The Ultimate Guide To Achieving Work Life Balance Enlightenment

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For many, the idea of having enough free time to enjoy yourself outside of work while still achieving job satisfaction and an excellent wage is the stuff of dreams. However, this scenario is possible. You simply need to know how to go about it and be proactive. Things will never fall into your lap; you need to make them happen.

In the twenty first century, our lives have become busier than ever. Your boss may become unbearable with unrealistic targets to meet, leading you to work all hours under the sun. This can lead to burnout, mental health problems and a devastating impact on your quality of life. You have to consider what is most important to you. Can you put up with the lack of social life, never seeing family and a fraught relationship at home if it means that you earn a fortune? The chances are that you yearn to be comfortable with your financial situation, have your weekends free and to enjoy quality time with family and friends. Read on to find out how you can achieve work life balance enlightenment.

What Do You Love?

When you consider morphing your professional life from being a full time employee to a self employed individual, you need to follow a passion. There has to be something in your life that you adore that will keep you motivated when you set out to launch your own startup. This could be accounting, importing ball bearings, designing and selling custom made tee shirts, or baking vegan cakes for the masses.

When you have stumbled across the thing that kick starts your mojo, you need to run with it and work at establishing yourself within your chosen sector. This will be difficult because every niche is saturated with would be entrepreneurs. However, working for yourself gives you the drive to get on social media, publicize your brand, go to trade shows and put in the hours. While it may seem that you are working long hours, they are dictated by you. If you want to take a Monday off and work Sunday instead, you can. If you are a night owl and work better from 12 until 8, do it. Having the flexibility as an entrepreneur is something you rarely see as a full time employee.

Get The Basics Right

If you have chosen to produce your very own customized jewelry aimed at 18 to 24 year olds, make sure that you have a wholesale approach to selling as well as retail. Getting your items into shops that are household names will increase exposure of your brand. This allows you some breathing space when it comes to fulfilling end user orders.

Your work life balance will improve as you are no longer sitting at a desk lining the pockets of a fat cat. Instead, you are working to earn your own living. If you can, supply some wholesale sellers via Amazon, eBay and other online shops. Be careful with choosing your stockists wisely. Some will try and devalue your items by putting their own discounts on them. This can make your items look inferior to your competitors. To combat this, look into MAP enforcement, where you can set minimum prices for your products. Find out how you can enforce MAP pricing rules by clicking here. You can send out violation messages to stockists and even prevent them from selling your items again, if they don’t heed your warnings.

Take A Breather

While the first few months of setting up your new venture may be a little more stressful than you expected, the ability to take a step back and see what you have built will emerge. Soon, you will be able to have the odd pajama day at home. You can work from your home office rather than suffer through an arduous commute. You no longer have to miss your little one’s parents evenings because you have to work late to prepare for a presentation. Your time is your own to control.

While your salary may take a hit in the first instance, consider what it is that is really important to you. As long as you have enough money to live, you can then enjoy the free time that you have, the more quality family moments that you can enjoy as well as the feeling of not having as much pressure or stress bearing down on you from an employer. You are in charge now. Follow this guide and you will achieve the ultimate work life balance enlightenment.

Tips To Improve The Cybersecurity Of Your Business

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As a business owner, you’ll know that the security of your data is paramount. Data breaches can be inconvenient, costly and risky to say the least. As the cybercriminal moves with the technological times; so should you! With this in mind, let’s consider some essential tips to up your protection game. 

Multi-factor authentication 

Gone are the days when a strong password was enough! If you want to improve your security, it’s a good idea to go for multiple layers of authentication. A strong password is the first step. The next is authentication via a code; this code can be sent to the users iPhone for example. Some businesses go for a third method of authentication as well as these two steps. The third method is generally more advanced, for example, fingerprints or voice recognition. Security is especially important when employees are accessing your network on the go and from multiple devices. It’s also a good idea to use mobile device management so that you can monitor the devices which access your network.

Cloud-computing 

IT solutions like cloud-computing arrive with plenty of benefits, one of which is improved security. Cloud-computing systems use robust security regulations and have inbuilt antivirus software. These systems are encrypted to protect your data continually. It’s also simple to remotely wipe a device if it’s lost or stolen. With cloud computing, it’s easy to access your network anywhere and any time. Such features will increase the productivity of your business. You’ll also save money on IT equipment due to the use of remote servers. Cloud-computing can improve your communication as you can integrate your voice calling, messaging and email all on one platform. When you take steps to improve your productivity, you’ll have more time to spend on top priority tasks. 

