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15 Websites You Should Know To Make Your Life Easier

15 Websites You Should Know To Make Your Life Easier

One thing that people don’t seem to talk about enough when it comes to the Internet is its daily utility. The whole thing with social media and whatever world-changing stuff it does is great, but the Internet as a tool for making one’s life easier doesn’t get as much mention as it truly deserves. Therefore, there should be some more focus put on that aspect of the Internet, which is definitely something that users do seem to take for granted.

Just think of it as your online tool kit of sorts. We all have tasks we have to complete that involve the Internet in some fashion, and there are various websites that cater to these needs. If you don’t have one yet or you already have some that you use, perhaps these fifteen websites can help make your life easier.

1. Calorie King

If you’re very concerned about how the food you’re eating is affecting your weight loss efforts, then you can visit this website and get the lowdown on how many calories that cookie or chocolate bar is. You can also plan your meals in advance by picking the most nutritious and low-calorie foods in order to help you lose weight as well.

Calorie King also has other tools for helping you control your weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as a blog that can regularly provide you with more helpful tips and information on your way to a healthier life.

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2. Mint

Perhaps the most popular online personal finance management service that’s also free-to-use; Mint is a powerful tool for managing your expenses, creating budgets, and monitor your savings. You can sync your bank accounts to it and have a one place for planning your financial present and future. Having something like this is invaluable for those who really value their money, and it can help even the most confused of people become financially literate.

3. Website Setup

Designing websites usually consist of being knowledgeable about the fundamentals of visual design and being well-versed in HTML, CSS, and even Javascript. However, not everyone who needs to design a website are proficient in those things, and even fewer have the budget for hiring a professional web designer to do it for them.

Website Setup features a free and comprehensive guide to creating a website, from setting up a content management system like WordPress or Drupal, installing plugins, customizing themes, and so on. With Website Setup, you can become a web designer in your own right easily.

4. Codecademy

In this day and age, being fluent in a programming language is such a boost in one’s effectiveness in this world. For those who are looking to learn how to code, Codecademy is the number one online destination for instruction. You’ll get a rundown of the very basics of programming and learn just about any major programming language you wish. Whether it’s Javascript, Python, Ruby, C++, or so on, you can learn the ropes here.

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5. Let Me Google That For You

This one is a rather amusing website, but it’s there for good reason. All of us have friends who like to ask the most seemingly basic questions, taking up your time and patience even when there’s the whole Internet right in front of them to give them the answers they seek. You can use this website to do two things—remind them that they can just search it in Google and to get out of your hair.

6. Polish My Writing

Writing can be a fulfilling vocation, whether you do it professionally or just like to write blogs and journals about your life and experiences. However, not everyone has the confidence to write due to worries about grammar and spelling, as well as not being well-versed enough in vocabulary and the art of putting one’s thoughts into words

This website can help you learn more about these things and become the writer you thought you’d never be. It has tools for checking grammar and spelling, as well as other resources for improving your writing.

7. Mathway

Most people have a lot of trouble with math, and it’s something that can’t be avoided in life even if we think that it barely gets used. Whether it’s doing one’s taxes or even just determining whether there’s enough money for groceries, math is something you wouldn’t want to be weak at. Whether you’re a student who needs help with an exam the next day or just someone who’s sick and tired of being weak at math, Mathway can help you become a lot less confused with numbers.

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9. Wilderness Survival Skills

If you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast who is into camping, mountaineering, and so on, then you’d be aware that they call for a certain set of skills that need to be honed. To help you better prepare for these endeavors, you may need the right information on things like how to build a fire or what to do when you encounter a certain something in the wilderness. This website is perfect for those who need to learn more about what to pack, how to navigate, how to survive the outdoors, and so on.

10. Strip Creator

If you happen to be a more creatively driven person who likes to experiment with different things, or someone who’s gotten into making comics, then Strip Creator can make things easier and more interesting for you. If you want to make comic strips that show off your ability to create characters and convey your sense of humor, then this website should help you achieve that with relative ease.

11. DIY Courses

Want your child to have more focus on the creative side of things? DIY Courses has online courses for kids that are taught by the world’s most creative experts. With it, you can help unlock your child’s creative potential without having to go somewhere to attend. These courses can be taken wherever you want, as long as there’s Internet access. It costs $15 per month, but it is worth it.

12. The New York Times Cooking

Perhaps you’re looking for new recipes to try. There are plenty of culinary websites out there, but this one is a bit different. The New York Times happens to have a cooking section wherein they have some of the very best recipes you’ll ever find on the Internet, curated by some of the most well-known names in the culinary world, including the likes of Nigella Lawson and so on.

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13. Have I Been Pwned?

Online security is always a concern, even if you’re just an average joe or jane who doesn’t care much for his/her email or social media account. But do know that it does matter since it’s your personal stuff being compromised when you get hacked, and some pretty dire consequences can come out of it. If you suspect that something you own just got hacked, you may go to this website and verify that, then know more about what you can do to address that problem and perhaps prevent it in the future.

14. The Lonely Planet Shop

Lonely Planet has been long known for being the biggest travel guide book publisher in the world, and they’ve been doing it online as well for a long time now. Their shop is full of stuff that you may want to take with you on your adventures, and the main site itself should be helpful for gathering information about your destination. Whether it’s learning about the best places to go or how to travel on a budget, that website is great for that.

15. Norton SafeWeb

Norton has been a well-known name in computer security for ages now, and it has its own online security arm that helps with preventing malicious attacks through the Internet. If you’re worried if there’s a virus, malware, trojan horse, or whatever in a suspicious-looking link, then go to this website, enter that URL, and check to see if it’s safe. You can also download an extension to your browser that can do that for you automatically.

16. Nolo

It’s law for all, as it says on the title banner. This website provides legal advice for the every-man who may be worried about getting on the short end of the legal straw. Through Nolo, you can find answers to your legal questions, research various legal topics, read blogs to learn a bit more about the legal world, FAQs for the most nagging of questions, and so on. You can do all of this even before hiring a lawyer, which is great if you want to have every bit of an edge you can get.

These are just some of the many websites that can make tasks more efficient and your life a whole lot easier. It’s a great time to be alive due to the Internet being there for everyone, and you may have your own set of websites that you make use of on a daily basis. If any of these fifteen gets added to your list, then that’s definitely a good thing.

Featured photo credit: Liquene via flickr.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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