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Reading for entrepreneurs: for a prosperous start-up business

January 16, 2019

Arming yourself with knowledge is paramount when launching a business of your own, but what sources should you seek first, to help stay ahead of the competition?

Beginning with building your knowledge with fundamental aspects, from how to interact effectively in the business world, to making informed decisions that will see your new business go from strength to strength.

Take a look at the recommendations below, from Where The Trade Buys Print, a book printing company for small and large businesses. Their list features some top books you need in your possession if you want your business to flourish in 2019!

The Upstarts

From Brad Stone’s intelligent and insightful book, you’ll learn from two of the globe’s biggest businesses: Uber and Airbnb. You’re now an entrepreneur and this book will help you make a standout brand that people will remember. From how people travel to what they expect from accommodation, Uber and Airbnb are true innovators that have altered consumer behaviour. What can your business do to change the world?

Conscious Capitalism

What is your view on capitalism? This book may help you to develop and question your views on capitalism. Can it actually be a good thing or, is it always just a way for the rich to become richer? This read looks to dispel the theory that capitalism is only for the ‘people at the top’.

Learning to relate better with people you meet in the business world is critical, and a skill you can hone. With details about UPS, Google and Amazon, Conscious Capitalism looks at infusing your business with positivity and a good workplace culture.

There’s a lot to be said for boosting the creativity and innovation within a new tech start-uo. Conscious Capitalism will help you achieve this and steer your business to a positive future that not only turns a profit, but also attracts quality employees who are looking for a positive place to work and develop their skills.

Sources:

https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2017/08/best-books-to-read-for-small-business-success/
http://www.growthbusiness.co.uk/30-must-read-books-on-business-technology-and-productivity-as-picked-by-entrepreneurs-2552123/
http://uk.businessinsider.com/must-read-tech-books-2017-9?r=US&IR=T/#lean-in-women-work-and-the-will-to-lead-by-sheryl-sandberg-6
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mnewlands/2017/02/24/13-must-read-entrepreneurial-books-for-tech-founders/#1b08967a56b9
https://www.rocketspace.com/tech-startups/top-6-books-for-tech-entrepreneurs
Business

Is it possible to increase sales through visual appeals?

January 16, 2019

Although the death of the high street may be upon us, there is still a lot of opportunity for brands to boost revenue through their retail stores. Don’t be put off with the way some big stores are heading!

When it comes to visual merchandising, this has influenced sales for centuries. However, the problems dominating retail in 2019 make executing a successful visual merchandising strategy especially important if you want your retail brand to survive and prosper.

We’ve created a guide on how you can implement a successful visual merchandising strategy. Want to find out more?

An insight to the retail sector

When it comes to putting a visual merchandising strategy in place for retail businesses, it’s all about creating a smooth customer journey. This includes mapping out the entire shop floor and creating enticing product displays.

There’s a science behind why certain presentations, structures and even colours deliver a better experience than alternative arrangements, and it’s been established that a strong visual display can raise turnover and strengthen your brand; even inspiring customer loyalty in the process.

“Visual merchandising is everything a shopper sees at your store that hopefully leads to a remarkable shopping experience. It is the unspoken language retailers use to communicate with their customers” was one comment from Bob Phibbs from The Retail Doctor.

What do your customers want?

Next year, it’s estimated that retail sales around the world will hit US 27.73 trillion — so there’s opportunities available for you to boost profits, you just need to be clever about it.

What products are most appealing to your customers? A tip here is to go for what you think your customer wants — not needs. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan and Szu-Chi Huang, emotional responses are influential in our purchasing choices — which is why you should focus on giving the customer something to desire.

One way to attract people to come into your store is put your latest products front and centre; this will increase chances of conversions. You could also use outdoor signs alongside these displays to present promotional offers for luxury items that you want the consumer to take notice of — and buy!

Grouping products

The way you group products will have a significant impact on how your customers perceive your brand. A recent report found that exposing your shopper to the maximum number of products is a tactical method when carrying out visual merchandising. However, don’t make your displays look crowded. Utilise different display furniture, such as mannequins, racks and shelves — whichever suits the product you’re merchandising — and bear in mind that focal points boost sales by a reported 229%, so ensure that you effectively direct your consumers when they enter your store.  

