Home Office Communications

It might be the case that you have decided to work exclusively from home.

Alternatively, perhaps you are just fed-up with the crack of dawn commuting start and the late night returns so have decided to start spending a little more time working from home.

The good news is that over the last 20 years, technology has moved us to a position whereby your home can become a technical extension of your office or indeed replace it altogether.  True, this might involve investing in some technology but it’s typically possible to obtain help with that from your bank, or alternatively from startup funding organisations like everline, it should also be possible to claim some of your tax back for the business expense of setting up your home office!

So, what kit are you likely to need?  Here are a few ideas relating to the basics:

  • a good telephone system with the ability to deal with calls waiting.  The days of customers tolerating constantly engaged telephone lines disappeared with the 1970s – so don’t try to recreate them. That’s a form of Retro that won’t go down well;
  • a high-speed internet connection.  This should be pretty much standard these days in most locations but be prepared to pay a little more for higher speeds;
  • a PC plus backup and a home network system to connect them with each other.  That is so you and anyone helping can access and share the same files and it also gives you some contingency against single points of technical failure.  Top tip – don’t ever let your kids run their games on your main work PC;
  • a good quality printer and scanner.  That latter might be important if you are trying to deal with sending copies of things to your customers electronically and it will also double as a photocopier for you;
  • a fax machine.  This is a tricky one because not all businesses necessarily need one.  However, people have been predicting the demise of the fax for at least 20 years but it refuses to go away.  You may still find some organisations, particularly some official government bodies, who will only accept faxes and not emails;
  • possibly a video link.  Your clients might well occasionally want to see you in the flesh so to speak! That used to involve serious expenditure but today comes as part and parcel of services such as Skype.

With a little planning and some relatively modest expenditure, your home may make an excellent work base.

Basics of HR Outsourcing: 5 Things You Should Know

As a business owner or manager, Human Resources has an important role. HR deals with hiring, firing and everything in-between. Some companies manage HR on their own, other hire in house HR teams, while others choose to make a smart decision and outsource their HR needs. While all options are feasible, often outsourcing is your best option. Here are the basics of HR outsourcing and 5 things you should know if you are consider choosing an outsourcing route for your HR needs. Continue reading Basics of HR Outsourcing: 5 Things You Should Know

Electronic Access to Information Improves Efficiency

No matter how they try to avoid it, businesses still seem to be generating plenty of paper. Even in these days of modern technology when people can share information online and indeed update it if authorised to do so, there is still the need for hard copy. It may be for reference at a meeting when anyone involved in a project has to have relevant documentation in front of them. It means a copier is still an essential part of the office furniture.

Sensitive

You may not want a junior member of staff to see certain documents and prefer to get a personal assistant to do the job. Extremely sensitive documentation may be for the eyes of no one else. There is logic behind having sensitive documents stored electronically with password protection. A company that provides such a service will never risk its reputation by revealing anything of the content to anyone.

copier

Accessibility

The storage of data is increasingly being done online. If people need to access information on their tablets and laptops they need to see correspondence there that has been scanned so that it can be read electronically.

You may want to get a service company to do your scanning for you, prior to the documents being shredded and recycled. There are companies such as http://shredall.co.uk that offer this service and will guarantee complete confidentiality in doing it.

Speedy service

Once documents have been scanned, you will have instance access electronically. The filing cabinet in your office will become less and less important. Everything you need to know can be held on a small device in your hand or even a USB memory stick no bigger than your finger. If you decide to use a professional scanning service you avoid the need to allocate staff to do it, staff that will already have its daily activities in running the business. A speedy service is important of course. You may have essential documents that need scanning but cannot be inaccessible for long. Obviously you can take copies of anything you think you may need while the scanning is being done. Once completed, every authorised member of staff will be able to consult the documents, whatever their specific location.

If you have any questions of a company that you are considering for such services you are likely to be able to ask and get an immediate response. The speed of that response in itself will indicate the importance that it places on quality service. Whatever the size of your business, you should be able to get a service company to help. Modern technology is here to help businesses run more efficiently. That involves making the flow of information quicker, or at least the information needed to make decisions, so that decision making becomes easier.

