How to Shop for a Coworking Space
1 December

How to Shop for a Coworking Space

If your current office is the corner coffee shop and you’re thinking of ways to improve your workspace without breaking your budget, you’ve likely considered trying a coworking space. You’re not alone. Coworking spaces are on the rise, and for good reason: they are flexible and affordable without compromising the necessities and functionality of a professional workspace. Beyond the practicalities behind them, let’s face it, coworking spaces are a lot more professional to present as your home base than your local barista.

Taking the leap and moving your business into a shared office environment has a multitude of benefits. Since most spaces today offer a wide range of amenities, space availability, and membership options, it’s easy to find a great space for you without breaking the bank. Imagine having access to flexible work hours, essential technology, and impressive spaces for those all-important client meetings and business conferences – without the high cost of a traditional brick-and-mortar lease. That is the appeal of the coworking space movement today.

Shopping for the Right Coworking Space

So, you’re sold on the idea of moving out of your local café and into a more professional workspace; how do you go about shopping for the right space? The best way you can find the perfect solution for your entrepreneurial needs is by taking stock of what those needs actually are. Before you can choose a space that works for you, you should have a good understanding of what it is you need from your space.

Take a look at your daily routines and make note of what items you use most and what items seem to be lacking. This will give you a good idea of the type of amenities you will want from a coworking space as well as help you figure out any potential problem areas. Keep in mind what hours you like to work and the frequency with which you meet with clients to determine the caliber of availability you will need from a communal meeting room or private work area.

Things to Consider

Once you have a good idea of what you need from your space, it’s time to consider any additional criteria that will optimize your work environment. These are things that will determine how well-suited a potential shared workspace is for you, such as its location or how well it fits within your budget. Some of these factors will be much more critical than others, so be sure to rank them accordingly when comparing them to what’s available in your area.

Give it a Try

If you think you’ve located a coworking space that’s perfect for you, but you’re hesitant to make the plunge, explore the membership options available. Many communal workspaces today offer fantastic trial offers and other flexible options that allow members to give things a try without any form of long-term commitment. Utilizing spaces that offer trial periods or month-to-month memberships can eliminate the financial anxiety of larger annual obligations by giving you the chance to walk away from them at any time if you find they don’t work with your needs or your budget.

 

 

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line
15 November

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

Whether you’re a new business owner or a veteran staple in your market, business owners share one major concern: how to increase their bottom line. Let’s face it, the point of being in business is to turn a profit, so naturally, finding ways to increase that profit would be a prime topic of discussion, yes?

Traditional Means

Many business owners are familiar with the concept of spending money to make money – it’s Business 101. More often than not, business owners need to invest funds into proper areas (marketing, staffing, office space, products and services are just a few of these) in order to boost their sales. These are considered the traditional means of boosting strategies, but they are not the only ways to achieve a bottom-line bump.

Non-Traditional Means

It may surprise you to know there are actually ways new business owners (and even veteran business owners) can improve their bottom line without spending a single dime. Yes, you read that right – there are ways to fatten your pockets without thinning them first. How? Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known, non-traditional means of increasing your bottom line.

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

“Getting over that seven-figure (revenue) hump is often an indicator that your business has longevity to it. But getting there can be tricky, stressful, and time-consuming,” writes Forbes.com.

Learning how to get to that pivotal revenue point boils down to initiating successful profit-boosting strategies. It’s also about minimizing the outflow of cash needed to implement these strategies since without minimization, the profit boost can be negated. Not to mention, it’s tough to let go of funds when you’re trying to increase them.

Tweak Your Online Marketing Strategies

One of the easiest ways to add to your profit margin is by pairing up with other local businesses or related products and services. Essentially, by including promoted products or reviews via a link inside your existing digital marketing strategies can bring about extra cash flow. How? It’s what’s described by Forbes as Affiliate Marketing and means that by utilizing links within your website for other products, your business can earn funds each time your customers follow the link.

