Embracing Remote Working: A Guide

Whether you’re a small team with only a handful of employees or a larger organization with several teams to coordinate, you cannot avoid the overwhelming consensus that remote working is here to stay. Somewhat surprisingly, many businesses have proven that their work rate and productivity haven’t been affected by their staff working from home; in fact, there are cases in which staff are working harder from home than in the office. As such, here’s how you, too, can embrace working from home to truly boost your business’ performance in the post-pandemic world.

Training Modules

First up, you need to make sure that your staff are acquainted with all of the software that they’ll be using when they’re working from home. When they’re concerned about how to use the software and getting frustrated because new systems are opaque to them, you’ll find your staff productivity dipping immediately. Motivation is based on capability, and so it’s your responsibility to equip your staff with the skills to succeed when working remotely.

New Software

Married with this first step should be your IT professionals and HR team’s look into the world of remote working software. What is out there that you can use to coordinate work from home? How can you monitor and evaluate your performance in the ‘new normal’ compared to your performance in the latter quarter of 2019? When you onboard new technologies and software solutions, you need your staff to be able to use them instantly – which is where the extra training comes in.

Oversight

While you shouldn’t expect your staff to take working from home as a free ticket to slack off their work, you should be able to monitor their work rate. More importantly, perhaps, you need your staff to know that you’re monitoring their work rate. This will incentivize them to work harder. It’ll also give you a critical window into how you can improve their working habits at home. Microsoft Teams Analytics software is an excellent way for managers and HR professionals to coordinate and monitor workers when they’re accessing your documents and communicating remotely in the future.

Team Meetings

While you should be able to trust your staff to know their duties in the workplace, they must also be able to communicate openly and freely with one another, and with their managers, each week. Most companies are in the habit of starting the day with a team meeting – a conference call during which you can offer feedback and guide your team to better working habits. This is something to bear in mind when setting up for remote working.

Teething Issues

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that your remote working professionals will not take to their duties efficiently straight away. There will always be delays and confusion in the first weeks of setting up a remote working system in your business. But, if you’re able to confer with your team, highlight and deal with problems, and be empathetic to the new challenges of remote working you should be able to overcome these early issues in a matter of weeks.

This guide will help you embrace the benefits of remote working speedily in the ‘new normal’ that COVID-19 has brought about.

4 Ways that You Can Boost Your Site’s Value

Whether you’re a serial flipper or you have a site you’re trying to get rid of for some reason, it’s your job to make sure that you get the best deal possible on it. While in some cases the site may have reached its full potential, in most instances, there are some concrete steps that you can take to significantly improve its value. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time or money either. Sometimes, just making a few changes can be enough to increase your asking price and make your site more desirable to buyers. Here are a few ways that you can get the best offer on your website possible.

1. Go with the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform is the first thing you should do if you want to make sure that you get access to a large pool of buyers. Bigger platforms are also advertised better, which will ultimately mean more attention to your listing.

People will also be more likely to buy from a trusted exchange marketplace. These platforms do everything to make buyers feel at ease and ensure that all transactions are safe for both parties. Going through a platform like this will allow you to get much higher bids than if you went out on your own and will simplify the whole process as well.

2. Get a Premium Domain Name

Did you know that some businesses sell for the perceived value of their domain alone? Getting an easily recognizable name that is closely related to your niche could instantly boost your site’s value. The important thing is making sure that you’ll be able to get a return on your investment and don’t overpay.

3. Add Content

Adding content is one of the simplest things you could do to boost your site’s value. More content usually translates to more traffic, which will be an important selling point. If you don’t have a blog already, build one. Another thing you could do is add a forum section or add new sections to your site.

If you’re doing restaurant reviews, for instance, you could have a section with hotel reviews, car rentals, airfare, or event tickets. Content is an investment in your business, and people will always gravitate towards sites that have a lot of unique content.

4. Increase Your Social Media Presence

You should also consider increasing your social media efforts if you feel like you don’t have much of a presence there. Being able to sell a well-populated social media page with a large following is something a lot of buyers will be interested in. Most people would love to have an established base on social media, but don’t know how to go about it. So, this could eventually be the point that makes the difference between a sale and a pass.

Boosting your site’s value doesn’t have to be difficult, but it requires some work. Make sure that you follow these few tips and focus on providing more value if you want to get more value back.

What Do Customers Expect From the Online Checkout Process?

