Online Platforms and Apps to Make Business More Efficient

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If you run or manage a business, likely you’re always looking for ways to streamline practices and make everything go smoother. No matter what type of business you’re in, you need software, platforms, websites and apps at your disposal to make day to day practices go smoother, increase productivity and make everyone’s job easier. 

Lucky for us all, there are so many platforms and apps out there these days for pretty much every single need, no matter the industry or area of business you’re in. You can find all sorts of helpful resources at various price points, so long as you know where to look. We’ve outlined some of our favorites below.

POS software and websites

There are lots of great POS software programs out there as well as apps you can download to use for any retail business. For those who don’t want to buy and install separate software, you can also use online-only platforms to handle all of your sales data, inventory, invoicing, returns, and more. Most of these POS programs are super-intuitive and use up to date technology to make sales so much easier and more efficient. They do practically all of the work for you. 

Testing Sites

If your business requires you to run a lot of tests, you need good software or an efficient website to log into everyday to complete those tests. You need something that is efficient, safe and gets you accurate results. There are lots of test platforms online that allow you to run accurate, high-stakes tests that are designed by you with your own specifications and criteria. No matter what type of testing you need to do, these sites can accommodate you. 

Graphic Design

We all have our favorites when it comes to graphics programs, but did you know that you can do a lot of your graphic design and marketing design right online without ever downloading or purchasing a software program? Via apps and websites you can now tweak, design, draw, edit and adjust any type of graphic, quickly and easily. Best of all, a lot of these graphic sites are very affordable, sometimes even free. 

Web Design

Just as with graphic design, there are a number of amazing web design templates that walk you through the entire process of designing a website, writing HTML and publishing content online in a snap. These sites are super intuitive and easy to learn, making it a quick and stress-free process. Some are free, but even the pay-to-design sites are quite affordable and have a wide range of options to fit any aesthetic, style or preference. 

These are just a few areas in which you can improve your business and increase productivity simply by hopping online and visiting a website or app. Handle your design and marketing, design websites, run testing, and even handle sales all while surfing the web. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to run a business online.

Dealing With Difficult Customers: The Dos and Don’ts

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Difficult customers can be found in all industries. They come in all different forms from the persistent late payer to the serial complainer to the needy customer that won’t stop asking questions. By understanding the right way to deal with these customers, you can prevent difficulties from escalating (and protect your sanity). Here are just a few important dos and don’ts for dealing with difficult customers.

Don’t get angry

Some customers will keep pushing you. They may even act abusively towards you. It’s important to keep your cool for the sake of your professional reputation – if you start getting angry, they may start bad-mouthing you all over the internet. Remain calm at all times so that you don’t make the situation worse.

Don’t ignore them

Ignoring difficult customers is also not the way to deal with them. In fact, it’s likely to rile them up even further. Confront the issue as soon as you can. If you can’t come to a solution and need to call them back, make sure that you do call them back.

Do take the time to listen

It’s important to always listen to the customer. Even in the case of late paying customers, it’s important that you listen to their side of the story (even if you know they’re making excuses). When it comes to customers that won’t stop pestering you, you may need to eventually draw the line so that you’re not spending all of your time talking to them. Make them understand that you are busy and that you’d prefer to schedule a meeting in which all problems can be discussed.

Do show empathy

Responding to complaints in a robotic ‘this is company policy’ fashion is likely to make customers angry. Show compassion for their troubles and then try to solve the issue together. Even if they are in the wrong, initially showing empathy will make them feel you’re on their side, which will make it easier to argue your point and get them to understand.

Don’t hesitate to get legal support

Some customers may grow increasingly difficult and may threaten legal action or outright refuse to pay you. In these cases, it could be important you get the necessary legal support to deal with these customers. An attorney may be able to help you negotiate a problem without it going to court. If it’s beyond that point, they can help to argue your case. In the case of late paying customers, a collection agency may be required if a customer has continuously failed to pay. An attorney may also be able to help if the issue goes to court.

Do support your colleagues/employees

The customer doesn’t always come first. There are times when it’s important to stick up for colleagues and employees. Not showing support for employees and colleagues will make them feel undervalued and could affect the support they have for you. Never put down colleagues in front of customers – even if your colleagues are in the wrong.

Technology In Balance: How To Keep Your Business Human-Centered

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It is common in business these days to decry the impact of technology. We’re told that it takes away the personal touch, and that it is off-putting to customers who face an ever-decreasing chance to speak to “a real person”. There are, it’s true, plenty of ways in which an increasingly digital age can leave the customer feeling alienated – but if we look deeper, it’s not technology that’s at fault there; it’s got more to do with the cost-saving drive to automation meaning that workforces can be smaller and work more impersonal.

