How Can Technology Improve Event Management Efficiency

Events, conferences, and meetings are becoming increasingly detailed experiences. And event managers are searching for modern solutions that will help them to keep up with the heightened expectations of attendees. They’re also finding new technologies that can help them overcome the ever-present issues of doing more work while being time-pressed and having a low-budget.

As such, event planners are using more and more innovative event management technologies to assist them in their work, and for a good reason. According to studies, event technology adoption can increase productivity by 27%, increase attendance by 20% and decrease event costs by as much as 30%.

All these innovations changed the landscape in which the industry leaders are inundated by new technologies and products on a day-to-day basis. Everyone is wondering where technology is going next and which investment will create the most ROI.

In this article, we will explain about new and old event technologies that will certainly have an impact on attendees and industry professionals alike.

Using big data

In the last few years, big data has become a hot topic in discussions. Gathering and interpreting huge amounts of information was never easier. But big data is most useful when used in the right way.

For instance, event managers can utilize Google Analytics to find out which online campaigns were most successful for influencing registrations or which were most discussed on social media.

There are also innovative options of tracking movements of attendees through Wi-Fi, iBeacons, GPS or low-energy Bluetooth to see which events they’re visiting. Or, event managers can send out surveys or second-screen solutions to find out the feelings and actions of attendees before, during and after the event. There also available platforms for acquiring and analyzing real-time data to see in which events are attendees and sponsors most interested.

Managing Attendees

Marking late arrivals and managing visitors time of arrival was never easier. New technologies can improve the management of attendees, their time of arrival, entry points and time of leaving the event.

Innovative visitor management app allows you to receive live notifications about your visitor’s time of arrival. These notifications include useful information such as the visitors’ contact details and photo, while other notifications, either through an Email or SMS, give you the ability to sign out visitor once they leave the event. Its benefits are obvious – visitors get to enjoy the reduced wait time and fast and efficient greeting on arrival.

Some of these apps even include VIP and Security Alerts. You get to highlight certain individuals as VIP’s and receive notifications about their arrival in real time. With these new technologies, it becomes much easier to see who is on site and when. Your staff will have an easier time to administer visitors in a more efficient manner.

Mapping Projections

Projections mapping is about creating an augmented reality experience through using projectors. While usual projectors cast pictures on flat screens, with projection mapping you have the option of projecting light onto any surface imaginable and turn everyday building and structures into 3D interactive displays.

This technology enables event managers to add beautiful transformational design elements into any space they would like. From stages to cars to landmarks, this innovative visual technology creates an efficient and cost-effective way to create optical illusions in any event location possible.

Since there are no clear boundaries of what you can do with project mapping, event managers are able to stretch their imagination and create inventive modern displays. Whether it’s a social media wall, a map of convention booths or an interactive art display, the technology is flexible enough to create a variety of displays – that can be used everywhere, from meeting and conferences to concerts and parties.

Increased Networking Capabilities

Social media can be applied to many fields of event managing. Social media makes it simpler for attendees to share their feelings of an event, while event managers can receive feedback from attendees more efficiently. Thus, you can use social media as a feedback system for improving future events.

Besides this, social media marketing is a great way of advertising any event. With social media people around the globe can be easily reached, a task that would be impossible without it and the Internet. Attendees are also able to share the event with other people, creating an almost free advertising platform.

You can also use email marketing for event promotion. When email marketing is combined with marketing automation, you have the option of sending more personalized emails about the event to attendees.

 

Event management technologies can save time, money and efforts of event managers while enhancing the experience of attendees. Your work requires fewer efforts thus giving you time to focus on the core part of the event. These technologies can help with all aspects of event managing from managing the attendees time of arrival, their satisfaction levels to receiving proper feedback, so make sure to test at least some of them for your next event.

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How Can Technology Impact HR Practices?

The advent of digitalization and smartphone usage has impacted every department in every company. This also includes human resources. Outsourcing work is becoming the norm instead of just being innovation and the role of an HR department changed accordingly. The 2019 HCM Trend report, developed by leading HR market analysts, states that global HR technology venture capital was increased to $3.1 billion this year, tripling the cash invested in 2017.

As new HR technology solutions emerge, there is a certain tech boom on the rise that is transforming the way we do the job and our opinions about HR. This impact is twofold. Firstly, it’s shifting the attention of HR managers from managing the workforce to driving profits for the business. And secondly, it offers various tools for better management and engagement of talents in the company.

Mobile Apps are coming

The real Internet revolution came with smartphones, not with desktop computers. And mobiles will probably dominate the HR landscape this year. As more workers across different departments seek access to applications via smartphones, businesses are reshaping their HR system to better accommodate this. For this type of functionally to work, companies must consider HR applications with the mobilization process and the interface the workers are searching for.

