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How to stay productive and motivated while working from home

When you work from home one of the biggest issues that you can face is making sure that you feel motivated to finish everything that needs doing. As you are only relying on yourself, this means that being productive is all the harder.

The good news is that there are some great ways that you can try your best to remain productive, even when you are working from home, and here some of them are.

Have your own work space

You really cannot underestimate how important it is to have a space in your home that you equate to working. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an entire home office, perhaps it can just be a particular corner of the room, or even the dining room table. The thing to remember is that as soon as you find that space, make sure that it is where you carry on working.

Invest in other ways to keep an eye on your family

If you are trying to balance working from home with looking after your kids, then it can be hard to do both. If your little one is napping however, and you can get some work done then this is a great opportunity. You can invest in a wireless video camera that is designed to be taken with you, giving you the ability to check in on your baby whilst you are busy working away in another room.

Get dressed and ready to go

Finding it hard to get motivated when working from home? Are you sat around in your PJs? If you are then your mind is definitely going to be set into weekend mode, and this needs changing. Behave just as you would as if you were heading to work, shower, have breakfast and get dressed. You could even go for a walk around the block, anything that gets you ready to face the work that you need to do that day.

Have plenty of communication tools

One of the hardest things about working at home is that you don’t get the chance to interact with your colleagues and be social. This can lead you to feel a bit demotivated and not really wanting to work. Rather than worrying about being all alone, why not make sure that you have plenty of other communication tools to hand? This can come in the form of email, instant messaging systems and skype. Any way that you can make sure that there is someone to sound off with or just bounce some ideas off of.

Minimise your distractions

Distractions are one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to working at home, and unfortunately these can come in a variety of forms. Try to keep away from social media, unless it is for work and turn off any notifications that are not related to work that you need to do. Also try and explain to your family and friends that whilst you may be at home, you do need to focus on the work that you need to do.

Plan your lunches

When you work in an office you are much more likely to find yourself reminded that you need a snack or lunch. Particularly by your colleagues, when you work from home you are less likely to think about things like breaks. Not eating properly, or having time away from your laptop can leave you demotivated or lethargic. So it is important to plain in your lunches, not only the time, but also what you are going to have. Try and pick healthy, light meals that are going to fill you up and leave you feeling ready to face the afternoon.

Remember that it is not always 9-5

The beauty of working from home is that you are in charge of the working hours that you keep. This means that there is no such thing as 9-5. Sure you are much more likely to work when the kids are out of the house, but if you are really stuck for time and need to get things finished, then this can be done in the evening, or perhaps by getting up early the next morning.

Give yourself a pep talk

Working in an office usually means that you are going to start your day with a huddle, meeting or team brief. If you struggle to focus on what you are going to achieve that day, why not implement this at home? It may sound (and feel) silly giving yourself a pep talk before you start the day, but it can really work wonders. It helps you to focus on what you need to get done that day and sets you up for a busy and productive working day.

Have some background noise

Some people work better in the quiet, but others find this can be the biggest distraction of all. A good idea is to have the radio on in the background. Find music that you enjoy listening too, but that isn’t going to have you jumping around on your seat, and you may find that you can focus on even those dull tasks with ease.

So, there you have it, whether you go for a wireless video camera, make sure that you are dressed and ready to go or simply have a work space to call your own, all of these things can make sure that you are productive, no matter where you work and no matter what tasks you need to do.

Working from home doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact, if you try some of these top tips then you may find that it is a lot easier than you think to be productive.

What Does the Modern Work Space Consist Of?

There was once a time where the office was a somewhat sterile and bland affair. The premises would be often be furnished with standard furnishings and the whole setup could be seen as a little claustrophobic. However, like many aspects of the 21st century, how we layout our office has gone through something of a transformation, but does it make any difference when it comes to productivity?

Office design trends can be easily dismissed as a millennial’s pipe dream, but the truth is that there are many innovations that have become the norm in the way we work today. The best comparison that can be made is the introduction of smartphones. Before we had access to what is essentially a mini-computer, we would have to make do with limited functionality. Sure, we made do with what was available, but it’s only when the smartphone dominated the marketplace that many of us wondered how we managed without them.

The same can be said for modern office space. It can be seen as a little off-the-wall and gimmicky, but once the benefits start kicking in, people soon have a different outlook overall. But what severe changes in the way we work has such a positive impact, especially when it comes to some of the most recognised tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Breaking the Mould

When it comes to changing the pace of how we work, credit must be given to the millennials. Not that there was anything wrong with plans installed by both the baby boomer and generation x era, but it’s only of late where the more conventional office design outlay has been turned on its head.

While there was a time when privacy was the most important aspect of a working environment, today’s working arena evokes a more collaborative environment. This means that a more spacious office space is desired, with less constricting cubicles. This is often done with the clever use of glass, which while still allowing for moments of privacy, ensures that the atmosphere is less claustrophobic.

It’s not only the outlay of an office that has been given a makeover, but also the colours used within the décor. Gone and the cold and isolated colours of yesteryear and instead are more bold and inspiring colours that look to boost productivity and boost our mood making for a more proactive workplace, Facebook is one of the many technology companies that makes use of modern office outlays, and its last quarterly report for 2017 shows a $9.3 billion profit, a testament that confirms changes isn’t always a bad thing.