So, what if you are a business that wants to make the best use of technology and retain both the worker-centered ethos of its past as well as a customer-friendly face? Can you have the best of both worlds, embracing progress while staying true to traditional values? You can; but you need to ensure a balance by keeping the following in mind…

Technology can be molded to your needs

Anyone who has looked into the opportunities offered by automation and technology will know perfectly well exactly how much can be done by “machines”. They can make calls, take calls, write letters, reply to live chat messages, keep a count of stock, and much more besides. At some point in the future, it will be possible for every single thing in a business to be done by robots – but it won’t have to be, and that’s the key point. Use technology to make things easier, by all means – but just because a computer program can do something, that doesn’t mean it has to.

The “Goldilocks” principle

If everything in a business had to be done by hand, it would take forever and customers would end up getting frustrated. If everything was instead done by automated machines, that could still be frustrating for any customer who had the kind of specific enquiry that required outside-the-box thinking. Many businesses find that technology is best applied to the “big” stuff like monitoring sites, and you can click here to see how that works in oil fields as an example. This division of labour allows more people to be assigned to key customer-assisting duties, where a human brain is essential and where empathy can be a huge boon. 

People can work without tech, not vice versa

A boss can easily be tempted to replace more jobs in their business with automatons; machines won’t query their orders, don’t need breaks and can’t turn up late. There is, however, a very clear failing that tech can’t escape. Let’s sum it up in this way: if a human worker is not performing, a machine can’t take a look at them and get them working better, like human IT staff can help with a failing machine. In other words, humans are essential to a business, so your working practices should always be designed with your human workers in mind. Remember, your customers are also human – your business should reflect that.

Tech will continue to be influential on business, and its hold is set to grow in times to come. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you recognize the importance of keeping the right balance between people and machines in your business.

Improve Your Home Value With These Simple Yet Effective Tips

Regardless of whether you are planning to sell your home or you essentially need somewhat of an adjustment in your everyday living, there are a lot of choices to consider with regards to home improvement.

Obviously, every individual or family has its own needs. You may need to supplant a flawed broiler, make more space inside the house, rearrange a specific room, or even change the nursery into a liveable space. While any expansion in all-out market esteem relies upon the amount you decide to invest in the primary spot, everyone can do a couple of things to get the show on the road. So underneath are a portion of the simple yet viable tips that can assist you with improving your home estimation.

Deep clean your house and declutter

In the event that your home is clean, a brilliant and sparkly home can pull in purchasers like a magnet. A house can never be excessively spotless. On the off chance that you were a purchaser, would you pick the house that is somewhat dirty or the home down the road that is spotless and inviting?

With cleaning, declutter is likewise significant. Keep in mind, decluttering is a type of cleaning. Similarly, as soil develops it does as well, a mess. Try not to squander cash moving your garbage around. Dispose of it now. At the point when it’s an ideal opportunity to sell you will feel sure about what you are introducing to the purchaser.

Interior capital improvement

Interior improvements enhance the estimation of the property or its structural ability. Examples of inside enhancements incorporate new HVAC frameworks, redesigned wiring, plumbing, and protection, just as security frameworks. You can take a glimpse at this website to all the more likely know about capital improvements. Aside from this, redesigns made to modernize washrooms, kitchens, ground surfaces, and apparatuses are additionally viewed as capital enhancements.

Improve the air quality inside your home

Air quality isn’t just about the conditions outside. In the event that you have more seasoned covers in your home, they may be concealing contaminants and allergens. The initial step to deciding whether these need supplanting is to recruit an expert organization to test your indoor air quality. On the off chance that the outcomes demonstrate that your rugs ought to be supplanted, pick ecologically neighborly normal items like tile or cover floors. Hard-surface floors are a lot simpler to keep clean, don’t hold scents, give your home a refreshed look, and, when all is said in done, are all the more engaging purchasers.

Paint/fix the rooftop

A cracked rooftop costs a ton to fix. This is the thing that potential purchasers will think. Most purchasers would want to purchase a spot that needs less work than a spot that needs noteworthy work.

To summarize, these are a portion of the tips that can help you in improving the value of your home. Ideally, this snippet of data may help you in your future undertakings.

How To Deal With Late Paying Customers

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It can be incredibly frustrating when clients don’t pay on time. If you’re not getting paid, it could affect your own ability to pay bills. This can then lead to a vicious cycle of constantly being owed money while constantly owing money to others.