Additionally, we can see new trends appearing such as applications that streamline the basic work of HR departments. Nowadays smartphone apps are a must for every application a business develops.

Analytics are making performance management better

Performance management – one of the crucial HR functions. HR professionals have been for long driven this process by monitoring performance, regularly reviewing employees and collecting supervisory feedback. Now, technology enables a streamlined process that eliminates unwanted steps. But the next big boom is coming with a data-driven performance management process.

We will see a fast and widespread adoption of people analytics that will help the HR department with making decisions about the workforce. This raw data from analytics can be utilized to build actionable insights and to support the decision making about compensations, promotions, developments, success plans and to create agile cross-functional team staffs.

HR will able to apply analytics to sentiment data gathered from thousands of interactions between workers and managers as a part of the performance management process. By analyzing such sentiment data HR will be able to create ample opportunities for coaching and enable managers and workers to increase their performance.

Helps with organizing business events

Gone are the days of manually organizing business parties and events. Nowadays technology is starting to help with even mundane tasks such as organizing a business event. Numerous event ticketing platforms offer tools that simplify the running of events and community building.

These platforms make from your event a singular experience, guide you throughout the whole process, from checking in, to on-event activities, to post-event analysis. They ease the process of event organizing allowing you to do it faster and better so you can focus on the other aspects of your business.

Social media is changing the game

Social media is playing a more active role in HR nowadays, particularly when it comes to recruitment. A quarter of companies are utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn for recruitment. These platforms can not only be used for recruitment, but also for worker engagement. They’re also being assessed as a fundamental source for businesses to reach their HR goals.

Companies can use social media platforms to reach a target audience for job postings or other company related information. Some enterprises are even known to share their company’s success story through posts, photos, and blog posts. Vice versa, job seekers actively research companies on these platforms while searching for work.

Social media enables numerous benefits for an HR department and lets them be in touch with emerging trends, news, and technologies. They can be used as a medium for relationship nurturing when you share industry knowledge on them. Aforementioned reasons have made from these channels an ideal place to engage employees, nurture relationships and increase communication in the workplace. Many businesses are thinking about the integration of these platforms with their applications, instead of developing their own enterprise apps.

New trends and technologies will play a vital role in reshaping human resources management software and operations from managing personnel to business execution, but they won’t start it. HR managers must be the ones to leverage and scale this technology in order to drive real values for the company.

Digital technologies will facilitate greater degree of flexibility and integration, hence allowing workers a bigger voice to share their work experience. They may also disrupt human resources and redefine their future development. The HR who accommodate to these changes more quickly will enable their companies to become smarter and bigger. Culture management and employee engagement will be the factors that will drive HR in this ever-changing landscape.

How to Keep Your Business Premises Secure

Nowadays, when the topic of keeping one’s business safe is brought up, the majority of people think about protecting their enterprise in the digital environment. However, what about office materials and supplies, the safety of your office employees, confidential information stacked on office desks and corporate cars parked outside during the night? In retail, substantial amounts of money are stacked inside, which makes it all into a valuable target for thieves, burglars and other malicious third-parties. All in all, keeping your business premises secure is far from simple, yet, there are more than a couple of ways in which you can do so. Here are six of them.

Keep the surroundings tidy and well-illuminated

The vast majority of burglars are likely to attempt breaching your premises during the night and to do so, they’ll use landscape to sneak up. By keeping the surroundings of the office tidy enough and well-illuminated, you’ll make the environment itself act as a powerful deterrent. The very idea that they can be seen approaching the place from miles away may be enough to sway some potential burglars. Also, keep in mind that any debris or ill-placed landscaping element might serve as a temporary cover. Therefore, try some strategic planning when organizing your premises.

Invest in the monitoring system

The next thing you need is a reliable security system. This ranges from a surveillance system all the way to your locks and alarms. First of all, the very existence of a surveillance system is a deterrent. Second, it provides you with evidence that you can use, later on, in court. Third, it has more than anti-burglary uses. This way, you can also check who and when came to visit your premises, which is incredibly important for your visitor system (something we’ll discuss a bit later). Make sure to find a reliable alarm monitoring system in order to keep your premises safe and sound at all times.

Work on your visitor system

Even in a fictional scenario where you can trust your staff with 100 percent certainty (which is never the case), you need to understand that visitors still pose a substantial threat. Therefore, you need to write a visitor access policy and come up with a system that should allow you to carefully monitor them every step of the way. You can start by handing them out name tags or safety vests, not just for their safety but also so that they can be spotted from a mile away. Even better, they need to be escorted by an employee while on the premises. This employee is there to guide them through all the areas that they have access to. Namely, this is probably the only way for you and a visitor to be completely safe.

