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Tips To Prepare Your Business For The Holidays

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holiday business

The holiday season has finally arrived and it is the busiest time of the year for small and medium businesses. Though the volume of work is enormous, the proprietor also needs to dedicate some time to his family and friends in this season of merrymaking. So, the business owners need to balance their professional commitments and personal life and plan well in advance to make the holiday season a memorable one.

Track inventory

The holiday season is not only for merry making, but also an excellent opportunity to increase the sales and stay ahead of competition. Research on the latest trends and observe last year’s sales report to get an idea of the bestsellers for the season. Make a catalog of the holiday special items and fill the shelves of your store with the products that are in high demand. Let your customers know about the season’s specials. Get some brochures ready and circulate them in the neighborhood.

Manage back office with advanced technology

Small and medium businesses should take the advantage of different technological advancements to handle accounting, billing and storing customer data. The automated procedures can reduce the burden of the owners to track all the back-office work manually. In the season of high sales and extended working hours, owners can have more time for themselves and can focus on long-term business goals if they use technology to their aid.

New marketing strategies

The business owners also need to adopt some smart marketing strategies to entice the customers. Every business tries to lure the customers with attractive deals and offers during the holiday season. Send your loyal customers direct mailers and gift cards to acknowledge their constant patronage. You should also use social media to make your audience aware of the products and services. Select a holiday theme for your Facebook page and get some ad campaigns for your online customers.

Communicate your expectations to the crew

The businesses should also communicate their holiday season sales strategy to the employees. They should know how to manage the routine work and extra workload effectively. Adopt some fixed procedures to handle the pressure of the holiday season. Delegate the work effectively so that your employee meets your expectations and your customers get the best customer service.

Keep a backup plan

Peak season means a heavy flow of traffic on the website. The sudden increase of online transactions can make servers go down. Keep your servers and operations well-maintained. In a case of emergency, keep the troubleshooting tools handy.

Tell your customers

If you have made plans for a family vacation this season, let your customers know about it. Inform them who will oversee your business in your absence. Your customers are always your priority. So, make them comfortable and see if they are fine with the services of your store. If you need to close your store for a few days, inform them in advance.

Business owners also need some time to relax and enjoy the holiday season. It is definitely possible to go for a vacation with prior planning and come back with fresh ideas.

Business

How to Ask For a Favor

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how to ask for a favor

Do you know how to ask for a favor? Asking for a favor might be hard especially if you’re the independent type. Like it or not, we need to ask favors now and then if we want to succeed. Favors have varying degrees from the very easy: “please come to the conference call tomorrow” to the onerous “please introduce me to your contact at Apple”. Lucky for you, people like doing favors. Studies show that people comply with requests to avoid awkwardness and it also suggests that favors are less of a burden than we think.

But regardless of studies, asking for favors can still feel strange. Therefore being deliberate in the way you ask a favor can make a big difference in the outcome. When asking for a favor, remember the following:

  • Set the stage: “I need to ask a favor”
  • Provide reason
  • Provide means of escape

The phrase, “I need to ask a favor” is a very powerful verbal contract. It also implies reciprocity. If you help me now, you can ask a favor from me in the future. This two way relationship of give and take acknowledges that the favor is not totally one-sided. But aside from this, it also makes the other switch gears into receiving mode. This will give your friend time to have an “uh-oh” or “happy to do so” moment. Consider these:

“Friend, can you cover my shift tonight? I’m not going to make it due to an emergency” or

“Friend, I have a favor to ask. Is it possible for you to cover my shift tonight? I have an emergency”.

In the first scenario, the friend is off guard and might feel that he has to do the favor. In the second scenario, setting up the stage to ask the favor gives your friend a second or two to decline or accept the favor.

The Reason

According to Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence; giving a reason to your favor increases the chances of a positive response. If you know how to ask for a favor be sure you’re providing a reason makes people react positively even if the reason is makes no sense to the request. People like to know that they are being asked something. If you’re asking a millennial for a favor, consider reading this article  about 5 things you need to know about Millennials. It’ll give some insights on what makes millennials tick.

The Escape Clause

When learning how to ask for a favor, it’s good to keep in mind an Escape Clause. People are inherently good especially when they are asked to comply with a request. This is because giving is better than receiving. However, when you ask a favor your goal is two-fold: getting what you want and making the giver feel good about helping. The best way to do this is to provide and escape clause so that your friend can graciously decline in the event that they cannot do you the favor. Remember you are giving them the choice to comply. You are not commanding them.

Good Escape Clauses Include:

  • “I understand if you can’t help. But I thought I’d ask”.
  • “I understand if you can’t come because you’re busy”.
  • “I would like an introduction to your friend from Apple but I understand if it makes you uncomfortable”.

Friends and colleagues cannot always come through when you ask them a favor due to a variety of reasons. However, you can always ask them favors with grace and gratitude so that you maximize your chances of getting what you want. Hopefully you will be able to pay back the favor once they ask something from you.

