Blue Monday in lockdown: Are your employees overworked?

blue monday 3

Sadly, Blue Monday is here. But in 2021, not only are we having to tackle the January blues, there’s also the matter of being in the middle of a  global pandemic. 

Almost a year in, employers and employees are still trying to make adjustments and find the best way to work efficiently during these exceptional circumstances.  And, it seems many are feeling the effects of burnout, with a recent report1 revealing employees are working almost six extra hours a week during the pandemic, which equates to 41 days a year.   

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to do everything possible to keep up your employee’s morale at work, and most importantly, ensure they aren’t overworked. Nikki Thorpe, People Operations Manager at the workforce management platform, Planday, provides some expert tips on how to do just that: 

 

Acknowledge your team’s resilience

“Now that we are almost a year into lockdowns and working from home, the best way to support your team has shifted from people’s immediate needs to an acknowledgement that your team has persevered and is resilient despite it all.

“It’s been such a hard slog to adapt to this working situation for so long. As a leader or manager, showing the shared understanding of these difficulties, of how the team has continued to be productive despite the challenges of 2020 and the first few months of 2021, is vital as the initial adrenaline has worn off.

“We’re all exhausted but it’s also important to stop and acknowledge how far we’ve come.”

 

Keep a structure

“We’re naturally creatures of habit, and with the longer-term changes to our daily routine, it’s something that is important right now. 

“Encourage staff to be open and transparent when it comes to what’s on their task list for the day,  and share it with other employees – perhaps on Slack or instant messenger. This will help keep focus and normalise the process of having everyone work from home, and ensure all team members are aware of each other’s capacity.”                                   

 

Be flexible

“Everyone’s situation is different, meaning that some people experience more obstacles than others. This makes it even more important to maintain flexibility right now and show employees that you trust them.

“When it comes to planning shifts, we recommend creating schedules a month in advance to avoid any last minute changes, and leave employees feeling relaxed. It also gives them a window of opportunity to raise any issues they have with the shifts they’ve been allocated.” 

 

Show your vulnerabilities and be real

“There’s a real strength in leadership to showing your own vulnerabilities and being real with your team. By taking regular breaks, encouraging people to get out and see the sun or even making sure that you switch off after hours, is an important example to set. It will help your team build the psychological safety net to know that doing the same is encouraged.

“Think about a walk and talk for your one on ones and consider how teams can use meeting time to get active or even get outside for a while and get some fresh air.

“Showing that you are comfortable expressing these vulnerabilities and challenges will help your team do the same.”

 

Use shared experiences to help keep your team motivated

“Team quizzes and after-work drinks are a good start, but it’s also good to think outside the box to help keep your team motivated and engaged right now.

“Whether it’s a shared experience like a virtual yoga session on a Monday morning for those who are interested or cooking something together as a team online, there are a range of ways to encourage people to relax and unwind – and bring your team closer together – when all the days can feel the same.”

From Months To Minutes

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Created in the UK, mnAI is the award-winning platform that holds billions of data points on millions of UK companies, which can be used by investors, advisors and corporates as information and insights to make faster decisions. In fact, mnAI’s ground-breaking platform has reduced a research process that usually takes months into only a matter of minutes. As the platform prepares to take off on an international scale, we dug a little deeper to find out more about the impacts of this revolutionary technology.

mnAI is a platform providing information, insight, research and due diligence on all unlisted companies in the UK for investors, advisors and corporates. Currently holding over 9 billion data points on more than 7 million+ UK companies, mnAI applies a wide variety of machine learning algorithms and filters to enable users to access targeted information far more rapidly than is currently possible. Often, this means completing what used to take months of work in only minutes.

Fundamentally, mnAI believes in a world where technology can be used to accelerate decision making. As such, Founders John Cushing and Andrew King began their enterprise with the mission to provide a single source of unified data that made deal origination, due diligence and customer search really easy. The result would be to dramatically reduce the time it takes investors, companies and individuals to identify and understand an industry or business, enabling faster, more productive decisions based on informed, real-time data. 

Therefore, they created the mnAI platform, a comprehensive, easy to use, efficient product at a competitive price point which is backed by a relentless focus on customer service. The solution uses thousands of web crawlers which scan the internet, capturing relevant company data such as financial, governance, social media, online reviews, websites and more. As a result, mnAI is able to add over 100million data points a week to their platform, which is organised into a comprehensible system by the platform’s Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning Algorithms. 

mnAI then combines and aggregates the data to create proprietary insights that clients can tailor to their individual needs, whether they be looking to form an overall picture on public and private companies, see the key financials of these companies to make predictions of future growth or acquire information of key professionals or investors within an organisation and their networks or much more besides. 

To truly understand the exhaustive nature of the mnAI data source, it is easiest to break it down into its raw numbers and statistics. With 9 billion data points, mnAI is the most comprehensive data source for UK company information and is always growing. The platform has amalgamated, digitalised and visualised 170.4 million governance records and autonomously tracks 37.1 million Directors, Shareholders, Officers and PSC profiles in real time, creating rich insight with mapped connections that couldn’t be replicated by human touch. mnAI is also able to identify seven million UK companies and 500,000 investee companies and create insights from this data within only five minutes.

From its inception, mnAI has been a design led company driven by its devotion to customers, which has been encapsulated in five simple but integral values: first, to keep it simple, to always be transparent and in return, listen carefully to clients and colleagues alike, to always do the right thing and finally, to make it personal. 