Update your software

Software updates seem to pop up constantly, so some find them a bit of a bother. The fact is, it’s essential to install every update that comes up. Running software on older versions only makes you more vulnerable to security threats. Don’t be tempted to ignore software updates even if you’re really busy. It’s well worth the time it takes to update rather than risking a breach or a virus. Strong anti virus software should help you to decrease these kinds of risks. 

Train your staff

Your staff are the hub of your operation, so it’s vital that they are adequately trained on security. Ensure that they understand all the ins and outs of your security policies to minimize mistakes. You could also invest in a cybersecurity training course if you wish to help your staff further. Straightforward advice about not writing down or sharing passwords can go a long way. Password management tools can also come in handy to keep everything safe and sound.

Security breaches can put your company at risk and waste your time. It’s best to sit down and create a well designed policy and action plan to protect yourself. With a little research you’ll find the solutions which best suit your company and your current needs.

4 Tips For Startup Businesses

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When you are setting up your own business, you are firing on all cylinders, probably getting very little sleep and have ideas coming out of your ears. There is so much that you know that you need to get done, from funding to premises to business plans. It is a frantic and busy time, a time you are never likely to forget. When it’s all in place and your business has finally launched, it can be difficult to know which areas are best to concentrate on next. Which is where we come in as today we share with you 4 tips for startup businesses.

Look after your team

Your business will rely on your team, so you need to prioritize looking after them.

To help your team to grow and enjoy working with you, they will need clear initial training and ongoing coaching and support. It should be open and friendly and any feedback should be constructive. This should enable everyone to feel confident and comfortable in the role that you are asking them to fulfill. 

Your team needs to feel invested in your business in order to give the best of themselves. To engender this, involve them in all aspects of your business and communicate with them regularly. Hold team meetings to share updates and encourage ideas from everyone. Book in one to ones with each member of your team to allow them time to talk through their work, their progress and any potential issues. Offer your support to help them to achieve goals or address any shortfalls in their performance. 

Most importantly, ensure that they feel appreciated and important to you. Get to know them, look out for opportunities to praise and thank them and reward appropriately when you see a job well done or want to celebrate your successes. 

Keep up with technology developments

It is worth always looking out for software, technology and packages that can make your business run more smoothly, such as investor crm software. These products will ensure that you can deliver a greater level of service to your customers, and usually with less effort on your part. They are specifically designed for a certain job, one that might currently be taking up the time of several members of staff as they use many different systems. Take the time to look around for products that can take some of the work out of your processes for you. 

If this is not your area of expertise, it will always be someone’s, so delegate the task to a team member or stay in touch with others in your industry to keep abreast of any developments. 

Develop your own marketing strategy

Marketing is key for every business, no matter your niche. What can vary widely here is the amount of time and money you choose to invest in it. 

You might choose to invest a lot of your own time here, rather than heavily invest financially, and there are plenty of ways to do this. Many businesses are able to build strong followings and customer sales through effectively utilizing social media, free to use in most cases. Others have strong email marketing campaigns or content marketing strategies. In these cases there is a significant time commitment required, but very little monetary outlay, so you will need to weigh up whether this works well for your business, or whether outsourcing to specialists will make more sense on balance.

Build strong relationships with your customers

Your initial customers are likely to be precious to you and rightly so, you will want to look after them and build strong relationships with them.

Anyone that experiences your business could potentially be talking about your business the next day with a friend, so these early interactions are absolutely key in developing your reputation. Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool, and these days that extends to people talking about your business online too. A great rating on trusted review websites can really boost your business, as can people talking positively about you on social media. 

Take the time to ensure that those initial customers receive the very best from you, encouraging them to return to you as repeat customers and share their experiences with others. Ask for their opinions on what you have delivered to them and make it clear to them how much their feedback is valued. Use any feedback to improve your service and shape your business going forwards and thank them for helping you in this way.

