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Cross-training has become a common practice in recent years, employers aim to cross-train their employees, athletes push to cross-train their bodies, and studies have shown that cross-training your brain is transformational for your career. Taking time away from your daily work to focus on a hobby or side gig can help remove creative blocks and inspire big ideas. Though the benefits of cross-training your brain are just being realized, the practice of taking time away from your craft to find inspiration is centuries old. Did you know that famous poet Emily Dickinson was an avid baker? She would often retreat to her kitchen and find so much inspiration that she would have to scrawl poems on the backs of her recipes.

Like Dickinson, we all need space to retreat and unlock our creativity. Whether you find inspiration in gardening, running, or in copy editing, practice that passion and you might find your next career breakthrough. If you don’t know what to do for a hobby or side hustle ask yourself these questions:

What am I passionate about? Is there a cause or an activity that stirs you? If you find that training people in the office brings you fulfillment, try tutoring or teaching English as a second language on the side. Fostering your passion can bring added satisfaction to your life in addition to inspiration for your career.

What is my favorite thing to do? Think about your perfect weekend. Imagine that you are sitting at home alone and have nothing to do. What do you choose to do to fill your time? Do you imagine yourself drawing or cooking? Finding a hobby that you love to do is key. It will be easier to motivate yourself to spend time doing an activity that excites you.

What makes your inner child happy? Think back to your childhood and remember what you loved doing. If you spent all your time playing with animals try walking pets or volunteering at the animal shelter. If you loved to ride bikes you might enjoy spinning or cycling. Spend a few days trying these activities and you might be surprised that you still enjoy your favorite childhood pastimes.

Where am I hitting a wall? If you are seeking out a hobby that will help your career, identify what areas you feel that you are facing roadblocks. If you are experiencing creativity blocks, try a hobby that you make something with your hands such as painting. If you feel a lack of motivation, try a hobby that allows you to challenge yourself like rock climbing.

Whether you work as an artist, a teacher, an engineer, or as a personal assistant, nurturing a hobby could be the key to a career breakthrough. The infographic below highlights 8 famous creatives whose side hobbies significantly impacted their careers. If you are struggling to find motivation or need a creative breakthrough, spend some time investing in your interests and see how cross-training your brain can impact your productivity and inspiration.

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It can be hard to make ends meet with your regular 9-5 job, so many people look for side hustles to top up their income with, or they decide to harness their entrepreneurial spirit and start something entirely new that they will be able to take more of a direct profit from. One of the best ideas for an entrepreneurial project as it requires little start-up capital but can reap big rewards is buying a van, and here’s why…

Be A Man (Or A Woman) With A Van

Vans are extremely useful and versatile and are therefore highly sought after by many people for many different reasons. You could hire out your van to people, or you could drive it yourself to help people with various tasks, for example, to move their belongings from one home to another which would be less expensive than hiring a professional removals company for them, and profitable for you. Many people only have a few things to move and therefore look for a smaller company to help them. You could also take people’s belongings to rubbish tips for them if they are having a clear out, or if they’re attempting to declutter their home.

Another service you could offer is the general transport of goods for businesses or individuals. If someone is attending a tradeshow for example, they will need to be able to transport all kinds of kit and products but won’t want to buy a vehicle especially for it, which is where you come in. Lots of companies are looking to cut down on their delivery costs and are therefore outsourcing to individuals with their own vehicles.

Car Boot Sales

Vans are the ideal vehicle when it comes to car boot sales. Car boot sales are a brilliant opportunity to sell any unwanted belongings to a network of regular customers, without any overheads meaning you make a good profit. Having a van would allow you to have a large inventory of stock and you could even offer this service to others; selling their belongings for them for a cut of the profits. Using a van to attend regular car boot sales could fast become a very lucrative business depending on the kinds of products you’re able to find to sell.

Van Insurance

If any of these ideas appeal to you, take a look at some of the vans on offer, buying second hand if possible as you can make a great saving by doing so. Your van doesn’t need to be flashy, but it needs to be reliable and long lasting. Once you’ve found the perfect van, insurance is an absolute must or you could end up losing any profit you make by having to pay in full for any unexpected repairs, as well as getting in trouble with the authorities. There are certain rules when it comes to insurance and using your van for business purposes, so make sure you do your research and get the right insurance plan for you, you can compare van insurance quotes here.