To keep your cashflow healthy and earn the money you deserve, here are several tips for dealing with late payers.

Chase them up

Waiting and hoping that customers will eventually pay up doesn’t work. If a customer owes you money, you have to keep chasing them up. Some customers may have genuinely forgotten to pay you, while others may be deliberately holding out until you chase them up.

You may be able to start by emailing them. If you get no response or they continue to not pay up, don’t be afraid to phone them up. A warning letter delivered to their door could be the next step if you still cannot get hold of them and they continue to not pay up.

Don’t feel bad about chasing up clients – it’s your money and you deserve it! Some customers may make continuous excuses or try to make you feel sorry for their circumstances. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan, but you still deserve that money.

Keep your cool

It’s very easy to get angry at late paying clients. However, this could cause a lot of harm to your business. A customer may leave negative reviews or they may sue you for harassment/verbal abuse if they feel you’re not acting professionally or are being unreasonable. Be firm but be friendly.

Know when to take legal action

If a customer continuously refuses to pay or retaliates with verbal abuse, you may be able to take legal action against them. It’s worth seeking legal advice to understand what you can and can’t do – there may be laws in place to protect debtors that state that you have to give several warnings first.

For large debts, you may be able to hire a collection agency. When customers go AWOL and don’t respond to any of your warnings, this can often be a necessary step to take.

Take measures to prevent future late payments

Certain measures may help you to avoid having to deal with late paying customers in the first place.

The first is to establish a credit policy when customers first sign up to your service – this should outline steps that you are legally allowed to take if a customer does not pay up such as adding late payment charges and possibly withholding your service. Such repercussions could prevent customers from continuously late paying.

You should also consider setting payment deadlines and sending automated reminders. This can prevent customers from genuinely forgetting to pay you (or at the very least pretending they’ve forgotten). Make sure to send out payment details with each invoice and reminders so that customers can’t use the excuse that they’ve lost your payment details.  

You may also be able to prevent late payments by offering early payment discounts. This could urge customers to pay up early so that they save money.

Advice On Purchasing Furniture For Your Classroom

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Buying classroom furniture may seem like a simple task. However, you need to create the perfect environment for learning. The atmosphere in a classroom can often be described as the ‘third teacher’ and, of course, the furniture you select plays a critical role in determining this. Below, we provide you with five top tips to help you get started. 

  1. Consider anti-tamper office chairs

The longevity of the furniture you choose is of paramount importance. All schools have stringent budgets they need to stick to, and the last thing you want to do is fund endless replacements and repairs. This is why anti-tamper office chairs are ideal. Anti-tamper office chairs have been designed so that they cannot easily be damaged. Also, look for desks that have surfaces that are resistant to marring.

  1. Seek support from the furniture company

You don’t only need to consider the furniture itself, but also the company you buy it from. Make sure that you are happy with their installation options, delivery timeframe, and that they provide good after-sale service and support. If you choose a small manufacturer, you may feel like you are going to get a better service, however, they are likely to have long lead times and limited quantities, which probably won’t fit into your budget or timeframe. 

  1. Don’t forget health standards

It is critical to make sure the classroom is a place that is healthy and safe and, therefore, all furniture needs to meet health standards for low levels of volatile organic compounds, which is often shortened to VOC. You may also find furniture with green certifications, which indicate that formaldehyde has not been used in the construction. Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling, flammable chemical, which can cause adverse health effects. We also recommend using filters on the lighting in the room. You can read up on this online if you need more information. They ensure the room is more comfortable, safe, and productive.

  1. Get the sizing right

When buying furniture for children, we have a tendency to simply look for adult furniture in miniature sizes. However, you need to give much more attention to the size of the furniture than this, especially considering the rise of musculoskeletal disorders in students. Adjustable seating is advised, as this ensures students can adjust the height of the seat to suit them and where they are sitting.

  1. Mobility 

Last but not least, mobility is vital when buying furniture for the classroom, as the furniture will need to be rearranged in order to accommodate different lessons and teaching styles. Remember, the furniture you purchase is going to have more than one use and, therefore, you need to buy with this in mind. Look for furniture that is lightweight and can easily be configured. 

If you keep the five points above in mind when searching for classroom furniture, you should find it a lot easier to locate what you need.

The Front Line: Career Choices If You Want To Challenge Yourself

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Do you ever feel that you are treading water in a professional sense? While you might be launching a blog or working in a career like marketing, you might think that you want to do something a bit more that doesn’t just sell products to people but mean something to society, but also makes you challenge yourself. If you want to challenge yourself, you aren’t alone. Many people thrive on the ability to work under pressure and push their physical and emotional capabilities. And if you want to start a new career, what sort of jobs out there that fit this mold?

