What We Really Do In January

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January is a bit of a let down if we’re honest. There is so much hype surrounding December and even November, with the holidays and New Years. And when we reach that time where we cross over to a New Year, there are so many people saying New Year, New Me. Setting resolutions and promises to change and do new, positive things. Unfortunately, those well-meant promises aren’t easily kept. Changing habits or even making new ones takes a lot of willpower. But just because you don’t immediately accomplish every little thing within those first few weeks of the year doesn’t mean that you have failed and should stop trying. What we really do in January doesn’t mean that you won’t accomplish what you set out to do.

Money

Following the holiday’s everyone is scrambling trying to sort out their finances. So many people use their savings to pay for Christmas, and so when it comes to the New Year, their funds are low. Rather than trying to push those minimal finances to stretch to pay for all those new activities you wanted to get involved with, wait a month and give your savings account a chance to gain a little of what it has lost. Besides, most places put up their prices in January purely because so many people sign up this month. So when you get to the end of the month and realize that you haven’t started going to the gym, or haven’t had the money to start eating clean yet, don’t worry.

Normality

Throughout the holiday’s normality goes out of the window. Following Thanksgiving, the build-up to Christmas is a blur of shopping and visiting. Christmas day is all about eating rubbish from the moment you wake up, afternoon naps, and late bedtimes. Then you have the lead up to New Year’s Eve where no one really knows what day it is. So January is a shock to the system as you try and get back to normal. So when you look back at the month, if all you have achieved is getting your sleep pattern right and are eating at the proper times, then consider it an accomplishment.

Set Up

For many people, that first week of January is a ‘set up’ week. Where you call al the places, sign up to all the things, and buy in all the stuff you need to do the things. You come up with ideas and plan how to get them off the ground – which you can read more about by clicking here. And then it gets to the end of the month, and you realize you haven’t done much of anything. And that is because you are living through point number two with a budget of number one. Again, see this month as a stepping stone; you have accomplished part of what you have set out to do while getting back into a normal routine and trying not to overspend. That’s an accomplishment.

Why College Students Don’t Get Enough Sleep + Ways To Improve Sleep Habits

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The National Sleep Foundation recommends that college-aged students get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Yet, one in three college students report having trouble sleeping as well as not getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. Although it may be stressful balancing schoolwork, social lives and jobs, the amount of sleep we get each night should not suffer because of this.

Below are some common issues that many college students face that can disrupt our sleep patterns, along with ways to improve these conditions.

Anxiety

Mental health has become a critical issue on college campuses. In fact, a study revealed that anxiety is the leading mental health issue college students face. The National College Health Assessment Survey reported that 15.8 percent of college students have been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety. The same survey found that 21.9 percent of students claimed that anxiety had negatively affected their academic performance whether it was through getting a lower grade on an exam or project, receiving an incomplete, or dropping a course. A college student must balance many things all at once including midterms, friendships, relationships, and careers. For many young adults, this is the first time dealing with significant levels of stress and can be extremely overwhelming, bringing on anxiety.

Anxiety can cause sleep problems or make existing sleep problems worse. However, getting a good night’s rest, especially as a college student, needs to be a priority. In order to reduce your anxiety and get the sleep your body needs try meditating. Focus on your breathing and visualize a serene environment.

Busy Mind

Mental over activity is becoming a major issue for people, especially college students. We’ve all had those nights where it’s impossible to get our brains to slow down long enough for us to fall asleep. For busy college students these nights can happen more frequently. When you’re juggling so many different things at once, it can often feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. This leads to many students working on schoolwork or participating in extracurricular activities up until bedtime. While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s actually a huge issue because sleep isn’t as simple as turning a switch off/on. Our bodies need time to unwind and dim our minds in order to prepare for sleep.

If you’re having trouble slowing your mind down at night, allow at least one hour before bed to wind down. This will not only help create closure for the day, but it also allows your brain to begin the process of shutting off. Developing a pre-bedtime ritual is a great way to help you and your mind wind down. Try reading, journaling, or even sketching and don’t forget to avoid electronics during your wind-down time.

Discomfort

College dorm rooms come with their own set of sleep destroyers. One of the many reasons that college students have trouble sleeping in their dorm rooms is that their beds often have many other uses besides sleeping — including studying, doing school assignments, watching TV, and even hanging out with friends. Remember that although dorm rooms may be small, your bed is not your living room. You want to associate your bed with sleep so that when you see it your body craves sleep. Try to study at your desk or in the library and hang out with your friends in common areas. Another issue in your dorm room that may be causing problems with your sleep patterns is your university-issued mattress. Most of these mattresses have been used for years and may be too hard or lumpy. A poor quality mattress can cause discomfort and even body pains that can be distracting and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

While you may not be able to go out and buy a new mattress for your dorm room, a mattress pad, comfortable bedding, and good sleepwear may help make it more comfortable. A soft and supportive pillow will also help add some much needed comfort to your bed.