Investing in a van can be one of the best ways to make money quickly, as there are many potential uses for a vehicle of this nature, from a courier service or removals company, to the perfect setting for a car boot sale. Exercising your entrepreneurial spirit can be a very lucrative venture and for tips on how to navigate the world of business once you are part of it, take a look at businesstips.ph and its helpful articles, such as ’Tips for Building and Maintaining Client Relationships’.

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Companies that specialize in delivering goods to vendors and consumers have a unique set of challenges they need to face, particularly when it comes to minimizing financial waste and increasing productivity in order to establish a cost-effective logistics operation in the increasingly competitive industry. Needless to say, achieving this goal will require you to invest in various complementary processes within your company and warehouse in order to boost productivity enough to improve your bottom line.

However, increased productivity doesn’t just benefit your company or the customer, it benefits every actor and relevant party in the supply chain, hence the need to improve productivity as much as possible so that you can retain positive relations with suppliers, manufacturers, and of course, the customers. Here are the five cost-effective ways you can use to raise productivity in your logistics business.

Start with meticulous employee training

Your employees represent the driving force behind your company’s long-term success, so there is a real need to invest heavily in continuous employee training, especially employee onboarding. This will ensure that new team members are up-to-speed with all of the crucial and menial processes in your company, and that they understand their role in the business hierarchy. In turn, this will create a stable foundation of warehouse and transport efficiency.

However, it’s not just about training and educating the new employees for maximum productivity, it’s also about continuously investing in the training of your seasoned staff members to allow them to grow their expertise and careers. This will not only help them become more efficient and effective at their jobs, but also build brand loyalty and help you keep the best-performing team members at your side.

Establish Standard Operating Procedures

A logistics business needs to operate like a well-oiled machine. While it is true that every industry and niche should have room for creativity and improvisation, logistics is a sector that thrives the most on established procedures that have proven to yield the desired results. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t innovate or introduce more efficient solutions, but it does mean that you should establish effective SOPs your employees can follow at all times.

Leave nothing to chance, and instead focus on creating an SOP by:

  • Defining a process and its subprocesses.
  • Mapping out the process from start to finish. 
  • Establishing communication rules for the process.
  • Making it concise and to the point, with easy-to-understand language.
  • Work out the necessary steps and the key actors in each one.
  • Communicate the SOP to your employees and make sure every aspect is understood and adopted.
Automate the transportation process as much as possible

Automation is one of the key supporting pillars of a productive logistics operation, as the technological revolution is rapidly transforming every industry in the world, logistics included. Without automation, managers are required to handle every process in the company manually, which takes time and effort, and invariably leaves room for costly human errors.

This is why logistics companies across the globe have been quick to adopt a cloud-based transport management system into their operation in order to automate everything from rate card calculations, delivery times and routes, faster allocation of various resources, accounting, proof of deliveries, all the way to inventory management in real time. If you’re still handling all of your processes manually, you’re falling behind and losing out on lucrative business opportunities down the road, so make sure to implement cloud-based solutions if you want to establish a competitive advantage and raise productivity across the board.

Establish clear communication standards

Clear, seamless, and effective communication is essential for building a cost-effective and productive logistics operation. Simply put, you and your team members need to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively in order to maintain productivity on a daily basis, resolve emergencies as they arise, and improve your bottom line.

What’s more, effective communication is also important for maintaining your relationships with your industry partners, and ensuring a well-functioning supply chain. Communicating with all partners in your supply chain in an effective way will further solidify your position in the industry and prevent the supply chain from breaking. 

Monitor KPIs and adapt over time

And finally, long-term productivity depends on your ability to monitor supply chain metrics that are relevant to your business, create actionable reports from these insights, and actually invest time and effort into adapting your approach. After all, if you don’t change with the trends and key metrics, you will inevitably fall behind your competitors.

Some of the most important KPIs include:

  • Cash-to-cash time cycle.
  • Freight bill accuracy.
  • Perfect order rate.
  • Days sales outstanding (DSO).
  • Inventory turnover.
  • Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI).
  • On-time shipping.

Tracking these key performance indicators to gain deep insights about your productivity and your brand’s performance in the industry will prove invaluable in shaping your entire growth strategy. 

In closing

Logistics businesses are faced with the threat of increased competitiveness and higher customer demands, which is why companies looking to stay ahead need to improve their productivity on all fronts. Use these solutions to elevate your company’s performance and future-proof your logistics business for years to come.

