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10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016

10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016

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.

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

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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