The First Year: Ensuring Your Small Business Gets Through…

When you’re starting a new business, the first year is always one of the most frightening points. You don’t know whether you’re going to sink or swim, and it can be worrying to invest a lot of money and time into a business that may not work out as you want it to. Here are some tips on how to make that first year a success.


Surround Yourself With The Best People

When you’re starting a company, you may not have a huge amount of cashflow, which may mean that you want to spend as little as possible. However, one thing you should invest in is good staff: this is much more important than an incredibly sleek and expensive office, for example. Finding people who are dedicated to your company and what you do may be difficult, but they will be worth their weight in gold. Whether you go for extremely enthusiastic graduates or people who are more experienced in their fields and really know everything about what they are doing, the most important thing is that you communicate well and are focused on your end goals.

Learn To Network

Networking is the perfect way to drum up new business and to simply make people aware that your business and your product exist. Go to as many networking events as possible, and make sure that you go up to people to introduce yourself. Make sure that you boil what your company does down into one sentence so you can explain it in a way that’s easy to understand and that doesn’t meander on. 

Get Financially Savvy

It’s a good idea to be as good on the financial side as possible. This may not be easy if you see yourself as a creative person who provides ideas, which is often the way that a person who begins a start-up may be. But being good at figuring out your accounts and paying the correct amount of tax will save yourself a huge headache further down the line. If this doesn’t appeal to you, accounts is absolutely something you can outsource – there are plenty of resources and companies online like https://www.qaccounting.com/accountancy-company/ that you can check out for help.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

The best way that a small company can compete with a big company is through impeccable customer service, and this is something that you should strive to provide right from the beginning of your company. This is what will keep clients and customers returning to you time after time, and what will make you stand out from all the other companies that provide similar services (because let’s face it, very few ideas are completely unique in this extremely busy world!). Make sure that you follow up with people to ensure they are happy with your product, and keep checking in with them. A face to face meeting will never go amiss either – people know that time is valuable and that they are important to you if you meet in person.

Although starting your own company can be nervewracking, these easy tips should help you sail through the first year entirely unscathed!


Making Your Office Environment Unique

When you start a business, often it is from home where you can dedicate as much time as possible to the cause. But, as your business progresses, you get to the stage where you can start to think about moving on into a new office environment, or a business premises that will help transform the way you do business. Howerever, not everyone wants a clinical environment that has no personality, and depending on what your business is, you may want to inject a little bit of uniqueness into the area. With that in mind, here are some of the things that you can do. 

Get clever with upholdersty

One of the first things that you can do is get clever with upholstery. Many offices will have some form of break out room, for any employees you have or just as an area for waiting customers and clients. Seats need to be comfortable and look the part in keeping with your brand, so if what is there doesn’t work then get creative. You can use an upholstery spray glue to give the furniture a bit of a lift. If the seats are fine, then why not get creative with cushions and soft furnishings. You want the space to be inviting and comfortable, and not resemble a doctors surgery waiting room. 


Add some greenery

The next thing you want to think about is the things that you have around the environment, and adding some greenery like plants and flowers is an excellent way to give a dull space a bit of a lift. There are plenty that require very minimal maintenance if you feel the commitment is too much. Plants that require next to no watering or even adding a few fake ones just to liven up the place. 


Motivational quotes and prints

The working environment is supposed to be a motivational place, and so you may want to take the time to think about adding some quotes or prints on to the walls. This can be favourite quotes to help inspire, or just generally things that you think will be nice to look at. We all need a reminder of these things every now and again. 


Don’t be afraid of colour 

Colour is something that you should consider adding to your office space. If anything to be in keeping with your brand. You could look at things such as a feature wall with your logo, or just implement the branding colours in cushions or upholstery if you don’t want it all over the walls Plus colour can make people smile. 


Keep it clean and tidy 

Finally, keep the area clean and tidy. You want to ensure that you do all that you can to make the environment a nice place to be. Dust piling up on furniture, rubbish strewn around the place, and stains on desks just won’t cut it. We know how it feels to be in a tidy home, and the same mentality should be applied to an office space. It can help you to be far more productive. 

Let’s hope these tips help you when it comes to making your office environment unique. 


Checklist for Avoiding Scammers when Applying for Jobs Online

The internet gig-culture has provided incredible job opportunities for those who don’t want to opt for the traditional 9-5 employment route. Now, countless roles exist that you can do from the comfort of your own home and work around your own schedule.

Considering that 84% of the workforce cites flexibility as the most important factor, it’s unsurprising that the online workspace is the optimal choice for many.
However, where growing trends exist, so do scammers. The immense popularity of the online gig economy has attracted criminals who aim to profit from your work ethic and commitment. They will list false job postings and act as recruiters for large companies, in an effort to intercept your personal details.

Fortunately, you can sidestep these scammers pretty easily. All that’s required is a keen eye and knowing what to look for.