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Getting business credit might seem like an impossible task if you’ve never applied for funding in the past. Admittedly, it is a lot harder for small business owners or new businesses looking for first time business loans. This is because banks prefer businesses with perfect qualifications. These qualifications are normally based on how long the business has been running, a strong credit score or steady annual revenue.

The simple fact is that small or new businesses are just a lot riskier to lend to. This is due to the fact that 8 out of ten businesses fail within the first 18 months. Saying that, it’s not impossible to get Business Credit. You just have to work a little bit harder to prove that you are responsible enough to have a successful business.

Establish a Business Entity

When you start your business, there are many decisions that you need to make. One of the most important ones being that you need to establish a business entity. Forming a business entity is an important way to protect yourself from liability and save money on taxes. You need to decide on the type of legal structure you have for your company. If you’re concerned with establishing business credit then you’ll need to decide if you’ll be a C Corporation, S Corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

This is not a decision that can be made lightly, so it would probably be a good idea for you to speak to a business expert to help you decide. This decision will affect a huge part of your business, it will have an impact on how much you have to pay in taxes. Not only that though, it will affect the amount of paperwork you need to do, the personal liability you face and your ability to raise money (to get a loan/business credit).

Open a Business Bank Account

This is another important step, as you’ll need to make sure that you keep your business and personal finances separate. You’ll want to make sure that you draw a line between your business and personal expenses. This is so that business credit bureaus can see how much money is being put into your business (and also how much money is being taken out), this will be used to calculate your business credit score.

Having a business bank account will really help you establish business credit. It will also help you in the future, as banks or lenders look for business bank accounts that have been established for at least a couple of years. Those first couple of years will go by really quickly, so it’s important to set up your business bank account as soon as you can. This way you know that you’ve done everything you can to help get business credit.

Get a Business Credit Card or Line of Credit

One of the easiest ways to help fund your business is to get a business credit card or line of credit. If your business is brand new, then you might struggle to get a business loan. Don’t be disheartened though as you can always go to a Business Credit Workshop to help you learn more about what you have to do next.

You can always apply for a business credit card to help you cover day-to-day purchases for your business. You don’t want to buy things for your business on your personal account as this won’t help your business credit. Instead, if you pay for business things on your business credit card, then this will help you establish business credit.

By borrowing and repaying money on time (or early if possible), can really help to establish your business credit. As a start-up company you will probably be thinking that things are tough and to be honest, it probably is tough. But if you stick by it and keep on pushing, then hopefully your business will be successful. Don’t forget though, that even with a brilliant idea and strong work ethic, business owners might struggle with certain things. For example, you might not be able to get the funding that you need, however, here are some tips that might be able to help you.

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Do you have kids who want to start a business? Is your child dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur? Look at these tips on how to start a business with your kid.

Is your child glued on the T.V. or their gadgets all day? These days, it’s hard to keep them off these things because parents can get really busy or need a break, too. If you don’t want them to waste time watching T.V., playing games, or simply being idle, why not help them be productive and teach them how to start a business? Yes, you can help them become successful entrepreneurs in the future. With the following steps, you can help your child learn how to start a business at 12 years old.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.com Help them come up with a business idea

All businesses start as an idea. But with the millions of businesses in the world today, coming up with something unique can sometimes be hard. One of the most common tips for entrepreneurs to be successful is to follow their passion–or, in this case, your child’s passion.

Be it baking, cooking, photography, painting, or other kid-friendly business ideas – turning their passion into a business will help your child have fun and put in more energy in trying to make the business successful. After all, turning their passion into a small business idea is like letting them play and get paid for it.

Who is their target market?

One of the most common mistakes of starting a business is not knowing one’s target market -– even if it’s a child’s business. It would be best to start with the local market such as neighbors, relatives, and friends, who could be willing to support it and give precious feedback. But when things take off, you might want to get into a more targeted market. Find out who else loves your child’s product or service and help him/her learn how to sell it to them.

Photo courtesy of Breakingpic via Pexels.com Make realistic goals that they can achieve

Brainstorm the goals for your child’s business. Provide the necessary items to help get them started. Moreover, it might be a good idea to keep the timeline flexible. A good business plan for kids will help your child stay on track and lessen the stress and pressure of running a business. Don’t forget to have a little celebration every time your child reaches a goal, as a reward for his/her hard work.

