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4 Smart Ways to Manage Your Money Better

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 26, 2018

With busy lifestyles and tighter budgets, it’s sometimes difficult to be savvy with your money when life’s expenses get in the way. Although the concept of managing money might be simple, in practical application it can sometimes prove more difficult when you are trying to plan in the longer term. Making your money go further is the key to securing a healthier financial future so knowing where to start is the way to get the wheels in motion for this long road ahead. Improving your money management habits is something that should be looked at with an open mind, as there may be time ahead that prove challenging, especially when you are starting out.

Take a look at some simple ways to start managing your money better.

Make a plan

It might sound simple but making a list of your goals is the first way to actually visualize what you want to achieve. Whether that’s saving for a holiday or your first home, giving yourself a goal and sticking to it, is great for focusing on the end result. Considering the time frame is also important at this stage as if you can only put away a certain amount each money in savings, giving yourself an unrealistic goal that doesn’t match your savings is likely to lead to giving up on your efforts.

Give yourself a budget

Working out how much you spend each month gives you a better idea of how much you can save. Once you have drawn up this information, look at ways to budget your spending to make the savings aspect easier. There is also the chance to look at your expenses and find ways to cut back or refinance to make your money work better for you. Factor in everything so you can try and limit the need to overspend plus if you need a little helping hand, there is a variety of budgeting apps available to make managing your money easier. 

Hold off on larger purchases

If you have a long-term savings goal making larger purchases is going to make a big dent in the progress. Sometimes there will be occasions that this is unavoidable so considering your options is key before committing to anything. If you need to get finance for a better car, consider where to get a used car loan so the payments are more affordable and within a set budget. It’s also worth considering if household items such as washing machines and dryers might be worth fixing before buying something brand new.

Keep motivated

One of the hardest things is keeping motivated when you are trying to be more cautious with money. Temptation is around every corner and a few dollars spent here and there begins to add up. Sticking to your goals is hard work but once you start to see the results and watch your money grow, you’ll notice just how far you’ve come in a short space of time, and this will spur you on for further savings targets.   

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Direct-To-Consumer: The New Way To Sell On E-commerce

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 26, 2018

Retailers have fast been turning to e-commerce as a way of driving profit with lower overheads. However, a few more revolutionary brands have seen potential in a new sales channel: that of DTC (direct-to-consumer).

Amongst many other commercial benefits, DTC models encourage a loyal customer base by tapping into some of the most lucrative consumer needs of the present day. Indeed, the most successful DTC products have the same features in common: they are curated, add delight and remove effort from buyers’ lives.

So, what makes a direct-to-consumer model different to core e-commerce? Why have they been so successful of late? How do they continue to thrive? Let’s see…

Defining DTC

DTC products hook their audience into a subscription service: consumers pay a rolling monthly fee, to receive a set number of products, some — or all — of which will be, in a way, unexpected. Take for instance Birchbox, one of the original, and most successful, beauty DTC services in the market. Buyers of Birchbox receive a gift box every month, with a curated selection of beauty products that have been chosen based on that individuals’ preferences (do they have blue eyes or brown? Do they wear lipstick or not?). Upon receiving their monthly purchase, Birchbox users don’t know what to expect when they open their delivery — the element of surprise is enticing and seductive; it keeps them coming back for more.

Birchbox also utilizes another DTC benefit, in that it’s a third-party seller: none of the beauty products are created by Birchbox themselves. This approach is replicated by many other DTC brands, including YogiSurprise and Not Another Bill. This freedom to partner with suppliers to create your subscription product means that anyone, anywhere can set up their own DTC brand. All you need to establish your own direct-to-consumer product is an idea, a website with WordPress hosting and a steady stream of stock that can be compiled through collaboration with big, successful brands (or more independent ones).

The magic of DTC

As stated, DTC taps into emotive human needs. Depending on the service, these brands offer personalization, delight, entertainment and ease, while also establishing a long-lasting and trusted partnership between consumer and company. This is a truly triumphant combination, and is the genius behind these products.