  • Ask For Credentials 

Often, work requests can appear out of thin air. If you’re struggling to find jobs, then it’s easy to pounce on the first offer that comes your way. However, this is a surefire way to fall for a scam. Fraudsters prey on your vulnerability, so you need to make sure you’re checking legitimacy before handing over any personal information.
Ask the following questions to wean out any criminals trying to make a quick dollar.

‘Can you show me where the work will be published?’

The most basic scammers rely on your instinctive reaction. They’ll send you what appears to be an unmissable opportunity and ask you to urgently share your details to take part. Asking for some evidence of their platform can refute false requests quickly. 

‘Can I be introduced to other members of the team?’

It’s pretty easy to knock up a fake website – particularly if you run an ongoing scam. If the employer produces a site, but you still don’t feel sure, ask about the team. They should at least be able to provide details of other freelancers. If they can’t, it’s time to look elsewhere.

 ‘Are you on any freelancing sites? (e.g., LinkedIn, Upwork)’

Today, many online platforms exist that help online employers prove their legitimacy. Sites like LinkedIn and Upwork include review-style sections, where you can see what other professionals are saying about different companies. Anyone who doesn’t have an active profile should be treated with suspicion.  

  • Verify Email Addresses

One of the best ways to avoid scams of any type is to be stringent about contact information. Criminals can duplicate a lot of things, but they can never use the identical, official email addresses of larger companies.

If you get a job offer from someone claiming to be a recruiter for an established brand then make sure you take the following steps: 

  • Check their email address for spelling mistakes. 
  • Look up the official contact address for the company on their website; make sure the recruiter’s is in the same format (e.g., name@company.com)
  • Contact the official email asking if this person is actually a recruiter. 

You’ll be surprised how often companies have no idea that scammers are claiming to be representing them. Not only will you avoid falling for a false job, but you’ll also help them out and put yourself on their radar – which could lead to an actual job offer. 

  • Use Freelancer Groups

The online freelance community is vast and incredibly supportive. Many social media platforms have groups dedicated to gig workers of all different types. More often than not, details of known scammers will be shared and circulated in these groups.
You can either use them to keep an eye out for potential scammers, or you can ask your own questions. If a recruiter who seems suspicious approaches you, you can post in the group and see if others have had any experiences with them. As most freelancers know the peril of a job scam, they’ll usually be incredibly helpful finding you answers.

These groups are based on Facebook and can be joined by any freelancer. 

  • Freelance Writers
  • Work from home UK & USA
  • Freelancers
  • Fiverr & Upwork Freelancers

You can also search for more specific groups based on your niche, location and skill set.

  • Watch for Red Flags

Sometimes you don’t have to go through all of the above; sometimes the scam is evident from the beginning. Several common red flags exist that signify a job offer is actually a scam. If you spot any combination of the following, then it’s time to be cautious.

  • Too Good To Be True

You’ve seen those job ads claiming you can make your first million within a year, or “Earn $2000 a day from home.” You’ve guessed it: they’re not real. These sort of offers can immediately go into the trash. Simply follow the old mantra that ‘if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.’

  • Urgency

One common feature of all online scams is that they encourage you to act quickly. If you feel like you’re going to miss a great deal, then you’re more likely to be impulsive and hand over sensitive information. If a company really wants to hire you, they should be able to wait until you’ve adequately vetted them. If not, it’s a massive red flag.

  • Spelling Mistakes & Unprofessionalism 

You can’t fake professionalism; it takes the experience to nurture it properly. Many scammers unmask themselves by lacking professional conduct. Take note of the way they speak, their sign-offs and – most important – spelling and grammar. Anyone who lacks professionalism definitely isn’t a recruiter for a large company.

  • Personal Information Requests

No online employer should ever need any personal details further than the email address you use for Paypal. If they immediately start asking for bank information, address and other personal items, then it’s time to question the integrity of the offer. Never hand over personal details if you aren’t 100% certain. 

  • Ask for 50% Upfront.

Particularly for larger projects, it’s common to ask for a percentage of the payment upfront. While you won’t always find that companies agree to pay as much as 50%, the reaction you get from asking for partial payment is sure to be telling. If the company quickly retracts their offer than it was probably a scam. If they try and negotiate a lower pay then it’s likely they’re a real employer. For established freelancers, there should be no problem locking you in with an initial payment. If they’re resistant to pay, at least you’ve found out now and not when you’ve completed the assignment.  Ensure that you aren’t passing across all of your bank details. All reputable online employers should have the capacity to pay with PayPal – or a similar app. These services ensure that your bank information is kept safe and any disputes can be handled with an objective intermediary. These types of payment platforms are designed to stop online job scams from taking freelancers money. 

Avoid Scammers & Find Success as a Freelancer

The online gig economy is awash with opportunities for people with many skillsets and talents. It’s offers flexibility, opportunity and the ability to control your own career.  In fact, 99 percent of it is wonderful, inspiring and incredibly advantageous. 

However, that last 1 percent – those who are trying to capitalize of the ambition of others – can have a very negative effect if you’re unlucky enough to bump into it. By staying aware and cautious, you can avoid online scammers and have a thriving freelance career.