Photo courtesy of Rawpixel via Pexels.com Be their first investor

As the parent, wouldn’t it be ideal for you to become your child’s first business investor? This will show young entrepreneurs that you love and support them. In addition, your support and belief in them will surely build their self-confidence. It’s also hard to start your own business with no money since they have no day jobs yet.But if you don’t want to give them the easy way out, there are other ways to create capital for their business. You can organize a garage sale and sell their old toys and clothes. Crowdfunding can also be an option.

Photo courtesy of Rawpixel via Pexels.com Teach them to manage their budget

Speaking of money, starting a business is a great way for kids to learn how to manage their business capital and profit. Without proper guidance, they could find themselves filing for business bankruptcy, sooner than later. There are plenty of online resources you can use to help teach kids about financial literacy.

You can look at Maryville University or the Money Instructor. When they learn the importance of fund management, their chances for success as kid business owners may dramatically increase.

Build their customer service skills

Did you know that businesses lose USD76-billion in the United States from poor customer service? Shocking, isn’t it? That’s why learning how to talk to customers is one of the best business tips of the day. You and your child can practice together and play ‘good cop, bad cop’ to develop his/her customer service skills.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.com Use social media for their business

Social media is a powerful tool that can help grow your child’s business. You can use it for business promotion, taking customer orders and customer engagement. Moreover, you can pay a small amount to promote your child’s business to a wider market. It can also be used to help grow your child’s customer service skills, as feedback from comments and reviews come in. Luckily, there are plenty of resources such as Entrepreneur and Small Biz Online to learn how to start your own business online.

Be their legal counsel

At this point,  your child doesn’t know anything about the technicalities of the law. To avoid unwanted confrontations with the authorities, it might be a good idea to do some research on laws related to your child’s business, such as copyright infringement, health guidelines, and best practices.

You have to be the one to tell them if what they’re doing is right or wrong, according to defined legal mandates. In addition, you might want to register your child’s business with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), since your child barely knows how to start their own business and to avoid possible complications in the future.

Photo courtesy of Rawpixel via Pexels.com Make sure to pay taxes

If you registered your child’s business with the BIR, you’ll have to learn how to pay taxes properly. Knowing the ins and outs of filing business taxes will be beneficial to young entrepreneurs and their business in the future.

Pay it forward

As your child’s business grows, they might become full of themselves. Teach them humility by paying it forward. Take a portion of their profits and help them set up charity events or visit the house of the aged or orphanages. The change in scenery   them appreciate how lucky they are to have a growing business and, hopefully, stay grounded.

Starting a business can be a tall undertaking for children. With good guidance and these handy tips, your child could be on his/ her way to becoming a successful young entrepreneur. Good luck!

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When you’re just starting out as a business owner, it’s perfectly natural to focus all of your expertise and a massive chunk of your budget to gain new clients. You work with sales experts to generate more leads, you woo them in the hopes of signing them up, or you simply strive to make your brand known by more people in your target audience. All of these, and many other goals are noble and perfectly plausible. What’s missing, however, is your effort to build and preserve the existing client relationships for the long haul.

Just to put things in perspective: did you know that acquiring a new client can cost your brand up to five times more than retaining your existing ones? In a similar manner, improving your retention just by 5% can lead to up to a 95% profit increase! These numbers tell a very important story, one that you need to use to your advantage in order to focus and allocate your resources towards the most effective strategies, in this case, retention. Here are a few time-tested ways in which you can improve your bonds with your existing clientele and continue to grow your business!

Transparency should be your policy

Customers know they have a choice. In fact, they have many choices, and they’re not afraid to make them. Shelves are brimming with brands that make the same, mostly vague promises, and the digital world is equally bursting at the seams with experts that present themselves as the best possible option. Customers, however, do not rely only on logic or price, but they choose the brand they’ll be loyal to based on many different things. Among them are your values.

If your target audience is big on sustainability, you need to make sure they know what you are doing to make this world a cleaner, greener place. If they are vested in equal education rights, you need to make sure they know how your business contributes to educating those in impoverished regions. You need a clear, strong voice to achieve this, and you need to be transparent when and if you slip up. This is an opportunity to humanize the face of your brand, to make amends, and to connect with your clients on a much deeper level. That way, they’ll be willing to stay loyal to you even after they’ve seen you make a mistake because you’ve decided to own it.