Noise

Living in close quarters can make for a lot of noise. Whether it’s your roommate watching their favorite TV show at a high volume or your neighbors talking loudly in the hallway, noise can be extremely distracting when it comes time for bed. Unfortunately, while most resident halls have designated “quiet hours”, not all residents respect them. If your roommate and neighbors are continuously loud, especially during quiet hours, ask them to quiet down. It may even be helpful to discuss each other’s schedules and set guidelines to make sure everyone can sleep, study, and enjoy their time in the dorms peacefully. If that doesn’t work, try earplugs or white noise to help cover-up noises. Fans and sleep sounds are both great ways to cancel out noise.

Trying To Run A Startup Without These Things Will Doom Your Business To Fail

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One of the things that a lot of people realize when they actually start trying to set up their own business is just how many different elements there are to it. Even the smallest startup is made up of a lot of different parts that all need a lot of care and attention put into them. Because of that, it can be kind of overwhelming to keep track of them all. However, there are some things that need more of your attention than others. With that in mind, here are three things that you startups is totally doomed without.

Employees

There are a lot of resources that your business can’t survive without, but if there’s one resource that’s more valuable than just about any other, it’s your employees. You might be at the head of the business, but they are the ones who can turn your ambitions into a reality. Because of that, you need to make sure that you’re bringing in the right people at all times. Using some applicant tracking system software can make that entire process much easier, without you having to divert all of your attention away from your business. And when you have the right employees, you need to make sure that they’re well taken care of because if you can’t look after your employees, you really can’t expect to get the very best out of them.   

An accountant

Accounting is one of those things that far too many business owners have a habit of neglecting entirely. This is often for two pretty simple reasons. Firstly, it can be incredibly complicated and frustrating to wade through hundreds of invoices in order to figure out what position your finances are in. Secondly, it’s just plain boring. There are far more interesting aspects of your business that you might prefer to focus your energies on. That’s why outsourcing them out to an accountant is such a good idea. It might seem as though you’re going to end up paying more than you need to there but the truth is that a good accountant is worth their weight in gold.

An online presence

It’s pretty much impossible to deny the fact that the modern world that we live in is ruled by the internet. Just about everyone on earth is online now, and most people have the internet in their pocket pretty much all day long. Because of that, if you ignore the internet when arranging your business, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Everything from marketing to actually selling your products can be done online incredibly easily, and you’re much more likely to connect with many more customers if all they have to do is put a search into Google to find you.

Sure, these things might need to be right at the top of your list of priorities, but they certainly aren’t the only things that should be there. You need to make sure that you’re putting as much care and attention as possible into pretty much every aspect of your business from top to bottom.

Bring Your Store out of the Past and Into the Modern Day

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There are probably thousands of stores around the world that still haven’t updated the way they work. Technology has introduced some clever and wonderful advantages that have helped us change the way we work for the better. It has sped up processing times for orders, it has widened our audiences and it has helped us grow considerably larger than we were in the past.

All of these added together makes for a more successful business overall, but there are still many stubborn stores that just refuse to or simply can’t upgrade their processes to the modern age. In this article, we’ll be updating your knowledge of the modern business facilities and features you need in order to grow your company.

Updating your payment methods

If you still haven’t at least introduced credit and debit card support in your business then you’re living in a dark past where cash was the only accepted form of payment. Get yourself a free credit card reader so you can start taking different payments and finally remove that “cash only” sign on your door. Accepting different payment methods opens you up to more customers and it helps to make purchases more convenient, which is an essential factor when thinking about customer retention.

Get yourself a website

Thanks to the easy website builders available on the internet, it’s simple to get yourself an online presence. Many people think this is a waste of time especially if they’re just a humble grocery store or antique shop, but you’d be surprised at how useful it is to at least have some presence on the internet. You’ll be easier to find in online directories and you’ll be able to provide contact information if a customer wants to get in touch for one reason or another.