Not all DTC products arrive in a physical form. In fact, even Netflix, Spotify and Tidal are also classified as direct-to-consumer models, whereby a monthly subscription fee is paid in exchange for goods. These platforms rely heavily on the curation and personalization approach: offering customers the ability to create their own playlists, sharing music selections created in-house and encouraging further entertainment exploration. These DTCs are so effective that most consumers forget they pay for the service — in terms of commercial success, that’s ideal.

However, a DTC model should not be approached lightly. A brand must respect the contract it’s signing with DTC customers and ensure they meet their end of the bargain. Products must always be delivered in a timely manner (or instantly, if it’s a digital service), must be of the highest possible quality and offer customers flexibility to cancel, freeze, upgrade and downgrade when they need to.

Another important element of DTC’s appeal is the packaging in which it arrives. Best in class packaging for direct-to-consumer products are beautifully crafted, with clear branding and, of course, are ergonomic and fit through the letterbox easily. Packaging design also proves a great opportunity to surprise and delight – Birchbox does this very well, by using seasonal prints and creating limited edition styles that vary each month.

The future of DTC

As consumers’ lives continue to become faster paced and demanding, we may see a rise in DTC offers that simplify routine or take a chore out of the day. For example, LOLA delivers female personal care products at the right time each month, so the user doesn’t have to think about it. HelloFresh provides a weekly healthy meal plan, complete with portioned amounts to cater for the exact number of people in your household.

If you’re working on a direct-to-consumer concept right now, there’s no better time to see it come to fruition. From Doki Doki by Japan Crate sending out boxes of kawaii to boxes sending out books on a monthly basis, there’s a niche for everyone to revel in; all you have to do is find yours. 

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How You Save Energy and Money by Turning Your Company Green

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 26, 2018

With many companies trying to gain an advantage over their rivals, competition is getting increasingly fierce. It means that you need to find ways to stay competitive and get the edge over your fellow companies. One way that you can try to save money is by making your company more environmentally-friendly. There are many things you can do that will not only be great for the planet but also save you energy and money. It is also a good angle to promote to your customers, as many of them will be impressed by your determination to be more green and conscious company.

Ditch the Paper

One straightforward way that you can go green is to stop using paper in your company. Many big organizations have tried to do this in the past, but it was more difficult a few years ago because computers were still evolving. Now, there is a much greater use of technology which means less reliance on paper. Almost any company can now function entirely without paper if they choose, so it makes it an easy first step to going green. If you need to use paper for certain functions, then try to use Post-Consumer Waste paper or PCW. Unlike recycled paper, PCW is only made from recycled materials. It makes it a much greener option, and it uses 45 percent less energy to produce than regular paper. You should be aiming for PCW that says its 100 percent, that way you know that it is completely recycled. If 100 percent isn’t available to you, then try to find the highest percentage possible.

Switch to Biodegradable Cleaning Products

If you are employing your own cleaners, or if you are a small business where you are also the cleaner, then try using biodegradable products. These types of cleaning materials don’t contain the harsh chemicals that regular cleaners do. It makes them a lot safer to use and much better for the environment. Some chemicals when they have washed away in the sinks or toilets are not able to break down in the water. It means that if the water is then pumped into the sea, these chemicals can hurt the marine life. There are now many products on the market that are biodegradable and so are safe to be used.

Use Energy Efficient Lighting

Many offices have used the regular long fluorescent bulbs for many years. They were always seen as a more efficient way of lighting, and they saved energy. However, with the recent introduction of compact fluorescent lighting or CFL and LED lights, the humble regular fluorescent bulb has been replaced. The newer CFL lights are now considered to be far more efficient than the older bulbs and last a lot longer. With the pace of technology running so high, there is already what many consider a replacement for the CFL bulbs. New LED lights are now being used in supermarkets and offices because of the huge energy saving they provide. On average, it is thought that one bulb can save around $200 over time. You don’t have to go out and replace all your old bulbs all at once, but you can replace them with the newer CFL or LED varieties as they blow.