There are two main concepts that you should think about when grouping though, but what are they? The Pyramid Principle dictates that you create a triangular display, with the biggest item in the middle and the smallest on the outside — which ensures that your display doesn’t look flat and boring. Instead, it will catch the eye, as the products seem to ‘fall’ down towards the viewer. Equally effective is the Rule of Three. Within this, you create attractive asymmetry that shoppers will find engaging. Apparently, humans see asymmetry as normal — which means they pay less attention. By placing product in groups of three, you can create a noticeable imbalance that forces the eye to take in each product individually, as opposed to the display in its entirety — excellent for effectively advertising each item.

Selecting colours carefully

Contrasting colours at the opposite side of the colour wheel can help grab attention — think black and white or scarlet and jade — but creating a multi-coloured display of uncoordinated colours may turn people away.

Consider a quiet zone

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when their shopping, so always create a decompression zone. This area of a shop is found just a few feet inside the main entrance and is believed by psychologists to elevate a shopper’s mood, acclimatise them to the store’s surroundings and get them ready for the shopping experience.

An effective decompression zone will help transport your consumer from the hustle and bustle of outside to a calmer, more focused environment that encourages browsing. Here are decompression zone tips:

  • Minimum of 10-15 feet.
  • Based at shop entry with a full view of store.
  • Created using contrasting furnishings and colours from outside area to signal new atmosphere.
  • Use mannequins, attractive stands and specialised lighting to highlight your newest ranges.

Did you know that 98% of people turn right after entering a store? This information is extremely useful when it comes to considering a layout. Why not use your decompression zone to create a ‘circulation route’ from the right side that leads around your store for a smoother customer journey? Or, try placing your best products at the right of your decompression zone, if this is the most likely route consumers take.

Considering the senses

You really don’t want to miss out on targeting shoppers’ senses either. Reportedly, 75% of emotions come from smell and our mood is meant to enhance 40% when we detect pleasant aromas. If you run a fragrance, soap or food retail establishment, are you harnessing the power of smell when it comes to merchandising?

If you run a bakery for example, and want to evoke a feeling of warmth, cosiness and home-cooking; ensure that your customers can distinctly smell your products baking from the kitchen by setting up the area to waft aromas into the main shop. Similarly, if your brand specialises in soaps and toiletries, place these strategically around your shop floor to avoid clashing aromas. For example, put all the citrus products together to evoke a sense of energy and rejuvenation and keep these far away from lavender and camomile scents, which are more relaxing.  

Switch things up

You may have nailed the perfect look with your shop floor, but you must consistently change it up so that customers feel refreshed when they enter. A major part of tactical visual merchandising is moving your presentations as new stock comes in. Don’t let customers get bored of visiting you — keep changing things up and you can make it look like you’re constantly replenishing your stock and bringing in new and wonderful items (even if you’re not).

Don’t let your customers think that you’re lazy. Change your visual merchandising displays every month and retain the perception of innovation.

With visual merchandising, you can ensure that your shop offers something engaging to keep consumers interested — so why not start planning out your shop’s next visual merchandising campaign today?

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/uk-retail-sector-sales-ms-use-fraser-trouble-online-amazon-business-rate-a8367081.html
Business

When Do You Need Electrical Service or When Can You Do It Yourself?

January 15, 2019

We have all been there one time or another. It’s not until you don’t have power that you go into a crazed state of mind wondering what to do. On an every day basis you don’t consider that power is a luxury that you take for granted until you no longer have it. When you can’t do something as simple as watching TV, you could find yourself going stir crazy with the silence the darkness makes.

What just happened?

When the power goes out we tend to go into a panic. We cannot turn on any lights or even use the microwave. Our brain starts racing like did we forget to pay the power bill? Did we have too many electronics on at one time and trip a breaker? Did a storm just roll through and knock out the grid? Like what just happened? Do we need to call for electrical services?

Crazy strikes

When the electricity goes out, the environment within the home goes chaotic. Husbands can’t watch their sports channel, kids can’t play their games or watch cartoons, and wives/mothers can’t cook or sit by their favorite lamp to read a good book. When these people get out of their designated areas, the complaining, the whining, and the anger all show up for a visit. So what do we do now? Well, we can either fight about not having power, or we can stumble through the darkness pick up our cell phone and call someone.