Growing on social media

The world of business comes with many social media marketing challenges and these can make it seem virtually impossible for a small-time business to take advantage of social media. However, social media doesn’t need to be a complicated and confusing concept–all it takes is a bit of knowledge and understanding of how it works. Social media is essentially just an online platform for people to communicate, but because there are so many users it’s a fantastic way to get exposure. Growing on social media ties in with getting yourself a website because they’re both ways to boost your online presence. Again, while it seems like a lot of work and borderline pointless for most business, it’s a fantastic way to increase awareness of your store and draw in more customers.

Selling on the internet

If you run a store that sells unique goods or has products that people across the country (or even the world) are interested in, then it might be a good idea to look into selling your products on the internet. Just think of it as sending a friend or family member a gift, except this time you’re getting paid for it and if you do it enough, you’ll land yourself some deals to reduce the amount it costs to send goods around. Even if you just register your products on an auction website, it’s still a fantastic way to widen your audience.

The New Years Resolution Alternative

January is the perfect time to set New Year’s Resolutions only to see them fail by February.

The motivation to accomplish lofty goals at the start of the year disappears quickly.

It’s almost as if setting New Year’s Resolutions is a recipe for disaster.

Why is that?

The feeling you have after hearing a motivational speaker is the same as the beginning of a New Year. Inspiration is fickle.

Instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions, try creating new habits.

Habits are to goals as your journey is to the destination.

As an instant gratification-based society goals are sexier because you either achieve them or you don’t. But the downside of that is you’ll eventually fail. Once that happens the chances of you setting another goal decreases.

Habits are actually more controllable. They are based on effort, not results.

While goals depend on some variables you can’t control, habits are completely in your hands (take note Type A people!)

For example weight loss is a popular New Year’s Resolution (goal), but the equivalent habit is working out 3 – 5 times per week. People lose weight at different paces, but going to the gym multiple times a week is something you can track.

Most goal tracking apps for your smart phone are actually disguised as habit trackers. It makes complete sense because habits are much more manageable.

So this year instead of having New Year’s Resolutions figure out what habits will get your desired goals and set those instead!

Business Pricing & Profits: Questions & Answers

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Business pricing is always a tricky area to contemplate. If you set your prices too low, then you will find yourself struggling to generate a profit. Set your prices too high, and you’re not going to be able to find enough clients to sustain your business. You have to be a real-life Goldilocks, devising a pricing strategy that is just right.

Sadly, this can be an incredibly confusing task, which often generates more questions than answers. Below are some of the most common questions new business owners find themselves asking when they consider their pricing, so browse through and find the answers you need to ensure your future business success.

Products

How do I decide a price for a product I am selling myself?

Products that you sell yourself — for example, through an online store or at a market — should be priced at your retail value. This price takes into account:

  • Your costs for producing the product,

Plus…

  • The cost of selling the product (such as online selling fees),

Plus…

  • The profit margin you expect.

How do I decide the price for a product I am selling for others to sell on (distributors, stores, etc.)?

In this case, you will be selling for a wholesale price. This will usually be less than your retail price, as you do not have to factor in the costs of marketing, selling fees, and other costs of selling directly to customers. So you will set a price based on:

  • The cost to you of producing the product,

Plus…

  • The profit margin you expect.

What should my profit margin be?

It depends; the average profit margin fluctuates hugely between industries. If you’re not sure what your profit margin should be, then run a search for the average margin in your industry and use that number as a baseline.

How do I know how to price products to meet my needs and keep the business running?

This is a very complicated question, and sadly, it depends on too many variable factors (such as the profit you want to generate and your own expectations for a wage) to determine. However, there is a basic calculation that should give you a starting point for how much you need to earn:

  • Your expenses (your rent/mortgage, utilities, broadband, insurance payments, groceries) + costs of running the business + the national minimum wage.

This calculation should give you a figure you need to earn on a monthly basis for the business to stay afloat and keep your life running smoothly. You won’t be making a fortune, but it’s a good starting point to base startup calculations on.

Can I control what stores/distributors charge for my product when they have bought it from me?

Yes, this is your minimum advertised price (MAP), and you can set this at a price point you feel reflects your product. It is essential that you always set the exact same MAP for every store or distributor you sell to. This protects your business relationships, establishes fairness, and makes it clear you are a reputable business owner. If you sell to multiple sources, the likes of Trade Vitality can help you ensure MAP compliance, so you can protect the reputation of your company.

How do I know what customers will pay when setting my retail price?

To an extent, you won’t know until you try! Take your lead from competing products and businesses, or conduct market research to help ascertain what potential customers think of your pricing strategy.

In conclusion

Hopefully, you found the above answers helpful, and can now go forth and set the right prices to ensure a bright future for your business.

