite sure how to hire a freelancer then there are tons of sites available that are designed to help, and some of them even come with payment protection too. This ultimately means that if they don’t deliver, then you will be completely covered.

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Professional Services

As mentioned above, sometimes you may need to outsource your staff. This is especially the case when it comes to professional services. Sometimes accounting and even legal fees can run into the thousands, but they are worth their weight in gold. Legal professionals are able to untangle any red tape that you may come across when running your business and they may even be able to translate tax codes too. This will make it much easier for you to navigate the process and it will also help you to maintain a much more accurate payment inventory. If you need to save money here, then try and negotiate with the professionals who you work with to try and keep your fees as low as possible. It may also help to have your professional lawyer handle the more difficult legal tasks, and then hire someone with less experience to take care of everything else. This will save you money and it will also make it way easier for you to stay on top financially.

Credit Card Fees

If you run a small business, then you have to be so careful about using a credit card. If you cannot pay your balance in full every single month, you may end up with debt that is completely unmanageable. You may even find that you experience high-interest rates and even reliance too. It’s safe to say that this is a position that you don’t want to be in. If you need to get around this then it helps to do your research so you can find the best rates right now. You also need to find companies who can offer you the best rates too. Some may give you discounts if you make cash payments, and others may give you travel incentives. Either way, the type of business you own will ultimately decide which terms you should be looking for. If you are reluctant to take out a credit card, then consider looking into other forms of business financing. Loans tend to have much lower interest rates and you may even find that they’re easier to obtain too.

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Easy Ways to Expand your Business

Easy Ways to Expand your Business

If you want to expand your business then you will know that sometimes, this can be difficult to do. After all, you need to plan out your product offerings, the budget that you have and even how you’re going to increase your workforce too. All of this can become very stressful, very quickly so it’s important to brainstorm some ideas so you can simplify the process.

Add some New Products and Services

This strategy may sound simple, but it can also be challenging. To begin with, you need to find out which services and products your customers want and how much they’ll be willing to pay for them. You then need to work out how much profit you need to make. The best way for you to do this would be for you to do some very thorough market research before committing to a price increase. Chat with the current customers that you have now and ask them if there are any new services they feel as though you should add.

Sell More to the Customers You Have Now

You also need to try and sell more products to your existing customers. One way for you to do this would be for you to perform a market analysis. This will help you to find out which customer groups are most likely to buy from you, so that you can really focus your sales and even your marketing efforts on those areas.

Tap into New Sales Channels

Another thing that you can do is try and tap into new sales and even delivery channels. The internet is the best example of how having a new delivery channel can transform any small business. For example, if you have a brick and mortar company and you wanted to expand then a website and internet sales channel would help you to reach out to international customers and an entirely new client base. If you want to take things to that next level, then it may be worth getting a salesforce consulting partner, as they can easily help you to analyse every aspect of your funnel.

Buy another Business

Buying another business is a fantastic way for you to expand your own and it is also the fastest way for you to grow. Merging with another company can easily double the size of the one you have now. It can also help you to grow your sales and your revenue too. You do however have to make sure that you do your due diligence when performing any business merger. This is especially the case when you look at the financial condition of the company. Think about it, do they have a good client base? How are the management team? What strengths does the company have? By focusing on all of this, you can then be sure to make the most out of your acquisition.

So, there are many different things that you can do to try and expand your company, and by following the above tips, you can be sure to find an avenue that works for you.

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