Are You Making The Most Out Of Outsourcing?

When it comes to your business, time is the most valuable commodity that you have. The problem is that the bigger and more successful your business becomes, the less time that you have. And, when you are doing everything that you possibly can to grow your business, you need that time more than ever.

It is a no-win situation for many small business owners; they spend so much time managing basic business tasks that the ones that will help them to grow are often neglected.

There is one way around this: outsourcing.

Outsourcing involved giving specific tasks to a third party, whether that be a freelancer on an ad-hoc basis or an agency which enters into a long-term contract with you.

 Here, we look at some of the tasks that you may want to consider outsourcing so you can focus on growing your business.

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Information technology services

As your business grows, you will need to consider implementing more sophisticated technology. It may be that you need to organise a network that remote workers can access easily, a software system for your retail business or just general IT needs. 

The problem with technology is that there is a lot that can go wrong, and it can be expensive to deal with. Outsourcing the management of your IT services to NetQuest means that you do not have to worry about this as there is always a team of IT experts on call to sort out any issues, and make sure it is running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.

Accounting and finances

It can be overwhelming for a small business to manage payrolls effectively and everything to do with the financial organisation side. Outsourcing this service to experts has been shown to improve business performance and minimise costs. According to studies, businesses that have outsourced their accounting and financial save on average 18 per cent more than those who try to do it in house. Trying to do it on your own can lead to inaccurate payments and late filings, which incur fines. Hiring a third party or automated programme to perform accounting duties will significantly minimise these risks and save you money.

Marketing

Marketing is vital if your company is to succeed. Technological advances have made e-commerce, webshops, social media and online marketing important to small businesses. But, before you set up an in-house marketing department, ask yourself if this is economically sustainable. However, trying to do it all yourself can mean that you do not have enough time to attend to core business tasks. It is also a task that requires expert knowledge much of the time. 

Outsourcing certain operations will help your company grow while paying careful attention to core competencies. It is also usually more cost-effective to outsource these services compared to hiring full-time employees. Outsourcing would allow the company to concentrate on priorities instead of spending their time on tasks that could be best done by experts.

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How To Choose The Best IT Support

When they’re scaling their business, a lot of companies decide to outsource some or all of their IT needs. There are a lot of companies out there offering IT services, but choosing the best one for your business can be hard. Handing over a business-critical function like IT to someone outside of your company can be a daunting idea. How do you know who is reliable/ Is there service good value? What happens if it goes wrong? To get the best IT support, interview each vendor and ask these questions. 

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Where Are You Based?

It doesn’t matter that much where your IT support has their head office, but you should know where their servers are. The location is important if they will be offering you services like cloud hosting, computer networking, or VoIP. Server location can impact on the quality of your services. Local law about GDPR may also have implications on the way your data is stored, especially if your company works in an industry with a high level of regulation.

What Geographical Areas Do You Cover?

You don’t need your IT support vendor to be based in the same city as you these days. However, you do need to know what areas they cover, especially if you might move your premises in the future, or want to expand your business into new areas or different countries. You need to know that your provider can keep supporting you. 

Do You Offer Different Levels Of IT Support?

IT support companies usually offer a few different levels of service, which can suit different budgets, businesses, and requirements. For example, you can choose between:

  • Pay-as-you-go or ad-hoc support
  • Break-fix support
  • Managed service support

Look for a company who can offer the level of support that you need and can afford. 

What Exactly Is Supported In The Contract?

You should be careful with a company who says they support everything, without giving detail about what that actually means and what is included in the agreement with them. It’s not unusual for companies to assume they will get complete coverage, only to find out that they can actually only log a maximum number of support tickets every month, or that some services will be charged as an extra. Get this laid out clearly from the beginning, so you understand exactly what kind of support you will get. Otherwise, you run the risk of signing a contract that doesn’t actually work for your business. 

What Isn’t Covered In The IT Support Contract?

You could assume that this is covered by asking what is included in your support, but it’s still wise to get more detail by asking this question as well. There may be some services which are not covered by your contract. It’s better to know in advance what will be billed separately so you can budget more accurately. If there are any services that are not included in your contract, then you need to know about ad-hoc or hourly pricing. 

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The Pandemic Redefines Loyalty For Brands


The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of disappearing. With contagion and spread rates have been slowing down all around the world, regions are already facing the second CVODI wave. For businesses, the situation is challenging to manage. Surviving the first wave of lockdown and quarantine hasn’t been easy. A lot of small companies and independent businesses have been forced to take drastic measures, such as letting teams go, to recoup some of the losses. Others have not been able to reopen. The pandemic has been the last straw for struggling businesses that have now gone bankrupt. 

