So You Want To Start Your Own Business?

According to the digital marketing experts at Ditto Digital SEO service, starting your own business is exciting but involves hard work and determination. You will have to do, or be aware of, every aspect of running a business to comply with regulations, handle finances and deal with staff.

Running your own business gives you the freedom to work in a way that suits you best but it is also a challenge. If you have been employed for any length of time you will have become accustomed to certain aspects of the business being dealt with by someone else behind the scenes. But in your own business you will have to do everything and make all the decisions. 

We all know that many small businesses fail in the early stages and this is often down to a lack of planning. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of owning your own business and not plan the essentials properly. But good planning is far more likely to result in a successful business so try and curb your enthusiasm to do all the things that interest you and make sure you have the business basics covered. You may decide to start small and initially run the business from your home; this can work well if you have the space and good access to facilities and broadband. However, if it encroaches on your family life and you find yourself looking for a new home just to accommodate a small business then, clearly, there could be better options.

Remember that being a business owner may offer rfeedom in some areas but brings with it additional responsibility in the form of legal requirements, training staff (e.g. change management courses), health & safety and financial obligations. Expect to work hard in the early years – maybe harder than you ever have before.

Think about what you personally hope to achieve from the business; of course, financial reward will be up there at the top of the list but what about the other perks of being your own boss such as deciding where to work and what hours you will work; and choosing who to work with. All of your objectives should be written down so that you don’t lose sight of your original aims. Of course, you may not achieve these aims immediately but, at least, they will be a stated goal for a year, 5 years or 10 years down the line.

A new business does not have to be based on a new idea but it does have to have something that differentiates you from the competition. Are your prices cheaper or do you offer a bespoke or personalised service; whatever that difference is make sure you understand the competition and their capacity to change the way they work so that you are no longer different from them especially if they have a well-recognised brand and already have a foothold in the market

And of course don’t forget about the financing – even in today’s world of “on demand” services and for many businesses no need to hold large amounts of stock, you will still need a certain amount of money to get started. A website, advertising costs, staff costs all have to be covered somehow.

A good accountant will help with the financial planning side of a new venture and can advise on sources of finance such as a loan, overdraft, government grants and venture capital. Accountants can also help you determine which route is most appropriate for your business and the costs involved in the various different approaches. Remember that loans will usually require some security but avoid using personal assets for this. Again take the advice of a chartered accountant who can advise on the best route as well as ensuring you are not paying too much tax, helping prepare a business plan that will secure you a good finance deal as well as various other accounting services.

home-office-couple Effective feedback

Starting and Growing a Home Based Business

If you are fortunate enough to be moving house soon, no doubt you will be excited, but you will also have started to realise just how expensive all the moving costs will be. So how can you keep moving costs down and hopefully have something left over to stamp your mark on your new home and from where you can grow your fledgling business? There is plenty of argument about what type of home is best suited to a home-based business but whether you choose a period home or a new home there will be benefits to both: the charm of period home is undeniable but the clean lines and up-to-date technology might be better suited to a home office.

Moving to a new house is an expensive business and some of the expenses you will incur cannot be avoided, such as stamp duty and legal fees. But if you are fairly fit and have some willing hands to help, then the actual removals part of moving home can easily be managed without calling in the professionals. This is not something recommended if you are moving overseas, have a very large house or very valuable possessions, such as antiques. A specialist remover will always be required for antiques to ensure the right insurance cover and the correct type of packing. But for the majority of us this can be done simply by hiring a van, loading it up, driving to the new home, and unloading.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is relatively simple; just be prepared for some hard work and you could save yourself a substantial sum by doing it yourself.

I recently heard about an alternative to all this moving house hassle for senior folks so I thought I’d just mention it here. Did you know that there is an alternative to a residential care home for senior people not able to care for themselves any more? No? Nor had I until recently and I had to investigate options for my wife’s mom. Turns out there is something called live-in care or home care where you can stay in your own home but a qualified carer come sto live with you full-time and takes care of all your needs. Sounds like something we could all do with!

But what about the storage service that most removal companies offer if the dates for moving out of your old home and into your new one are not the same? Or if your new home needs decoration or renovation before you move in? Well, there’s a simple option for that too because there are plenty of cheap self storage facilities available all across the country.

So here are the basic steps to a DIY house move:

  • Create a list of everything that will be moving to your new address

If you are in a rented property, much of the furniture may be staying and it might just be your personal possessions that need moving. But if you own your current home, then you are probably going to take everything. And if you have a freestanding kitchen, you may even actually take the kitchen sink. For small items, make an estimate of how many packing boxes you will require. Don’t use boxes that are too large – they will just become very heavy once full and remember you will be lifting them.