Taking Care of Your Tech When You Freelance

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When you freelance, you are pretty reliant on your tech. After all, the majority of freelancers will work from home, from their laptop. They will also incorporate other tech like tablets, smartphones and gadgets into their working routine. So, it’s important that you really take care of your tech if you’re reliant on it  to make a profit! Here are just a few pieces of advice you might want to take into account!

Insurance

Safety first! All of the products that you use for your work should be insured. This is an absolute basic requirement. Tech that your company uses can often be extremely pricey. But at the same time, tech can be easily damaged. All it takes is a spilt drink, dropping something on the floor, or even leaving something in a space that is excessively humid or hot, for tech to break or become unusable. These pricey possessions can also be prone to theft. So, make sure you aren’t left having to fork out for new laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras, or other equipment by making sure all of your tech is insured under a policy that has you covered for absolutely everything. It’s always worth using price comparison sites for your different policies. This will get you the lowest cost cover and premium out there.

IT Support

Sometimes your tech can go down, just at the moment you’re about to do something important. Maybe you were about to launch a blog post or vlog post that viewers and subscribers were waiting for. Perhaps you were about to reply to an email about an important collaboration. You may have a deadline coming up and need to submit a substantial piece of work. Having IT Support on hand can help to resolve network issues and other problems that can get in the way of your work. Consider working with a company like F1 Networks who will be able to provide you with all the IT support and network solutions you could possibly need.

Upgrading Software

You’ll find yourself using the same software on a day to day basis. Whether that’s Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, or anything else. It’s always worth looking at the latest versions of the programs that you use. If there’s an upgrade on offer, you might want to consider taking it. These major companies are always working to improve the services and programs that they offer you. So new versions can help to improve your work! The latest versions of software are also less prone to problems and hacking, as they’ve been optimized and cyber criminals haven’t had as much time to familiarize themselves with the newer software.

These, of course, are just a few tips that can help you take care of your tech when you’re freelancing. But seriously consider implementing them into the way you work! They can make all the difference in the long run!

Legal Steps that will Help you to Start your Own Business

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As each year goes by, more and more budding entrepreneurs start to turn their vision into a fully-fledged business. This is great, but if you don’t have a roadmap to guide you to success then you won’t get very far.

Company Name

Before you start printing out your business cards or even pick a domain name, you need to try and make sure that the name you want isn’t taken. You probably don’t need an attorney to help you with this because most of the time you can do an online search to find any other businesses that are registered with the same name as yours. If you want to take your search to that next level, you can easily do a trademark search as this will tell you if your name is taken or not in any country.

Incorporate your Business

Forming an LLC or even a corporation is an essential stage if you want to protect your personal assets. This includes your personal property or even your child’s college fund.  An LLC is ideal for any business who wants some degree of legal protection, without all of the formalities. An S corporation is ideal for any business that qualifies, and a Corporation is ideal for those who want to go corporate or even for those who are requiring funding.

Employee Laws

You have a legal obligation as an employer to make sure that your employees are safe and treat them with respect. If you want to make the most out of your operation, then it helps to spend time with a professional as they will help you to understand the obligations that you face, and they can also help you with your state payroll too. They can also help you with self-employment taxes, discrimination laws, unemployment insurance, compensation and even your wage per hour requirements. If you want to protect yourself even more, then look into a trade association. There are plenty of cannabis trade associations out there if you work in this industry.

Permits

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to have one or more permits from the state. You might even have to get a federal level too. Licenses might include a sales permit, health license or even a professional license. You have to make sure that the one you have is suited to your requirements and you also have to make sure that they are in date too, if yours does happen to have an expiry.

Trademark

You are not required by law to register a trademark, but if you do then this gives you an additional level of protection. You’ve probably spent hours of your time brainstorming for the perfect name and you may have even put some effort into your logo too so it’s a good idea for you to make sure that nobody else can use it. If you want some additional help with getting your name protected, then there are plenty of legal professionals out there who can help.