Utilize Your Email Lists

Another completely free asset you can use to boost profits? Your email lists. As advanced as digital technology is today, it’s easy peasy to set up automatic emails to your customer base that will entice them to visit your site. Don’t let your customer contact lists sit dormant, use them to promote your business by way of sharing blog posts, upcoming events, and even set special VIP sales as appreciation for those on your current list.

Initialize Semi-Annual Audits

Simple as it sounds, one of the best ways to boost profit margins is by cutting your expenses. Make it a priority to go through your budget a few times a year and make sure you’re only sticking with the things you need for your business. If certain areas are no longer working, don’t be afraid to cut them before they eat up more of your existing budget. Also, be sure to take stock of all of your material items and products, to ensure you’re not continually pouring out funds for items that have very little benefit to you.

Overall, the best tricks you can utilize to keep increasing your profit are ones that make the most of your existing resources. Be sure to maximize your budget and audit yourself frequently, as well as continuing usage on all of your available (and free) assets.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting Your Own Business
1 November

The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting Your Own Business

When you’re working on a plan to begin your own business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with concepts like budgets, marketing schemes, and investment opportunities among other things. It can be extremely taxing and confusing and sometimes you may want to throw in the towel. We hear you. Just breathe and try to simplify things a tad with some basic do’s and don’ts of starting your own business.

Starting a Business

Chances are, if you’re in the process of starting your own business, you’ve practically buried yourself in researching how to make it successful. With so much information out there, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and forget some of the most basic business essentials. Don’t fret, however, these aren’t another list of things to keep on your “to-do” list, but rather, a reminder of how to tweak your approaches to get the most out of your new business.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting Your Own Business

Rather than focusing on the details, sometimes the best thing you can do is to keep the big picture in mind. The best way to do that is to remain flexible in your approach and try to avoid closed-minded thinking. What do we mean? Always stay vigilant and observant as you try different tactics – if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to cut ties and try a new approach.

“Being flexible can make the difference between growing and stagnating,” explains Forbes.com. As such, keeping the following do’s and don’ts in mind should help you through the process of starting your own business:

The Most Important Do’s

While there are business plan protocols out there that help you learn every step of how to start a business, making it a successful one is up to you. Thankfully, there are a few “do’s” you can incorporate into your plan to help ensure you have the best shot at success.

What is the most important thing you can do? Utilize the help and knowledge of colleagues and friends. Having a solid (and diverse) set of acquaintances as resources and support will greatly improve your chances of success. Try asking old bosses, coworkers, friends, or other professionals in the same field for their invaluable input on your journey. Need ideas or inspiration? Coworking spaces can put you in touch with professionals from all walks of careers and can be an amazing resource for beginning business owners.

Other do’s to keep in mind:

  • Place primary focus on your investment pitch to ensure you give yourself the best chance at primo opportunities
  • Make contingency plans to have a backup in case critical components are shot down (this plays in to the whole “be flexible” part we mentioned earlier)
  • Be digital to be seen and know that a large part of a business’s success today boils down to creative networking both on and off-line

The Most Important Don’ts

Just as there are things to do when you’re starting your own business, there are also things you should not do. Perhaps the most important of these “don’ts” is to ensure you don’t act impulsively. Forbes.com stresses that new business owners should never make a business decision out of haste or on a whim – instead, be sure to thoroughly research before you make any business decisions.

Other don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Never give up on your goals. Understand you will likely face a lot of rejection in the process, but it only takes a single “yes” to get the ball rolling, so keep at it.
  • Don’t assume you’re the underdog. While you may be a new business owner, you’ve done your homework and are a force to be reckoned with so don’t let others intimidate you.
  • Don’t accept things at face value. You will need to look deeper at every angle, and never accept things as they appear at first – this includes investment opportunities.
Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses
15 October

Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses

You may think holiday marketing doesn’t apply to your particular business niche, but the truth is, seasonal planning is for all businesses, no matter the goods or services provided. If your business is hand-crafted toys or candies, it’s quite obvious the holiday season is peak time for sales, but it’s also the same for practically every other form of business out there.

Know Your Angle

If you’re struggling to come up with an angle for your seasonal strategies, start by looking at your books. Find out what your customers have been interested in the most and use that information to anticipate what they may be needing shortly.