In this way, mnAI’s approach focuses on increasing the insights and efficiency of the clients by enhancing and supporting their operations while at the same time reducing costs. The beauty of mnAI’s simplicity as a single platform is that is can be used effectively by several departments, whether they be deal teams, sales, due diligence or compliance (especially on gender), across several industries. mnAI is designed for any company or person looking for potential investments, customers or company information and has as such curated a clientele that includes Private Equity and Venture Capital investors, Corporate Finance boutiques, Wealth Managers, Banks, Commercial Real Estate companies, Family offices and Professional and Financial Services. mnAI has also seen notable interest from business schools, some of which are considered the best in the USA.

With ambitions to begin scaling the platform on an international platform in the near future, mnAI is still faced with the substantial challenge of brand development and raising global awareness of what mnAI can do. The platform’s abilities that are accessible at a remarkably low price point are unmatched by any other organisation in the world, and as such, mnAI is working hard to communicate to prospective clients within their core industry verticals how they can help them to improve their working practices, reduce their costs and give them greater internal capacity. 

It is hard work operating in a growth stage company and requires a great deal of grit. However, arguably this makes every success that much sweeter and the mnAI team celebrate each one together. For the organisation, the people behind mnAI are what have seen the company grow from strength to strength, being instrumental in building the technology, the brand and the relationships with each mnAI client. 

As such, mnAI has been able to cultivate an environment that promotes personal and professional development, trusting in each one of the team members in tech, marketing and sales to do the right thing. For them, the platform they have created is not just a job, it is their passion which drives them to be the best and push the boundaries in knoweldge and innovation. Constantly on the look out for new ways to improve their technology, sell their product and better serve their clients, mnAI is staying true to the values which drive it as they look ahead to the future.

As a pure tech business, mnAI’s entire infrastructure is cloud based so, despite Covid-19 restrictions, the firm has been able to continue the development of its technology. Recently, this has included Insight, which enables customers to generate their own industry reports, and Gender Analysis, which allows mnAI’s entire dataset to be filtered by gender, which has helped make compliance with the Rose Review quick and easy.

As the firm nears the point of scaling the mnAI platform internationally, the team are preparing for their biggest but most exciting challenge yet. There is no doubt that we can continue to see many years of success from this revolutionary enterprise as they achieve their ambitions for global expansion.

7 In-Demand Careers for a Post-COVID America

Workers

The events of the beginning of this decade have permanently altered what will be considered an in-demand career for years to come. As a result, you might have noticed a change from which careers were considered solid in 2017, 2018, and even 2019. Let’s look at an updated list.

 

Construction Worker

Jobs in the construction industries will likely continue to be in demand as more housing will be built, and existing business models will change. The average salary for construction workers is currently just over $31K a year, making it an attractive job for high school graduates who want to start working right away. Construction workers, or laborers, typically start out with tasks such as cleaning debris from job sites, loading and unloading tools, assembling barricades, helping more advanced workers, and holding “slow” and “stop” signs to regulate the flow of traffic. With time, experience, apprenticeship, and/or specialized training, construction workers can go on to become carpenters, electricians, structural metal workers, floor installers, or construction managers.

 

Certified Nursing Assistant

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) works directly under the supervision of a Registered Nurse in a variety of medical and healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. Training to become a CNA includes learning how to take vital signs, feed patients, change bed linens, bathe and dress patients, move patients, and record observations of patient health. Nursing assistants average about $28K a year and should have a high school diploma (or GED) and state certification. 

 

Registered Nurse

To become a Registered Nurse (RN), you’ll need much more education than you do to become a CNA, but your earning potential is much higher. The national average salary for RNs is just over $70K a year. To become an RN, you’ll need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, either from a traditional university or a specialized nursing college, and you’ll need to pass a licensing exam (known as NCLEX-RN) and fulfill state licensing requirements. RNs can administer medications, perform diagnostic tests, and collaborate with medical doctors to provide the best possible patient care.

 

Long-Term Care Administrator

A long-term care administrator (or nursing home administrator) manages long-term care facilities by overseeing all departments and operations. The average salary for nursing home administrators crosses into the low six-figure range, and the career field is expected to grow over the next decade. To become an administrator, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field, plus graduate work such as a Certificate in Healthcare Analytics or a Master of Health Administration. After completing coursework, potential long-term care administrators must become licensed.

 

Medical Technologist

If you’re looking for a healthcare career but don’t want to interact with patients directly, consider getting your bachelor’s degree in medical technology or clinical laboratory science. You’ll want to hone your biology and chemistry skills and learn to work with a variety of medical equipment and tools. Medical technologists test blood, other fluids, and body tissue samples, and they work with medical lab technicians. The work a medical technologist does is vital to the healthcare process. Technologists may specialize in a variety of fields, including forensic pathology, transfusion medicine, neuropathology, and others.

 

Truck Driver

Truck driving might not sound glamorous, but without truck drivers, there would be nothing on your local grocery and retail store shelves, and none of the packages you order online would ever get to you. Truck drivers can earn a living wage, too; the national average salary is over $57K a year. The lifestyle appeals to people who like the call of the open road. Training typically involves attending a trade school; upon completion, you’ll need to test for your commercial driver’s license, pass a drug and alcohol screening, and demonstrate that you have a clean driving record. 