 

The Tech Stairway To Success

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Building success is the ultimate purchase of every single company. Success means growth, in size, in numbers, and reputation. However, what success is made of is a different kettle of fish. What does a business need to achieve its goal? There is no simple answer. At the core of it, a company needs great assets that can support its growth. Your assets are the foundation upon which you can build your success. People, of course, play a significant role in your strategy. Your capital investment is detrimental to enabling high-return campaigns. But nothing is as vital as your technology. Technology in the 21st century business environment is the quickest path to growth and success. Here’s why it matters:

Your business plan should focus on tech

First and foremost, it is impossible nowadays to imagine a company that doesn’t maximize its tech tools and solutions. What this means at a company level is that you can’t leave IT and cyber tech management as an afterthought. It is the responsibility of leaders and directors to put technology back into the driving seat of the company – you can find dedicated executive leadership training for CISOs to help you understand how to build your strategy around cyber growth. Indeed, innovative processes and market alignment require strategic tech integration. In an era where technology has become the only answer to the increased need for environmentally-friendly, safe, and cost-saving approaches, you have to let it drive your business forward. 

Your tech presence affects your brand image

Your business choices define your brand. In the eye of the audience, your technology decisions affect your branding identity. Indeed, your customers are savvy. They compare their favorite brands and the way they interact with each of them. It’s fair to say that a brand that lacks tech support fails not only to reflect your identity but also to meet the market demand. 

It’s your best protection against online threats

Small businesses are a cyber criminal’s favorite target. Indeed, while large companies are more likely to have sturdy safety protocols in place, SMEs, on the other hand, are more vulnerable. In 2018, 67% of SMEs in the UK and the US fell victim of a cyberattack. In most cases, data breach incidents were the result of negligence. For businesses, it makes no doubt that cybercrimes can have a devastating impact on day-to-day processes, such as wasting time, money, and losing your credibility as an expert. Investing in dedicated tech strategies that can shield your company is a priority. 

Your customers expect better tech services

Customers are naturally lazy. They want to sort out their issues as smoothly and efficiently as possible. And frictionless customer service implies excellent tech solutions. Indeed, face-to-face videos such as a video voicemail can not only enhance communication but also boost your customer relationship. Indeed, your customers want better, quicker, and more personal interactions with their favorite brands. Putting technology at the center of your communications allows you to meet the expectations of a new generation of tech-savvy customers. 

Technology is not the purpose of growth, but it is its means. Indeed, at an age where the market is buzzing with smart tech hubs and cyber activities, companies have to engage strategically with the innovative tools and solutions around them. Your use of technology can make or break your business.

 

Cobots: Meet Your New Work Colleague

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Have you heard about cobots? If you haven’t, get ready to hear a lot more about them in the near future, because cobots are likely to be something many of us are going to have to get accustomed to. Cobot stands for ‘collaborative robot’, and they’re set to revolutionize the workplace. 

We all know that robots have been doing much of the work once done by human hands, for some time now. But the next wave of the robotic takeover is upon us. So, if you’re wondering if your new work colleague may be a cobot, read on. 

Are cobots a new idea?

It’s no secret that robots have been used in assembly plants to do repetitive jobs for decades. However, the problem with robots is that they are not suitable to do tasks that change from one moment to the next, or that require a light touch.

Cobots are not a new idea. They have been around for over 20 years, mainly doing tasks related in the car industry. The problem so far has been that technology has only allowed them to do basic tasks such as heavy lifting. But that is now changing. 

Why are we hearing about them now?

A range of advances has allowed the concept of cobots to become more than glorified manual laborers. For a start, advances in AI have meant that robots can now learn from their human counterparts. Additionally, advances in robotics have enabled robots to handle more fragile materials.

One major step forward has been the development of new sensors. There was never going to be much collaboration while humans needed to be protected from robots, but now that robots are more ‘aware’ of their surroundings, they can work more safely around people.

Will cobots take jobs from humans?

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer, because taking jobs from people is not the idea behind the development of cobots. The keyword here is ‘collaborative’, which suggests that the point is that they enhance what people are already doing. However, there are some instances where they might end up replacing human workers.

For example, with advances in pressure points and sensors, cobots could learn how to do dangerous tasks. Once they have understood how to do a job safely, the question would be why have a human do that job? Having a cobot do it would surely be the right thing to do.

What will the future bring?

Experts think that it will all come down to trust, which pretty much boils down to how safe the software is. And in many ways, that will always be the problem. Is software 100% safe? Just think how often your computer operating system needs to be updated and you will have the answer to that.

As the Internet of Things grows, so does the risk of hacking. So, even if the software used in cobots is 100% safe at any given moment, there’s no guarantee it will continue to be so. Until the software can be relied on, any changes in the way robots interact with people will be relatively minor.