Remember that holiday planning isn’t all about retail sales and shopping. Consumers also have needs for specific services, practical items, and unique finds as well. Figure out what you can offer them and plan to highlight that for your campaign.

Begin to Prepare

Understanding that seasonal planning begins well before the holiday season begins, is the most important aspect of your process. It’s recommended to begin your planning months in advance – some even beginning as early as mid-summer. Why?

By allowing yourself ample time to research your top performers, study customer habits, and brainstorm with your team members for campaign ideas, you’ll give yourself the best chance at a highly successful campaign. You should always allow plenty of time for changes, new ideas and stocking any necessary supplies for the season.

Take Stock

Seasonal planning is more than simply finding the greatest marketing campaign to put out there this year. It also entails making sure you are fully stocked on any anticipated items, well-staffed for an influx of customers, and prepared for all your basic needs as well. How do you do this?

Start by taking inventory on your stock. Determine what items you’ll need to order if you are in the retail business. Plan for any additional stock items like shopping bags, receipt paper, shipping supplies for online orders, and any seasonal items like specialty flavors of coffee or printed fliers to hand out at purchase time.

Plan Your Schedule in Advance

Another key seasonal planning step is to make sure you are fully staffed to cover any potential increase in customer activity. It can help to make up schedules well in advance to allow employees time to plan for working hours around the holidays, as well as note any potential scheduling issues before they become problematic down the road.

Get Festive

Even if you’re not big into the holiday scene, getting festive at work is part of the seasonal planning process and your customers (as well as employees) will appreciate the gesture. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this – from simple decorations to planning events for employees and/or clients.

If you need ideas on how to get festive, include your team members in a brainstorming session to get their input – this is especially helpful in coworking spaces where members come from all walks of business (and all walks of ideas!). Not a coworking space? No problem – do some online research on local events to see what fun things are going on around you that you could include in your seasonal planning.

The best thing you can do is understand that seasonal planning takes time, and it’s not something you want to miss out on. Start planning early and get those festive ideas flowing to set your plan in motion!

Why You Should Have Already Begun Your Seasonal Planning
1 October

Why You Should Have Already Begun Your Seasonal Planning

It may seem like Summer is still lingering on (and in some cases, that’s quite true), but like it or not, the holiday season is just around the corner. Though it probably feels strange to be thinking about Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas decorations when it’s still warm enough for that swim suit, now is actually the perfect time to go full-swing into your seasonal planning.

Holiday Seasonal Planning, No Matter the Reason

Whether your business is full-blown retail toys or a small research firm with a streamlined consumer base, you need to prepare for the holiday season. No matter what service or product you have to offer, there’s a holiday angle for you to help drive seasonal business and you need to be planning for it – yesterday.

Why You Should Care

If you think your specific firm or business is unaffected by the holiday influx, we’re here to tell you you’re wrong. Since the holiday season is “the main time of year when people are out buying products and services not for themselves, but for other people,” Forbes.com explains it’s the prime opportunity for businesses of all walks to grasp their share of the shopping season.

Since gift-buying is vast and diverse (Santa doesn’t just deliver toys nowadays), finding ways to market your own business during this time is essential to grasping the best possible outcome. Shoppers love to find the “It” item of the season and are always on the lookout for the most unique items, so don’t be afraid to market your products and services no matter how unorthodox they may seem for the holidays.

Find Your Niche

By looking at your history, you should be able to find a pattern of top sellers and items or services that have peaked the most interest with your customer base. If you’ve never focused on seasonal planning before, start with your top sellers and run a campaign focusing on them as a starting point.

While you’re examining your historical sales, you can also familiarize yourself with customer-specific purchases. This will allow you to tailor discounts and offers to your clients, based entirely on their personalized needs and gives them an attentive message about you as a business.

Why So Early?

You may wonder why it’s such an important time to begin holiday planning, being fresh off the heels of summer. We’ll tell you why. Early planning allows for a seamless transition into the biggest spending season of the year, and it gets your customers thinking about how they want to spend their funds ahead of the season.