Online shopping is the norm these days; most people don’t think twice about purchasing household essentials from Amazon, getting new outfits from clothing stores, or bidding on second-hand deals on eBay. But, while online shopping is taking over high street stores at a rapid rate thanks to its convenience and ease, customers expect a certain level of service when shopping online, particularly during the checkout process.

A checkout that is hard to navigate isn’t transparent about extra costs like delivery fees or isn’t secure is not going to make customers feel safe when entering their sensitive financial details and making a purchase. And in the highly competitive eCommerce environment, encouraging customers to complete their purchases is essential for success. So, what do your customers expect when checking out?

A High Level of Security:

First and foremost, nobody wants to enter their credit or debit card details into an unsecured website. It’s highly dangerous because it leaves this sensitive information wide open to hackers and scammers who could end up gaining access and using a customer’s money to purchase things or hack into their accounts. Make sure that your site is protected with an SSL certificate.

Guest Checkout:

Some customers don’t want the hassle of signing up for an account before they can make a purchase; in fact, this is one of the top reasons why carts are abandoned. If you’re making your customers fill out lengthy forms with all their information before they can buy a product from you, chances are you are missing out. Instead, allow a speedy guest checkout that only requires customers to enter the basic information that you need to send the product to them, and give them the option to create an account once they have paid if they wish.

Transparency:

Unexpected extra charges and fees are another huge reason for abandoned carts. Most consumers aren’t a huge fan of paying for delivery when shopping online, but if you can’t offer free delivery for any reason, this can be forgiven by making sure that they are aware of how much their total will be including delivery all the way through the delivery process. If you can offer a variety of delivery options with clear price ranges, do so. Nobody wants to get all the way to entering their payment details only to find that their total is going to be $10 extra because of a delivery fee they weren’t made aware of beforehand.

Different Payment Options:

Finally, the more options you can give your customers when it comes to how they pay for their goods, the better. Debit and credit cards are standard when shopping online but there are more ways to pay that customers expect to be able to use. Choose a reputable checkout option that allows customers to pay with a variety of debit and credit card types, along with PayPal or Apple Pay so that your customers can pick whichever option they prefer.

Transparency, security, speed, and options are the minimum of what customers expect when checking out their online shopping. The key to success lies in making the experience as convenient and as smooth as possible for your customer.

5 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small to Medium Businesses

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that because their business is small, they are less likely to fall victim to a cyberattack compared to larger companies. This ‘not much to steal’ mindset is all too common among small to medium business owners, but it’s completely incorrect. In reality, around 71% of cyberattacks happen to small businesses with less than 100 employees meaning that, actually, your small business might be at a bigger risk of a cyberattack than the big guys. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and the data that you hold on your business, customers, and employees.

Outsource IT:

Perhaps one of the easiest and most efficient ways to deal with cybersecurity in a small business is to outsource your IT to an experienced company that specializes in cybersecurity, like Capstone IT Services. They have experienced employees who will be able to make sure that all your IT security measures are up to date, plus they can provide expert IT support as and when you need it. And, it’s usually much cheaper compared to hiring your own in-house security experts.

Use a Firewall:

A firewall is often one of the first lines of defense against a cyber-attack, and it’s recommended that you use one to provide a barrier between your data and any cybercriminals looking to get their hands on it. Along with the standard external firewall, many companies are also using internal firewalls to provide an extra layer of protection. If you have employees working from home, it’s essential that they install a firewall on their home network too.

Have Clear Cybersecurity Policies:

Your risk of a cyberattack will drop when your employees are suitably trained and educated on how to prevent cyberattacks, protect data, and report a suspected breach. It’s important to document your protocols and provide employees with a clear set of guidelines to adhere to. Employees of small to medium businesses often take on a range of roles, so make it a priority to train all employees who access the network on your company’s best practices and security policies.

Plan for Mobile Devices:

With almost 60% of businesses now allowing BYOD, it’s essential to have a documented policy that focuses on security precautions when employees bring their own device to work, particularly mobile devices like smartphones and smartwatches. You should require employees to set up automatic security updates for any device that they use for work and apply the password policy to any device accessing the network.

Enforce Safe Password Policies:

Changing passwords can be inconvenient but it can also be the difference between avoiding a cyberattack and being a victim to one. Over 60% of data breaches are a result of lost, stolen, or easily-guessed passwords, so it’s important to have strict password policies in place and make sure that they are adhered to. Employees should be required to use strong passwords that contain upper- and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers, and update them every 60-90 days.