 

Information Security Specialist

With all of our information online, information security specialists are going to become more and more important. Analysts in the information security field typically earn an average of over $81K a year and have earned a bachelor’s degree in programming, computer science, or a related field. If you work in the information security field, you’ll work with firewalls, antivirus software, and proxies, and you’ll need a firm grasp of networking. 

Five Issues Web Designers Should Address

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Whether you are just beginning your web design career or you have years of experience under your belt, mistakes can happen, and issues can be overlooked. Here are five of the most common issues every web designer should address.

 

Designing without Considering the Target Audience

One of the most common mistakes web designers make is coming up with an enticing design that stands out of the crowd but does not cater to the target audience. You can design the best-looking website in the world, but if you have not first identified the target audience and customized the design and content accordingly, you can easily fail in your design task.

 

Making Websites User-friendly and Accessible             

It’s essential that a website is user-friendly and easily accessible by all. But too many web designers make the mistake of trying to make a website look different from others. While an innovative approach is welcome, if you change design elements so much that users can’t even find the navigation bar, they will soon leave the site and search for another. Web designers can also fall into the trap of providing too many options. Overcrowding web pages with pop-ups and content that vies for attention actually causes users to feel like there are no options to pursue. You must ensure audiences don’t get confused after a few clicks if you want to avoid a high bounce rate. Take inspiration from the top web design companies on the planet to ensure the sites you develop are easily usable and accessible.

 

Making Websites Responsive for Different Devices

According to Statista, mobile devices now account for around half of all web traffic. Therefore, it’s vital that you make websites responsive for mobile devices as well as desktops. If users have to spend lots of time pinching-and-stretching on mobiles to access information, they will soon look for a better source. To make web pages responsive for mobile devices, use a fluid grid, adaptive images and text, and media queries appropriately.

 

Making Websites Compatible with All Browsers

Websites do not just need to be compatible with different devices. They also need to be compatible with all browsers. So, make sure your web design is code optimized to suit the needs of different browsers. You can use validator to avoid coding errors and utilize CSS reset rules to fit all browser needs. Also, be cautious when using JavaScript, as not every browser supports it.

 

Avoiding Slow Loading Speeds

If users have to wait more than two seconds for a web page to load, they usually won’t wait. Instead, they will find a faster-loading website for their needs. If the web pages you create take more than a couple of seconds to load, you must address the issue. You can create faster loading times by getting rid of any unnecessary media, such as images and videos. You can also compress images using software like RIOT. Another option is to split pages by taking one page’s content and creating a new page for it. Multiple short pages are much better for quick loading. Clean coding is also a crucial element so that website crawlers and basic bots can understand the simple programming language.

The Importance of Local SEO and How You Can Implement It?

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For the longest time, if a big branded store opened up in an area, the business of small, local businesses offering the same or similar products or services would start dwindling. In some cases, retail chains have even forced local businesses to permanently close their doors.

However, thanks to the wonders of the web, the playing field has been leveled. 

With that said, while the internet itself is not that old, there was a time when big players with seemingly endless marketing budgets would outperform their local competitors with ease.

Thanks to the rise of local SEO and local SEO services, things have changed for the better.

So what is local SEO and why is it so great? Let’s find out.

 

Why Local SEO Is Equal Parts Amazing And Important

First, let’s talk about what makes local SEO so amazing. As the name may have already given away, local SEO is amazing because it is local. This means, local businesses that offer services or products in a specific geographical location can ensure they are found by potential customers using local SEO. This also means that only the businesses that operate in a specific area will compete for a location specific keyword for that area. 

For instance, for the keyword “marketing agencies in Greenville” only the marketing agencies operating in the Greenville area will be competing. This reduced competition makes it much easier for businesses to rank for location specific keywords, virtually taking away the undue advantage that was being enjoyed by big businesses for many years.

In short, less competition to rank for location specific keywords makes local SEO awesome. Now, let’s look at what makes it important:

 

  • The number of local searches with intent to purchase is increasing. That’s right, searches containing the terms “where to buy” and “near me” have grown by over a whopping 200% in the last two years.
  • Local searches lead to action. Over half of all “near me” searches lead to a store visit. When you consider that over a third of all online customers in the USA are conducting local searches, it isn’t difficult to imagine the effectiveness of optimising for local searches.

 

Now that we have understood the importance of local searches, let us see a few tactics that you can employ to optimise your website for local searches.

 

How To Implement Local SEO To Your Website:

While a professional local SEO service is perhaps the most surefire way to ensure your business website outranks your local competition, there are certain things that you can do on your own to improve your website’s ranking. Here are a few of them:

 

Ensure NAP Consistency

NAP is short for name, address, and phone number. These are the most basic details of your business that are used by prospects and search engines to learn more about it. However, many business websites don’t have consistent NAP information on their own pages, and it can turn out to be a big problem.

Besides confusing and frustrating prospects that may be looking for information about your business, inconsistencies in NAP information also confuse search engine algorithms and can negatively affect your business website’s ranking in the search results.

Ensuring consistency in NAP details takes very little effort but can provide incredible local SEO results in a relatively short window of time, especially if your competitors have discrepancies in their NAP details.

When ensuring your NAP details on your website are consistent, it is also a good idea to find any other mentions of your business on other websites such as local business directories and ensure the NAP details associated with those mentions are consistent.