Furnishing the Future

To be able to work, we simply need a desk and chair, right? Well yes, but there is so much more to a work area. More and more companies have realised that offering employees a more tailored workspace that reflects their personality is able to offer more positive results. Even freelancers have jumped on the furnishing bandwagon, making their workplace something they look forward to visiting.

In hindsight, the changes make sense. Many of us spend a vast amount of time at our desk, probably longer than we spend at home, so working at a desk that does little to carry our identity can be counter-productive.

There is so much traction when it comes to mirroring our personality in the workplace that there have been companies created that look to offer that dream work environment. Perch is a company that showcases office furniture and furnishing to give customers a truly bespoke office that conforms to their personality.

Even the way we use a desk has changed. While a standing desk can’t be used by everyone, there have already yielded several benefits when it comes to productivity, as well as having a series of health benefits to boot.

Technology Isn’t a Distraction

For many years, technology has been assumed to be an evasive force within the workplace. Many companies have been worried that the introduction of the Internet makes for more procrastination, and giving employees access to their smartphones and tablets is just asking for trouble.

However, the perks of technology have slowly risen to the surface, and more and more and companies are welcoming multitudes of technology with open arms with many companies using all the latest hardware and software such as Microsoft office for Mac. Working hasn’t become any easier, in fact many of us are working harder than we ever done, but thanks to modern technology, we can at least make a large chunk of our work more manageable and professional.

There’s also the fact that many of us work in different locations to that of our peers. Working on a project would have often involved a lot of phone calls and emails, but it’s a different story in the modern age. There is a slew of software that makes conversing in different locations a real-time event. This means that there is very little hesitation when it comes to making developments, which in turns makes more use of the time modern wokplace

It’s not all work and no play either. Having downtime is important for even the most hardworking, as we simply burn out, but a cup of vending machine coffee in an empty room no longer cuts the ice. As such, more companies are realising the benefits of introducing technology into the break room, so it’s not uncommon for someone to unleash frustrations on Call of Duty before returning to pitch some more brilliant ideas.

The modern office can be hard to stomach if you’re used to something a little more conventional, but there’s no denying that it can yield several benefits, for both the employee and the business.

What Start-ups Should Think About When Designing Their First Office

Image result for modern office space

When your start-up is in the early stages of development you’ll be understandably excited and happy but you’ll also be a little anxiousness as well. But when it comes to putting your office together things become a little more real don’t they? Location is key, whether a modern steel buildings or a renovated Gothic church!

It’s easy to get carried away designing your dream office space with modern computer systems, plush carpeting, luxurious desks and chairs and games room for your employees. That all sounds well and good but that should be the end goal, an all too common mistake people make with their start-up office is overdoing it.

The majority of start-up businesses will be on limited budgets, which means you shouldn’t just spend money on designing a luxurious office. And even if you do have the funds there are better things you could spend the money on when it comes to your business.

So, what should a start-up think about and focus on when it comes to designing their first office? Well, there are lots of things you need to think about and we can help you ensure your office is designed correctly.

Your Office Checklist

Think of your first office as a blank canvas, your office is a representation of your business and there are lots of ways you can ensure the office suits the work culture you have in mind. Let’s take a look at some main areas you need to consider.

The Layout

Getting the right layout for your office is paramount and thankfully for a start-up office getting the right layout is usually much simpler. You’ll be dealing with fewer people (in the majority of cases) which is good news because it means building a flexible and more open layout will be easier.

Flexibility and openness are very in vogue right now when it comes to office design and for good reason, they create a more friendly and co-operative atmosphere. An open office also allows people to more easily converse and work together on joint projects.

While an open-office is probably the best choice for the majority of start-up businesses it’s important that you don’t forget the need for privacy as well. So, make sure you have a separate space for a meeting room.

You also need to remember to not just focus on your office space, you need to ensure things like toilets, cleaning cupboards, store rooms and staff rooms are all close by so employees have easy access to them. No employee is going to feel especially motivated if it takes 10 minutes to get to the staff room, are they?

The Furniture

The furniture is always a tricky part when it comes to designing your office, there are plenty of options but knowing exactly what is best is not always easy. Start-up businesses change rapidly and grow very quickly so flexible furniture is a must.

You should also avoid furniture that is too bulky to ensure there’s more space to move around and the budget is also a big issue. Luxurious furniture might be very tempting but it’s not really needed in the early days of your business.

You should also be wary of going to cheap as well because it will likely mean the furniture won’t last as long. Instead look for the middle ground, find furniture that is high-quality and practical even if it’s not particularly lavish.

The Colour and Light

Colour plays a very important part when it comes to design work of any kind, all colours represent something and invoke certain moods. So, you need to choose your colours carefully an office decorated in hues of blue might look nice but could start to feel cold.

Whereas greys and browns might just feel dull and zap people’s energy, so don’t be afraid to add colourful touches and be vibrant. You should also be sure to add some artwork to the walls to add a splash of colour around the place.