Seek Greener Alternatives for Your Office Equipment

Offices are one of those environments where there is a lot of machinery all running at the same time. It isn’t just computers, but also printers, servers, and projectors. All of these machines are usually running all day and using a lot of energy, but, there are ways that you can save on the energy they use. You can start by trying to find greener alternatives and replacing them over time. There is now an increasing number of companies that manufacture greener office equipment, and ones that can recycle toner cartridges and paper. Most appliances now have the energy star rating on them which allows you to see their energy use and the cost to you over time. It helps you make an informed choice about what equipment you are using.

Get an Energy Audit to See What You Can Change

Many states are now offering a free energy audit designed to help both households and businesses to save energy. They assess where energy is being lost through cracks in windows or poor insulation and recommend ways to fix it. Just by doing this, it is estimated that you could save 20 percent off your heating and cooling bills which is a lot of savings. If you lease your office space, then you need to contact your agent and tell them about the repairs that are needed to the property. If you own the building, or you have a home office, then you should aim to repair all the places where heating or cooling can escape.

Use Alternative Energy

Although energy generated from solar, wind or geothermal power is still referred to as an alternative, there are more people switching to using it all the time. Solar power, in particular, is growing in popularity, mainly because of the way you can sell your excess energy to the utility providers. If you are at home, then it is easy to arrange a solar panel installation through your local company. They will fit everything for you, and then you can start to generate your own power. You can also use solar energy in your office to help cut the costs of your energy bills. Wind power is not as popular except in those areas where the wind speed is high most of the time. Geothermal power is something that more households are now considering, it uses pipes under the soil to heat the water for use in showers and heating. It can also be used in an office environment, but perhaps not as successfully as the others.

Encourage Public Transport

With oil rapidly becoming an extinct resource, other forms of power are now being tested to get us from point A to point B. There has been a big surge in the hybrid car in recent years which uses gas and electricity in tandem to power the car. These have been found to be highly efficient, but better than all-electric vehicles because of their range. If you need to have vehicles for your company, then consider using an alternative fuel car such as a hybrid. It will save you money on fuel costs, and it’s better for the environment. You should also be encouraging your workers to take public transport instead of driving to work. Perhaps you can even offer an incentive such as some extra days leave if they take public transport for a certain number of weeks per year.

Alternative Recycling

As well as the traditional forms of office recycling such as paper, toner, and plastic, there are other ways that you can be green. For example, why not try to reuse old office furniture instead of buying new? There are many companies who will offer used furniture that has been barely used. You can do the same thing for your computer systems and your printers. Some companies offer refurbished systems that are also cheaper than new computers but work just as well. Perhaps instead of buying new fleet vehicles or leasing them, you can buy used cars that have been tested for quality and safety. It is a particularly good idea for those companies that don’t do a lot of miles each year as it won’t make any difference what the original mileage was.

Use Green Companies

As a company that is trying to become greener, you need to start choosing those companies you work with in the same way. Look for companies that have a strong environmentally friendly ethos so that you can both work towards the same thing. One way to do this is to choose green web hosting company. There are a few such companies that use renewable energy, plant trees and save energy as a way to offset their energy usage. By switching to these types of company, you are supporting a green company and also helping to promote that to others.

Cut Out the Office Altogether

An office environment can never be completely green, so some companies have decided not to have an office at all. These companies have all their workers working from home and thus, save a lot of money and energy. They are then using the money they have saved to build their brand and their customer base. Not all companies can achieve this, but if your company doesn’t need an office, then this could be a serious consideration.

Becoming a greener company is more than just about trying to appeal to your customers, it is also about the environment. If you can start to make the change to greener living, then other new companies will see that they can do so too. You will need the support of your staff and some inspiration to make it work, but the results are worth it. 

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How to Successfully Rebrand Your Company and Why

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 23, 2018

Choosing to rebrand your company is a big step because you are changing something that makes your company recognizable to its customers. However, there can be good reasons why you would think a change would be necessary. Rebranding isn’t as easy as it might seem though, it’s more than just changing your logo and design. To make your rebranding a success, follow these simple steps.