 

Target Local Keywords

In order to rank for local searches, one must target local keywords in their SEO efforts. While this may seem like a straightforward thing, finding the right keyword can be confusing, especially if you are a beginner. 

While there are several tools available online that can help you conduct keyword research, most good tools are paid. If you can afford spending a few bucks, a few good options are RankWatch, Moz, AHREFS, and SpyFu. 

However, if your budget doesn’t allow you to spend on paid tools, you can utilise the free tool offered by Google, the Google Keyword Planner.

Using the Google Keyword Planner is incredibly simple. You can either start your research with a keyword or with an URL.

To start your research with a keyword, simply think of one or more keywords that your ideal customers may use to search for the product or service that you are offering. Once done log on to the Google Keyword Planner and select the option that says “START WITH KEYWORDS”, as shown in the screenshot below:

Enter the keyword(s) that you came up with in the top bar, and Google will present you with keyword suggestions related to your keyword, along with their search volumes and the level of competition.

Ideally, you should target a mix of high and low competition keywords with moderate to high search volumes.

The other way to conduct keyword research using Google Keyword Planner is to select the “START WITH A WEBSITE” option. When you do, the page will look something like below:

diagram 1

Enter the keyword(s) that you came up with in the top bar, and Google will present you with keyword suggestions related to your keyword, along with their search volumes and the level of competition.

Ideally, you should target a mix of high and low competition keywords with moderate to high search volumes.

The other way to conduct keyword research using Google Keyword Planner is to select the “START WITH A WEBSITE” option. When you do, the page will look something like below:

diagram 2

Simply enter the URL of your website, or a competitor website (if your website is under construction or doesn’t have a lot of content), and Google will present you with a detailed list of keywords that it thinks should be targeted by the URL. 

Using the “use only this page” option, you can even search for keyword suggestions for specific pages on your website.

Once you have obtained a list of local, location specific keywords that you want to target, start including them in your website’s content. The following are some areas where adding keywords is absolutely critical:

  • Website content
  • Meta titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt texts
  • URLs

 

Build A Mobile Ready Website

2020 is almost over and if you don’t already have a mobile ready website, you are seriously missing out. Not having a mobile screen optimised website means that your website is not fit to be viewed by over half of the users on the web.

Moreover, the percentage of mobile users among those conducting local searches is even more. In the US alone, 56% of all searches with local intent are conducted on mobile devices.

Optimising your website for mobile devices is not rocket science, thankfully. One can find a number of pre-built website themes that are optimised for screens of different sizes and orientations.

 

Build Citations

Simply put, a citation is a mention of your business, anywhere on the web (except your website). Search engines use citations as a way to measure the legitimacy and credibility of websites and these citations have emerged as a known factor that influences the search engine rankings of various websites.

As you may have already guessed, building citations is pretty simple and straightforward. All you need to do is create a business listing on as many business directories as possible. Foursquare and Yelp are great places to start. Beyond this, you can search for the most active local business directories in your area and create listings on them.

Remember to ensure consistency of NAP details when you are building these citations.



Submit Schema Markup

Schema markup is a piece of code that enables search engine algorithms to find relevant details about your business from your business website. In simpler words, schema markup contains your website information in a language that search engine algorithms can understand with ease. The code is added to the HTML code of your website.

When done right, the schema markup enables search engines to send more relevant traffic to your website. When this happens, it won’t just positively affect your conversions, it will also reduce the bounce rate of your website. As a result, the likeliness of your website’s ranking improving will increase.

The mention of code may have made some of you a bit worried. However, there is nothing to be worried about as this free tool will help you get your schema markup right and will even guide you through the process of adding the schema markup code to your website’s HTML code.

 

Encourage Customers To Drop Reviews

Many website owners don’t realise this but customer reviews are actually a ranking factor that search engines use to determine the rank of different websites in their search results. Depending on the industry and website, review signals can account for anywhere between six and fifteen percent of how Google ranks a business in its search results.

This means, websites with better reviews have a better chance of being placed higher in the search results.

Besides, having good reviews is important from a customer point of view as well. A survey revealed that over 93% of respondents will read the online reviews of a product before making a purchase. Moreover, 82% of web users will not make a purchase if the retailer is rated less than three stars.

There are a ton of similar stats about the importance of reviews that you can find in this article. The summary however, is simply that you must continuously make efforts to collect as many positive reviews as you can.

 

Conclusion

These were just some of the many, many things that you can do to improve the local search rankings of your business website. To ensure you leave no stone unturned to improve its ranking, it is also a good idea to seek the help of a professional local SEO service.

We hope that the advice given in this article will help you secure better rankings for your business website. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

Not Digitizing Your AP May Have Cost Your Business Thousands of Dollars in 2020

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You don’t need a finance professional to tell you that paying the bills means money coming out of your pocket, that’s just common sense. Still, many small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners fail to realize just how much more, on top of the amount due, they are spending on simply making these payments happen, especially if they do so manually, as Tofi Stoler of Melio (a US B2B bill payments company focused on SMBs) explains.

According to a 2018 study by accounting firm PayStream and consulting company Levvel, the average cost of processing a single invoice for novice businesses is $15. This means that if your business has, say, 20 bills to pay each month, just the cost of processing them adds up to $300 a month or $3,600 a year. Earlier data from enterprise information management company Iron Mountain indicates the cost of the non-digitized processing of a single paper invoice could even be as high as $25.