Business is personal

The ability to make a brand more appealing and more relatable is somewhat of an art form. This is especially complex for brands that only exist in the digital realm, as face-to-face communication with a touch of personalization can tip the scales in your favor immeasurably. Whenever you have the opportunity to go above and beyond to impress your clients – do so. It can even be a small gesture such as handing out promotional products that are useful and carry your logo. This simple act will keep you in their minds, and they’ll feel grateful for your gift.

In fact, you will likely inspire organic word of mouth in this way, since they’ll gladly talk about your brand to people they know, as you’ve treated them with special care and attention. It may be just a branded flash drive or an umbrella from your perspective, but it’s a purposeful, thoughtful present they can put to good use. Throw in a hand-signed thank-you card for their loyalty, and rest assured they’ll be inspired to talk about you and come back to your store, digital or otherwise.

Acting on feedback makes a difference

Businesses often pride themselves on using surveys and similar formats to learn more about the perception of their company. Often used to make sure their employees feel appreciated and that they’ve met their clients’ expectations, these feedback-sourcing methods are useful for many other things, but only when used properly. That means that you need to go beyond simply asking. You need to act on what you’re told in the process.

Modern-day companies have this unique opportunity to continuously track their clients’ preferences. The percentage of opened emails, clicked links, time spent on pages, all of that combined with actual data they share can become useful when you need to take action and change how you do certain things. Analytics tools show you subtle hints that your audience prefers certain kinds of content. Direct questions you ask will reveal actual issues. If you act on them and let your clients know what you’ve done to do better, they’ll know their opinion is valued and your relationship will have a chance to thrive.

Leverage your authority in the industry

Clients like to trust their own issues and their business with companies that have earned their reputation as leaders in their industry. While you may be a new player, you still need to make sure that your voice, presentation, and your promise are in line with that expectation of excellence.

Remember, this is a strategy you use for the long haul, not temporary or immediate results. You can achieve this by posting content of value that educates your clients, by sharing insights with your unique take on trends, and by positioning yourself as an authority in the field. It takes time to develop this image, but if you’re after long-term commitment from your clients, then you need to act in the same spirit and invest in long-term strategies.

Summary

While every business will always dedicate a portion of their funds to client acquisition, focusing on your existing clients is equally vital for your success. Use these tips to give your business a stronger chance, and always do your best to keep your clients happy!  

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On life’s career highway, some people know exactly where they want to go, and take the fastest, most direct route to get there. Many others, however, travel aimlessly, hoping that the street signs along the way and their good instincts will guide them. If this is your career style, is it any wonder that you sometimes feel unsure about whether you are really going in the right direction? In such situations, it may be time to look at where you are, think about where you want to go, and then map out the best route to your chosen destination.

What is Career Success?

Career success depends on who you are and what you want. It may mean climbing the ladder for more prestige and a higher salary. Some people like being leaders; others want variety or the chance to be creative; and some people are happiest when they feel they are doing meaningful work or helping others.

Moving across to a new field, rather than moving up in your present one, may give you greater career satisfaction. And, no matter what you do for a living, a job or career that allows you to balance your work with family, friends or outside interests will nearly always leave you more satisfied with your professional life.

Where are you now?

The easiest way to determine if you are on the right path or not is to ask yourself:

  • Am I happy with my current job?
  • Do I like going to work every day?
  • What do I want?
How did you get there?

If you feel that you would be happier in another job or field, do the following exercise to assess your personal and career history. This will help you to define your skills, interests and values more clearly. Even if you do not want to change your job or field at the moment, these exercises will help you understand which steps you might want to take next in your career.

List your job skills

Having a job title is not enough. Ask yourself exactly what it is that you do in your job. Take a look at different positions you have held, and make a list of your skills: the languages you speak, the software abilities you have, the machines you can use, and so on. In particular, make a list of your “transferable skills” – in other words, those that are not limited to your current job. For example, are you well-organized? Do you work well in a team? Are you able to motivate people?

Identify your interests

Next, think about major achievements in your life, and about how these have given you satisfaction. Include academic areas, sports, hobbies and travel from your childhood up to now. “Our interests can provide a balance to the work we do,” says Ellie Cope, vice president of individual services at Career Development Services in Rochester, New York. “Or they can serve as an engine to drive career choice for us.” Some people, such as artists, professional athletes and entrepreneurs, have turned their passion into a career.