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Customizing an Online Storefront

If you have an online store or plan on making one, then having a good-looking storefront is essential to getting customers to visit your store. Just like customers don’t want to visit a poor physical location, they don’t want to visit a poor-looking virtual one either. The design of your online storefront is one of the most important elements of your website if you’re planning on making profits from your online business. An online storefront that is poorly designed and feature contrasting text that is difficult to read and a navigation setup that is difficult to navigate won’t keep customers on it for long. Most potential customers will become frustrated with a storefront that isn’t user-friendly and will end up leaving and taking their business elsewhere. 

storefront

Designing a storefront might not be your area of expertise, but that’s okay because there are plenty of tools available to assist you. Numerous online companies offer you storefront design services that help you achieve the storefront that you want without all the hassle of you having to learn a programming language and design it yourself. 1ShoppingCart is an example of an online service that helps you design your own storefront the quick and easy way. When you are designing your storefront, there are a few tips that you might want to keep in mind, however, no matter what service you use to assist you in designing it. 

The first impression that your store makes is important. Therefore, you want to ensure that your store has a good homepage that features an easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate design. Including your best deals and most featured items on your homepage is also a good idea to entice customers to click within your site and continue shopping. While you want your store to stand out, using a premade professional-looking template is a good idea to ensure that your site features a layout that has been proven to work. 

Additionally, offering customers a variety of options is also advantageous. Make it easy for customers to select different sizes and colors. If you offer any customization options, make it so that customers can see what their customized items will look like. Customers tend to like preview panes that let them see their products up close. 

Designing your website’s store is one of the most crucial parts of running an online business. Without a well-designed storefront, you might not be able to entice customers to your store. 

Top 5 Product Packaging Tips for Online Retailers

As an online retailer, your packaging is a vital component of your shipping and delivery process. However, it is also a vital component of marketing and branding as well. If you think about some of the large online retailers, like Amazon, you can instantly picture their recognizable logo. The same goes for other online retailers. Basically, the packaging you choose can be a powerful tool in building your business and your brand’s image. If you want to gain more recognition for your company, it is critical that you don’t take for granted the packaging process. Here are the top five product packaging tips for online retailers. Continue reading Top 5 Product Packaging Tips for Online Retailers

5 Effective Career Development and Planning Tips

One thing that all of us desire in our lives is a fulfilling career. There are several things that can help to make that happen. A college degree. A couple of internships. And also, making sure that you are intentional when it comes to doing all that you can to further develop your professional path. Continue reading 5 Effective Career Development and Planning Tips

5 Benefits of Creating an Explainer Video for Your Business Website

The web can often be a one-dimensional experience – you have text, photos and maybe the ability to zoom, but you often never get the full picture. Not offering the full picture to visitors can reduce sales conversions and it can cause people to bounce off your website. This is where an explainer video comes in handy. An explainer video is essentially a tutorial in video form – it tells the customer what your business does, how your product works and how it will be beneficial in the customer. If you want to boost revenue and the number of visitors to your website, you may want to think about creating an explainer video – simply feature the video on the front page of your website or in a pop up window. Here are five benefits of creating an explainer video for your business website. Continue reading 5 Benefits of Creating an Explainer Video for Your Business Website

5 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty and Retention for Your Business

If you’re someone who runs a business, there are three things that you need to have in place. You need to have a great business plan. You need to be able to provide a great product or service. And, you need to have a method for building customer loyalty and retention. Continue reading 5 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty and Retention for Your Business

5 Ways to Make Your Warehouse Safer

There is a good chance that your business’s warehouse isn’t as safe as it could be. Every year, millions of people suffer from injuries sustained in warehouses. These injuries occur from falls, malfunctioning machines and inventory tipping off of shelves. Not only that, but a safer warehouse is a more efficient warehouse, which means that products will get to clients faster and your entire operations will be more streamlined. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make your warehouse safer, but it may take a total overhaul of your protocols, especially if you need top to bottom reorganization. Here are five ways to make your warehouse safer. Continue reading 5 Ways to Make Your Warehouse Safer