Yet, even if you’ve been able to reopen your companies, the survival path is paved with obstacles. For brands, surviving and keeping the business afloat is a priority. Most countries and regions have made grants available to support struggling businesses. Entrepreneurs can expect to find small financial relief to help with rent payments or the introduction of new health requirements. Investors are also joining the economic support, through crowdfunding platforms and crypto investments to protect the global economy. There is, however, only so much you can achieve with financial assistance. For a start, monetary aid is limited, as most states are already running high debts. Additionally, ad hoc cash flow boosts can provide the long-term stability businesses need for their recovery. If businesses are going to survive the pandemic loss, they need to build a supportive network. They need to refine business loyalty to create the sturdy foundations of their post-pandemic growth. 

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Consider negotiating payment delays

What costs do companies face as they plan their recovery from the pandemic? The first and most crucial factor is that the coronavirus crisis has shattered the economic stability. People have been staying at home, avoiding unnecessary purchases. While we’ve passed the first virus wave, a lot of customers are still cautious about visiting shops and buying new items. As such, it can be tricky to build a new strategy on an uncertain path. Most tips for businesses to survive a rocky economy suggest negotiating payment delays. Companies that are in a commercial lease can reach out to their landlord to review their options. It’s in landlords’ best interest to keep their tenants, even if it means decreasing the monthly rent. Suppliers are also open to negotiations, especially as many can’t afford to lose a contract. Yet, offering payment delays or discounts can be beneficial to keep both parties in business. The process can be challenging, but now is the time to build new loyal connections with your business partners so that everybody can survive. 

Don’t sacrifice quality

The customers who loved your brand and products before the pandemic are keen to return to the businesses they trust. Keeping their trust in a post-pandemic world can be challenging. It is tricky to maintain consistent product quality when you are running on a tight budget. However, loyal customers are not ready to compromise on the quality of your products and services. Many appreciate that you can’t meet the pre-pandemic production volume and pace as you need to accommodate delays for supply sourcing, health and safety regulations, social distancing practices. As such, manufacturers will need to reduce production volumes to maintain quality. But you can reassure customers by turning delays to your advantage and emphasizing your commitment to health. For instance, quality controls now need to include contagion checks and decontamination processes to guarantee the safety of all. 

Don’t keep bad news secret

Now, more than ever, delay and production mishaps are likely to happen. You only need one person to be contaminated for the entire production process to be put on hold until the situation has cleared. As a result, your customers will potentially face unexpected delays. However, the last thing you want is to hide the truth from them. Don’t let them wait and get frustrated as the delivery never happens. On the contrary, when a customer asks where their order is, you have already failed to earn their loyalty. Instead, embracing a policy of complete and total transparency with your customers can transform the situation. Sharing your limitations openly will help them prepare for eventual frictions. You could, for instance, let them know that your main supplier is having problems meeting your volume demands. The process doesn’t serve as a blaming game and pointing fingers exercise. On the contrary, it explains that you may not be able to finish production on time. You can even share an estimate of your worst-case scenario so that your audience is in the know. 

Survival in a post-pandemic world is all about creating a loyal network to grow. Loyalty is built in honest truths, from sharing your financial struggles with your landlord to ask for a discount to informing customers about production changes that can cause delays while maintaining quality. The lesson is that you can’t expect to stick with your brand because they liked your post-pandemic performance. Instead, convince them to stick with you because you are doing everything possible to make it work. 

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Tips On Selling Snacks

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A lot of stores sell snacks, and if this is something you are considering, you need to make sure you go about the process correctly. There are lots of things you can do to make your store stand out from the crowd and make a profit through selling snacks. With that in mind, continue reading to discover some of the areas of consideration and some key pieces of advice.

Change your displays on a regular basis – One of the most important things you need to do is keep your displays interesting. By changing your displays on a regular basis, you can make your snack selection seem more exciting, even if you are essentially selling the same snacks. This is a great way to encourage purchases and to boost your profits in the process. 

Store your snacks properly – You need to make sure that your snacks are stored correctly. The type of storage solution you need depends on the snacks you’re selling. Walk-in coolers can be great for stores whereby you need to keep snacks cold. The best thing to do is consult with an expert and they will be able to give their opinion on what sort of refrigeration product is going to be sufficient for you. 

Offer samples – If you believe in the amazing taste and texture of your food – which I am sure you do – offer samples! There is no better way to encourage people to purchase the snacks that you sell than by showing them just how incredible they are. Once someone tastes a sample, they are not going to be able to refuse purchasing some for themselves, right?