Is It Time to Rebrand?

Before you decide to rebrand your company, you need to think about if (and, in turn, why) you need to do so. Just because you have had the same brand for many years, doesn’t automatically mean you need a change. In fact, for big companies, their recognizable design gives them stature and trust with their customers. If, however, you have noticed that you aren’t reaching your target audience, or that your customers are ignoring you, then rebranding could be a good way of putting you back in the spotlight. You need to remember though, that changing your companies brand might not be enough.

Make Brand Promises

The first step in the process is to think about your brand and what it means to your customers. You need to discover what you want your customers to feel about your brand and what you want them to expect. For example, do you want your customers to think quality when seeing your brand, or are you aiming for low cost? Gather a few trusted employees and have a brainstorming session, look at everything your brand stands for, and what you need to do to make your customers feel the same way.

Get Customer Feedback

To find out why your customers are not engaging with your company, you need to ask them. Run a survey and an email campaign to find out what your customers like and dislike about your company. Many big organizations will often do customer surveys; some also offer a reward for their customer's opinions. When you have all the feedback, take some time to look through it all and figure out what’s working and what needs changing.

Develop a Brand Purpose

Customers use a company because it serves a purpose for them or solves a problem. You need to create that same purpose in your brand. Tell your customers what you can do for them and why your company is better than the competition. It could be that your company is higher quality or offers more value. Whatever the message is, your customers and your staff need to believe it.

Be Consistent

Once you have decided to start rebranding, make sure you are consistent across your company. It is important to change all your old branding over to the new design. If you have your new brand on your social media but not your website; then customers will get confused. Spend some time with Canadian web designers to hone your new brand and make your website the centerpiece of the company.

By listening to your customers and being decisive, you can get your company back in the public eye.

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Applying the Principles of Business Process Management to Your Home Life

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Business process management is geared, fairly obviously, towards the improvement of processes in businesses, and as such may not seem directly relevant to your private life. However, if you look at the ways BPM improves operations, reduces costs and increases productivity, you can start to appreciate that the principles of analyzing the way things are done can be applied to your own circumstances.

How does BPM work?

With BPM, you are looking at ways of altering how things are achieved in every aspect of your business, whether it’s logistics, staffing, production or sales. You will be examining the way one application connects with another and be looking for fixes to any problems. The aim is to identify where you need to improve processes within your organization, with the ultimate goal of increasing profits. If you compare this to your private life, there may well be areas that would benefit from the same kind of analysis. More time and more money are the two things most people wish they could have in their lives, and using a BPM approach you could find a little extra of both.

Applying BPM logic to your financial management

If you don’t already have a personal budgeting spreadsheet or tool that helps you keep control of your finances, it’s well worth investing a few hours into getting one set up. It will enable you to identify where you are spending unnecessarily and help you save more. If you have investments, are you using a financial advisor or CPA to maximize your returns? They will be able to point out ways to make and save money that you might not have been aware of, for example using the 1031 exchange system for deferring capital gains tax on property investments. The cost of employing a professional should be more than compensated for by the savings and returns they recommend for you.

Applying BPM logic to your time management

It won’t be much fun for your family if you sit them all down and start doing a detailed time and motion study on every minute of their day, but what you can do is look at where there might be problem areas in your routine that are causing difficulties. For example, if you struggle to fit in picking the kids up from school with doing the grocery shopping or getting to the gym, look at your schedule and see if you can reorganize your day to accommodate everything more efficiently. You could have a number of options available to you, including after-school clubs that give you an hour to fit in a visit to the store or a workout before collecting the kids. Perhaps, it could be sorting out alternative pick-up arrangements, or going to the gym together and finding a way you can all enjoy some exercise like a cycle ride after school. It could mean a more radical change like employing some home help to free up time for other activities, or maybe change to ordering your groceries online and having them delivered.

The methods you choose to apply will depend on your circumstances, priorities, and finances, but wherever there is a problem, there is usually a way to overcome it if you look at it objectively.

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