How Your Small Time Products Can Stand Out Against The Big Guns

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When you’re a small business, it’s easy to believe that you’re always going to be that way. But it doesn’t have to be the case. Because the big businesses that you look up to, and may even be competing with, started off small too. That’s the thing about being a small business, you can often underestimate yourself. You think that you have to compete with other businesses in your league. But did you ever stop to realize that aiming higher and looking to compete with the big guns themselves is how you push yourself into becoming a bigger business? If that sounds like something you’re striving for, let’s take a look at how you can stand out against those biggest businesses now.

Original Ideas

The first thing that you’re going to need to do, and do well, is constantly be coming up with original ideas. It can be tempting to almost mirror or copy what the bigger companies are doing – just to make sure that you’re keeping up, but this isn’t always the best approach. Because when you do this, you’re kind of just lagging behind. However, when you can be fresh with your ideas, and come up with something new, you have a much better chance of beating out the competition and standing out as a big player in your own right.

Great Branding

Next, you’re going to want to take a look at your branding. Because it matters. You need to make sure that the image you’ve created for your brand is strong, unified, and will sell in your market. Big businesses kind of sell themselves thanks to their branding. So you need to constantly work on yours, and look to keep it consistent, in order to create a similar effect with your own brand.

Quality Suppliers

From here, you’re then going to want to choose the best suppliers for your business. You don’t always have to go cheap, or even work with other small businesses, just because they’re in your league. Instead, you should be looking to choose specialists in their industry, such as Dynatect Manufacturing Inc., that will improve your products. When you put quality first, your product will always be better. And this is how you’re going to stand up against some of the biggest businesses in your industry.

First Class Service

Sometimes, big businesses aren’t great at keeping their customers happy. Because they get big, and there brand kind of does the work for them. So they forget about the importance of customer service. And this is where you can beat them. By making sure that you always put forwards the best customer service of your life, you will start to stand out among consumers as being the better choice.

Humble Beginnings

It’s also going to work in your favor that you’ve got humble beginnings. Because consumers love to buy local and support smaller businesses. Right now, you’re the underdog – the champion on the people, and customers love that. So if you can stick with this kind of feeling, then your customers are going to love you.

The Biggest Social Media Marketing Challenges In 2018

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Everybody knows that social media marketing is one of your best tools because it has such an extensive reach and it allows you to have direct contact with your customers. But there are a lot of misconceptions about social media marketing, one of them being that it’s easier to see a return online than it is using more traditional marketing materials. While it’s true that it can be easier to reach your audience, the sheer amount of competition on social media means that it’s actually a lot harder to see a valuable return than you might realize. There are all sorts of challenges to overcome if you want to build a successful social media campaign, these are just some of them.

Getting Followers

This is obviously step one, and it’s way harder than people realize. People will only follow a page if it has some good content to offer them. That means if you want to build a good following, you have to be putting out good quality stuff all of the time. Luckily, you can use services that will help you find followers, but be very careful. Look at this Crowdfire review for an example of the kind of thing you should be looking for. The software will streamline your page and find relevant followers who may have an interest in your company. However, there are a lot of so called click farms out there who will just use lots of fake accounts to follow you. This might make you look like you’re doing well because it’ll give you a lot of followers but in reality, none of them are real people who might actually consider buying products from you so you’re just wasting your money.

New Algorithms

When social media first started it was simple; if you followed someone then their posts would show up on your newsfeed. But now that everybody has a far high number of followers, social media platforms have introduced algorithms that are selective about what they show and what they don’t. That means your posts aren’t automatically guaranteed to reach people anymore. They’ll only display things that are relevant to the user. That means it’s important to find the right followers because, if they haven’t been viewing anything similar, they won’t get to see your posts either. That means it’s more important than ever to consistently post good content rather than generic marketing messages.

Time Management

Being able to update social media all the time is a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, it means that you can constantly push your products and have a good dialogue with your customers. However, it also means that it can easily eat up all of your time if you aren’t careful. Spending all of your time on social media and neglecting other areas of your marketing strategy will seriously damage your attempts to create a good cross platform marketing push, which is vital if you want to spread brand awareness.

Be aware of these social media marketing challenges in the coming months and make sure you don’t get caught out.

Honesty & Integrity: Running A Small Workshop Business

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Running a business in the modern world is a lot more than what it used to be 100 years ago. You can argue that the simplicity of running a business or the honesty has disappeared somewhat, and now, it’s all about promoting your brand, figuring out the best marketing techniques, looking at your demographics, and changing your product to suit the changing times. but are there any businesses that still maintain that simplistic honesty, that almost rustic approach? Well, arguably the trades like woodwork and metalwork are still a way for you to run a modest and simplistic type of business. So, how can you do this?