Who do we call?

I know when my power goes out, the first people I call is my neighbors to see if they are without power or if they know of a downed powerline. If that’s not the case, then I would call family to let them know what is happening and see if they have any ideas as to what might be going on, all while checking the breakers to see if those are the cause of the power going out. If I can’t figure out what it is on my own, then I would have no choice but to call for electrical services to figure out the problem.

Calling an electrical service company

For most power outages, the electrical service company will ask a series of questions to help walk you through all the possibilities to come up with a conclusion as to why the power is out. Once they have cleared the fuses and breakers of being the cause they then will work through all other possibilities, including main lines or those big electrical boxes that send the electricity out to everyone. Those are call substations, by the way.

Steps the electric company takes to restore order

Electricians know that being without power is frustrating and causes a lot of emotions to run within homes that do not have power. They work really hard to restore power so that everyone can go back to their normal routines.

Here is their check-off list to find the source of the power outage.

  • Substations
  • Main lines
  • Spurs
  • Individual lines
  • Special lines

We only need to call an electric services company when the problem is bigger than just a fuse. If it’s just a fuse or tripped breaker, we don’t need to waste an electricians time over it. We can just turn those back on ourselves by flipping them to the on position. And if that doesn’t work, then we need to replace the fuses. However, a down power line is a bigger problem. That downed power line could still be live and cause serious injury or death to anyone who touches it or anything it is touching.

The bottom line is having no power is no fun. We have come accustom to having power. We tend to go a little crazy without it. We are fortunate enough to have power that we take for granted every day. It is a luxury we no longer pay any mind to until we don’t have it.

Business

How To Plan A Corporate Event?

December 25, 2018

Planning a corporate event may seem like a grueling task. But with the right plan and effort, you can successfully come up with a rememberable event, just the way you imagined. Sure, the task may be overwhelming, confusing or even expensive- but once you get the drift of it, there’ll be absolutely, no looking back. So, in case you’re looking to start a corporate event and are wondering how to get through- here are some snippets of wisdom that’ll surely work in your favor.

Get The Details

Even before you work with the plan, it is extremely important to know of every small detail about your impending event. Whether it’s the time, date, number of people, occasion or anything else- once you have these details- you’ll get to figure out how and where exactly to start.

Check The Budget

Before starting, ask the officials about how much they’re actually looking to spend. In case you do not get an answer decide on the budget yourself. Come up with an amount that you’re comfortable spending. Once you have this budget, you can streamline it according to the guest list, food request and so on.

Choose A Theme

What cocktails should your party have? What snacks should be served? Should it be a swanky sit-down styled party, or a buffet styled one? Even before you head to your caterer, it is extremely important to have a proper vision. So, the better you know, the better will you be able to come up with the plan.

In addition to everything else, you should also have a clear vision about the equipment, tables and chairs. This will help you come up with a party, just like you always wanted.

Fix A Spot

Your party will be absolutely, incomplete without the right venue. So, if you really want to have fun, try to fix the right spot. With the right spot, you’ll get to accommodate all your guests, and they too will get a chance to enjoy a beautiful, well-planned evening.

Choose A Caterer

No corporate event is complete without the right food. So, before anything else, choose a caterer who’ll whip the perfect meals according to your guests’ preferences.

Get Customized T-shirts

If you want to add a personal touch get t-shirts that are perfectly customized according to your organization’s logo or tagline. This will not just offer a sense of unity, but it’ll also make the team even more photogenic. Create customized t-shirts direct online from NNT Customised Workwear.

Business

How to answer the ‘Why Should We Hire You?’ question

December 22, 2018

During an interview, recruiters and hiring managers increasingly ask prospective candidates questions such as ‘why should we hire you?’, ‘why are you the best candidate for this position?’, or ‘why are you a good fit for this role?’. These are the key questions that can drastically increase your chances of getting the job offer, so it is vital to take the opportunity to prepare your responses well.

When you are asked this type of question during an interview, recruiters and hiring managers have the 4 key expectations of your answer: understanding your motivation, your experience, your knowledge/skills and accomplishments. These need to be directly aligned to the role that you are being interviewed for so that you could demonstrate your suitability for it.