The Police

The very definition of physical, mental, and emotional toughness. When it comes to upholding the law, you’ve got to have a certain set of characteristics. It is certainly possible to put yourself forward for law enforcement training, but it could be one of the most challenging things you will ever undergo. The police is an infinitely rewarding career, but this means that you’ve got to dig deep within yourself to rise to the challenge. Many police officers work more than the average amount of hours per week and find themselves under pressure in so many different ways. If you want to challenge yourself, there is this, but there is also…

The Army

In many ways, it’s a parallel to being in the police. The big difference between the army and the police is that the military is more of a lifestyle choice than the police. While with the police you get to go home at the end of the day, the army means that you are signing up for a lengthy career tenure. So if you are looking to challenge your mind and body in basic training but also learn in combat skills, these are the very basics; you also will learn how to be a better person. Having that discipline put into you through basic training and learning to thrive under the most challenging circumstances, whether it’s being dropped behind enemy lines or having to problem-solve to save lives, it becomes a challenge that you have to invest yourself in physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Farming

You may not think of farming as a particularly challenging career. But if you don’t like the idea of upholding the law or being away from your family for months on end, farming is something that requires a lot of physical effort instead of emotional effort. But it’s not just about the labor-intensive aspects of farming; many self-employed farmers have to learn to sell their products and balance budgets. Self-employment is one of those considerable challenges that everybody can struggle with when they go from a normal job, but farming is one of those careers that is incredibly satisfying across the board. It’s not just about looking after livestock and being physically fit, but it’s about the reward that you are serving the public.

Of course, there are so many different jobs that really put the pressure on us. From care worker to carpenter, laborer, and building careers, but if you want to challenge yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, arguably these three are the career choices that we can really get into. That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park! It requires a lot of soul-searching and blood, sweat, and tears upfront.

4 Things For Small Businesses To Remember in Times of Crisis

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As businesses of all shapes and sizes dust themselves down and take stock of how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, it’s fair to say that for most the struggle is not yet over. The notion of putting their entire operation on hold, or making drastic changes to the way they operate probably didn’t strike them as even possible, much less likely. Indeed, for those who were thinking about going into themselves prior to the crisis, the whole thing probably looks like a huge cautionary tale. Why would any right-minded person choose the path of entrepreneurship when it seems beset on all sides with hurdles, pitfalls and the occasional bear trap.

Still, while this will (hopefully) be the last pandemic of its kind in living memory, crises go with the territory when running a business. A crisis certainly shouldn’t put anyone off starting a business, but it should certainly remind them of the importance of preparation.

Here are 4 things that all small businesses would do well to remember in times of crisis…

It’s okay to ask for help

When starting out in business, it’s common to be very particular when it comes to doing everything your way. After all, one thing that business mentors preach consistently is the importance of having a USP and filling a gap in the market that your competitors have left open. As such, you may not consider the value in Small Business IT Support Services or outsourcing your marketing to a Digital Agency. However, these measures can not only save you money in air weather but provide help, guidance and support when things go awry within your business, your industry or the global economy at large. 

Look after your team and they’ll look after you

Navigating your way through a crisis alone can feel damn near impossible. But when you run a small business, you’re never alone. You have intelligent, talented, passionate and dedicated people all around you. Look after them, and they’ll look after you.

Make sure that their working environment is safe, clean and conducive to restfulness, mindfulness and productivity. Invest in their training and development. Invest in employee recognition platforms that make them feel valued and give them confidence and motivation. 

Never underestimate the power of customer relationships

In times of economic crisis, consumers are undoubtedly wary. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t retain their loyalty. Invest time and effort into your relationship with them, respond to them promptly and professionally on social media. Show them that you value their custom and that you’re committed to delivering excellence. They’ll stick with you through thick and thin. 

Keep an eye on your metrics, but don’t lose sight of the one metric to rule them all!

Finally, in the age of big data, it’s easy to struggle to see the woods for the trees, especially when in panic mode. While there are lots of important metrics which should be tracked through the good times and bad, don’t neglect the one metric to rule them all… your margin. If you aren’t profitable, your business simply can’t function. Use this online tool to calculate your profit margin and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Keeping Your Staff Safe At Work: Top Tips

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There are many roles out there that place workers at risk. If they have to perform dangerous acts, work in unsafe conditions, or spend time with people they don’t know; it’s all too easy for people to put themselves at risk when they’re at work. As an employer, you have a duty to take care of the members of your team. While you can’t keep everybody safe all the time, you always need to work hard to make sure that no one takes any unnecessary risks. .There’s a lot of work going on in this field, and it’s important that you’ve covered every possibility.