Small businesses are at the biggest risk of cybercrime, so it’s never been more essential to put a range of cybersecurity best practices into place in your company.

5 Ways You Can Automate Your Business for Faster Growth

Do you want your business to grow at a much faster pace than it is currently projected to? If so, you need to seriously consider automating your daily processes and operations. Take the load off of your human workforce and let technology take over for a while — if you do, you’ll be sure to see a remarkable improvement when it comes to the number of tasks that you complete and the number of tight deadlines that you hit.

If you don’t want to waste any time in scaling your industry, you need to embrace automation. Here are five ways you can automate your business for faster growth:

  1. Invest in a PBX system

With a PBX system in place, you will be able to automate the task of handling your phone calls. No longer will you have to employ a receptionist to answer your incoming calls, as this ‘auto-attendant’ solution will be capable of doing this for you. This will save you money when it comes to hiring reception staff, and it will allow you to get on with your daily tasks without having to worry about answering the phone all day.

  1. Ensure that your workforce embraces automation

If your workforce doesn’t embrace automation, you’re going to have a hard time convincing them that your business is going in the right direction. All of your employees must buy into the idea of automation. Otherwise, they’ll just shun all of the tech tools that you invest in.

To prepare your workforce for the automation revolution that you plan to unveil in your workspace, you should:

  • Remove all doubt and fear by talking to your employees about the benefits of automation
  • Be transparent and inclusive when discussing what technology you are going to be using
  • Train your staff members to work with and alongside the tech that you invest in

Learn from the experts

All of today’s biggest companies will now, under some title or another, employ an automation expert. If you are to unearth the secrets of seamless automation integration, you should get in touch with these experts and learn from them.

Automate for free

Automation doesn’t necessarily have to be a costly venture. If you want to take this step forward in your business’s development in the most cost-affection fashion possible, you should seek to automate for free.

Choose the right vendor

If you get to the point where you want to align yourself with an automated services provider, it’s essential that you choose the right vendor. Don’t partner up with the first company or professional that you come across. Take some time to consider where you want to be in three years, and try to align yourself with an external force that shares similar aspirations.

If you want to see your business grow from strength to strength over the coming years, you should be taking full advantage of automation technology. When you do decide to embrace this tech, just be sure to put all of the advice laid out above into practice.

5 Types of Popular Contract Types for Construction Contractors

Seeing your house or construction project taking shape is an exciting prospect. If you want the project to go according to plan, it pays to have a contract in place. A contract is simply a legally binding document that spells out the scope of the project plus when and how payments will be made. In this light, there are a few popular contract types that contractors use. Below, we will look at five of them.

Lump-Sum Contracts

This is one of the most popular types of contracts used by contractors. It is a contract that binds a project that has a fixed cost that is agreed upon by all parties before work starts. Because the full cost of the project is already spelled out, the contractor is able to keep the project within budget. It is also helpful for clients because they know there will not be any additional costs during the project.

Subcontract Agreements

As the name suggests, these are contracts signed between the main contractor and a sub-contractor. It lists everything the sub-contractor has to do for the main contractor and how much they will be compensated for these tasks. This type of contract also transfers responsibilities for what the sub-contractor does from the main contractor to the sub-contractor.

This type of contract also protects the sub-contractor by providing a guarantee that they will be compensated fully for everything they do.

Time and Material Contracts

These contracts are written where the scope of the project is not fully defined. The client and the contractor usually agree on rates for the materials to be bought plus hourly or daily rates for the contractor and those working under them. All of these rates must be verified and included in the contract.

To keep things as clear as possible, contractors can use contract lifecycle management to create, organize, and send contracts easily.

When these rates are added to the contract, they are usually defined as overhead, direct, indirect, or markup. In some cases, the client will put a cap on how much the contractor can bill during the project.

These contracts are perfect for when the client does not know how long a project might take or when they can estimate the amount of time it will take.

Cost Plus Contracts

These contracts are perfect for projects where the cost of materials and other resources cannot be immediately identified. The contract covers all costs, expenses, and purchases made during the project. The client has to establish the maximum cost of all these expenses to protect themselves from unnecessary charges.

Residential Contracts

These contracts are important for homeowners who want a new house. Because a house is a huge investment, a homeowner must ensure that the work they need is done properly. Because of laws that protect homeowners and clients, the contractor is obliged to do a good job and this type of contract ensures this happens.

This type of contract comes with many legal requirements attached, so every contractor must ensure they make their contract law-compliant.