The good news is that much of these sums can be saved by making smart payment management decisions and switching to a digital accounts payable (AP) tool, like Melio.

Below are five ways in which not digitizing your business’ AP may have cost your business thousands of dollars in 2020.

 

Staff-hours

Processing payments manually can take an overwhelming amount of time for you and your staff. Consider, for example, the fact that each vendor typically has their own accepted payment method, which forces you to alternate between making transfers on your bank’s website, using a vendor’s dedicated platform or phoning in to pay via credit card, and manually writing and mailing out paper checks.

Keeping track of payments, each made on a different platform, for accounting and tax purposes, takes additional time and is also prone to error.

Iron Mountain estimated that the shift to digital AP solutions could boost labor productivity by up to 25%. Just imagine how you could better spend the money you save on salaries to develop your business or what your staff could otherwise accomplish in these salvaged hours.

With digital AP solutions, you save staff-hours by automating recurring payments, scheduling all your transactions to go out exactly when they need to, and eliminating human error.

Best of all, you can take care of all of your due bills in one session on a single platform, regardless of what payment or delivery methods you choose.

 

Penalties and late fees

Whether it’s in an effort to maximize cash flow or simply due to poor task management, or lack of time, many businesses tend to put payments off to the last minute. This poses the risk of payments arriving too late, resulting in penalties, additional fees, and, sometimes, irreparable damage to their relationship with vendors.

Using a digital AP tool, you can get a clear picture of all of your due bills and schedule them in one sitting to make sure they leave your account and arrive at your vendor’s hands at just the right time for both parties.

And, if you still need more float, some digital AP solutions, including Melio, allow you to pay with a credit card even if your vendor doesn’t accept cards. This way, you can defer payments until your next billing cycle, which can make a huge difference if, like many other business owners, you’re still waiting for a check that’s “in the mail.”

 

Security

There is no way around it, manual payment processing methods can be risky. Checks can get lost in the mail or stolen, and making credit card payments over the phone or on various websites could make you vulnerable to fraud and phishing attacks. 

Online AP tools are far safer and provide a clear record of when and how a payment was sent, as well as its current status. Additionally, these systems have layers of security protocols and encryptions and you always have someone to call in the unlikely scenario something goes wrong. 

 

Human error

To error is human, and when humans are manually processing bills and payments, it is also quite common. According to a 2010 survey by software company Sterling Commerce, each paper invoice error costs companies an average of $53.5 to rectify. This alone can easily amount to hundreds of dollars a year.

With digital AP solutions, you reduce the need to manually and repeatedly type or write addresses and account numbers, as the system automatically saves these. All of your transactions are well documented, and any errors are easier to spot and fix before the funds leave your account.

 

Physical goods

This may sound like small change, but the cost of the physical goods required for manual invoice processing adds up. Consider envelopes, stamps, ink cartridges, printing paper, file folders, file cabinets, and even the physical space they take up in terms of rent. With a digital AP service, you can significantly reduce these expenses.

To conclude, processing invoices manually costs more than most business owners realize, and digital AP tools can not only make your life easier, they can also save a hefty sum. So, don’t make the same mistake in 2021 and join SMBs across the country who are already managing their payments online the smart, secure, and cost-effective way. Start now with Melio. It’s simple, fast, and free.

 

For more information visit: www.meliopayments.com

3 Ways To Win Clients In A Time Of Virtual Communication

virtual clients

There’s no argument that the pandemic has profoundly impacted businesses where face-to-face communication can be dealmaker or a deal breaker in client acquisition. Like any successful salesperson however, adaptation is the winning strategy. If your firm is having a rough transition to remote communication, it could mean rethinking business practices, team structure, or work culture. If you’re head of sales or a sales representative at a consulting or marketing agency, here’s 3 ways to close deals in a time of Zoom and GoToMeeting.

 

 

1. Personalize communication as much as possible

 

Turn on your video. Show your face, your expressions and body language to foster genuine communication. It shows that you’re willing to be open and that you are listening. Potential clients are people, too. No need to have completely clean backgrounds! It’s okay if your pet pops in every now and then (so long as it isn’t too distracting) it removes the sales-y vibe that potential clients are primed to have when on an agency call. In fact, some C-suite executives observe that their strongest client relationships are when “both sides can talk honestly about their lives, business or personal” face to face in a virtual setting. Always make sure that the client feels comfortable to ask questions and voice their concerns, so incorporate that into your agenda! To add a nice touch, send a post-meeting thank you note, or better yet, send them a gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant. 

 

 

2. Invest in quality Sales Training 

 

Sales is sometimes a one-man show, but more often than not, it’s a team effort. In the process of transitioning to a virtual setting with remote team and client communication, virtual sales training is vital to set your team up for success. Regardless of a pandemic, rethinking how you pitch to clients is something you should be doing regularly, as the typical profile of buyers or potential clients is constantly changing. A good sales training program that is research based, and customized to your business needs can give your team that leg up, when in competition with other agencies and firms. It’s worthwhile to research which coaching services are a good fit for your team and your target market. You want to make sure that the training program is hands-on and interactive as opposed to one that is instructional and won’t withstand the test of time. 

