The Strategies to Empower Your Call Center Business

Running an operationally efficient call center that delivers a high-quality customer experience can be a difficult objective to achieve. Consumers are becoming increasingly know-how and their expectations for quality customer service and support is steadily growing. Most corporations may see a contact center as an added expense but as you weigh things down, you find that a call center is a necessity for your business to thrive. It is quite a task to systematically deliver excellent customer service while cutting down additional costs. This may seem intimidating, but it is definitely possible to transform your contact center into a profit-producing asset. But it is difficult to handle a call center with the upper level of customers’ satisfaction.

Here, I am going to represent some ideas of specific strategies to empower your call center business to get the high level of customer satisfaction which will affect your sales graph positively.

Support social media:

While the phone remains at the heart of customer contact centers. There is an increasing need to effectively manage data from multiple channels thanks to the exponential rise in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This requires solutions that have both the intelligence and flexibility to adapt changing market and consumer needs.

Social media has empowered consumers to become broadcasters or journalists, so speedy and flexible customer service is critical. A complaint sent via Twitter that is left unanswered could spread internationally overnight.

Empower your employee:

Employees are the main factor of a call center who have to communicate with customers directly. We can say that the employees are the heart of a company. So, enable your employees to make their own recommendations on improvements, after all, they are much closer to the working procedure than senior management.

A focused call center can help a brand realize its goal whether that be higher levels of customer satisfaction, more revenue per customer or driving increases in sales. Establishing the right policies and working practices can empower call center employees to support the brand and the business.

Refining Your Customer Service Strategy:

Your customer care center will work in tandem with your call center software to create synergies in your customer service department. One of the biggest advantages of this software is its ability to collaborate with your customer history. For instance, say you get calls from a long time customer on a monthly basis. Call center software can be set to display “screen pops,” which allow the agent instant information as soon as the call is answered, reducing call times and customer satisfaction. Screen pops can be customized but most commonly will include customer purchase and return data on every inbound call.

It doesn’t matter if you are making inbound or outbound phone calls providing customers and prospective clients with the right answers, faster can really streamline your sales efforts.

Know your customer:

Understanding the demographics of your customers is a key first step toward determining which tools and approaches will best help you achieve your business objectives. For example, tech-savvy customers will likely expect to connect with you through more technical channels, such as online forms, chat sessions, or social media drove community-based solutions. Less tech-savvy customers, on the other hand, may require more traditional, higher-touch solutions, such as phone, fax, or email.

The Alternative Investment Fund Regulations

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)

AIF is an Alternative Investment Fund Regulations privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors. AIF may be in the form of a trust or a company or a limited liability partnership or a body corporate.

Why AIF

AIF Regulations endeavor to extend the perimeter of regulation to unregulated funds with a view to ensuring systemic stability, increasing market efficiency, encouraging the formation of new capital and consumer protection.

Who are not covered

Currently, the AIF Regulations do not apply to mutual funds, collective investment schemes, family trusts, ESOP and other employee welfare trusts, holding companies, special purpose vehicles, funds managed by securitisation or reconstruction companies and any such pool of funds which is directly regulated by any other regulator in India.

Categories of AIFs

An AIF needs to seek registration broadly under one of the 3 categories –

Category I AIF: The following are covered under Category I

1. Funds investing in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

2. Other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable including the Venture Capital Funds

3. AIFs with positive spillover effects on the economy, for which certain incentives or concessions might be considered by SEBI or Government of India or other regulators in India

Category II AIF: The following are covered under Category II

1. AIFs for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

2. Which shall not undertake leverage other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements as permitted in these Regulations

3. Which shall include Private Equity Funds, Debt Funds, Fund of Funds and such other funds that are not classified as category I or III

Category III AIF: The following get covered under Category III

1. The AIFs including hedge funds which trade with a view to making short term returns;

2. Which employ diverse or complex trading strategies

3. Which may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives

Applicability of AIF Regulations to Real Estate Funds

After knowing what an AIF is and its broad categories, we analyse whether AIF Regulations are applicable to the Real Estate Funds

Firstly AIF has to seek registration under AIF Regulations under one of the three categories stated above. Therefore if a Fund does not fall under any of the three categories stated above, then it will not seek the registration with SEBI.