Focus on entry points

The most logical step in securing your premises lies in making sure your entry points are properly organized. Generally speaking, every business needs to have a checkpoint (other than emergency exit) through which every visitor and employee needs to pass on the way to their post. Most commonly, you’ll place the receptionist on the entry, as well as hire a security guard. The routine checkup that every visitor has to undergo depends on your personal decision. Just keep in mind that you still want visitors to feel welcome, so turning your premises into a fortress might be a bad idea. Therefore, you need to find a suitable compromise which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.  

Safeguard important equipment and data

When it comes to protecting your company’s most important assets, equipment and data security is crucial. Not all of your workplace should be off limits but there are some areas where this would be a smart idea. A storage, records room and conference room should be off-limits to visitors. In fact, even your own staff might have limited access to these areas. Sure, distrusting your own workforce is a bad business practice, but we shouldn’t pretend, even for a second, that employee theft isn’t a real threat. Keep in mind that where there’s a valuable asset, there’s a basis for temptation and you can only research so much during your vetting process.

Be careful what you announce in public

Some businesses prefer to take photos of their premises and upload them on their website, which is a sound strategy, yet, not always a wise one. You see, giving people a chance to do a survey of your office and its surrounding without any effort is generally a bad practice. Second, if your office is undergoing works, which is something that might cause a lapse in its security, the last thing you want to do is announce this publicly on social networks. Sure, you need to notify your clients and partners, but try to keep this list on a need-to-know basis.

Conclusion

At the very end, you need to understand that there are so many different factors that go into keeping your business safe. Sadly, it takes a lapse on a single front for this entire system to collapse. Therefore, you need to be thorough, systemic and take a comprehensive approach that allows for future upgrades.

5 Ways to Inspire Greater Employee Loyalty

Every business owner knows that in order to grow their company, they need to invest in all aspects of their business. From innovative marketing efforts, clever content ideas and stellar social media strategies all the way to product and service updates, every modern brand focuses on constant evolution in order to gain more momentum and remain relevant in its industry. However, one particular aspect of your brand growth pushes more managers to look inward for smart solutions: because happy employees translate to a strong brand that attracts loyal customers.

A portion of your corporate efforts should focus on keeping your employees engaged, inspired, and above all, happy. The following are some of the most effective ways to achieve just that, so make them your 2019 priorities in order to see your business flourish!

Seek out and act on feedback

There has been so much buzz around looking for regular feedback from your customers that most brand owners have neglected to implement the very same principle inside their own walls, physical or otherwise. No matter if you work in a digital office or you have a physical one where you see your employees daily, their opinions should be heard regularly and you need to act on them as often as possible.

It’s not enough to just conduct surveys or have those one-on-one meetings if you will only stick all the files in your drawer and forget all about them as soon as the last employee goes back to their desk. Whether they feel as if the office should be more transparent about management decisions and practices or that you need different team structures to work more efficiently, a little can go a long way in helping your employees improve their performance and know that they are heard.

Incentives still make sense

The idea of fair compensation has always been a point of struggle for the vast majority of the business world, whether a manager fails to understand their employees’ living conditions or if they somehow neglect to consider moving forward with their payment systems. In today’s world of tech advancements, you can use simple solutions such as personalized payroll cards that enable your employees easy access to their salaries without losing any money on unnecessary transactions.

Add to that regular bonuses, not merely for the most relevant holidays, but for their notable achievements such as closing a new sale, getting a promotion, landing a relevant client or wrapping up a major project. Financial incentives will always have their place in the professional world, so don’t leave them as your last resort, but rather utilize them as an ongoing reward program.

Provide a healthy balance

This hectic world of ours lacks one very crucial piece of the puzzle: more focus on our wellbeing. Employers who encourage their workers to live healthy are far more likely to have a higher employee retention rate and better workplace atmosphere than those who simply focus on project results and numbers. Before you move forward, create together with your employees a wellness program which you’ll monitor and track on a regular basis, and improve if need be.

From prevention measures such as office doctor visits and conversations with your residing psychologist through offering comprehensive health insurance all the way to perks such as gym memberships, meditation classes and on-site massages will definitely help your employees feel better and work better. Offer them healthy snack and meal alternatives, and more of them will also start building healthier habits outside of the office, which will significantly increase their work-life balance. You can also have a nutritionist visit your office from time to time to give advice on better eating habits!

Acknowledge each employee’s contribution

While it’s fine to encourage a healthy level of competition among your staff, it’s equally vital to recognize each of their contribution to your organizational growth. More often than not, managers are too busy with numbers and celebrating abstract success and results rather than celebrating the people who’ve accomplished them in the first place. The modern employee rarely tolerates such lack of recognition, and every modern manager needs to focus more on making sure each employee feels like a valued member of the team.