Track the impact of your efforts – When selling any sort of product, it is always important to track the impact of your efforts. From the different displays you use to the various products you offer as samples, it is important to determine how effective your approaches are so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t. After all, you are never going to be able to move your business forward if you do not get a handle on how it is performing right now, right?

Highlight healthy eating – Last but not least, if you have healthy snacks available, this is something that you should definitely highlight. As a nation, we have become more concerned with healthy eating, and a lot of people are more cautious about what they eat. However, the trouble for a lot of people is they feel like stores rarely have any healthy snacks. This is, therefore, a good target market to try and aim for. 

So there you have it: some of the different factors that you should keep in mind when selling snacks at your business. We hope that this information has proven useful for you and that it can help you to boost your profits at your business. No matter the approaches you use, make sure you measure the effectiveness of them so that you can continue to perfect your strategy.

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Manufacturing Quality Products with Consistency

Manufacturing your own products means that you’re completely in charge of quality. You’re not just choosing products that meet your standards but ensuring your products are manufactured to the standards that you set. Of course, every business might have different requirements for its products. But whether you offer a line of luxury products or a more affordable option, the quality of your products should be consistent. You don’t want one batch of products to be a certain quality, but the next batch to not meet your requirements. So how can you consistently manufacture quality products that are ready to be distributed?

Use the Right Processes and Techniques

Identifying the right processes and techniques for manufacturing is one of the most important steps to ensure quality. There are usually different options that might make use of different materials and produce varying results. Is plastic molding the best option to produce the parts that you need? Will you make use of flame spraying to apply metallic coatings to the parts that you produce? Finding the right manufacturing methods will help to ensure quality in all of your products. Be sure to explore the different processes that are available to you to help you manufacture quality products.

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Find Reliable Manufacturers

If you aren’t manufacturing your products in-house, you need to find the right partners to help you. After researching some of your options, the first steps include getting a quote and having some samples created so that you can judge the quality of a manufacturer’s work. You should also look at reviews, ratings, and testimonials from current and past customers to see what others think of a manufacturer and the service that they provide. Assess some of the most important factors, such as lead times and how well the manufacturer communicates. The quality of your products or parts is important, but other things matter too.

Maintain Equipment and Training

For businesses that do carry out their own manufacturing, two of the things that can affect quality are the equipment that you use and employee training. You need quality equipment that is well-maintained, combined with workers who know what they’re doing and can produce consistent work. Getting a balance between productivity and quality of results isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Preventative maintenance will keep machines running to ensure consistent quality in the products that you manufacture. Ongoing training will help your employees to do their best work at all times.

Conduct Quality Control

It’s also essential to check the quality of the items that you manufacture. Whether you manufacture in-house or outsource to a partner, you should check the quality of your products regularly. If you don’t check for consistency in quality, you might not notice a decline until your customers start to complain. Scheduling regular quality control checks will help to ensure every batch has the same quality as the last.

Start manufacturing your products with consistent quality to protect your brand and ensure a good reputation.

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These Tips will Help you to Boost your Company’s Curb Appeal

Do you want to boost your company’s curb appeal? Maybe you just want to make sure that you do everything you can to leave a positive first-impression on your customers. Either way, it is more than possible for you to make a positive impact if you follow this guide.

Put some Greenery Out

A few hanging baskets can work wonders for your company’s curb appeal. You can have some planters at either side of your door to add some colour or you can even frame your door if you want with some nice hanging flowers. Either way, it’s very possible for you to make sure that you make your business look like the most well-kept on the street if you add simple touches like this.

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Add a Welcome Mat

This is a very affordable change that will make every customer feel welcome. When you have a welcome mat, you can easily make it so your company logo is printed on there. This is a great way for you to get your brand out there and you would be surprised at what a difference it can make to your company overall.

Rebrand

If you are completely revamping your storefront, then why not think about refreshing your brand at the same time? This is one of the best ways for you to signal a brand-new start for your business. If you are not sure how to rebrand your company then first look at what your brand stands for. When you have done this, you then need to incorporate your values. If you don’t know how to do this, then it may be worth you hiring a marketing expert. When you do this, they can then advise you on the best way to get your company out there and this can work in your favour.

Sweep the Sidewalk

This is a very simple task, but you do need to make sure that you sweep the sidewalk if possible. Try and make the effort to get the concrete repaired if possible as well, as this will really help you to make the most out of your efforts. If you want some help then visit: https://www.keflatwork.com/concrete-repair-replacement/.

Refresh Your Signage

Cracked paint and faded colours will say to your customers that nobody cares about the store. If you are not willing to invest in your brand, then you can’t expect your customers to do so either. If you are not quite sure how to make your brand stand out, then consider investing in a new sign so you can make a long-lasting impression. This is a fantastic way for you to really make your brand everything that it can be and you would be surprised at how much business it could bring you.