Here are the 4 key expectations of your answer, explored in more detail:

1.Motivation

Recruiters and hiring managers want to understand why you are interested in that particular sector, industry and the specific role. In essence, what would motivate you to perform well in that position? Or what would make you ‘stick to’ this role, company or industry?

You could explore here what elements of the job you would find most rewarding and explain why you are passionate and focussed towards them. This would demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment.

2. Work experience

To be able to address this expectation, you need to make sure that you have a good understanding of the job description (if unavailable, job advertisement at least). It should provide you with an insight to the purpose of the role, key duties, work experience requirements, as well as knowledge and skills required to perform the role.

When you are answering this question, you need to mirror the work experience requirements in the job description. Provide your interviewers with examples of work experience when you had to perform the same or similar duties and tasks in the past. This may be the experience from your previous employment, however, also can be the experience from your personal life. Even if you do not have such experience at all, you can answer such question well by providing a ‘this is how I would deal with it’ response as it would demonstrate your understanding and potential.

3. Knowledge and skills

In terms of knowledge and skills, tell the interviewers what professional certifications you hold to evidence your understanding of specialism’s fundamentals, concepts, methodologies, tools and techniques. Mention how or why these are relevant, transferrable and specifically what knowledge and skills would enable you to perform well in the role you have applied for. Examples of how you have applied your specialism’s knowledge and skills in the past would be advisable to highlight at this point as well.

If you do not hold a professional certification in your specialism, consider getting certified as it will help you to improve your job prospects drastically. Getting certified is considered to be one of the easiest ways of entering a profession.

For example, if you are looking to enter a Project Management career, PRINCE2® certifications are a great starting point, equally for an IT Service Management career it is worth studying the ITIL® certification. For more examples explore SkillPoint® Career Certification Map.

Even if you have just started studying for / working towards a professional certification, it will still be a positive indication as it will demonstrate your aspiration to become a certified professional.

4. Key accomplishments

Summarise the key results you have achieved from your previous career experience, any relevant awards, recognition or feedback that you have obtained that demonstrate you being a high achiever. For the best result, your accomplishments here should be linked to the actual relevant experience that you highlighted previously during the interview.

Lastly, it is important to note that you might not be asked this specific type of question during the interview. This is absolutely fine as long as you feel that you have addressed the 4 key expectations mentioned above during your interview. If you feel you did not have a chance to do so, it is critical that you take the opportunity to highlight these details for interviewers at some point during the interview.

Frequently, you will find one final chance to provide additional information towards the end of the interview. Finishing the conversation off by succinctly sharing your unique selling points for the role (that we have explored above) will enable you to stand out from your competition and increase your chances of getting the job offer.

SkillPoint® is a registered trademark of SkillPoint Ltd, used under permission of SkillPoint Ltd. All rights reserved. | PRINCE2® and ITIL® are registered trademarks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

Business

What is an Industrial Illness?

December 8, 2018

An industrial illness is a condition that is brought about by specific workplace-related dangers. A person contracts such an illness as the result of them being too exposed to the occupational hazards of their particular job. The severity of the condition is entirely dependant on the risk itself, as well as the aftercare that is on offer on site.

Types of occupational hazards

Occupational hazards are brought about by the specific work that is carried out in the industry. More specifically, any number of industrial actions or substances can cause an industrial illness, from using a vibrating tool for too long to handling materials, such as dust, too often. The most common hazards are those that are borough about by asbestos. It is for this reason why it is handled and regulated with the utmost care and professionalism at all times.

Other types of occupational hazards include:

  • Hand dermatitis

Workers who make frequent contact with water are those who are most likely to contract hand dermatitis. Other workers at risk are those who frequently come into direct contact with chemicals deemed to be harsh (this includes soaps and perfumes). This is thanks to something known as irritant contact dermatitis, and it can be very painful for those who suffer it. Typically, symptoms include hot, sore, scaly and itchy skin that cracks and bubbles. When infected by the bacteria known as Staphylococcus, hand dermatitis can also cause the skin to crust and ooze.