Summary

To summarize, the development of cobots will certainly bring many new challenges to the work environment. However, it is safe to say that if you go to work tomorrow and find you have a cobot as a new work colleague, you won’t have to start worrying about looking for a new job.

Keeping A Positive Attitude At Work, Even Under The Most Difficult Circumstance

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It’s true, not every career is plain sailing. But then, that is life. Life can throw unexpected curve balls at us. Be that in our daily lives, our work and career, or just in general with friends and family. Sometimes it’s the unexpected moments that can hit us the hardest. Our choice of career, our goals and ambitions are important for anyone. We want to succeed and do well. But what happens when those unexpected things go wrong in our workplace? When things get a little tougher than we thought? The best thing you can do is keep a positive attitude and ride through whatever storm you are faced with. With that in mind, here is how you can do that, whatever the situation may be.

When your boss isn’t too happy with you

Let’s face it, our boss will not always be happy with us. Whatever the situation may you find yourself in you likely acted out in good faith. Perhaps you spoke up about something or made them look incompetent. There could be many reasons why things aren’t going swimmingly between you and your boss. But, the best thing you can do is have a positive attitude. Perhaps admitting when you are wrong and taking ownership for your mistakes. Or even owning up to your opinion and standing by them, showing the utmost respect in the process. 

When things are changing and there is uncertainty

There may come a time in your career when you work for a company that is going through some changes. It could be redundancies, it might mean there are different owners coming in and you are looking at Mergers & Acquisitions. You could be able to look at this in a position way, you may be entitled to workers compensation because of it, the redundancy package may be enticing, or it could present an opportunity to work for someone new and try to progress your career. A negative or a change isn’t always going to result in a bad time for you. 

If you have an accident in the workplace

Depending on your situation, an accident that you were involved in could have caused you some injury. This might mean time off your beloved job or stop you from doing the things you love. You may feel like this isn’t fair. You would be right in saying that. While vengeance may not be healthy, justice, however, should be available to everyone. But make sure you do it with the right people and follow the correct processes involved. At the end of the day, you won’t want to jeopardize your career by making fast moves. 

When you clash with work colleagues

Finally, if we are honest, you won’t always see eye to eye with everyone you come in contact with, or work closely with. It’s impossible. But many times during your career you will come across these people. You have to be the bigger person and think about the job in hand. Maybe you are handling a project together, or have to work each day closely. Have a positive attitude towards the situation and them. You may find that this will make relations much easier and allow you to do a good job. 

Let’s hope these tips help you keep a positive attitude in some of the difficult situations you may be faced with.

Grow Your Business Without Stretching Yourself Thinly

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When it comes to business and working for ourselves, the aim of the game is to grow and make it a thriving success. You are finally doing something that you feel passionate about, and that you are making money from with a flexible working and home life approach. However, the problem you may have is stretching yourself too thinly. There are a lot of plates to spin and sometimes too much to think about. With that in mind, here are some of the ways that you can grow your business without losing your mind.

Outsourcing where needed 

One of the biggest temptations that all business owners will have when it comes to their business is to manage and complete everything themselves. If you want a job done properly, you may as well do it, right? Wrong! This is where you end up not doing things to the best of your ability. Outsourcing can be a real asset to your business, and there are many avenues you can choose, depending on your strengths and weaknesses. Companies like Simplified can offer things such as IT services, websites you find online will give you access to freelancers who can take on roles such as website development or social media management. Work out where your time is best focused, and then consider outsourcing the other elements. 

Working on your time management 

You might need to take some time out to figure out some of the best processes that work for you when it comes to time management. As a business owner, even if you do outsource certain aspects of your workload, you will still need to manage your time and prioritize the things that need to be done quickly. This is when looking into different time management options can help you to succeed in this. There could be many different things you could consider and try that work for you. 

Analyzing your business regularly 

Each week or month, depending on the type of business you have, it will be worth it to sit down and analyze the results. This might be the amount of sales, and the popular times in which they were made. What brought those customers to your business? Was it a deal or an advert? Then look at other things such as website analytics, the demographics of your customers. These things can help you to make better decisions about things moving forward. 