 

 

3. Structure your business for agility 

 

The economy, the needs of buyers, and your business can change at a moment’s notice. This means your team must be adept at quick responses and problem-solving when a challenge comes their way. Reevaluate if you have any business strategies and practices that are static and outdated, and how they’ve potentially hindered client acquisition. Implement “pressure tests” to find out how prepared your company is for unforeseeable circumstances. Figure out what your business looks like post-pandemic, then, plan out a scenario where your office has to quickly switch back to remote because of government mandates. Pressure tests are a great way to understand how adaptable your business is for changing times, how prepared you are for any given challenge, and what your operation limits are. 

Check in with your current clients to show that you care. Think about how your agency is currently structured and if current processes are working to your advantage in this unique global situation. Creative problem solving is a skill built over time, and the agencies that have trained their teams on how to think on their feet and adapt to communication in different mediums will win over clients.

Working From Home? Tips for Decorating Your Office to Reduce Stress

office decor

Your workspace is your home away from home, but now for many people home is where their workspace is going to be for the foreseeable future. In fact, many people have decided that even when the quarantines are lifted and the world goes back to the new normal, that they may continue working remotely anyway. 

However, working from home causes a certain amount of stress. That’s why you need your office to be decorated in such a way as to reduce stress levels. Here are a few tips for decorating your home office in a way that stress levels will become a thing of the past, or at least not so bad anyway. 

Decorate in a Style That Fits Your Personality 

If you’re flamboyant and have an out-there personality, then you’re not going to be happy in an office that’s sterile and all business. Decorate your office in a style that fits who you are and you’ll be a whole lot happier. For example, if you love antique furniture, then scour far and wide and find the perfect antique desk and bookshelves for your office. You’ll love the new look and be happier about it as well. 

Decorate with Things You Love 

As with the furniture that you put into your home office, you should also decorate your desk and the walls with things that scream you. For example, do you write horror for a living? Well, you probably wouldn’t want to decorate your walls and desk with cozy decorations. There are many sites out there that have the perfect horror decorations for you to display, and they’ll even give you inspiration when you go to work on your next best-seller. 

Declutter on a Regular Basis

Keeping your office decluttered is important whether you’re working at the office or working at home. Clutter takes away from all of the decorating you’ve done so far to make your home office your own. Take a minute every weekend, or even during the week, to clear out the things that you don’t need. Paperwork that needs to be filed, things that need to be tossed in the trash, and stuff that you’re not using at the moment cluttering your desk should be dealt with at least once a week. Decluttering will give you more room to work and make you feel less stressed about work, to begin with. 

Take Advantage of Natural Light

If at all possible, you want your office to be in a room with a window. It’s not good for you physically or mentally to be cooped up in a room that doesn’t allow natural light to shine in. If you do have a window in your office, try to open it when the weather allows, to let in the light and fresh air. For those times when it’s too hot or too cold to open windows, keep a couple of plants in the office with you. They help to relieve stress, freshen the air, and lift your spirits at the same time. 

Have Storage Options

In order to declutter and keep your office neat, clean, and a place you want to be, you’re going to need storage options. There are many options for file cabinets on different sites online, plus bookshelves and desks with drawers make great storage as well. 

These are just a few tips to help you make your home office stress free. Remember, your office should reflect who you are, not what the business world thinks it should be. Decorate the way you choose and you’ll be happier for it, and stress-free. 

Victory for VMS Manufacturer

Nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals are a relatively new area different from medicine and pharmaceuticals that have risen to the forefront, as people are craving products that are nature-friendly and highly beneficial for their own wellbeing. Today, we examine the world of Natrol® as the winner of this years’ title of Most Outstanding Nutraceutical Manufacturing Firm 2020 – California. Join us as we take a closer look to find out more about the company and what it has to offer.

Natrol® creates quality and innovative products that deliver positive health outcomes to help enhance people’s quality of life. Born from a passion to improve human wellness, Natrol has evolved over a number of decades into one of the most recognized brands in the world of vitamins, minerals, and supplements and is considered a pioneer in formulating vitamins with clinically researched ingredients so consumers understand they are getting safe and effective products that provide the benefits they claim to. Today, Natrol is the number one brand of melatonin and the number one brand of 5-HTP, in addition to being a leader within five vital human health areas – those being Sleep, Brain Health, Mood & Stress, Immunity and Beauty. Brands that fall under the larger Natrol, LLC umbrella include Laci Le Beau, a line of herbal teas for weight control, and Shen Min and NuHair, which includes hair rejuvenation products.

Founded four decades ago as a cosmetic company by Elliott Barber, Natrol was originally a firm that marketed nutritionally-based weight loss products, which is why the name of the firm is an amalgamation of the words ‘natural’ and ‘control’. The company quickly evolved over the years into one of the leading VMS brands in the nutraceuticals industry. Natrol is wholly dedicated to quality assurance and delivering safe, effective, and trustworthy products that meet expectations every time. The firm formulates its vitamins with clinically-researched ingredients so that consumers can feel the difference when taking safe and effective products that have great benefits.

Three key components make up the founding mission of Natrol – Quality, Innovation and Agility. In terms of quality, Natrol is NSF-certified (National Sanitation Foundation), GMP-certified (Good Manufacturing Practices), USP-certified (United States Pharmacopeia), and an FDA-accredited facility. The second component of the Natrol mission is innovation, and the firm focuses heavily on consumer-led innovation across its five key areas as a business. Finally, the third pillar is agility, implementing a structure that enables the company to be nimble across departments to foster collaboration and respond to real-time consumer wants and needs. This enables the firm to act quickly and work closely with distributors and retail partners in order to deliver exceptional products and consumer services.

