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10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016

10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016
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It’s never been a better time to start a business. Access to online environments and innovations such as smart devices and cloud technology mean that many entrepreneurs can set up on a shoestring and get things going without needing excessive start-up budgets. Add into the mix the wide availability of cloud-funding platforms and cheap marketing through social media and it’s easy to see the many opportunities that people don’t want to miss out on.

Here are just some ways to get your business idea off the ground if you have the entrepreneurial spirit this year.

1. Find the Right Support

You may have all the personal and physical tools in place, but you’re nowhere without friends. There’s no better time to start networking, building business associate relationships, and getting sound advice from people in your local area and online. The great news for startups is there’s plenty of guidance from other entrepreneurs who are happy to help out for free.

Take the opportunity to make solid, long-term contacts and research all areas of running a business. A good place to start is the Government’s own business portal.

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2. Organize Your Funds

While it can be cheap to set up a business nowadays, especially if you have the right idea, it’s a good thing to check what you can currently bring to the table. This should include any debts you have, which may need to be addressed first, and the amount of collateral you can use, if needed, to apply for a loan. If you are finding it difficult to make ends meet, you may well have more problems down the line when you start your business.

3. Come Up with the Right Idea

What may seem like a good idea over a couple of drinks in the local bar might not seem so bright in the cold light of day. Coming up with a good idea is imperative if you want to have any chance of success.

This includes researching how others are running businesses in a similar industry or niche. It also means being honest with yourself.

For a very successful business, the question of scalability is always an issue. In other words, when you come to grow, how easy and cheap is it going to be to carry that out? If you run a restaurant business, that might involve giving out franchises or spending money on new premises.

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Check out this article from The Guardian on how to find the right business idea.

4. Plan the Business

This is the crucial stage of any startup and the step that many entrepreneurs get wrong. It involves setting out clear stages and strategies, from getting financed, setting up websites, marketing, brand development, and deciding whether you need to have staff employed and where you are going to find them. As far as staff are concerned, there are plenty of options to hire freelancers who can do the initial jobs for you, though you may have to do some hard searching to find the right ones.

You also need to plan for a long-term future and not just look at the immediate setup of your business. There may be a lot to do but it’s important that you have your direction set for some time to come. Your plan should include how you are going to build capital and secure your business future.

You’ll need a strong business plan, especially if you are going to be heading to the bank for a loan or looking at crowdfunding. Check out this article from Start Up Donut for some sound advice.

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5. Check Yourself Online

If you have been working for a number of years, no doubt you have a persona online and you need to have a quick search to make sure it doesn’t have any negatives associated with it. Another thing to check, if you don’t want egg on your face, is the name of your new company and whether someone else has got there before you.

6. Register Your Business

One thing you are going to need to do is register your business. This used to be a complicated process, but with online sites such as www.companyformations247.co.uk, everything is reduced to simplicity and you can register everything within 3 hours. You need to do this in the UK if you have a limited company, and it includes registering with Companies House as well as designating directorial roles within your business.

7. Raise Money

Getting the finances together for a business idea is much more viable nowadays. You can use your home or other properties as collateral for a bank loan or choose to sell property and self-fund. Increasingly, many entrepreneurs are turning to crowdfunding to get their business ideas off the ground. If you have good presentation skills and a solid business plan, and can communicate how strong your idea is, then this a great way to get capital. You generally pitch your idea online and people from all over the world can help fund it in exchange for something you offer, for instance a free product or share of the company.

8. Develop Your Brand Online

If you are going to run a business nowadays, you need to develop your online brand and that means marketing. You should have looked into this in detail in the planning stage of your business idea, as it’s the key to success or failure.

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You need to build brand awareness, find a following, engage with customers, and use all the free and paid resources out there that help make your business thrive. This may include doing a lot of it yourself at first, but you can also engage with online marketing companies to help you choose the right options.

9. Test, Evaluate, Tweak, Test

While you had strong ideas for how your business would begin to develop, the chances are that things will not go completely according to plan. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs encounter hitches along the way. This is where you need to put in more hard yards. It’s a question of testing everything, evaluating it, tweaking, and then testing again to guide you in the right direction.

10. Plan for Growth

Once your business is up and running and you are satisfied with its progress, it’s time to take a look at that plan again and check whether you under or overestimated growth in the future. Now that you have a bit more experience in the real world, there will no doubt be new ideas that have to be incorporated to guarantee more success. You might need to think about getting other experts on board, or you could be looking to expand into profitable new markets.

There’s no doubt that running a new business requires a lot of good thought, strong planning, and putting in the effort, not to mention often working long hours. With some 50% of startups failing within the first five years, it may seem that you are swimming against the tide in the effort to succeed. If you have done the planning, come up with a great plan, and have the enthusiasm and energy to carry it forward, you stand a better chance of success than other ventures.

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Featured photo credit: 10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016 via google.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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