  • Sell your surplus stuff on Ebay

Be ruthless – if there are any possessions that you no longer want, then get selling on Ebay as soon as possible. The less you have to transport from your old home to your new home, and possibly store in between, the easier and less expensive it will be. You may even earn enough to pay for any storage.

  • Contact several companies to get quotes for hiring a vehicle

A reputable hire company should be able to tell you over the phone what size of vehicle is necessary if you describe the amount of belongings you have.

  • Book your vehicle

Once you have a definite moving date, confirm the vehicle hire. Don’t be tempted to book your removal vehicle before your moving date is confirmed. Moving dates are notoriously prone to change and you could end up losing your deposit.

  • Pack non-essential items in advance.

Buy or borrow packing boxes and start packing non-essential items as soon as you can. Books, DVDs, bedding, children’s toys, kitchen gadgets whatever you think you can do without for a couple of weeks. It will take much longer than you expected, particularly if you have to sort through storage cupboards, lofts, sheds and garages etc that have not been used for a long time. Use plenty of bubble-wrap for fragile items and fill any spaces in the boxes with old newspaper. Always tape up boxes once full to prevent anything falling out during the move and label them on all sides with a thick black marker with the room (or other location such as the self-storage unit) where they should be put.

  • Pack out-of-season clothes in advance.

The best way to transport clothes is by using wardrobe cases. These are boxes that have a hanging rail so you don’t need to remove your clothes from their hangers. Clothes can simply be taken out of your wardrobe, hooked into the wardrobe case and put back in the wardrobe at your new home. These are such a great way to keep the creases out of your clothes and save on ironing.

  • Pack essentials on the day

Pack a small suitcase with all the items you’ll need for your first night in your new home such as toiletries and medicines, toilet roll, bedding, and a change of clothes. Use a small, separate bag for valuable items such as jewellery and important documents so these can be kept with you on the moving day.

It may sound obvious but pack a small box with the kettle, mugs, teabags, milk and biscuits. By the time you have arrived at your new home you will need a reviving drink and something to eat.

  • Load the van.

Cover any furniture likely to get scratched with old blankets. Make sure any high pieces of furniture like wardrobes are well secured or lay them on their side if possible to prevent falling over. Tie string around doors and drawers to prevent drawers sliding out or doors flying open when the van is turning corners.

Place the heaviest boxes at the bottom and stack boxes in the lowest piles possible, otherwise they are likely to topple over when the van is on the move.

  • Unload the van.

Once you arrive at your destination, whether that’s your new home or a self storage facility, you simply have to unload everything in reverse order. Since all the boxes were labelled, it will be a simple job to place them in the correct location.

  • Put your feet up and have a well-earned cup of tea.

This is when you will be glad you packed that small essentials box and kept it handy. Now is the time to sit back and congratulate yourself on the money you have saved hiring a van and using cheap self storage and doing your own house removal.

Small Business Guide to Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a great way for small businesses to expand the services they offer as quickly as possible. It allows them to offer a range of different services to help them run their business smoothly without having to do it all themselves. It is a good idea to consider outsourcing before you even think about recruiting for other employees, particularly if your business is in its infancy, or you’re not sure whether a new service will work for your long-term. There are many different services that are covered through outsourcing, such as, administration, IT services, web design, SEO, customer support, sales, payroll, accounting, marketing, social media, human relations, public relations and content creation. Which you choose to do in house and which you outsource depends entirely on your business.

Outsourcing your accounts 

One of the main services that you may need to consider outsourcing is accounting. It is a good idea to outsource accounting at the beginning when you are first expanding your business, especially before you start to hire employees to help you to run your business. It is perfectly fine to handle the accounts yourself. However, it is always a good idea to outsource a professional to handle the accounting side of things as mistakes can be very costly in the long run and could end up costing you dearly.

Marketing help 

Another important service that you could benefit from outsourcing at the beginning before expanding your business is marketing. Marketing plays a key role in how successful your business will be. There are many branches of marketing that need to be covered to ensure that you are running a successful business such as online and offline marketing and social media marketing. To ensure that all areas of marketing are covered effectively it would be very beneficial to hire a professional to make sure that you have not missed anything. 

IT Assistance

One service that you might want to consider outsourcing is IT services. IT services are important for every company whether they are big or small as they ensure to help keep your services up and running without any major issues. Having an IT department can be very costly for any company and is most likely out of the question for smaller companies. Therefore it might be more advisable and beneficial to outsource for IT services to lower the costs. 

Web Design

It could also be beneficial to outsource your web design. Having a well-designed website that is properly maintained could be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful business. If your website is full of bugs and does not draw in your target audience, then you are not going to get the response that you were hoping for, so it is wise to outsource a service that covers this before you look into employing other members of staff. This can be done as part of your marketing services in some cases, so you may be able to get both of these services covered by the same person/company.