If we look at the Category 1, registration is required by funds which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

If we look at the definition of infrastructure, Explanation to Regulation 2 (m) states that Infrastructure shall be as defined by the Government of India from time to time.

And in the normal parlance, the term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids,

telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.

Therefore infrastructure does not include the real estate or construction activity since this activity deals in investing in land, developing the land by way of construction of flats, townships and other residential and commercial projects.

But if the real estate fund carries on certain projects for a social purpose like purchasing land for charity etc.; then the fund may be covered under social venture funds.

The clause further states that ‘or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified;’

The AIF Regulations have been notified just a few days back and till date, no other AIF funds have been specified in the Category 1 by the Government. Further what the government or regulators consider as socially and economically viable is a very broad concept. However, till the Government specifically comes out with specific inclusions under Category 1; a Real Estate Fund will not be covered under Category 1 and therefore would not require Registration.

Further, the clause also states that – Alternative Investment Funds which are generally perceived to have positive spillover effects on economy and for which the Board or Government of India or other regulators in India might consider providing incentives or concessions will bee included

By adding these lines to the Category 1, SEBI has made the category 1 very vague and open to dispute and litigations since what SEBI intends with positive spillover effects on the economy is not defined or clarified. Different people or organizations may have a different opinion on this which would lead to unnecessary litigations and hardships to business owners. However, till any clarity comes on this, the business owners need to take a cautious approach to the decision of seeking Registration under AIF Regulations.

Category II AIF

Now we examine whether a Real Estate Fund falls under the Category II AIF

If we look at the funds covered by Category II above, they

1. Shall not fall in Category I and III

2. Shall not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to- day operational requirements and as permitted by these regulations;

3. Shall be funded such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

For Real Estate Fund under Category I, we notice that at present it does not fall under Category I and it also does not fall under Category III since these are basically hedge funds. Further, no specific incentives or concessions are given by the Government to the Real Estate Sector. Therefore if we look at the applicability of Real Estate Fund under Category II, these funds may fall under the Category II AIFs if they do not take leverage or borrowing except for short-term requirements.

Impact of AIF on the Real Estate Funds

Under these Regulations, the minimum investment amount has to be Rs 1 crore from each investor. Therefore attracting the funds from the investors would become tough for the real estate funds, who used to raise amounts as less as INR 1 million from the investors. Now they would need to find high-value investors though this is not the only challenge that lies ahead for those raising domestic corpuses. They now also have to invest 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 5 crore, whichever is lower, to ensure that the managing company’s risk is aligned with that of the investor. Moreover, a single investment in a company or a project cannot exceed 25% of the entire corpus.

Further a Real Estate Fund registered in the form of an LLP also would be covered under the AIF Regulations. In an LLP Structure, since the investors are also partners, the risk to the rights of the investors being misused is very minimum. Therefore applying the AIF Regulations to the LLP Structure would reduce the flexibility available to such a Structure.

Conclusion

If we look at the AIF Regulations from a short term perspective, in light of the difficult fund raising environment today, the higher ticket size for investors could potentially throw up some challenges and could in a manner constrict the growth of the asset class, but clearly, in the long run, these regulations appear to have an element of maturity to play a pivotal role in the development and shaping up of the future of alternate asset class in India. It is also clear that alternative investments are more sophisticated and risky as compared to investments in equity and debt and till market matures it is advisable that only HNIs and well informed investors make an investment in this asset class and once the market matures it is made open to all. In the long run, we may see more investments in the Alternative asset class (in terms of quantum and maturity) due to the increased investor confidence in these funds.

Tips for Successful Luxury Coach Business Trips

It’s not unusual to find a company that has hired a coach to take its employees to a seminar, conference or simple social event but who have subsequently been disappointed with the results.

Here we’ll examine some of the common causes and their solutions.

Poor turnout / response to invitation

This is a commonly expressed frustration in many organizing departments.

Ignoring mechanical causes (such as poor communication of the “we weren’t told” variety or insufficient notice) this is often attributable to:

low morale in the company;
a lack of interest in the event concerned;
conflicting priorities (your event has been scheduled at a time which clashes with other things).