Making allowances 

Finally, even though you may be a business working from home, it is also important for you to make some allowances. This could be anything from having a storage unit for your stock, a dedicated office in your home to help you work better, or even getting to the stage where you lease an office or shop and hire staff. These are exciting prospects and could definitely be a great way to help you move the business forward without stretching yourself and could help you to be more successful moving forward. 

Let’s hope these options have given you something to think about within your business.

Bootstrap Marketing – Time Not Money

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We all have a budget. Marketing is one of those things that can eat into your budget in seconds. More so if you are throwing money into the campaign after campaign – boosting posts on the suggestion of Facebook, and then following up with some Pinterest pins. It is essential that you know why you are spending what you are spending, and if it is actually going to do you any good. 

It is easy to throw money at a problem and feel like you have done your job, but marketing in this day and age doesn’t need to cost the earth. 

We are lucky that we have access to tools and software that make the journey quick, productive with access to the numbers that are going to make a difference. Here are some tips on how you can tackle your marketing without spending anything.

Renew

If you are posting content on your blog or website, then chances are you have years worth all stacked up. Quality posts that have relevant links and great information. However, they aren’t getting the eyes on them that you had hoped and the chances are you didn’t do much with them the first time around. This is your chance to revamp and reshare. Go back through the content that you would consider high-value, and edit it. Add images and more supporting data. Update the links and reshare it. However, don’t just share it once, add it to your schedule (which we will get to in a moment). You can even create eBooks and other download content for you readers to pick up – email gated, naturally. 

Infographics

If you are pressed for research and writing time, but you need to be producing content that will get people engaged in a conversation and sharing, then take a look at infographics. You can make free infographics with something like Canva. They have a range of templates that you can utilize. Try only to create infographics that you have fast access to the data for, and that you have supporting links for. Moreover, always remember your branding. Without it, the infographic won’t be selling your brand in the way that you really should be aiming for. 

You can make a range of infographics, some for clients and customers, and some for people and businesses in the same field as you. 

Branding

Your branding is going to have to be on everything. And you can create your own logo, website, social media images, and so much more. Again this just takes time and probably a few tutorials. However, once you have the images that you feel suits what you do, you can then get it printed (yes, this costs) on things like your business cards, flyers, promotional materials. However, if you want only to put money where it matters, then put it into your packaging. People wish to receive something that is an indicator that the company cares about them, and looks good. Branded wrapped paper, stickers, and a note inside are great touches. Find custom shipping tape to really take it there. 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is a powerful tool that so many companies just aren’t using to their full power. It doesn’t take more than a few days to create a beautiful funnel taking people from the sign up to purchase links over the space of a few weeks. There are many email marketing funnels tools that are free to use. You will have to try a few out to see what you like the most, but for the most part, you are going to really enjoy seeing it automatically being sent out. Turning cold leads into engaged readers and buyers is a great feeling. Neil Patel has some great advice on how to really amp up your email marketing. 

Content 

We have mentioned writing for your blog or website above. Now we should look at what you should be doing when you have written a piece of content. Unless you have a lot of traffic naturally, because your SEO is great and you are appearing for all of your keywords, then you’re going to need to keep producing fresh content. Not only that but your supporting links need to be of good value too. Those will help Google every further put your content where it should be in search results. All you are going to need to do for content creation is to write it. Of course, if you are writing in an area that you are an expert, it will come more naturally to you. You will need to find your tone, and also the research might take some time – but in general this is free and more than worth the time spent. 

Social Media

Every company has a platform that they are performing better on. Instagram works for images; it is a visual platform; LinkedIn works better for text pieces as does Twitter – Facebook is a bit of both. You have access to all of the analytics you’re going to need to see where you should be putting your time and effort. We have the tools now that allow us to create months of automated content. Meaning that you can have a hands-off approach to your social media, and spend time once a month inputting, a 30 minutes a day responding and engaging. This is a huge time saver. There are paid options for social media, but you aren’t likely to need them in the early days, and you can use a combination of the free options to cover all of your basis. 

When it comes to business, you can do a lot yourself with time, some tools and a few tutorials. It is essential that you always write your goals when you are doing anything to do with social media and content. Having a clear direction will mean that you always know what is coming up and what is next. Spend time, not money – and you’ll see a more significant profit in the end.