By strategically planning your holiday marketing campaigns, you will be planting ideas into the minds of your consumers, allowing them to prepare for how they’ll be shopping that season.

There’s also another important aspect to keep in mind: online sales. Since we are seeing a major shift toward online shopping in recent years, earlier seasonal planning allows consumers to use their favorite medium to shop (i.e., online shopping) while still allowing ample time for shipping before the holidays.

Holiday Strategies

If you’re looking for a unique spin on your holiday planning, try looking at what is available in your area. Perhaps you could do a collaborative work with a related company (think discount party catering with office rental space promos for corporate Christmas parties) or offer certain charitable donations to area shelters or fundraisers with a portion of their funds.

There are endless ways to market your goods and services for the holiday season – the key is to find the right angle for you and figure out what motivates your customer base. Above all, the most important thing you can do for your holiday planning is to begin now.

 

Improved Productivity: Making Your Workspace Work for You
15 September

Improved Productivity: Making Your Workspace Work for You

Practically everyone in the working world is familiar with the concept of improved productivity. The phrase is tossed around by employers everywhere and is often considered one of the most coveted assets.

Whether you’re being encouraged by your boss to improve productivity in your work place, or you’re a self-employed entrepreneur looking for a productive boost, workplace productivity has likely entered your vernacular on more than a few occasions. So just how do you go about achieving this boost?

“Workplace productivity isn’t about getting from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time… Your personal workspace is one of the most overlooked factors that affect productivity,” explains Jamie Fertsch, Director and Co-Founder of XDesk, via an interview with BusinessNewsDaily.com.

Improved Productivity Starts in Your Workspace

Increasing your productivity is a much larger picture than simply churning out projects and tasks in shorter time. There are many factors involved in reaching optimal productiveness, and it’s easy to get stressed out trying to keep up if any of these factors are out of whack.

In fact, according to Fertsch, the first step in becoming more productive should lie within the spaces closest to you during working hours: your workspace. By tackling a few simple things within your work area, you can cut stressors and increase productivity simultaneously.

Staying Organized

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the most important step to streamlining your workspace is to stay organized. Keeping files in optimal order with clear labels will help save time and frustration when searching for items later.

Beyond the obvious filing, you’ll want to cut down on any unnecessary items within your space that take up room. A junk drawer or odd knick-knacks that cover your spaces or clutter your drawers can detract from potential workspace optimization. They also serve to add tension and crowd movement and free-thinking by adding stress.

Give Yourself Space

Once you’ve got your space optimally organized and decluttered, make sure you give yourself space as well. Sometimes when working, our minds can become too overloaded to efficiently finish a task or train of thought.

Fertsch recommends that you allow for ample break times and changes of pace. If you feel you’ve reached a wall, get up and take a breather. Go for a quick walk, spend 5 minutes outside or chatting with a coworker to reset your mind and then come back to your task to try again.

“Productivity is not directly correlated with time spent on a task… it’s important to make sure that you’re recalibrating and refueling every once and a while,” Fertsch explains.

Give Your Tech Items a Space

One of the greatest detractors of productivity is our beloved tech gadgets. The ping of a new email or ring of a new text message is often too powerful to ignore. While we understand there are times when we truly need to have up-to-the-minute notifications for things, let’s be honest, most times those items can stand to wait until we’re ready to answer them.

Designating a space in your work area to keep tech gadgets stored until you’re ready to check them can help increase productivity big time. Make sure the volume is off and place phones, tablets, smart watches, etc. in an area that’s out of view to keep you on track without unnecessary distractions.

Consider a New Workspace

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your productivity is a change of scenery. Coworking spaces offer a great way to maximize your space and get the most out of your work day. How?

Since coworking spaces offer a community setting with professionals from all walks of business, you’re essentially giving yourself a never-ending supply of networking and communication opportunities to bounce ideas off of during those productivity slumps.

Another bonus? Most coworking spaces offer a level of flexibility not seen by traditional workspaces, making it easy to come and go as you need in order to maximize that productivity!