Start With Integrity

If you start a company from scratch, especially something like a workshop, and it’s just you, or maybe one other employee, this is a perfect place to implement ideas of integrity and honesty. Starting a simple workshop means you have one on one contact with your customers and clients, so you can build up your company and maintain that idea of trust with your customers. This means you will be successful in the way lots of businesses with flashy gimmicks are not.

It’s Easier To Keep Track Of Finances

With minimal staff, or if it’s just yourself, you know exactly what you need to get your business up and running. And in the beginning, all you require is the space and equipment necessary. This is something that you can think about later on, but if there is a need for your workshop skills, then all you need to do is to have the means necessary to complete the tasks. To begin with, you don’t need to provide every single service, you could just do a few basic things, whether it is engraving, laser cutting, or just providing quick and simple fixes, these are things that people need, and as a result, you don’t need to spend much money on equipment at the very beginning. There may be a laser cutter for sale that will prove to be a vital investment right now, but if you’re looking for more sophisticated equipment further down the line, do you really need it right now? Start with the basics, and not only is it an easier way for you to gradually improve your services, but it’s easier on the purse strings.

Advertising

When you are starting out, getting the word out there can be a difficult thing. This does mean lots of people resort to flashy gimmicks and promises that they cannot keep. And when comes to any sort of advertising, word of mouth is one of the most important things, because it promotes honesty and integrity. So, if you can start out by providing services to those few customers, and then they tell their friends, who tell their friends, this is a very organic way to build up a name for yourself. Running a small workshop, whether woodwork or metal work or fixing shoes, these are all things that we need doing on occasion, but we always go to our preferred people. So, in being one of those people, you can achieve this by honesty, integrity, and being as simple with your processes as possible. And this is something you should carry into your behind-the-scenes operations.

3 Ways to Help You Reach Your Career Resolutions in 2018

At the beginning of the year, resolutions for a better 2018 are at the top of everyone’s mind. While money and health goals are often the most popular topics, your career goals deserve some attention too. Resolutions are sometimes branded as a waste of time because, according to U.S. News and World Report, 80% of resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February. To help you keep resolutions that matter and are impactful to your career, read our 3 simple ways to help you keep your mind, body, and spirit focused on your resolutions well beyond February.   

Mind: Improve Your Productivity Levels

The procrastination bug can bite at any time and did so when I sat down to write this article. I opened a blank document and then continued to do everything but write. We all fall victim to procrastination, but there are a few productivity techniques you can try to help yourself break free from this self-sabotaging habit.

One popular solution is the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks your time up into 25 minute increments, or “pomodoros” with 5 minute breaks in between. After 4 pomodoros, take a 15-20 minute break to refresh your mind and keep you focused for your next pomodoro.

Another solution to time-wasting is to become aware of when and where you’re wasting your time. Install the RescueTime extension on your computer for daily reports of what you accomplished and where your all of your lost time is disappearing to. When you know where you’re being distracted (looking at you, Facebook), you can set up a list of sites to block to help you help yourself.  

Body: Dress for the Job You Want

When I’m feeling down in the dumps, one of my coping mechanisms for going about my day is to dress up more. It helps me feel better about myself and improves my day, and science backs up this technique. Research from the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal shows that wearing formal clothing helps the wearer feel better about themselves and like they were more in control and more creative. The solution is clear: feeling down? Dress up!

Sometimes dressing up means wearing smarter and better engineered clothing too.  To optimize success we must first be both comfortable and confident in our appearance, the tough part is finding the fine line between too comfortable while maintaining our own signature professional aesthetic. Men’s clothing company Tommy John has created a line of moisture-wicking and antimicrobial men’s underwear and undershirts (that won’t untuck) loved by professionals across many industries, their products help aspiring individuals feel both cool and supported during the high stress moments (interviews, big pitches, public speaking engagements).Check out this savvy infographic below filled with insights for overcoming physical discomforts we all endure, like fidgeting, sweating, and pacing.

Spirit: Learn How to Laser Focus through Meditation

Some individuals feel that they can never focus because they can’t quiet their busy mind. Your mind can be your biggest foe and research has shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, like mediation, yoga and deep breathing exercises can have positive impact on your focus and overall in your life. Try apps like Aaptiv  which offer  guided meditation sessions. Videos on YouTube are another simple way to learn how to meditate, stretch and control your heart rate to increase your focus while decreasing your stress levels.