Where they work

The setting in which the team works is one of the most important aspects of their safety. There may be plenty of hazards in the office or warehouse, and those that can be avoided should be kept away.  There is a myriad of possible things that you need to think about as you enter your workspace, including:

Trip Hazards:  Far too many workers end up out of work because of wet floors or cables that knock them off their feet, and this is something that should never be a problem in modern workplaces. Your whole team should be conditioned to search for and be aware of potential hazards, ensuring that they are eliminated when they are first detected. Some businesses would also select workers to be in charge of this kind of job.

Building Security: People have long been one of the biggest dangers facing companies. You may trust your workers, but unfortunately, it is not just employees who can enter the premises.  This means that you need to work to keep your building as safe as possible, use a combination of employee training, efficient locks and CCTV to achieve this objective. Members of the public can put the employees at risk, and individual businesses can also recruit security guards to make sure this isn’t a matter of concern.

What they wear

Safety wear has come a long way over the last few years. Many businesses have no choice and need resources like this to keep their workers secure. Many jurisdictions may have specific regulations in place that require appropriate safety gear or uniforms to be worn by everyone to do their job, so you can use that as a starting point when you fit everyone out. Uniforms, whether retail workers uniforms or landscaping uniforms, mark out your staff, which makes security less of an issue, too.

What they use

Although more and more people are using computers to carry out their jobs, many other machines are being used in industrial spaces that can be much more hazardous. When the team uses tools like this, it’s essential that you take the time to make sure they ‘re doing things right, or else people will end up getting seriously hurt. 

Combating the risks posed by the machine can typically be achieved by simply training the members of the team. All should know the dangers of equipment they are working with or alongside, even if they don’t have to use them directly. This will ensure that the team will watch each other’s back while avoiding mistakes that may be made in ignorance.

Want to Become an Electrical Engineer? Here’s What it Takes

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Are you looking for a career change? Do you have an interest in electronics and other technologies? Then a career as an Electrical Engineer might be the way forward for you. One of the highest paid jobs (salaries average around $101,600 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and always in demand, it’s easy to see why so many people enter the industry each year. 

But before we get into how you become an Electrical Engineer, let’s look at what they do in their role.

What is an Electrical Engineer?

Skilled and experienced professionals, they work within fields that are related to electronics, electromagnetism and electricity. Such industries include the aerospace industry, Power Generation, defense and Artificial Intelligence. Because of the scope for this role, the opportunities and possibilities are endless. 

Skills That Are Needed

As there are so many fields that an Electrical Engineer can enter, it’s important to recognize that character attributes are hard to define. But when it comes to skills, there is a certain set that they will require in order to perform their role. These skills include, but are not limited to the following:

  • An in-depth knowledge of electronics – including how to operate a variety of machinery and equipment (such as different types of Solenoid valves in hydraulics).
  • An understanding of engineering, science and technology.
  • A logistical way of thinking.
  • The ability to predict physical laws and principles.

How to Enter the Industry

Obtain a high school diploma – so that you can access a university or college course related to electrical engineering.

Enroll in an electrical engineering program at a respected college or university – to do this, spend some time comparing and contrasting different options, paying attention to their employment rates and what past students have said about the course. If you really want to impress, you could also look for one that’s course has been recognized by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Choose a subfield – during your degree, you can choose modules that are in particular engineering subfields. These specialities will demonstrate your interests and experience to employers. If you’re unsure as to which to choose, it’s a good idea to talk to your professors, who will help to guide you.

Try to find work experience within electrical engineering – this helps to demonstrate to future employers that along obtaining a degree, you worked to gain useful experience to help develop your skills.

Extend your skills by opting for a masters or doctorate – although this isn’t always essential, for those that want to progress quickly in their career, these degrees can be an effective way of doing this. 

Find a job within the industry – once you’ve completed your degree/s, spend some time hunting for a job within the industry. As the demand for Electrical Engineers is high, you shouldn’t have an issue. 

However, as it’s a popular career, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain one – which is why it’s so important to differentiate yourself from other candidates through crafting your CV and acquiring the right work experience.

Final Thoughts

So, there you go! There is a brief guide as to what it takes to become an Electrical Engineer. Of course, before you take the leap and settle on this career, it’s important that you comprehensively research the key steps and look into what the job market is like. This will help to prepare you and give you an invaluable insight into the role.