Look at your values

Money is not necessarily the most important reason people go to work; most of us expect some fulfillment. Make an assessment of the things that motivate you at work. Do you want to be in charge? Do you want to help others? Do you want to be creative? “What’s key for people to realize is that work values change over the years,” says Cope. For example, you may place a lot of emphasis on salary and status at the start of your career, but later place higher value on having more time with your family. People may also find their values change when they are out of work or when other personal circumstances change. It’s never too late to start over. “Starting over at 45 or 50 is becoming increasingly common,” Cope explains. “We call it ‘reinventing yourself.'”

Where do you want to go?

After an honest assessment of your skills, interests and values, it is time to do some further career exploration. That’s almost a research project.

There are many possible sources of information. These include the human resources department in your company, career counselors, employment offices, career organizations, books, trade magazines, internet sites, and conversation with people who do the sort of job in which you might be interested.

When you find your dream job – or at least the next step in your career progression – you need to answer a number of more detailed questions. For example: Do I need additional qualifications? Do I need to go back to school to get them? Can I take classes online? Which companies work in my chosen field? Where can I get financing to open my own business?

Plan your route

Now comes the most difficult part: turning theory into reality. Many people write “to do” lists for their daily activities, but very few use this simple method for career planning. Only three percent of the population write down their dreams and goals.

By writing things down, you can turn wishful thinking into action. Be as detailed as possible when deciding what actions you wish to take, and by when you wish to take them. Give yourself a small reward as you complete certain tasks. And remember: your main goal, which may take years to reach, will be easier to reach if you break it up into smaller goals that you can meet on a daily or weekly basis.

Danger! Roadblock ahead!

You now know what you want to do and how to do it, but it is impossible. You are “too old”, you don’t have the time and money to go back to school, or your family will never agree to your plan.

People will always put obstacles in the way first, because they are afraid. You fear the unknown, you fear the time and expense. But if you are at a point where you are really unhappy with the job you have or the work you are doing, then you will find a way to get over those obstacles.

Realistically, very few people can immediately begin a new job, much less a new career. It generally takes years of preparation, often on a part-time basis, to move into another field. To reach your career destination without giving up your present job, you may have to take evening courses, take one workshop after another, or do volunteer work.

Where to get help

If you need help finding out exactly what job or field is the best for you, or if you are afraid that the obstacles are just too big for you to get over on your own, you may want to turn to a professional career expert for advice and assistance.

  • Human resources (or personnel development) experts in large companies can help you develop your career in your firm, or they can provide advice on how to move to another field within your company. The advantages are that their advice is free and your employer may pay for additional training.
  • Career counselors can help you plan and complete changes in your career. They can provide personal assessment, help you to identify your interests, strengths and values, help you to gather information on specific careers and establish networks related to your change. Generally, they have been trained in counseling and career services.
  • Coaches are result-oriented. The coach can identify immediate steps to reach your career goals. If you do not know what you want, the coach can help you to define your goals clearly and to develop an action plan to reach them.
Summary

Career satisfaction and success go hand in hand. Once you know where you want to go, you can take control of your career and steer it in the right direction.

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A hothouse is a heated glass building in which plants that require a warm, constant temperature are grown. Today, the word “hothousing” is often used to describe situations in which special conditions are created to speed up the growth or development of someone or something. For example, one talks about “hothousing ideas” in a workshop. Another example is “hothousing children”, meaning to create an environment in which children develop intellectual, social and other skills at an earlier age than usual.

“Hothousing” is also used to describe a management strategy to business efficiency. The idea is to create a special working environment in certain areas of company in order to improve its services, finances, working relationships and working methods. Managers and workers at all levels are encouraged to find out what problems are preventing efficiency in these areas, and what can be done to solve them. When new ideas have been “hothoused” in one part of the company, they are then “rolled out” to other parts of the business.

“Hothousing” was first proven in retail environments, and has since been deployed successfully across a range of sectors and organisation types. With effective hothousing, teams get swiftly into their creative stride, implement ideas quickly, evaluate effectively, prove concepts and identify areas for improvement – and then iterate. The result is fast-paced, highly productive, high-speed evolution leading to optimal business solutions.

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As times get tougher, selling gets harder. The demands on salespeople are increasing as markets become more and more competitive and complex.