  • Industrial deafness

Industrial deafness is a condition that impacts most people who work or have worked in a loud environment; it is officially defined as being ‘the gradual deterioration of one’s hearing as a result of them being overly exposed to noise levels that reach or exceed 90 decibels.’

Symptoms of this incredibly severe industrial illness include a constant ringing, hissing, or buzzing noise in the ears, and, in the worst case scenario, complete deafness.

  • Work-related upper limb disorders

Commonly known as WRULDs, this specific type of musculoskeletal disorder impacts the upper part of the human body (torso up) and is frequently caused by repeated exposure to vibration. Typically, it is road workers who are most in danger of being stricken with this plight, thanks mainly to the fact that they often use drills and other similar devices.

What to do if you suffer an industrial illness

If you think that you are currently suffering from an industrial illness or have done in the past, then you need to get started on your claiming process. There are no two ways about it, yes, your job may entail you having to face occupational hazards daily, but your superiors should also offer you the utmost protection against them. It’s your bosses fault if you become the victim of such a risk, not yours. For this reason, you should have no qualms in getting in touch with a solicitor who is an expert in this field; such a professional can be found at www.the-compensation-experts.co.uk. They will work tirelessly by your side to ensure your industrial injury doesn’t cause you any more damage than it has done already by getting you the financial compensation you are owed.

Now that you are aware of the plight that is the industrial illness, you can set about trying to avoid contracting one at all costs. It means, quite simply, if you don’t feel that you are being provided with enough protection, make sure to tell your boss. If they don’t listen, tell them again.

Business

The power of billboard advertising and how to harness it

December 6, 2018

Advertising is all about grabbing a person’s attention and encouraging them to follow through on an action. Arguably, one of the most effective methods of making someone pay attention is with a large billboard placed strategically in a public place.

The billboard reportedly originated in New York around the mid-1830s, with the earliest record of a leased billboard space being documented in 1867. However, since then, this form of print marketing has become a staple of advertising and has even played a part on the silver screen as a crucial prop in recent blockbuster, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

If you want to maximise your marketing ROI, why not invest in billboard advertising that is simple to arrange with little maintenance needed? If you’re not convinced, find out why billboard advertising might be the boost your brand needs…

The influence of billboards

According to Route, the average Brit is classed as ‘out and about’ for three hours and ten minutes every day, spending around 16 minutes in the view of advertisements. Why not target your consumer during this window of opportunity with a large, quality, well-located billboard in a place with high footfall or traffic?

Another reason that billboards are an excellent option for marketing a product or service is that they’re simple to design and print — no putting together multiple pages in a brochure. Need something effective up and running in a hurry? A billboard is a single page of design, which should save you time when putting together a template that will offer maximum ROI.

Ever heard of the ‘Marketing Rule of 7’? This theory claims that a consumer must hear or see an advertising message at least seven times before taking action. By placing an outdoor banner in a public place where people will pass every day or a few times a day — like on the way to work or when dropping off and picking up their kids from school — you can help hit this number and potentially increase your brand’s chances of a conversion.

Evidently, billboard advertising could be a beneficial branch of your wider marketing campaign. So, how do you make sure your billboards are as effective as possible?

Designing a powerful billboard

All ads need to be eye-catching. However, if your billboard will be placed at the side of a high-speed road, this creates an even greater demand for noticeability. Think strategically about what you want on your billboard — someone driving past at 40mph+ is only going to be able to take in so much. What is your marketing objective? Do you want to sell a specific product? Are you spreading brand awareness? Promoting an event? Determine exactly what you want to achieve from your advertisement and provide only the essential information — like contact number, name of product or date and location of event.

The beauty of a billboard is that it’s the ideal platform for a big, conceptual image — which can work wonders from a marketing perspective. According to research, people generally only recall 10% of information they hear three days later. However, using a relevant image alongside this information increases retention by 55%. When designing your billboard, try and think of a funny or quirky image that will grab and hold a passer-by’s attention — such as cake brand, Mr Kipling’s, clever and unusual image of a bunny made using only Cherry Bakewell cakes as part of its Easter marketing campaign. Due to the size of a billboard, your images can pack a more powerful punch, so focus on getting the image perfect and then build your design from there.