Light is another part of your office design and one that is all too often ignored, natural light has been shown to have a number of psychological benefits and it will almost certainly make your employees feel more relaxed and productive.

How Do I Get My Dream Office With My Budget?

So, now that we’ve looked at the main design areas you need to focus on you’re probably wondering how you can go about getting your dream office aren’t you? Well, you can’t, so get the idea out of your head. Your start-up business will still be in the early stages of development when you get your first office so you shouldn’t be thinking about anything extreme.

Your big, bold and luxurious head office is something you can work towards in the future, for now, you just need to set-up a productive and open setting where you and your employees can work. Your office should still be a comfortable environment but it’s also one that will have to be in the budget.

Building a Business Website from Scratch

For many, the starting of a business can be a busy time. So busy in fact, that the building of a website can often take a back seat when it comes to priorities. However, the presence of a business online can be one of its most important factors, as it had the potential to be one of the main sales funnels for a business.

Knowing we need a website is one thing, but how do we go about creating one? Like many things in life, there are a plethora of options available, so we need to make some considerations.

Designing the Website

The design of your website will depend on the nature of your business. If your business offers goods via mail order then it’s likely you will need some form of storefront. Those offering videography services will often look at a website design that is able to promote their portfolio and testimonials. 

Having an idea of what kind of design you want for your website beforehand means that the whole design process is a more straightforward affair. If you’re having some difficulty in deciding on a layout, then why not look at some other websites within your niche? However, you should only use such websites for inspiration, as outright copying could cause some legal issues.

Once you have a design in mind, there are many options available to you. You may want to build the website yourself, and this is certainly possible thanks to the many DIY tools online. What’s more, these tools offer an easy-to-use interface that can help you design professional-looking websites within minutes, However, some may find that DIY software is a little limited for their needs.

Another option is to use a content management system such as WordPress to create your website. Not only are you able to update content with a few clicks, but you also have access to a multitude of templates. What’s more, if a certain template needs some aesthetic or layout changes, you can normally find someone to make the amendments for a small fee.

Then there’s the option of employing the services of a web designer, which can be beneficial for many. However, it’s important that we don’t use the fee charged as a guide alone. There are many different solutions available, and it’s about finding the best value as opposed to the best price. As such, it can be advisable to read some reviews and ask to see some example of work carried out in the past. IT stands to reason that the more work you need, the more expensive it will be.

Registering a Domain Name

There can be many rules associated with domain name registration depending on who you speak to. Some will say choose a domain that contains keywords, whereas others swear by used domains. Such advice is often based on old SEO techniques that don’t really hold much weight anymore. The only thing you should be trying to do is ensuring your domain name is the same as that of your business.

In some instances, a business will look at what domain names are available before deciding what to call their business. Ensuring the domain name is the same as your business name makes for a more uniformed online presence, and ensures there’s no confusion caused to potential customers.

Choose Your Own Web Hosting

There are several services online that give you free web space, mostly in the form of a blog, but this comes with its own limitations. Opting for the services of a web hosting provider ensures that we have a more reliable website that’s not prone to going offline. If you want to find one of the best providers then check out this list hostauthority.org/top

Options are often quite cost-effective, depending on your options. For example, if you’re willing to share bandwidth with other websites, then you’ll be paying less than you would if you decided to opt for your own server.

What’s more, you will normally have a point-of-contact should there be any issues with your hosting, which is vital if you’re hosting a business online.

With so many hosting providers it can be difficult to decide which one to go with, however these guys did a good job ranking the best hosts.

Structuring the Content

One of the most important aspects of any website is the content. You can have the best-looking website in the world, but it would gain much traction if it doesn’t have the right kind of content to support it.

While you should look to include keywords within your content, you shouldn’t do it so much so they looked forced. This can be a red flag to search engines who could assume that you’re looking to manipulate the algorithm.

What kind of tone the content should take really depends on the business itself. Those offering legal services would probably want to aim for something professional, whereas those in the fashion industry can adopt a more laid back approach.

If the content fits in with the context of the keywords used, and looks to offer visitors value, there’s no reason as to why you should receive any adverse rankings due to your content.

Promoting the Website 

The are many ways of promoting your website, depending on how quickly you’re looking for results. If you’re looking to get visits straight away, then you will need to invest in some form of advertising. One of the most popular methods of marketing is a pay-per-click campaign, where you pay for each visit you get from an ad placed within a search engine. You can tailor your ad to reach the targeted demographic, so it can be very rewarding. However, you need to ensure that your site has a clear call-to-action and can be navigated easily, otherwise your marketing budget could be going to waste.

If you’re happy to let your site grow organically, then you can ensure that you are carrying out the right kind of search engine optimisation. This includes well-written content, clear contact details and an optimised site that can be viewed on different devices. While there are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO, carrying out the task in the right way will allows your site to mature and develop and before long, you’ll find that your website is being ranked as one with authority.

A website can make all the difference as to whether our business is a success or not. A website in the modern age can essentially be an extension of the business, so if things aren’t up to scratch, consumers could assume that the business isn’t either. That’s not to say that things never go wrong, but rectifying these mistakes sooner rather than later means less repercussions in relation to turnover and maintaining an active online audience.