To summarise, it is important to make sure you carefully consider which services you outsource during the beginning stages of your business. One important thing to make sure that you do when outsourcing different services is to heavily research the service that you want to outsource to ensure that you find the right company to help you get the most out of your business and not just go for the cheapest option available. 

How To Stay Positive In A Covid Affected Business

One of the major difficulties for those with businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is seeing the work they have done to build a business unravelled by restrictions and lockdowns.  It is incredibly hard to remain positive and focussed to see the turbulent times through.

When you see cash reserves running out, need to rethink how you market or worse still conduct your entire business, can quickly lead to despair and low morale, for not just you but your entire team.

As hard as it seems, you must keep a positive attitude and focus beyond the current state of affairs, if you want to survive. Many steps, although they may come about to ensure you survive the effects of Covid-19, are end up being moves for businesses.  Rather than looking at what you can no longer do within the restrictions, why not seek to use the coronavirus affect to positively change your business, to make it more future proof going forward?

Staying positive

To quote Albert Einstein “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”. If you can see these difficulties as a positive opportunity to reassess business and how you practice, this could benefit your business long-term.  One benefit of the coronavirus affect should see you seek to streamline expenses, consider alternative trading markets and even go as far as seeking alternative suppliers and service providers.

Some of the biggest success stories so far have come from businesses that have turned their wholesale business into a retail business. In particular, those in hospitality supply that virtually overnight saw their customer base shut down, and sought to change, to supply the needs of retail customers when demand outstripped normal supermarket capacity.  The easy option would have been to stop, sit back and suffer damage to their business; however, through positivity and a willingness to adapt they saw a solution.

Financial damage limitation

Again, see the need to change in a positively, actively seek to reduce costs. Even if only short term.  There are many government and council support schemes in place for businesses, and some require you to make a positive step to ask for help, so being proactive, understanding and reducing your base operating costs, while you turn your eye to accessing help and refocussing your business model is a must. It is good practice even during normal trading conditions to have a grasp on purse strings, but businesses that let this slide through apathy during this pandemic will be in a weaker position to ride the storm and come out the other side. 

Seek out opportunities

Just because you have always done what you do, the way you do it, does not mean that it is the only way. Consider what else you can do to add, adapt or even remove from your business; give it a top to toe makeover.  Consider existing customers and the potential for new customers, how your business can take advantage of new opportunities that are arising. Staying proactive and seeking to move with the way the world has changed will help you make positive changes and keep focussed on ensuring your business survives this pandemic.

Involve your workforce, being productive by upskilling and diversifying where needed. The more positive you are, the more positivity will spread and along with it the chance of surviving and thriving in a post-COVID world.

How To Manage Your Emails Effectively

As a manager your email inbox will always be full, which is why it is so important to manage it properly. Here we look at how to do this efficiently with some top tios from Ditto Digital.

Managing your work emails can be an extremely stressful activity. Not only does it take a lot of time, but it can be extremely unproductive and divert a large amount of focus away from the work you actually need to be doing.

Many management courses teach you how to be organised, but the approach you personally take to being organised is down to you, and you alone. In this article we’ll be looking at how to reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox and how to make sure that you can focus on what needs to get done whilst still be able to use email effectively when absolutely necessary.

  1. Set aside time to deal with your emails

    The best way to keep your email under control is to allocate certain time slots for checking your inbox and replying to any important emails. It’s best to do this noo more than 3 times a day.

    If you want you can also create an automatic response to incoming emails informing the sender that you will respond in due course to prevent them thinking you are either ignoring their email or haven’t received it. Make sure your own team can communicate with you directly, in person, if they need to.
  2. Deal With It Now

    We all know the feeling, an email comes in that absolutely has to be dealt with now. First, remember that there are very few times when an immediate response is necessary – if it was an emergency then you would most likely be contacted in person or by phone. Nevertheless get into the habit of acting quickly with emails where possible so that they don’t mount up, say, reply within 48 hours where possible.
  3. Get Organised
    Making sure that your inbox is organised can be a massive help when wading through your email. Being able to filter through the emails that are potentially more important than others is key to being able to work efficiently.

    Messages from clients or senior execs? If they’re important you can handle them as soon as possible. However, messages from someone about a trivial matter can be dealt with another time if necessary.
  4. Stay Organised
    The worst thing you can do if you want to be efficient is subscribe to lots of different newsletters. Whether they’re Monthly, weekly or daily unless you really need them to help you do your work then unsubscribe – right now. If you are interested in reading certain newsletters when you have time then set up a rule to automatically move them to another folder that you can check at your leisure.

It’s not difficult to manage your emails efficiently but you just have to train yourself, change your email habits and allow yourself to become more productive.