There is no easy answer to this and simply making attendance mandatory isn’t likely to be the answer. You may need to analyse the causes in more detail.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of transport

In the 21st century, professional people expect corporate transport to be modern and comfortable.

If an “old banger” of a coach arrives at the outset, then already your session is in trouble due to creating the wrong impression.

Be prepared to spend a little money here to get a comfortable limo bus.

Impacting personal lives

Today, most people expect and demand a professional / personal life balance.

So, anticipate dissatisfaction and disgruntled attendees if they’ve had to get up at 4am to make your planned departure time and/or they won’t be getting back home until the early hours of the morning.

A luxury coach might help alleviate some of this through comfort during the journey but it won’t, in itself, be the solution.

Impacting professional lives

On a similar theme to the above, asking people to get back very late to their homes, while expecting them to be back in the office at 8am and firing on all cylinders, is likely to be a recipe for ill-feeling.

Provide or arrange for refreshments

If people have been asked to get up unusually early and been on a coach for some time, then it’s really good psychology to provide (or stop for) some refreshments.

A little caffeine and a calories boost can ensure people arrive at the destination eager to get started rather than tired, jaded and looking for reasons to complain.

Railroading

Ideally, your corporate event should be so desirable by its very nature that your colleagues should be fighting for the chance to participate.

Only use “attendance is mandatory” approaches as an absolute last resort, as touched on earlier.

If you see a lack of interest and voluntary participation, something is wrong and a re-think is required. People typically don’t respond well to being forced to attend company events.

Relate to the wider world

Remember that a corporate event will be seen by many against a much broader backdrop of the wider business world you share with your colleagues.

So, expect a very negative reception for (e.g.) a company team-building exercise held at an expensive external venue, if just a few days before the company has announced major ancillary benefits cuts for employees due to the prevailing economic circumstances.

Best Accounts Payable Processing Practices

When it comes to working in accounts payable, there are a dozen things that can happen to cause a good day to become a bad one – and these things are often actions that took but a second or two to happen. These mistakes often occur not because of a lack of training or due to faulty practices but often because people are unaware of ways to improve the work situation.

Thankfully, there are many actions that can be taken to ensure that your business is using the best accounts payable processing practices available. By doing this, you can minimize the risk and exposure that result from not having a totally secure system and effective recovery process. While there are many different steps you can take, one of the most important things is that you track a number of elements in the accounts payable processing department.

· Keep up with the number of invoices that come into the accounts payable department in given period of time. The larger your company the more of these there will be. Tracking these will give you a baseline and make it easier to track other items within your department.

· How many invoices are processes as a percentage of the total number of invoices during a specific amount of time. Tracking this helps measure how effectively and efficiently your department is getting the work done. If you feel that the work being done is not enough, then sit back and determine what can be done to make your department more efficient.

· Pay attention to the rate of wrong payments as a percentage of total payments. You need to be aware of any over or under charges. Using a HER program can minimize occurrences such as these.

· Figure out how much it is costing you per invoice processed. Be sure to note things such as software costs, IT support, hardware, and any other types of overhead. There are a number tools that can help you be effective and yet still keep the bottom line in the black.

· Track how many invoices are electronic versus paper. It is cheaper to process an electronic invoice than a paper one. In addition, the electronic invoices require less time to process. Hence, the more electronic processing and information storage is a better way to improve your budget and work efficiency.

Having the best accounts payable processing steps in place, you can be certain that you are doing all you can to protect your business. Talk to a team of business management specialist and learn how you can begin to better protect your company.

Strategic Process for Site Planning

Real estate site selection can be a complex web of evaluating store attributes within a potential store trade area. The process utilizes both a science and an art to the overall selection process combining a number of factors that weigh on the viability of the location. Complicating the process is that each location has its own special attributes, which makes site selection more directional in nature as opposed to a cookie-cutter process. That being said, here are some key attributes that should be considered in the overall evaluation:

Traffic Counts – While these are clearly site specific (think of the difference between a rural site and an urban site), analyzing the traffic counts will help offer a predictability of volume. The key is to understand what the potential traffic patterns are for the site before one can look solely at traffic counts. If a road carries a number of cars, but that road does not feed well into the site, the traffic counts may be misinterpreted. Understand the natural flow into the site before assessing the traffic counts. One way to gain some perspective on how traffic counts mirror volumes is to compare existing site volumes with their traffic counts. Many operators jump right into new site selection without looking back at existing sites and creating a model based on their geographic areas. This may give you a more reliable predictive model for your future sites.