The top 7 web trends we’ll see in 2018

If you’ve ever stumbled upon a site that’s not been updated in a few years you get a stark reminder of quite how far web design has come! What was once vogue is now outdated, incompatible and unnatural feeling.

These changes aren’t enormous overnight shifts in design standard, they creep through years of tiny changes in user behaviour and what’s possible from a technical point of view. The sites you’re using in 2017 might feel like they’re cutting edge – but there are changes just around the corner. To stay ahead of the curve we had a chat with the team at RFK Solutions, who are one of the best web design companies in Scotland who shared their guide to the top 7 web trends we’ll see in 2018…

  1. Negative space

I know what you’re thinking – negative space is nothing new – and you’re right, but 2018 is going to see new levels of negative space being used.

Lighter, quicker and more responsive sites are driven by one major factor:

Mobile use.

When you’re browsing on mobile, big gimmicky homepages and massive resolution pictures just don’t cut the mustard. People want to see what you’ve got to say quickly – and you want them to convert quickly, which means bogging them down with pointless design is little use to anyone.

Maybe you want to show off some visuals – if you’re using a site as a portfolio then sure, but if the goal of your site is to convert customers, 2018 encourages you to start thinking about what you can take away while keeping your message and brand strong.

  1. Animations

So what place do animations have in a world that’s increasingly geared toward mobile users, their small screens and a clarity of message?

The difference 2018 will see is one of intention. While animations are nothing new, they have traditionally been sprinkled around a site for the sake of novelty and decoration. The new approach sees animations used with the intention of educating and informing the site user – or at least driving them toward the call-to-action or site goal.

Expect to see animations used purposefully – adding to the classy look fostered by designs with a lot of negative space.

  1. Stylised typefaces

So, we’ve already said that next year is going to see a lot of unnecessary design stripped away from sites – leaving behind what?

Text – and doing creative things with that text is going to be big in 2018.

Again, mobile users are driving this trend, where images need to be scaled up and down – often impacting quality or design intention, text doesn’t suffer with the same issues. What’s more, going heavy on the images often detracts from the logos, branding and calls-to-action that you’re really trying to focus your customer on – strip it away and your user’s eye is far more easily guided.

  1. Accessibility

While businesses cast increasing consideration to making their physical premises as accessible as possible, there are many people developing their online businesses who don’t see beyond the ‘typical’ user – that’s to say, the user who’ll use their site as it appears and require no assistance to access the content.

In the UK alone, 8.5 million people are registered as having some form of disability – that’s over 10% of the population. By making a site that does not offer a range of accessibility options, you’re effectively turning away the custom of every tenth visitor.

With more developers and designers building with accessibility in mind, 2018 will be another big step forward toward a truly inclusive internet.

  1. Progressive Web Apps

The average mobile owner spends 2.5 hours every day looking at their screen. Of that time, around 90% is spent looking at apps.

We’re familiar with apps, we know how they tend to work, we recognise the buttons and we’re comfortable with the interface – so you better believe that 2018 is going to see a lot of sites that are designed to look and feel like an app.

This style of site is referred to as a ‘Progressive Web App’ – and you’ve probably seen great examples in action if you’ve logged in to Facebook, Twitter or any number of popular news sites through your browser.

But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a design quirk that makes you feel at home – app functionality is finding its way into site design too. The information you put in will be interpreted in increasingly sophisticated ways – and Progressive Web Apps will react accordingly, adjusting the content you see based on your preferences.

  1. Long form content

People like long form content. Google likes long form content. If there are two better reasons to produce long form content we’d like to know about them!

There’s a host of studies by industry leaders like Moz and HubSpot that show readers have a definite preference for sharing blog posts that exceed 1500 words – and, as the word count increases, so does the share count, with 2500+ representing the largest number of shares.

We’re not just talking social shares here either – links from relevant sites follow the same trend.

People’s desire for high-value content shows no sign of slowing – so we can expect to see a lot more of it in 2018.

  1. Cinemagraphs

A cinemagraph is a photograph with a slight moving element. For example, a seemingly static shot of some leaves – but with animated raindrops rolling off a leaf. If you haven’t seen many – 2018 will change that for you!

With significant moves away from clutter and toward purposeful minimalism, a cinemagraph gives the simplicity and load time of an image – but with the type of user feelings normally only invoked by a video.

The brains behind marketing campaigns always have one eye on any form of neuroscience that gives a hint toward the underpinnings of customer behaviour – and in this instance there’s a lot of studies that suggest movement adds to our ability to envisage our use of a product.

Take bacon for example – rarely do you see raw bacon used when the product is advertised, instead, you see crisp bacon in a pan – evoking desire and hunger. A cinemagraph takes this a step further, add the bubble of sizzling fat as the bacon cooks – and your customers will virtually be able to taste the ensuing sandwich…

Office Pest Control – How It Can Give Your Business A Boost!

Image result for pest control office

Offices are strange places, aren’t they? Most businesses have them and they come in all shapes and sizes, they are literally hives of human activity. But when humans converge in one place for hours at a time what’s the one thing you can always count on?