Sales channels are multiplying and fragmenting, with an explosion of Web portals, B2B processes and e-tailing. The pressure on prices is building as business becomes global. Firms everywhere are looking to simplify their processes and improve their customer service. However, the basic principles of selling remain the same. Pre-sales preparation, competitor analysis, prospect ranking and networking are still as essential as ever.

In this article we will examine the five basic steps to selling success and look at the characteristics of effective salespeople. We examine techniques for sales presentations, and give tips for negotiation to help you to close the deal.

Before reading further, think about your answers to the following questions:

  • What are the qualities of a successful salesperson?
  • What are the right questions to ask customers?
  • What are the ways to overcome buyer resistance?
  • What are the most common mistakes made by salespeople?
1. Effective Selling

Here are five key points to help you find sales success:

a) Sell solutions, not features

Don’t sell products, but rather the solutions customers need to do business more effectively. Explain to your prospects how your products meet their needs.

b) Sell to the right people

Identify the prospects who are currently the most profitable. Use networking events to research the market: talk to secretaries, salespeople, assistants, or anyone who connects you to the decision maker. Don’t forget to adapt your sales materials.

c) Sell something unique

Product differentiation is the way to make sure that a customer buys your product and not a competitor’s. Make sure you can offer three unique reasons to buy. But remember: even if your product is faster, less expensive, and of higher quality, you still have to prove it.

d) Sell personally

Print media and direct mail are not enough to sell your product. If possible, talk to your customers personally and show that you know and are interested in their business. Study your customers’ industries, and find out who the main competitors are.

e) Sell twice

The new buzzword is “strategic selling”. This basically means identifying which prospects are potential long-term customers However, don’t ignore your established client base. It is your most valuable asset and can generate new business through follow-up and through word-of-mouth referrals. Concentrate on developing future and referral business with each customer; everything you do must be aimed at the second sale.

2. Key Questions

Here are some key questions often asked by people in sales. Think about your answer to each question:

a) What makes a salesperson successful?

Salespeople, like everyone else, differ in their characters. Some are quiet; others are extroverted and enthusiastic. However, they all need certain basic qualities, which include knowing how to listen, knowing when to be assertive, and knowing when to empathize.

b) What are the ways to overcome buyer resistance?

Write down the five most common objections that buyers raise. Then write down how you will counter these objections. Practise these arguments until they seem natural and easy.

Remember that the reason many people don’t buy is that they are afraid of making the wrong decision. Effective sellers can take away that fear through reassurance. One simple technique is the so-called fallback offer. When the first offer is rejected, a second offer is made that is usually smaller in scope and reduced in price. In this way, customers may instinctively feel they are getting a good deal.

c) How important is it to ask questions?

It is important not just to ask questions, but to ask the right ones.

  • Asking to get facts. You need information, but be careful! Nobody enjoys an interrogation, and prospects are likely to get bored quickly.
  • Asking about problems. Prospects usually need to recognize a problem with their existing situation before they decide to buy. Learn how they feel and discover the solution they would like. If your buyers don’t think they have a problem, questions might be used to develop a need.
  • Asking about costs. Use questions to make prospects realize the cost of not solving a problem. If you can show prospects the negative consequences of ignoring the problem, you improve your chances of convincing them to buy.
  • Asking to create understanding. Use questions also to help prospects to realize the value of your solution.
3. The Sales Presentation

Here are some ideas to give your sales pitch the “wow factor”:

a) Build rapport

Before discussing business, build rapport with your prospect. Don’t forget you are doing business with a real person.

b) Make your pitch interactive

Think of questions to ask that involve people and also help you to understand your customer’s reactions and needs.

c) Learn to listen

A salesperson who talks too much may bore the prospect and lose the sale. You should be listening at least 50 per cent of the time. Demonstrate your attention by writing down your customer’s needs, objections, etc. as they come up.

d) Be honest

Acknowledge any gaps in your solution, but identify how you can compensate for those gaps to create even better value for the client.

e) Include special incentives

Provide your prospect with incentives, for example, “Buy now and get one free!”. Also, offer guarantees: “If you are not happy, we will redo it at our expense.”

f) Close with choices

Don’t back your prospect into a corner with a take-it-or-leave-it style of presentation.