Clarity is essential if you want people to not only notice your billboard but also consume the information on it. Utilise bright and bold colours to catch the eye — contrasting colours are reportedly stay in people’s memories for longer, too — and opt for a simple background and large, readable text — Sans Serif is a good shout.

Is your billboard going to be located at a roadside? A driver typically has five to ten seconds to view an ad, which means you need to consider copy length. The more relevant and informative your image is, the less you should need to convey with text — stick to a brief, punchy message of seven words and you should get your marketing message across, no problem.

Consider your target audience when selecting the location. For example, if your products are for 18-21-years-olds, find a site near a university or college. Otherwise, you could reduce your ROI due to not being in sight of the people who are most likely to engage and act on your ad.

If your billboard campaign is going to be local, why not create a stronger connection with the residents by including something that references the town or city? Include an image of a local landmark to create a sense of familiarity or reference the local traffic in a funny way. Humour generally works in advertising. According to a review of 6,500 ads, the funniest were usually cited as being the most appealing and memorable. What’s more, adopting this personal and familiar approach creates a sense of friendliness, so you’ll also exude a more welcoming brand persona — which will be more encouraging to a potential customer.

Billboard marketing is an excellent way to drive a successful marketing campaign — try it at your business and start increasing sales and customers!

Business

How will virtual reality impact the education sector?

November 27, 2018

As technology continues to advance, so too does the way we can learn. While the internet has enabled us to conduct research on any subject at ease, our learning spaces and facilities are also improving. Virtual reality is gradually becoming part of many industries and when it comes to schools and colleges, it’s no longer a case of simply sitting at a desk with your books. Here, we look at how VR is impacting the education sector.

Guided tours

Virtual reality allows you to get to know your learning space before you’ve even set foot on the property. An Ofsted report for Newcastle College praised the establishment’s world class facilities, and students are encouraged to take a tour of what’s on offer online.

By offering virtual reality tours,you are opening up your institution to prospective students away from the area as well as those on your doorstep. It can make your centre appear unique and special, helping you stand out from the crowd and is a lot more engaging than simply using photos to promote your space and courses.

Virtual classrooms

Not so long ago, the bulk of the learning experience came from teachers standing at the front of a classroom and students working through a text book. Of course, this still happens, but there are a host of other opportunities available too.

With Open University (OU) courses allowing students to study outside of a classroom, lesson plans can take you anywhere in the world. For example, recently the OU took students to the Great Barrier Reef via virtual reality. The Google Expeditions technology allowed students to go on a virtual field trip to a location which would be near impossible for them to actually visit.

Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Computing, Shailey Minocha, developed the field trips for the OU and said: “Our previous research has shown that the high degree of realism now achievable in virtual field trips complements the physical field trip experience and in imparting fieldwork skills. Virtual field trips also make it possible to experience activities and locations that may be impossible, or extremely difficult, to arrange in real life.”

Reports found that students benefit from class trips, with 72% gaining a better understanding of their subject and two thirds would do better in their exams if they went on excursions. With virtual reality this complex situation will be a lot easier to organise, meaning that virtual trips could become a frequent part of teaching.

Hands-on experience

Hands-on training is key to a student’s learning. Doctors and mechanics, for example, benefit from carrying out ‘on-the-job training’ in work experience and in-class modules. However, due to its complexity, virtual reality can help when it comes to time, cost and controlling the health and safety aspect of this experience. If apprentices or students can take part in surgeries or engine changes in a virtual environment, their learning period will be significantly accelerated. This allows them to learn a potentially dangerous task in a safe environment.

Not only this, but hands-on learning helps to increase learner engagement, helping to activate more parts of the brain, which in turn leads to information being stored for a longer period of time.

If education uses virtual reality wisely, we will see students hugely reap the rewards. Technological advances are providing the tools to change the way we learn and teach, and virtual reality can be a big player in this.  

Sources

https://blog.concept3d.com/top-5-reasons-use-virtual-tours-schools-website

https://www3.open.ac.uk/media/fullstory.aspx?id=30596

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/impact-virtual-reality-education-parag-diwan/

https://www.halsbury.com/useful-guides/benefits-of-school-trips/

https://demmelearning.com/learning-blog/hands-on-learning-benefits/