If you guessed “a mess” then congratulations you’re right! We can do our best to be neat and tidy but messes are going to happen even in small offices. Now you might be thinking I have cleaners so it’s not really an issue, is it?

But while cleaners will tidy up and make the office look neat again the time it takes for them to arrive and clean can already mean it’s too late. Messy offices attract pests of all kinds from mice and rats to bugs and even birds.

Even if your office seems clean and tidy much on the mess that attracts pests will be invisible to the naked eye. Simple things like having dinner at your desk could cause plenty of invisible food waste that attracts rodents or bugs.

Or it may be that the pests have moved from a neighbouring building however it happens once your office or business premises as attracted pests getting rid of them should be of the utmost importance. Working in a pest infested office, even if it’s only a small infestation, is not going to promote a healthy and active work environment.

Getting work done in an office with rats or mice, for example, is going to very difficult especially for people who have phobias of said animals. There’s also the health and safety matters you need to think about. We work our best when we’re relaxed and comfortable and no one is going to feel comfortable in a pest infested office.

How We Can Help!

At Eliminate, who are one of the leading pest control services based in Carlisle, we guarantee a professional and quick , so many businesses put off pest control measures because they think they can handle the problem themselves or because they’re afraid it will mean closing down their business while the work is being done. But at Eliminate we will work quickly to ensure a minimum of distribution.

We are also available 24/7 every day of the week so we work when it’s most convenient for you. Whether it’s a small infestation or a large one we can get your office back to normal in no time and don’t worry we use environmentally friendly cleaning techniques.

So, there are no harmful fumes or chemicals.

By keeping your office is pest free and professionally cleaned you’ll be ensuring a healthier and more efficient environment and a more active workforce. The chances of a pest infestation are very high, no matter how clean you try to be, so when you do notice one act fast and we’ll ensure it is solved quickly before it grows into a bigger problem.

Remember a clean, pest free environment will go a long way towards improving employee efficiency and morale. And if your business doesn’t have an office then don’t worry because our pest control services can help any work environment stay free of pests.

Finding the right insurance for your startup company

As is true in most aspects of life – running a startup business comes with some risks. There are some risks that no insurance company will cover, particularly those that relate to business decisions – however, there are plenty of risks that go well beyond an impact that’s just felt in yours and shareholder’s pockets.

Whether it’s injury to a third party on your premises, legal claims from customers or even the implications of tax investigations – there are insurance products to cover you. We’ll give an overview of some of the most popular products and options…

Public liability insurance

If a member of the public is injured – or has some of their property damaged and you or one of your employees is at fault, then public liability insurance would protect you against having to settle with the injured party.

Although people tend to assume public liability only covers people who are visiting your own premises, it actually covers a lot of different situations. For example:

  • A customer in your shop knocks over some cleaning equipment that is not being stored correctly, ruining their clothing and causing a minor injury.
  • A client visiting your offices trips on some unsecured wiring and falls, injuring themselves.
  • A technical consultant from your company damages some of your client’s computer equipment while on a service visit, the bill runs to thousands of pounds.
  • An apprentice in your plumbing company causes a water leak that damages the walls of the company premises you’re working on – and that of the business below it.

The potential impact of each of these events differs – but could very well include legal costs, the claimant’s legal costs (if you are found to be at fault), loss of earnings (both current and future) and also any damages deemed necessary.

Do you need it?

It is not a legal requirement that you have public liability insurance – but considering the scope of potential claims that could be brought against you – it’s certainly likely to be a good idea. While it’s important to get professional financial advice – as a first step it’s worth considering what situations you and your staff are likely to find yourselves in.

It’s also worth noting that some landlords require you to have public liability insurance to comply with the terms of rental agreements – so check carefully.

Employer’s liability insurance

Should something untoward happen to an employee while they’re working for you, an employer’s liability insurance policy is what would cover the cost of any claim against you or your business.

Most commonly this type of cover would protect against minor injury and cases of where there is dispute over employment law – however, it can and does also protect against more serious instances, such as employee death. 

It’s a legal requirement that you have this type of cover in place – although the nature of the cover means there are some instances where exceptions are made:

  • Limited companies who have only a sole employee do not need employer’s liability insurance – assuming that person owns at least half the company shares.
  • People who are registered as being self-employed and employ only themselves or family members also do not need employer’s liability insurance. 

Do you need it?

Be sure to check with the health and safety executive if you think either of the above situations apply to you – if they don’t, then the answer is a resounding yes!

The health and safety executive enforce the requirement for employer’s liability insurance – taking the task very seriously and levying large fines on companies who attempt to duck out of the responsibility. Without it, you’re leaving your company open to these fines, the costs of legal proceedings (both yours and the claimants) – plus any damages and/or compensation.