As an innovator, Natrol prides itself on being able to consistently push the frontiers of research when it comes to developing vitamins, minerals, and supplements. Natrol is always trying to improve their customers’ quality of life, which in part is guided by the brand’s quality assurance program, which is extensive and industry-leading. It performs rigorous quality checks throughout the process, from exhaustive supplier qualification screening, to sourcing the very best and most natural ingredients.

Natrol has a complex customer base, ranging from those with a health-conscious mind who have heavily researched the ingredients and quality of vitamins, to those looking for a trusted brand to provide health and wellness supplements for their benefit. Natrol’s products appeal to consumers of all life stages, from parents getting through their incredibly hectic days, to retired baby boomers looking to maintain their longevity of a life well lived. Because the company caters to many different clients and consumers, it is constantly innovating its products to meet the evolving needs of consumers. Natrol works alongside notable experts, healthcare professionals and Scientific Advisory Board members who can directly speak to and engage with audiences through their growing social platform.

Its staff is another key component of the success that Natrol has earned over the course of the company’s lifetime. At Natrol, people make things happen, either with colleagues being responsible for producing high-quality products, identifying cost-effective solutions or improving processes to provide top quality products. To support them, Natrol’s leaders actively foster a working environment that is based on integrity, respect, and responsibility. The firm welcomes and embraces creative and motivated talent to join a culture of innovation and inclusion, whereby it values its employees and provides them with the tools and environment to harness and cultivate change. Above all, Natrol actively encourages teamwork. quality, fostering a healthy working environment, equitable action, active participation, respect, responsibility, and communication across teams and the company as a whole.

Looking to the future, Natrol’s CEO Andy Houlberg has carefully considered and crafted a five-year plan that puts the company on pace to double its business. It has the essential building blocks and annual steps to reach its long-term goals, and those annual steps include further improving the quality of the brand’s range of products. There are more than one hundred different formulas from Natrol present in markets around the world, and the firm will remain true to its mission and endeavour to continue improving those formulas. The firm is also committed to adding new products into the marketplace, and some are in the process of being researched and developed right now. Growth also centres around creating deeper relationships with distributor partners to solve their problems and business needs, whilst continuing to introduce new and relevant products into the marketplace.

Ultimately, Natrol is completely and totally committed to delivering uncompromising quality and customer satisfaction within the growing world of nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, and healthy supplements. All of its products are backed by the company’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, and are widely available at many major retailers where vitamins are sold. For those who prefer to get their vitamins, minerals, and supplements online, consumers can also visit Natrol.com for more information or online ordering within the United States. This treasure trove of a company is truly outstanding, and the world of nutraceuticals is better every day for having Natrol be a part of its growth and success.

How to Start a Rental Property Business

rental property

Buying properties to let them out has been an incredibly popular type of business in recent years. Starting a rental property empire isn’t easy, but it can be done if you go about it in the right way with the following steps.

Crunch the Numbers

At its simplest, rental property investment is about making sure that the rental income you receive pays the mortgage and other expenses while the property grows in value. This means that there are a few different numbers you need to stack up before you can go ahead.

For a start, you need to be able to borrow enough to buy a property. This property needs to be valuable enough in terms of rental income that you can cover the outgoings comfortably. Finally, there has to be a prospect of its value increasing enough to give you a handsome return at some point in the future.

The exact numbers will be revealed as you go through the next steps. You can get going by getting some expert mortgage advice on the amount that you can borrow. You can do this using something like Trussle’s online calculator, to help you to narrow down your options and compare offers from different lenders before getting an agreement in principle.

 

Find the Best Areas

With an idea of your budget in mind, it is now time to think about where you want to buy a house. Since getting good rental income is a key part of the overall plan, it needs to be in an area with a good rental market.

The property yield is an important figure to research, as this shows you how much of a return on your investment you are likely to get on a property. Central Liverpool postcodes have been leading the way in the UK lately, with up to 10% yields.

Looking for areas with a lot of students or that attract young workers from other parts of the country is a good move. However, if you want to deal with luxury property rentals or target any other sort of specific market then the starting point is with finding the right place to do it.

 

Look for the Right Property

By this stage, you should now be pretty clear on the type of property you are after, its value and how much it needs to be worth in rental income. Armed with this valuable information, you can now search for a suitable property in the area you are interested in.

If you have the time and DIY skills to refurbish a house on a small budget this will increase your chances of a healthy profit. Just remember to work out a realistic valuation in terms of how much it could cost you to do this to a high standard.

By carrying out each of these points well, you will be giving yourself a great chance of building up a profitable, long term property business. If the first property is a success there is nothing to stop you from doing the whole thing over again for more houses.  

Recruiting Leaders

boardsi

boardsi is a unique, Californian headhunting and recruitment firm that concentrates on securing Executives for Board of Directors and Board of Advisors roles. Bridging the gap between modern companies and advisory solutions, boardsi has created a selection of strategies designed to bring accommodating, all-encompassing solutions to companies, regardless of their shape or size. Since 2016, boardsi’s priorities have been built around promoting the relationships and connections between companies and executives that are vital to growing businesses, whether they are a large corporation or a smaller, independent organization. We put together a profile of boardsi to find out more about how they are revolutionizing the recruitment process for modern executives and companies.