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5 Things You Need To Know About Millennials

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Millennials (aka: Generation Y) are an interesting breed.  We’ve experienced quite a drastic change within our lifetime and the way we communicate with one another is very different than the generation before us.  Unfortunately we’re not that easily understood and people tend to categorize us without knowing all the facts.  Below are 7 things you MUST know about millennials before you begin to make judgement.

It’s harder for us to get a job

Contrary to what others may think, our generation aren’t fortunate enough to get a job with just our high school degree.  For most of us, a Bachelors is barely enough to get accepted.  Our parents and grandparents had it much easier than we did in this department.  Demands for our education is increasing, our cost of living is higher, our student loans are piling higher than we’d like…and job opportunities are scarcer than before.

We’re not buying Houses

We’re considering many other alternatives as most of us still prefer to be in the cities where our job opportunities are highest.  And unfortunately that also comes with a very high rent, so we prefer to room with others to save on living expenses.  And we’re also marrying much later as well, so the need to have our own american dream house doesn’t need to be realize so early.

We’re not driving anymore

Again…back to the whole idea of cost of living rising.  It cost on average anywhere from $500-$800 a month to own a car in most cities, and that’s not even including the cost of parking and tickets you’re likely to rack up.  With Uber and Lyft in most major cities nowadays, we’re looking at other alternatives to driving.

Not all of us are Entrepreneurs

Yes…it’s true.  With the boom of entrepreneurs in the recent years, it’s easy to assume that most millennials are following similar footsteps as Zuckerberg and Jobs.  The truth is, although the idea of running your own startup is very appealing, most of us are actually straight up trying to create a profitable company.  We’re still for the same dream, except without the early-stage hustling and grinding.

We want to work for a cause

The work we do does define us, and as Millennials we’re NOT okay with settling for a meaningless job that simply pays the bill.  The job doesn’t have to be high paying, as long as the work we do is meaningful and we are apart of something that’s making waves.

 

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15 Business Ideas to Start Today

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Here’s 15 business ideas to start today. More and more people want to start their own business. The good news is that starting a business no longer takes months of market research and thousands of dollars in capital. In fact, there are business you can start today with little or no capital. Here are some ideas.

1. Freelance

There is an estimated 54 million Americans who have joined the freelance army. You can do anything from blogging to web design. Freelancing is attractive because hours are flexible and you can work from anywhere.

2. Buy and Sell

You can buy and sell anything with the help of sites like eBay, Etsy and Craigslist. You can start by selling stuff you no longer need and go from there. You can also check out drop shipping and affiliate marketing.

3. Tutoring

Start your own tutoring business at home or through the web. If you are good at something like math or science, there are people out there who need help. You can do this online or contact schools nearby to advertise your service to set up tutoring at the student’s home or a coffee shop.

4. Accounting/Bookkeeping Service

You would be surprised how many businessmen do not know how to do their books or set up an accounting system for their business. If you are an accountant and want to go into private practice, advertise your service through flyers or word of mouth. Tax accounting is a lucrative field since many businesses can do day-to-day accounting but don’t have knowledge regarding the tax aspect.

5. Repair Service

It can be computers, cars, gizmos, furniture, or TV. People are always surrounded by technology and chances are, they get broken. If you have talent in repairing, set up a repair shop at home or at a commercial space, and advertise your business.

6. Landscaping

If you enjoy being outside, plants, flowers, and gardening, start a landscaping business within your neighborhood. You start by making your front yard fabulous and people will come and ask about your landscape.

7. Interpreter

If you are fluent in another language, you can have a business as an interpreter or translator. Offer your services to individuals or start an online business transcribing books, letters, or manuscripts.

8. Social Media Manager

Managing different social media accounts can be a full time job and many businesses outsource these to the pros. If you have talent in managing and engaging social media accounts, this can be a business you can start at home.

9. Event Planner

This is a good business for somebody who likes planning and organization. You can organize events, weddings, and parties. You can expand this business by providing other service like invitation printing or cake baking or you can simply affiliate with vendors and take commissions through referrals.

10. Tour Guide

If you have local landmarks nearby, start a tour guide business. You don’t have to have prior knowledge about the site, but it can help. Do research to be familiar about the tourist spots to make the tour enjoyable.

11. Financial Planner

You need to be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), but if you already are, offer your services to people who need help in getting their finances in order. You can help them get out of debt or secure their future.

12. Music Teacher

If you play an instrument and have a love for teaching, become a music teacher. You can have people come to your house or visit theirs for a one-on-one session.

13. Cleaning Service

There are many different directions to this business. You can focus on offices and do cleaning after office hours. There are homes that require cleaning or small businesses that need help every now and then.

14. Personal Assistant/Errand Runner

There are many busy people today who do not have time to do their errands. The good news is that you can capitalize on their busyness and become their personal assistant. Check out sites like TaskRabbit or Care.com.

15. Babysitting/Petsitting/Housesitting

This job is not just for teenagers. There are many adults who do this kind of job professionally. We all know why babies need sitters, but some pet owners and homeowners do not like to leave their pets in kennels or houses empty. In cases like this, they want somebody present to personally take care of their pet or property. If you want to do this professionally, personal reputation is important.

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