Professional indemnity insurance

This kind of policy covers you against claims that a brought relating to the professional service you provide – essentially if it is inadequate, or has led to your client losing money. Here are some examples of how PI insurance works:

  • A plastics company agrees to create a number of components for a car manufacturer. The products are delivered on time but have been incorrectly moulded, meaning the manufacture of the cars is delayed and customer order times extended – in turn leading to cancelled orders and reputation damage.
  • A print company delivers banners intended to decorate a large new-build housing estate. After a few days of poor weather, it becomes apparent that the banners are tearing and the print is running, leaving the client stuck with poor quality banners – or the cost of having them removed and replaced.
  • An IT company sign a service level agreement with a client – but fail to honour that agreement, leaving systems without backup. When the client’s main storage server fails, customer data is inaccessible, causing major service disruption.

Do you need it?

A lot of professional accreditations, regardless of your field, will require you to have professional indemnity insurance as part of their requirements – if you’re not sure, check with them directly. Even if your profession doesn’t require it, without it you could face enormous legal fees and compensation payments – think about it carefully and consult with an accredited insurance advisor about your particular circumstances.

Other types of insurance policy

Although we’ve listed the main three types of business insurance – there are others you might want to seek advice around:

Property and contents insurance – covering building and contents owned by your company – sometimes a prerequisite if you’re renting furnished office space.

Tax investigation insurance – If HMRC ever investigate your company finances this type of cover can pay for expenses, miscalculations and even tax shortfalls – depending on the cover you choose.

Directors insurance – Applying to your directors and managers, this type of policy will cover costs arising from compensation claims relating to alleged wrongful acts, including breaches of duty and trust, professional error and neglect and other business-related acts.

Company vehicle insurance – motor policies that cover the use to company owned or leased vehicles when being used by employees.

There’s no substitute for professional advice

This guide is intended to inform you about the types of products that exist and the types of companies that might use them. To be certain whether your company requires any of the cover noted above, you should contact a regulated insurance advisor and discuss your company’s unique circumstances.

Managing the Finances of Your Startup in 2017

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Regardless of the type of business you run, there will always be a requirement to keep track of company finances. While in the initial period this can be as straightforward as income and expenditure, but as the business develops you will find that there are more avenues to contend this could anything from loans from companies such as oinkmoney.com to other funding and capital that you have received.

It’s easy to be come overwhelmed with the financial commitments of a company, but if we deal each step accordingly, it all soon fits into place.

Review All Aspects of Incomings and Outgoings

Although a basic overview of the company finances can help paint a picture of where money is being sent, a startup should ensure that all financial aspects of the business are recorded. These can include what is being spent on payroll, petty cash and the services the businesses we use.

Should you take your eye off the ball in relation to one segment of the business, it can mean that other segments have ramifications as a result.

Stay Organised Throughout the Financial Year

Many of us can view accounts as something we review on an annual basis, but this means that we have less time to contend with anything that doesn’t seem right.

Staying on top of your finances from the off means that you’re able to better manage the business as a whole, and any inconsistencies can be dealt with instantly.

Of course, it can be understood that some aspects of the financial world are hard to navigate. However, knowing what these are means that you’re in a better position to seek expert advice where it’s needed, thus allowing you to find a cost-effective solution.

Makes Plans for Major Expenses

While many expenses within the business will be the same throughout the year, there will be occasions where you have to spend a little more. What these expenses depend on the nature of your business, but an example can be the update of operating systems to ensure that your data remains safe.

To ensure that the business has enough capital to content with such expenses, you should ensure that you diaries any upcoming events, and look to put a plan in place that ensures that these costs are met.

It will also allow you some breathing space to find the right kind of service provider. If we have to rush when it comes to large expenditure within the business, we will often pay more for the service as a result.

Have a Clear Invoicing System in Place

Sending an invoice is a pretty straightforward endeavour, but if a business isn’t able to deal with invoices in the right way, then it will suffer some cash flow problems as a result.

Having a clear invoicing system in place ensures that you’re paid on time, thus ensuring that there are no financial hiccups in the business moving forward.

The terms and conditions of the invoice should be made clear to the customer. This includes detailing when the invoices should be paid by, as well as any fees that arise for late payment.

It can also be a good idea to keep details of an inventory sent or services provided should there ever be a query in relation to the invoice.

Having a time period in which the invoice has to be paid allows you to chase up later payments more effectively.

Don’t Dismiss the Use of Software

When dealing with company finances, there are many who will try to contend with the task alone in order to keep costs down. However, there are many open-source solutions available to use for your accountancy, regardless of the operating system you use. The following is a snapshot of what kind of software is freely available online.

GNUCash

GNUCash is geared towards small and medium businesses that allow business to keep track of income and expenditure with ease. It’s written in PHP and MySQL and can be used on Windows, Linux and Mac.

Ledger SMB

Written in PL/SQL and Perl, Ledger SMB is another piece of software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses and can even be used through regular web browsers such as FireFox and Chrome.

Openmiracle

Openmiracle is an adaptable piece of open-source software that relies heavily on accounting principles. What this means to the end-user is that they’re able to create reports that are accurate, thus ensuring the finances of the company are heading to the right direction.

Setup Your Payroll in the Right Way

Payroll is one of the most important aspects of any business, as failure to maintain payments could lower morale within the business.