4. Telesales Techniques

Selling by telephone plays an essential role in many organizations. However, telesellers have a particularly difficult task, as the clients often have little time or do not wish to hear yet another pitch. Here are some ideas for those needing to warm up their cold calls.

a) Prepare yourself well

Selling in situation where you can not see your prospects offers particular challenges. If at all possible, prepare for your telephone call by sending e-mails to your business partner in order to establish and agree on an agenda. Prepare what you want to say and think about how you will deal with any lack of enthusiasm. Call during “positive” times: mornings or early afternoons are best, but never call on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons.

b) Be polite and keep it simple

Politeness never hurt anyone. Asking “Are you free at the moment?” can help to build responsiveness in the listener and save you from wasting your time. Use simple language to engage your business partner.

c) Manage your voice

Successful selling means projecting confidence, personality and authority through the tone of your voice. This means managing the speed and intensity of your comments, as well as the level of pleasure, satisfaction or enthusiasm that you show. If you are doing well, you will hear it in your conversation partner’s tone of voice.

d) Getting past “I am not interested”

Psychologically, try to enjoy the moment you hear “I am not interested”. This is an opportunity for you to show what you can do. Never fight objections. Instead try thanking the person or dealing openly with any concerns: “Thanks for sharing that with me” or “I understand that you may be a little hesitant”. The listener may be surprised and be prepared to talk to you a little longer. Explain again the value of your offer so that the other person does not feel that you are trying to “out-argue” the objection. Don’t forget that rejection is nothing personal. It is just a part of sales life. The ability to pick oneself up and move to the next prospect is the sign of a true professional

e) Closing

Getting to “yes” can involve considerable negotiating skills (see below). Once you have reached an agreement, take the time to summarize the main points of the conversation and confirm the deal. Clarify the next steps and take responsibility to document everything by e-mail within 24 hours. Even if your sales call was unsuccessful, send an e-mail thanking your business partner for the time taken and interest shown.

5. Negotiating Skills

At some point in the selling process, your negotiation skills will be required. Successful selling depends on your ability to convince people to buy at a price that you, as the seller, are happy with.

However, it is extremely difficult to identify persuasive principles that are successful in all sales contexts. A lot depends on context. Is it a first sale or follow-up business? Is the climate friendly or aggressive? Are you selling strategically or for short-term gain?

Success in persuading others depends on two main factors: market power and communication style. Although power can sometimes lie with the seller, more often it is the buyer who holds the trump cards. In this case, you must know the market and your competitors’ position to understand your basis for negotiation.

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Regular maintenance of your warehouse should be a central part of the company’s safety practices. The below infographic from The Cleaning Services Group lays out a helpful guide and checklist to help make warehouse cleaning a breeze.

Finding Time To Clean

To keep your warehouse or distribution centre spic-and-span, it’s essential to establish a consistent cleaning schedule. Allocate time at the end of each day so all employees can tidy up. In addition to daily cleans, you will also need to schedule time for regular deep cleans. To minimise time wastage, ensure that all employees have access to the necessary cleaning equipment and supplies.

How To Make Cleaning A Priority

Warehouses can be hectic places and it can be tricky to prioritise cleaning when there are so many other urgent tasks to be taken care of. So how can you ensure that cleaning and maintenance gets the attention they deserve? The secret to keeping a warehouse well-maintained is that all team members take pride in their workplace and are proactive about tackling mess as it occurs. So, it’s key to ensure that the importance of cleaning is engrained in staff through relevant training.

Cleaning Helps Uphold Good Health And Safety

A clean warehouse creates a safe place for warehouse employees resulting in fewer injuries and accidents. Regular cleaning also helps to create a healthier atmosphere by reducing dust levels and lowering the risk of vermin. This will help boost productivity as healthy employees are likely to take fewer sick days.

Cleaning Boosts Efficiency

A clean working environment will make it easier to locate equipment and supplies, thereby directly increasing productivity. What’s more, keeping equipment in a clean environment will extend their lifetime there will be less of a risk of accidents and metal corrosion. Thirdly, a well-maintained warehouse provides more precise inventory levels, resulting in greater efficiency and lower operating costs.

Cleaning Helps Maintain A Squeaky-Clean Reputation

“Cleanliness is the hallmark of perfect standards and the best quality inspector is the conscience.” – J.R.D. Tata, Aviator & Entrepreneur

Your workspace speaks volumes about your company culture. A clean warehouse tells visiting clients that you are diligent and pay attention to detail, whereas a dirty and cluttered space may put off prospective customers.

Get Your Free Warehouse Cleaning Checklist

Scroll down to the infographic below to get a free cleaning checklist to help you stay on top of your cleaning on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

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