Established in 2016, boardsi is a unique headhunting and recruitment firm specializing in the recruitment of Executives for Board of Directors and Board of Advisor positions, located in El Dorado Hills and Petaluma, California.

Boardsi has successfully gathered an expansive, private network of first-class executives, each of whom seek to join a company as a board member, and already have the time, commitment and experience to dive straight into an organization that is seeking expertise and leadership. Although specializing in boards of directors or advisors, boardsi is also equipped to provide single advisors as well, if this is what a company is looking for.

Meanwhile, boardsi has also established close relationships with businesses of all sizes and niches, from privately funded to public companies, and works B2B and B2C, often both at the same time. The boardsi process helps them to identify and fill any gaps in their current boards and then use their meticulous onboarding call systems to establish the type of executives needed, using their platform and comprehensive resources to find the perfect match.

Through these services, boardsi seeks to be the first choice for executives and organizations who are seeking to revolutionize their business, setting those executives on their path towards a successful career in an advisory role. Fundamentally, boardsi wants to be a one-stop solution to all levels of businesses, to speed up the board recruitment process. In only four years, boardsi has already seen success in their mission.

Whilst the true factor to the success which makes them stand out from the crowds of their competitors is a well-kept company secret, a great deal of boardsi’s success can be put down to their two-tier approach. The first element is their platform that provides executives with opportunities that are only available through boardsi. Second, is the firm’s other database of companies that do not necessarily want to be openly available on the platform, but are constantly on the lookout for any new talent that joins boardsi, who might fit the profile they are seeking. It is for this reason that boardsi is always striving to add new, talented executives to their growing network.

Another factor, and perhaps boardsi’s worst-kept secret behind their success, is the people that drive the organization. Martin Rowinski, tech entrepreneur and CEO of boardsi says, “I have never led a better group of motivated individuals. The excitement they bring every day to the office, or on a call is a difference-maker. I truly believe everyone working at boardsi loves what we do and are excited to meet all the new executives and hear their stories.”

Indeed, every member of staff plays a vital role in the organization, each collaborating and bringing ideas that contribute to the growth of clients and boardsi itself. The team has grown slowly and organically, and everyone that is recruited has a long-standing relationship with boardsi or someone within the firm. boardsi looks out for open-minded, motivated, driven and happy employees, and the result is a team of self-starting, mission-driven individuals with a passion for innovation. The team takes joy in their work, celebrating every success and as devoted to the office dogs, Leo and Lambo, as they are to their work.

However, boardsi has recognized that the present business world benefits only the biggest and most financially lucrative companies in terms of getting leading executive advisors and other advisory bodies, at the expense of smaller, growing businesses. This is widening the gap between big and small businesses, leaving the people that occupy executive board positions in the small companies with little options to explore and grow their businesses.

The team behind boardsi do not agree with this idea and as such are each committed to their mission of levelling the playing field, redefining the present system of seeking professional advisory services and revolutionizing how executives join forces in pursuit of common goals. boardsi aims to fast track new ways that will ease the relationship between businesses and executive, facilitating crucial and sustainable growth to success.

Whilst the growth of their clients’ businesses is boardsi’s priority, they are also able to celebrate their own growth and evolution. However, their philosophy and mission remain consistent and their delivery of solutions for the executives in their network will always remain simple and efficient.

However, presenting an executive with a role or potential career path can only do so much. Acknowledging this, boardsi is now looking to see how it can help companies to bring their new executives seamlessly onboard and as such is developing their services. Fundamentally, the process of recruitment is a two-way street and the executive has to perform exceptionally in an interview for themselves, without relying on boardsi. Consequently, the firm is now working on education and training tools for their executives, which will put their Board of Documents together and equip them with the best chances of landing the next board opportunity. In this way, boardsi’s next step is guiding clients to their own next step’s in the pursuit of an advisory career.

Growing fast every day, boardsi does not like to think about the destination that they are aiming for as a business. Instead, they prefer to concentrate on their journey of growth and development, exploring how they can be better at what they do. Wherever the journey may take this ambitious firm, it will undoubtedly be an exciting one to watch.

5 Top Tips for Effective Communication

Effective communication is a common challenge across organisations of all sizes and it’s something that we, at AI have been discussing a lot over the course of this year.

Remote working has brought with it a raft of new communication challenges but despite this and regardless of the platform, there are some very simple techniques that we can all employ in order to play our part in improving our own personal, and our corporate communications.

  1. Think Before Speaking – Being knowledgeable and confident in your subject is essential and it’s important to consider the point you are trying to make before you start to speak. It’s simple advice but this small step is vital in your overall articulation.
  2. Listen – Don’t interrupt others and take the time to listen clearly to the points they are making, this is essential in ensuring you are not talking at cross-purposes. Active listening will enable you to respond appropriately and therefore communicate effectively.
  3. Be Open – Try to enter into all of your communications in a neutral and open frame of mind. Putting a firmly fixed agenda to one side will enable you to be more receptive to ideas and will make the other parties more comfortable.
  4. Be Mindful of Your Body Language – Make a conscious effort to consider your non-verbal signals. Body language is often conveyed instinctively rather than consciously so try to remain aware of how others may interpret your crossed arms and lack of eye contact.
  5. Stick to Topic (Concisely) – Be mindful that people are giving up their time to take part in discussion so strip out unnecessary details and stay on topic to ensure you are both making effective use of your time, and not wasting theirs.

Here’s to better communications in 2021!