However, there can be a number of obstacles in place when it comes to ensuring that all factors are considered. The following is merely an overview of some of the considerations that need to be made.

  • Ensure your business is registered as an employer on the HMRC database.
  • Decide who will deal with PAYE for your company. This could be you, or a third-party depending on how many people your business employs.
  • Check that the data you hold for your employees is correct and up-to-date.
  • You are able to calculate bonus pay and overtime.

While it can be more cost-effective to simply work out everything yourself, this can be detrimental if you’re not fully versed in PAYE or payroll as a whole.

You should also ensure that you have a date in place for when employees need to hand in any correspondence, such as timesheets or overtime forms.

However, there can be software that can be used, or you could seek the services of a professional.

5 tips on finding great freelancers for your business

There have never been so many people in the marketplace who consider themselves ‘freelancers’ – and the vast majority of those people work in the digital field such as SEO consultants. Whether you’re looking for a programmer, designer, translator, writer, marketing guru or salesperson – if you use the right resources, you’ll have one awaiting your instructions in a matter of minutes…

However, convenience does not mean that all freelancers are good! When you deal with a company you’ll have some kind of service level agreement in place – even if that is only casually assumed from their marketing info or reputation. Finding a good freelancer is a different task altogether – but following these 5 tips will help you avoid any pitfalls – and find great hired help…

  1. Plan your project

The majority of people who are looking for a freelancer do so because they have a specific project in mind. Understanding what this project is going to entail is the key to finding the right people first time around. Thrash out some details and break things down into individual tasks.

We’re yet to hear about a psychic freelancer who can read your mind and fully understand what you need after a brief outline – so being very clear about individual tasks is really important! If you use a project management tool – why not invite that person to collaborate? You might need to pay them for a little additional time for doing so, but that’s infinitely preferable to them returning work that’s missed the point entirely…

  1. Create a budget

While it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to freelancer price, there’s likely to be a figure you have in mind – and sticking to that can be useful.

Firstly, no matter how impressive their claims might be, using a freelancer that’s out of your price range could drag you over budget for work that could be adequately delivered by someone less experienced or qualified.

But it works the other way around too – you might find that you enter the marketplace and see people offering the same work for a fraction of the price – but you have to ask yourself if going in cheap is the best plan. Will you be able to communicate your needs to this person as efficiently as someone at your original price point? Are you going to end up regretting your decision for the sake of a 10% saving? 

  1. Look everywhere

You probably know some of the big freelance sites – People Per Hour, Upwork and so forth – while these places are usually chock full of people that could help – they’re not the only places to find great freelancers.

If you’re part of any professional networks, whether that’s on social media or in the real world, there are often freelancers on that are part of those groups because of the field you or they work in. Big freelance sites have payment gateways, reviews and other tools that protect both parties, but that doesn’t mean the people working outside of these sites aren’t reputable and top level.

Ask around, look in your networks and; moving neatly on to our next tip…

  1. Take recommendations

You probably know other people who work in your industry, failing that, you probably know other people who have their own small businesses, whether that’s clients, business partners, suppliers or anyone else you cross paths with.

As a rule of thumb, if you get along with them then you’re likely to get along with the freelancers they use. Ask who they are, people love dishing out recommendations – and if they don’t, they might be able to tell you who to avoid!

  1. Establish a good working relationship

The early days of working with a freelancer can be formative and are arguably some of the most important. If you invest some time in making sure they understand you, your business and what you’re looking for, then it’s going to save you feeling like you’re repeating yourself further down the line.

This works both ways too – you might want to talk to them about what they can do, the path to becoming a freelancer could have included a mass of skills, talents and knowledge that you could tap into.

If you imagine the freelancer you’re working with is a part of the team – rather than someone you just bark instructions to via Skype or email – then you won’t go far wrong!

  1. Pay them!

Whether the freelancer you’re working with is a sole trader or an established limited company, paying them swiftly and accurately is always going to keep the working relationship on the right path! Although it depends on who you’re working with, freelancers often require full or part payment before they commence work – just be sure that if this is the case you’re confident in their ability to amend or adjust any work they produce for you.

You’re unlikely to be the only client your freelancer is working with – so when you and another of their clients have got a chunk of important work that you need turning around quickly, the person who’s the most reliable with payment is probably going to go to the front of the queue.

Money talks, make it talk in your favour! 

  1. Offer proper feedback

It’s often not in people’s nature to be direct and frank with feedback – but when you’re working with freelancers it’s in everyone’s best interest if you develop this habit.

Ultimately, you’re paying for a service – and assuming you’ve following our first tip correctly and planned both the bigger picture and what’s going to be needed from the freelancer, then you’ve set some good guidelines out. The result needs to be to your liking.

Now, there’s no need to be brutal – freelancers have feelings too! But you shouldn’t lead anyone into believing the work is good if you’re not 100% happy. Discussions about what you’d like to be changed will often be met with full understanding and quick amendments – as well as the fact that you’ve developing a person’s understanding for working with you and other people moving forward.