Population Counts – Population count is the next logical indicator for your location. Not only do you want to look at the population count as it stands today – and is it enough to support a site – but also how has it been trending. Positive growth indicates a viable marketplace while negative trends may raise a red flag. In addition, gaining a better understanding of the ethnicity and socioeconomic trends in the trade area will offer a better snapshot into the merchandising mix that should be presented at the site.

Seasonality & Geographic Nuances – Determining whether the site is seasonal or not should factor into your analysis. Operators shouldn’t necessarily shy away from seasonal type stores but rather not be surprised by them after they open. Closely related to seasonality would be a trade area driver – i.e., a mall or theme park – that may positively or negatively impact your store’s performance. Monitoring these outside forces will tighten up your model. In addition, look for the non-seasonal enhancements or barriers to your site. A river that bisects your trade area, for instance, will effectively cut your traffic to the store no matter how close in proximity the homes are. Even certain companies can impact your site. A large manufacturing facility that releases a number of employees at the same time can cause bottlenecks in the traffic flow that will cause potential customers to avoid the area at these peak times.

Visibility – This may be more anecdotal than the other attributes but should still be a consideration. Judging whether the site is easily viewed from afar as opposed to a site that is hidden by overgrown trees should be a factor. Driving the site from all four directions allows for the owner to gain the perspective of potential customers as they approach the location. Other considerations would include that speed of the traffic as it approaches the potential site. If the traffic flow is traveling at too great a speed or drivers are distracted due to complicated traffic patterns, the opportunity to notice your location is diminished.

Competitors – Obviously, understanding the competition within the trading area is critical. I would approach this competitive evaluation in a three-fold fashion: a) gasoline, b) convenience store, and c) quick-service restaurants. Look at the competitive landscape in degrees of competition – meaning, some competition has greater negative impact than other competition. Ranking your competition based on this impact for all three categories will paint a more holistic overview. Keep in mind, that some competitors may impact only the gasoline while others may have a greater impact on convenience product sales. With the c-store industry creeping further and further into food-service, mapping the quick service restaurants in the trade area will give you a better indication of the viability of your food-service operation.

Location – Location, location, location. There are many factors that come into play when picking the best location. Is it a premier corner? What day part side of the street is the site? Is there easy ingress and egress in and out of the location? Are there divided highways in front of the location that make access more difficult? Is this an inside lot location and not even a corner? What is the length of the property frontage? There is a myriad of considerations for the actual site location that need to be evaluated in the context of the other attributes.

Let’s face it; there are a number of variables that come into play. While one cannot be certain that accurately depicting all of these attributes into a real estate site evaluation model can guarantee success, it will at least put you in a better risk aversion position. That is the science of it.

I have been around the block long enough to know that some stores simply defy their science and just work. The art of site selection is far harder to quantify than the science. While those stores are the anomaly, evaluating new locations by putting their attributes through the litmus test above, helps minimize the downside risk of opening an under performing location.

The Ways to Improve Fundraising

Donor management is never easy no matter how easy it may seem; there is always some information that you will need to get and some that you will need to impart in order to learn some of the best ways of it.

In the many things about donor management the one that counts to be the most important of all is improving fundraising and getting into the skills of it all for the best results. Here in this article are the ways you need to follow and imbibe to improve the fundraising program for your nonprofit or church.

1. Be Transparent with Your Donors – Though this might seem like an obvious point, it is usually the one that is most ignored, and the most important of all. What is important about transparency is your donors being able to trust you with all – from your plans to our ideas and ideologies. Also, this is an important point to note because only when they trust you will they be able to steward their money well and you must be able to show them you are doing so. By ‘transparent’ we mean both financial and program transparency.