Every contractor should draw up contracts for all projects they do. This protects them and their clients and ensures they are paid fully and on time.

Three Ways to Enhance Your Website’s Performance

In the modern world of competitive online trading, you need your website to be performing at its best to garner you more views, more clicks, and more online sales. In this article, you’ll learn the three main ways in which you can boost the performance of your website, using tricks of the trade to enhance its capabilities and ensure that you’re meeting your business goals. Read on to learn about the changes you should instate in the coming months.

SEO Changes

When you build a website, your primary objective is simply to give your brand, your business, and your products a space on the internet to breathe. From there, you may feel that the job is over: it’s time to market your website through digital adverts and other forms of marketing. But you would be wrong: the website should always be changed – altered and tinkered with as you develop ideas – to boost productivity.

One of the key ways in which you can alter a website to make it more effective is through aligning it to the SEO standards that algorithms belonging to search engines like Google use. This means enabling crawlers to map their way through your website and ensuring that you’re optimizing every page. Work with SEO specialists at lbmsllc.com in order to bring these benefits to your website.

Design and Visual

In the modern world of the internet, websites are completely unrecognizable from what they were two decades ago. Once clunky and pixelated, the web is now home to some of the sleekest and most modern-looking designs in the world. Enhanced, too, by the fact that internet speeds are far higher than years ago, this advance means you can create a truly exciting website in 2020.

What you should be looking out for is professionalism and maintaining the practicality of your website. If you’re able to do that, you should embellish your site all you like with attractive designs that will show your customers that you’re a serious brand with good taste and the patience and wisdom to invest in your website.

Plug-Ins

Finally, it’s important that your website can use plug-ins, which you’ll be able to add, subtract, or change over time. One great example of changing plug-ins for your website is in the realm of payments. In the modern era, people like to pay with a variety of payment schemes – from debit card through to Bitcoin. You need to facilitate all these sales through plug-ins.

Enabling your backend to take all of these plug-ins, and to run your website effectively while they’re being installed and perfected, is one of the key challenges for web designers in the modern era. And this is the last key element of a website that proves a site is never ‘finished’: it’s only as complete as the last payment option that you added to your checkout.

Use the three tips outlined above to reconsider your website and to improve its offerings to your customers, making your website world-beating for your business.

Polishing Up Your Marketing Content: A Guide

When you’re showing off your business, brand, products or services online, you want your content to shine in order to communicate professionalism and trustworthiness to your audience. If you’re showing off shabby and dated content, you’re likely to be perceived as a poor company to trade with throughout the ultra-competitive world of the internet. As such, this article advocates a better, cleaner marketing content model, which some key tips to help you build out a more convincing marketing campaign this year.

Content Designers

Your content starts with the creatives that you’re able to employ in order to make some of the best pictorial, video and textual content on the internet. You can either hire creatives for this purpose, or bring in outsourced help to ensure that your content is in the best-possible condition to use in your campaigns.

When you’re setting up a new campaign, ensure there is some form of continuity with your previous campaigns in order to show consumers a brand that they may recognize and trust. Meanwhile, you should be daring in what you show consumers, as it’s often the most outlandish and bold adverts that capture attention on the web. Finally, ensure that you’re making content in many formats in order to share it widely throughout the internet.

Channels

Your marketing content will be shared on your free channels, like on social media, as well as on paid channels where you spend cash to have your marketing content seen by web users across the world wide web. In both cases, you need to ensure your content is tailored for the specific site that it’s being published on. Often, this means editing for mobile optimization, and to ensure the right viewing format on social media or content sharing websites.

A great example of formatting for a specific platform is YouTube marketing, where your advert is placed before the video that a consumer is excited to watch. You can use companies like True View on YouTube to ensure your advert is optimized for the time period that they usually show on the platform, while guaranteeing that your marketing material is watched instead of skipped.

Messaging and Branding

Finally, while all marketing content is designed to promote your products and to drive sales, it’s also important to bear in mind that your messaging and branding remains as important as ever in articulating your business’ core values and beliefs to targeted audiences that you’re attempting to tap into. Understanding the cues and references that your audience will appreciate is key in this regard.

As such, you should have a high-level conversation about the branding and messaging that goes with your marketing content as you set out on a new campaign. What are you trying to make people feel, and who are you trying to wink to across the internet, with a specific aesthetic style and messaging syntax? This is where you’ll deliver some basic ideas to your creative team who will work them into prototypes to build your brand further.