Ultimately…

Not happy with the service despite good planning and clear feedback? Find someone else. It might sound cold, but there are plenty of excellent freelancers out there – you owe it to your business to find someone who’s on the same wavelength as you and meets your expectations…

If you are only going to have one tool in the digital toolbox, let it be LinkedIn.

The concept of social networking isn’t a hard one. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow people to share content and connect with like-minded individuals over the internet. These sites have exploded in popularity over the past 10 years as they are easy to use and give ordinary people a platform to express themselves to a large audience. With the amount of people using social media set to increase to 2.95 billion by the year 2020, it wouldn’t be so wrong to call social media the greatest thing to effect anthropology since, well, forever?

The way we act as a society is changing, social media and social networking sites are now and will forever be a part of our social construct. For better or worse, Social media is here and it is no longer a ‘Should you use it?’ question, it’s ‘How will you use it?’, so tell Granny it’s time to get online.

All jokes aside, the biggest thing that people still seem to miss is the use of social media in business. There are still business professionals out there that share 5 memes, tag 2 friends and like 16 posts a day on their personal account, but never wonder how they can use the social media to help in their business life. That number is slowly decreasing, thankfully, but it still begs the question, what should I be doing, as a professional, to help my business or the business I work for, grow?

To make things super simple, let’s pretend you are a very busy person and you don’t have time to be updating, creating and connecting on 6 different social networking sites. Let’s say you have just enough time and brain effort to add one social networking site to your schedule, which do you choose? Easy, LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is by far the best place for professionals to interact and connect with other business professionals. Remember the days where there seemed to be loads of networking events? Ever wonder where they all disappeared to? They moved to LinkedIn. With over 433 million users, 40% of which are active on the platform every day, LinkedIn is a platform you and your business can’t really afford to not be on and that’s why, if you only have time for one professional social networking account, it has to be LinkedIn.

  • Get on LinkedIn

Sign up for an account and update your profile with as much detail as possible. Treat your LinkedIn account as a digital CV but show some personality as if you were updating an online dating profile. People who come across your profile will want to not only know what you’ve done professionally, but also who you are, what kind of person you would be over a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to express your personal brand. Your profile should be the content that people enjoy reading.

  • Upload a sexy photo.

By sexy I don’t mean Saturday night sexy, I mean boardroom sexy. Think James Bond with a splash of Michelle Obama. Your photo will most likely be the first thing people see when they stumble upon you profile, so think real hard about what you want that photo to say about you. I would suggest staying away from group photos or photos from a night out but that may go without saying. Before uploading a profile picture, have a look at what other people in your industry use as theirs. Follow these photo guidelines and you can’t really go to wrong.

  • Connect with people.

LinkedIn will try and tell you to only connect with people you know, if you see this message, ignore it. Obviously start with people you know, but don’t stop there. Connect with people who you think will add value to your LinkedIn wall, people who you think will have information or content that you could benefit from. Often these people will share a lot of information through posts and LinkedIn blogs which you can then share, interact with or even just use to help your own ideas flourish. Connect with people who you also think could also help you in your business goals. Whether this be potential customers or stainless steel banding suppliers, connect with them and build relationships with them. The people you need are right there with you on LinkedIn.

  • Engage, share and create.

While working away in your everyday life there will be bits of information that you find interesting. Whether it’s a news article that relates to your industry or a manufacturing video that you haven’t seen before, share it with your peers on LinkedIn. If you have connected with the right people, they will find the content just as interesting as you did and they will be grateful that you shared it. They will show you their interest by either liking your post or sharing it themselves. The content you posted will then gain more exposure and maybe even gain you more connections. You should do the same with the content that you see from your connections. This will show your appreciation and helps you nurture mutually beneficial relationships, especially with connections that you may not officially ‘know’. Don’t be afraid to be active on LinkedIn. Your activity will only help you increase your popularity and showcase your position within the industry in which you work.

  • Create and update Company pages.

Now this one may not be for everyone as a company LinkedIn page is usually managed by the marketing team but if you have access or the authority to create a company page, it’s a rather useful tool. Company pages are simple to set up as all LinkedIn needs is a brief summary of business details like address and contact information. The most important part of the company page is the summary. This section allows you to write a description that sells your business, so be as detailed as you can. Once the page is set up, you can then post content as the business itself. People who come across the content can then follow the company page if they want to be updated when new content is published or for any news or special offers. You can also use your personal account to share company page content to your connections. This means that you and your company attributes will be showcased together which could attract potential stakeholders.

  • Paid Advertising

Like many social networks, LinkedIn has the ability to target consumers via paid advertising. If you feel that your personal and/or company pages have been performing well but may benefit from a little exposure boost, why not try a little paid promotion. It’s very simple to set up through the post settings, the only thing you really need to pay attention to is your target audience. You will want to decide what you want to promote and who you want to promote it to, specifically. The more specific you are, the more chance your content will end up in front of the right people. Being too general in your targeting will be costly with little return, so choose your segment wisely.

 

These 6 simple actions can help you grow your professional network through LinkedIn. It really is worth your effort over other platforms and can be fun if you let it be. So go on, set 10 minutes away each day for your LinkedIn endeavour. Watch your efforts pay off in ways you never thought possible from 6 simple steps.