Financial Transparency: You might not be considering financial transparency to be an important point but this should definitely be on your list of important things. It is considered important to release a note time to time which would show how you are allocating your funds, but your donors are not going to sit and read through that long document. Make sure you give your donors an easy way to digest how you are investing their money. Create a graph, chart, infographic etc. And if it looks like you spent more in say, fundraising, than expected, explain why. Your donors love your mission and giving them a peek behind the curtain creates a sense of belonging and teamwork.
Program Transparency: Program transparency is all about the IMPACT. If you can show your donors the impact their money has made in changing the lives of those you’re serving or where the money has impacted, you can be sure you’ve done your thing right. Create annual reports showing the graphs of how far you’ve come with the support, meanwhile mentioning exactly where you want more changes and where you’re striving to achieve more.

2. Optimize our Donor Experience – Your donors shouldn’t be there for just one years or only a period of time, and that is possible only if you manage to optimize the donor experience convincing them that there are things that’ll help you stay in contact for more than one donation period. Try personalization (which definitely does no longer mean just hey and the first name); it is always recommended to stay in touch with the donors through emails, letters and phone calls. You can segment based on last gift amount, last gift date, a specific campaign – anything. And then create fundraising messaging around each category.

3. Audit Your Systems – Thought this is not important? Wrong!!! One of the most important points to be considered to improve fundraising is to audit your system – audit on your end – use the right set of tool and the right techniques. Keep the audit impartial and keep it clear – this will help you understanding how far you’ve come with your fundraising program and exactly how far you will be able to go with it.

Fundraising for churches, charities and non profits is the thing that does the most benefit and an increase in the finds over a stipulated period of time is exactly what they’re striving for. It is therefore recommended that you use these set of tips mentioned above and create a draft accordingly of you new ideas and plans for an increase in the funds.

Build A Business From Scratch

My passions have always been gardening and painting. The two seem to go together and this was born out when starting a business in landscaping. It was natural to paint a picture of the finished design in my head. This led me to undertake counseling for those who could not imagine what a garden should look like. My long-standing interest in the outdoors held me in good stead as my little fingers were always in dirt from the time I could toddle.

Once advertising started and my first consulting job came to me it led to other things. The lady was so impressed with what she was offered that she paid me $400 to draw a plan of it. This was something right up my ally.

Putting my imagination to work the plan was a great success and before long there were some 2-3 per week along with consulting jobs. The main requiring for doing something like this is confidence. If one shows that they know what they are talking about and can satisfy their client with quality work, then it has to be a success.

Of course my enterprising didn’t stop there. The main point of this article is that people need to step out of their comfort zone and use their hobbies and interests to build a business. They have to start from scratch to do it but if they have enough confidence and knowledge they will success.

Mistakes will happen and that is the learning curve one has to go through. Costs of consulting work doesn’t have to be over the top as there is no outlay to doing it. Start small and build up. For consulting my charge was $75 and that is more than affordable when most landscape designers might charge 10 times that much for the same advice.

Norma Holt has knowledge that enables her to understand many issues. Political, social and behavioral problems are usually on her list for discussion as well as anything to do with the Spirit of the Universe and reincarnation, which she experienced. She is happy to hear from any of her readers.

Business Growth Leveraging Your Personal Brand

Marketing is like sex. Everyone thinks they’re good at it.

– Steve Tobak

We are in a golden age of solopreneurs: independent, innovative experts who are turning the traditional working model on its head. No longer content with working under layers of organizational management, workers around the globe are increasingly making the decision to take full control of their careers. To carve their own niche and capitalize on their skills. To join the solo revolution.

And you are one of them. A revolutionary!

Creating your own brand has never been easier. With the explosion of social media, solopreneurs have immediate access to billions of people around the world. You can speak directly to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Likewise, the number of services and products consumers have instant access to is infinite. Neither business nor buyer is bound by location anymore.

It is an incredibly liberating age. But it’s also one that some entrepreneurs and businesses find overwhelming.

We’re Living in a Digital-First World

In his book Ctrl Alt Delete, Mitch Joel discusses the term “digital first”. He reveals the five key movements that organizations must embrace to future-proof themselves – or go out of business. One of these shifts is the fact that now, the first place your brand and business are validated is online. Essentially, the internet and social media have the power to make or break your chances of success.

Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of how to cultivate a successful business by leveraging digital media. Born in the Soviet Union in 1975, Vaynerchuk immigrated to the United States in 1978. From humble beginnings, his father went on to own a liquor store in New Jersey. In the early days of the digital-first world, Vaynerchuk could see the burning potential of his father’s business. After graduating from college, Vaynerchuk transformed the liquor shop into a retail wine store, which he named the Wine Library. In 2006, he started a daily video blog, Wine Library TV. This hugely popular webcast turned him into an internet celebrity. It attracted 90,000 viewers a day and led to a flurry of TV and speaking engagements. In just six years, Vaynerchuk grew the family business from $1 million a year to a whopping $50 million a year.

Not too bad for a small family business, right?

So, as you can see, traditional marketing has been blown out of the water. We’re no longer restricted to cold calling and setting up meeting after meeting to generate leads and sales. Digital marketing has opened an array of cost-effective avenues for self-promotion and lead generation. Sales are now about leveraging your social networks, engaging with people online and educating.

This is, essentially, the social sales model: (see link below)

Today, the businesses and entrepreneurs that make the most impact on their audiences are role models. They’re trusted advisers who create tribes – powerful online communities that help their brands grow. They educate and provide solutions. They’ve jumped on board the social sales train and embrace the connection economy whole-heartedly. Because if you don’t, you get left behind.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. We must build on this massive sales reform and look to the future. We must become industry ambassadors. We must become thought leaders who engage meaningfully with our followers, share generously of our expertise and regard our audiences not just as leads or dollar signs, but as lifetime partnerships.

Why Stand Out from the Crowd

Solopreneurs are the way of the future. They account for 61% of Australian businesses[1]. And with the advent of freelance sites such as Upwork, 99designs, Freelancer and Airtasker, an increasing number of Australians are freelancing. According to freelance marketplace Elance-oDesk, 30% of the Australian workforce – or 3.7 million people – undertake some sort of freelance work[2].

Digital marketing presents an enormous opportunity for solopreneurs. According to Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, the average person spends two hours a day on the internet. Furthermore, IBM’s Global CEO Study found that CEOs believe social media utilization for customer engagement will increase by 256% over five years. This means social media will become the second-most popular way to engage customers after face-to-face communication.

Social media has created a level playing field. It’s cheap and readily available. You don’t need large amounts of money to build a business. You don’t even need an existing client base – you can start one from scratch online. The internet has given everyone the potential to create a successful solo business.

But there’s a downside to this equal opportunity. Despite the accessibility of social media, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs continue to face is finding leads and retaining clients.

The digital marketplace means you’re competing against everyone else with a business like yours. You can’t simply create a LinkedIn or Facebook account and expect clients to come to you. How will they know you’re there? What makes you stand out? When everyone else is pushing their own unique selling point, what will make people choose you?

In a world where customers have immediate access to information on every kind of business around the world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. To gain that competitive edge, you must create a connection.

Being a solopreneur is not enough. You must bond with your audience by offering more than your products and services alone. You need to educate, lead and gain trust. You need to make a real difference to the lives of your clients.

Position, Position, Position

Positioning is fundamental to creating trust and having influence. It’s more than just creating an image. It’s about owning your space in your industry. It’s about flexing your expertise, starting conversations, changing the game, creating engaging content and enlightening others. It’s about being the go-to expert for peers and clients needing guidance.

And it’s what leads to sales.

When you have a rock-solid positioning, your return on investment is second to none. Digital media and technology company Burst Media’s 2014 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report found that on average, marketers who implemented an Influencer marketing program in 2014 received $6.85 in earned media value for every $1 of paid media.[3] The primary tools used in Influencer marketing were:

Blog posts
Social syndication and branded content distribution
Influencers and influential content

Blogs. Content. Social media. These are indispensable, cost-effective tools if you want to elevate your positioning from business owner to leading industry expert. And they are what will build your audience’s trust in you.

Designing Your Best Work Life

Many people in the corporate world start off with the intention to only work the standard hours yet somewhere along the way, they become completely consumed by a never-ending To Do list. Suddenly they find themselves leading a life that is based on trying to survive rather than thrive. This constantly switched-on mode can start to wear thin very quickly and wear them down just as fast.