Splash of Paint

Repainting your walls and your window frames can give your store a brand-new lease of life. It can make your store look fantastic and more luxurious. Your customers will love the new look and it will make a huge difference.

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Recycle More Efficiently with These Small Business Tips

If your small business has to deal with the disposal of hazardous waste, then there’s a high chance that you deal with non-hazardous waste as well. Waste like this tends to have an uncomplicated handling procedure, but that being said, there is always room for you to improve. One of the best ways for you to do this would be for you to recycle more. If you want some help with that then simply take a look below.

Make a Commitment to Recycling

The first thing that you need to do is commit to recycling. It’s more likely that your business will succeed if everyone in your team is committed and this is especially the case if you look at top-level management. Top-level employees should be doing their best to set a strong example if possible, because if they don’t then you may find that your entire business suffers.

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Take a Visual Inventory

If you’re ready to get started, then take an inventory of everything that your business disposes of. Remember that aluminium,  steel, plastic, cardboard and paper are all recyclable. If you don’t have the time to do this or if you want to hire a recycling service then remember that there are services such as: https://gfcommodities.com/our-services/yellow-grease-disposal which can help you with yellow grease disposal if you need it.

Do a Waste Paper Audit

You then need to try and perform a wastepaper audit. You need to know what waste you are creating so that you can design a management and collection program. An audit will help you to know what needs to be recycled, what type of waste it is and the value. If you do this, then you will be able to streamline your process and you will also be able to make it much more efficient overall.

Recycling Supervisor

Another thing that you need to do is dedicate a supervisor for your recycling. They can be crucial to your success. The time required to do this job is minimal, but you need to have one until your program can be operational and self-sustainable. Your supervisor can educate your team as to what can be recycled and what can’t, and they can also help you to know the difference between some containers and others.

Educate your Team

You need to do your best to educate your employees by implementing an educational program. This will help your team to get motivated about the changes you are making, and it will also help you to explain the goals or the methods you aim to carry out. If you implement measures without talking to your team first, then you may find that it is hard to get everyone on the same page.

Good Maintenance

It’s vital to make sure that your progress is maintained and that it is consistent. If you know that there is a problem or if you keep on running into issues, then you need to deal with them in a timely manner. Follow up with your team about the informational materials you have and work things out as you go.

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5 Mistakes Every Startup Business Should Avoid

No matter what business sector you are in, or the number of startups already in that business, no two companies are the same. However, one common thing that plagues a lot of startups, no matter their field, is the fear of failure. The fact that an estimated 90% of startups fail is enough to want to avoid the mistakes most of them made. As much as passion is important when starting a business, passion alone will not get you across the line. Here are some mistakes every startup business should avoid.

  1. Not Knowing Your Target Market

It is one thing knowing what product you offer, and quite another thing, knowing who exactly you are aiming to sell it to. Failing to identify the characteristics and demographics of your potential client can cost you a lot of time and money in terms of ROIs (returns on investments) and overruns. This is because you will spend a lot of time, money, and energy advertising to the wrong people – that is, people who are not interested in your product.

  1. Failing To Create A Marketing Plan

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Marketing is everything, as it can determine the success or otherwise of your business. Most startups either fail to create a marketing plan or simply create the wrong plan. One of the worst mistakes a startup business can make is investing a lot of money in ATL (above-the-line) advertising right from the start. Even if you have enough money to afford it, it is best to start with something much less costly, like social media advertising. 

  1. Poor Branding

When it comes to branding, startup businesses need to be extra careful, as there are little things that can easily throw potential customers off. Create a positive brand culture that your target customer can identify with and stick with that culture. Also, ensure that every member of your team understands and operates in line with that culture. For example, if your business is in manufacturing, the quality of your packaging will attract customers. Instead of opting for low-quality material, opt for superior quality such as PPT rollstock right from the start.

  1. Not Having An Emergency Fund

Most startups do not break even until months or even years later. It is a grave mistake to think that you will not make mistakes that will cost your business some money, or that there wouldn’t be a lot of hidden costs along the way. Also, for the first few months that your business tries to break even, not having an extra fund to fall on can cost you your business.

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  1. Avoiding Legal Agreements 

New business owners usually tend to be very naive when it comes to bringing on new business partners or establishing collaborations, with most of them failing to legalize their partnerships with binding documents. This is especially true when a number of friends come together to start a business. Most tend to place friendship above the business, and thus, fail to establish clear legal relationships and documents with respect to shares, contracts, etc. Others also fail to pay attention to standard form contracts signed for every deal they make, either due to the excitement of landing a new client, or the fear of losing the client. 