Make sure you’re polishing up your marketing content and using the tips outlined above to convert more of your marketing spend into sales in 2020 and beyond.

3 Strategies to Boost Traffic to Your Website

Every company needs a website in order to remain competitive in the modern business world. Consumer trends have changed dramatically over the years, and people now expect to be able to make purchases using the internet and mobile devices. Building traffic to your website is one of the easiest ways in which to increase sales and grow your business. With this in mind, here are three strategies to boost traffic to your website.

1. Maintain an active presence on social media

Social media has quickly become one of the most valuable marketing tools available to modern businesses. When used correctly, social media allows businesses to build meaningful relationships with their audience, advertise their products globally, and increase sales and profits. All businesses should be taking advantage of social media as a way to build brand awareness and generate more traffic to their site. For your social media marketing to be effective, you must maintain an active presence on social media platforms and respond to your customers promptly. Make sure you do thorough market research on your audience and post content that they will find interesting and informative. Research shows that visual content tends to be far more effective on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. You should therefore try to make your posts more engaging by using visual content. There are various animation studios in Texas that can provide you with quality visual content, including video animation, explainer videos, and 3D graphics.

2. Create a company blog

Starting a company blog is one of the most effective ways to increase traffic to your website. This is because a blog gives users a reason to visit your site regularly. Posting quality blogs and articles will also encourage other reputable companies in your industry to share your content and include links to your site. This will help to build organic traffic and enhance your overall brand image. For your blog to be effective, you must post quality content that is accurate and relevant to your audience. You also need to be consistent and post regularly so that your audience knows when to expect new content. Luckily, setting up a company blog is relatively easy with the help of sites such as WordPress, and there are plenty of useful guides on how to start a successful business blog.

3. Make your site user-friendly

As previously mentioned, shopping trends have changed over the years, and many consumers now make purchases online instead of going into stores. For that reason, all companies must have a quality website that is user-friendly and optimized in order to facilitate online purchases via smart devices. If your website is not user-friendly, then you are likely to experience a high bounceback rate and lose sales through your site. Luckily, you can easily make your site more user-friendly by increasing your page speed, improving your page layout, and making your site mobile-responsive.

Summary

In the digital era, all modern businesses need to have a quality website that is responsive and user-friendly. Fortunately, there are various ways in which you can enhance your website and increase traffic and conversions. Try the above strategies to boost organic traffic to your site, improve online sales, and increase your revenue potential.

A Quick to Touching Up Your Old Website Content

So, you wrote a great article a few years back, but now it’s kind of outdated, what should you do?

The answer is there are lots of things you can do to spruce up your old content, and you might well find that they give it a whole new lease of life. Anything you have on your website has the potential to be an asset, so why not go back and give your old content the touch up it needs?

Update  

You might have an old piece of content that used to rank well but has gradually dropped down the rankings until it’s not getting any traffic anymore. If this is the case, then the page needs updating, and it can return to its former glory.

The world changes very quickly, so it’s normal that the information in your old blogs can become outdated. It doesn’t take long to update the old information and add new sections to spruce up your old content, and it can make a big difference to your rankings.

Reformat

You might have some old content where the information is excellent, but you didn’t quite nail the layout and format of the page. Just because a page isn’t getting traffic doesn’t mean that the information is not valuable, so it’s a good suggestion to go back and see if you can format it in a more friendly way.

This might mean breaking up texts with images, adding lists, or fixing some headings, all of which can help give your page the extra boost it needs to have a second lease of life.

Video

If your old content didn’t include any video, then this gives you an excellent opportunity to add something new to the page. Videos are a great way of connecting to your visitors and can help give your pages the boost they need in the rankings.

There are some great videographers out there who can help you craft the right message and turn your old content into high-performing, customer converting, newly repurposed content.

Follow Up Series

If you have an old piece of content that you particularly enjoyed, then a great option is to do a follow-up series. This allows you to expand on the original article and extend the story to your audience.

You can then go back to the original content and insert the links to the follow-up articles, keeping your audience engaged with your website for longer.

Keep Sharing

When you write an article on your website, it shouldn’t have just one “grand opening” and then get forgotten in some corner on your website. You can use your social platforms and email lists to keep sharing your articles and keep people engaged with your great content.

Make sure you’re sharing your articles more than once across all your platforms. If the information is still useful, then keep sharing it.

Now that you’ve touched up your old content, you’ve got a great reason to get sharing it.