I have worked in the corporate world for over 22 years as a consultant for various large companies. I was soon spending so much time and effort in the workplace jumping through hoops and doing whatever it took to climb the corporate ladder that my personal well-being began to suffer greatly.

Each time I planned a well-deserved break, I found myself getting sick. My body soon stopped running on the adrenaline high of corporate life, and my immune systems began operating at critically low levels. Somewhere along the way I had lost my connection to the reason why I was working so hard.

Today I run a successful business that still requires dedication and commitment, but my physical, mental and emotional state is nowhere near where it as when I was in the corporate world. What I learn from this experience is that there is no point having a great job with matching salary if all you are able to do at the end of the day is collapse onto your couch.

So here are my four steps to reconnecting with what is important to you and designing a work schedule that works for you.

STEP 1: CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
Breaking your thought pattern is the first step towards designing your best work schedule. There is so much social pressure to be part of the rat race, and you should analyze whether succumbing to this thought pattern is working for you. Ask yourself these questions:

Are you willing to live on the edge?
Are you willing to substitute happiness for monetary gain?
Do you want to leave behind a legacy?
Do you want to travel and work from wherever you are in the world?

Your answers will form the basis of your blueprint of your ideal work life.

STEP 2: THINK LATERALLY
You have your own unique abilities. Learn how to make them work for you. If you are an accountant and you are crushed with deadlines at the end of each quarter, then plan your life in a way that allows you to work hard during those times and keep normal work hours for the remainder of the year.

The Internet has made traditional jobs much more flexible. If you are a teacher and do not want to be tied to a classroom then consider online teaching. A computer and an Internet connection is all you need. You can design your life around your workload so that you are only working the number of hours you want. Remember, this is your life and you call the shots.

STEP 3: SCHEDULE IN WHAT REALLY COUNTS
There was a time a couple of years ago when I did not schedule a break for 15 months and ended up severely ill. So before you schedule anything else into your calendar, make sure you schedule what really counts first. This includes events that will make a positive difference in your life such as:

Time for yourself to unwind, relax and recharge.
Vacation time. Long breaks should be a minimum of two weeks twice yearly and mini breaks such as weekends away should be scheduled every two months. Studies show that people are more likely to remain happy when they schedule in frequent short holidays than infrequent longer ones.
Family time and date nights.
Time with friends. Schedule the next catch up in before the night is over so that it does not get lost in the work life.

STEP 4: START SMALL AND SLOW
Start the ball rolling slowly so you can easily notice things gaining momentum as you make your schedule work for you. For instance, you could set a goal of winning 10 clients and turning away any extras because you know you do not want to dedicate more hours to work. Dedication to your personal wellbeing and who you are as a person instead is what will guide you towards creating a schedule that works for you rather than against you.

Office Design for Improving Productivity

Sometimes, adding chalkboards and whiteboards can seem handy, but there is more than you can do to improve your office space. Here are just a few office design tips to help improve your overall productivity.

1. Idea Storage

One of the worst things that can happen for creative people is that they have a great idea but do not have anywhere to write it down, and they lose it. There is also the chance that you will end up doing a huge amount of research on a topic that you are not going to use. Whiteboards and notebooks are a great option for writing your ideas down, so you can continue to work on your main task for the day.

2. Remove the Clutter

It is important that you are regularly cleaning your office. Clutter comes from your creative mind working, but it can make focusing and getting your work done difficult. You should make sure that you have enough storage for all your items and that you have access to your most used objects.

3. Bring in Some Nature

We are biological creatures, so we should be spending some amount of time outside every single day. However, being inside all the time has a huge effect on our work. While it would be nice to spend a lot of time outside, for most jobs, this is not really possible. If you cannot take your work outside, why not bring nature to you? Try opening the shades and letting fresh air. This could help you feel more energized and help you get more done. Plants can also be a great option to add to your office, you just have to remember to water it.

4. Table and Chairs

We have all experienced having to sit at a table and having to consistently having to readjust to be comfortable, so we could focus on our work. This is why you should take the time to find a desk and chair that both fits your body and the way that you sit. This can take some adjusting to if you are working on an office where you do not have control over when items are ordered. If you are working at home, try to sit in chairs that you are thinking about buying for around 30 minutes to find out if they are comfortable for you.