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All Business Owners Need These Contacts In Their Phone

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Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or run a business for a while, it’s never too late to update the contacts on your phone. Business owners often tend to be busy and short on time. Meaning when an occasion calls for professional help, spending time to source someone to support you is challenging.

To prevent you from being stuck in a scenario, without a much-needed contact. Why not update your address book today?

Below are some of the most critical connections a business owner needs. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but eventually, a time shall arise. And you’ll be glad you have each and every one of them on speed dial when you need them.

Plumber

A burst water pipe or gutter clogs oozing gunk on to your business’s forecourt is never, for instance, instantly spells disaster and panic. Issues such as these always strike when you least expect it. And if they aren’t rectified quickly, they can cause an extensive range of damage to your business premises. Save yourself the time and worry in the future, stressing to find a plumber who can quickly fix the problem. And instead, find and create a reliable contact today. Preferably a plumbing company that caters to commercial businesses, and offers emergency services.

Mentor

You’ll likely meet obstacles in business that you can’t overcome alone. Whether you feel overwhelmed or have no experience in a particular area, it’s essential to ask for help and support. This is why it would benefit you to have a mentor in your phone book to call and speak to when you feel out of your depth. 

Mentors are people who have extensive experience in business and may be able to offer solutions. Such as assisting you with scaling your business or advising you how to overcome stress and anxiety caused by work.

Colleagues

You need access to your employees’ contact details for a multitude of reasons. For example, if you’re sick and can’t make it into work one day, you shall need to delegate tasks to the rest of the team and choose your second in command to take over for that day. 

If you don’t have their details already, ask HR or your employees directly to give their details to you just in case. 

Lawyer

Businesses can, from time to time, come up against specific legal challenges. Ones of which require you to attain advice. 

Sourcing an excellent lawyer who can help guide you through difficult situations at work, whether concerning employment law or trading standards, is essential. 

Having the above contacts in your mobile is you preparing for some of the worst-case scenarios that might occur in advance. 

And so, whether you can’t make it into work and need to choose someone to fill your shoes for a day or two. Or if you need legal advice over a supplier that has mis-sold you a product. With contacts at the ready, you’ll avoid spending time scrambling to find the right person to help you.

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Product Defects Will Harm Your Business More Than Ever Before, And Here’s Why

A defective product will obviously damage your business in a variety of ways. There’s nothing complicated about this, it makes perfect sense. Customers expect your products to work, so they’re unhappy when they don’t. This can lead to lots of refunds and plenty of apology emails as you desperately attempt to cling to customers. 

In current times, small businesses will be harmed by product defects more than ever before. This doesn’t mean there are more defective products than ever before, it means the damage they cause will be greater. Why? When you think about it, there are a few simple reasons…

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Most products already exist

Every year, thousands of products are launched into the market. Realistically, most of these products are not brand new. Take smartphones, for example. A new smartphone is released by every big manufacturer every single year. But, the technology for the devices already exists, it’s just a case of tweaking the features. Thus, there’s no real excuse for a product having defects if one very similar to it already exists. Back in the day, you saw lots of brand new inventions and products hitting the market. As such, you could accept some minor defects as these products had never been seen before. Now, people expect the very best as a lot of your items are already on the market – especially if you’re releasing a newer version of an existing product!

It’s like completing a video game – the first time you do it, it’s tough and you make a lot of mistakes. The next time you go through it, you make fewer mistakes and improve. Even when you play a similar game, you don’t make as many mistakes as you use your previous experiences to help you. The same goes for manufacturing – the more you do it, the more examples you have to look at, the easier it should be to avoid errors. 

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Technology has advanced

Secondly, modern manufacturing and engineering tech are far better than it ever has been. Look at companies like Stamping Simulation to illustrate this point. They use forming simulation technology to see how things are formed before they’re made. This prevents defects from happening as you can spot them before the product has been manufactured. It’s a similar story for other technologies as well – they have made manufacturing more accurate than it used to be. 

Consequently, there’s no room for error from your business. Consumers know that you have lots of great tech at your disposal. So, it looks really bad when you release a product that doesn’t work or has major problems. Either you didn’t use the latest technology or you rushed the manufacturing process. Regardless, it makes your business look really unprofessional. 

It’s clear that modern businesses are under more scrutiny than ones in the past. This is simply because there is so much technology and so many products out there. The standard is so high, and you can’t afford to let it drop. In the past, a defect may lead to a complaint, and that was it. Now, it can cause people to never buy anything from you ever again!

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