Simple gestures such as sending out a company-wide email where you give a shout-out to each team member, giving them a gift basket of their favorite snacks, or giving them a couple of extra days off or a wellness weekend for them and their spouse; all of these can help build a stronger bond with your teammates.

Encourage progress and learning

The modern employee also craves more than a static work position that feels like a dead-end job. They need opportunities to master new skills, gain new knowledge and stay informed on the latest trends in their field of expertise. You as their employer will benefit from such progress, so make sure you give them ample opportunities to visit conferences and seminars and to grow both on a professional and on a personal level.

In-house mentorships also help develop a learning mindset within your company, and your employees will continue to reinforce their existing knowledge through teaching others. Simply offering raises and titles is no longer enough – you need to provide true challenges and growth for them to stay and be happy.

 

The work of a business owner never truly ends. However, with these tried and tested methods, you can help your employees thrive under your wing, and consequently, your business will be able to grow stronger and more successful with every happy employee you nurture.

 

4 Challenges of Recruiting Foreign Workers

One of the most overlooked and undervalued aspects of today’s life is transportation. We often forget the troubles our ancestors faced when trying to go from one country to other. Travel time was measured in months, often by foot and with scarce food, while having to face the risk of getting robbed and/or beaten. Meanwhile, not a single five-star hotel in sight.

Today people don’t have to worry about such problems, but many others arise while recruiting the right foreign workers. But why go through all the trouble? Well, even though hiring internationally doesn’t equal with hiring remotely just in Britain foreign workers create an economic boost of over 210 billion pounds per year. Foreign workers are more productive, happier, complain less and don’t quit so easily.

Hitting the Mark

Finding the right foreign worker is all about searching for him in the right location. Spread too thin and nothing is accomplished but a bullseye in the wrong target also misses the spot. First, examine your own needs. Do you require a skilled worker? Or are you broadening your trade options? Different zones in the world produce different results when it comes to recruitment.

When searching for skilled workers, look for places with the high number of unemployed graduates or for countries that are in a transition period or are emerging economies. For instance, countries in the Balkans are known for the latter while Scandinavian countries are already oversaturated with a qualified workforce.

Language Barriers

Proper communication is crucial for successful navigation of the workplace. This especially applies for skilled workers which will often require complex instructions. In a nutshell, both sides aren’t on the same page yet.

Businesses have no issues when everyone is local and can easily reach the right person for some questions and answers. But when foreign workers come into the equation it becomes more important than ever to keep everyone informed.

Some companies mitigate this by educating their new foreign employees in a multiway approach, helping them to learn the language in the workplace or by outsourcing this education to specialized PTE classes. This way, those businesses kill two birds with one stone, considering those classes are also used as a proof for language knowledge in visa gaining process.

You may also try dedicating a member of the staff with helping out in communicating with the newcomers. This way, by putting in an effort, you not only alleviate some of the pressure all foreign workers face but also show care for integrating new members. So, if they aren’t having a successful communication at least one member of the staff can mediate until they learn new language.

The Right Type of Recruitment

In today’s virtual age, it’s all too easy to choose the easy way and try performing international recruitment phase without ever going face-to-face.  Which is going to land you with a lot of problems later on.

Without seeing someone in person you miss out on the most important part of communication called non-verbal communication. All those gestures, micro-expressions, body language gets left out, and with it, your intuition and that gut feeling about someone and their character.

Of course, sometimes going to another country just for recruitment may not be an option; traveling costs or your own engagement at the workplace could be an issue. If that’s the case, try finding a representative on the ground while international recruitment is in the process.  

This way, you show a human version of your business to potential recruits all the while receiving a complex and personal impression about them. Alternatively, make use of local recruitment agencies that will work with your HR on the ground.

Reaction to the New Environment

Almost 25% of HR that work with this subject say that stress-related with adapting to a new environment represents a significant problem. It’s a two-sided issue, first, the impact of it cannot be measured until the end of candidate relocation, and if it becomes too big, it often creates significant losses in terms of relocation cost or wasted recruitment.  

This is why overcoming this problem should be your main focus in the employee integration phase. Preparation before relocation, suggest resources and materials so they know what to expect when coming. Encourage them to come before starting the job so they have the necessary time to adapt.

Be proactive and adaptive if they cannot. Offer any support you can, so a transition (a hard period in itself) goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible. And remember, every individual has their own type of reaction that varies by intensity and length, some people get used to new things immediately, and some will always have a hard time adapting.

To summarize: search in the right places in the right way. Help your new employees in their acclimatization period and be supportive in any way you can. In the end, both parties will end up happy.

Studying & Working Abroad: The Pros and Cons of Foreign Exchange

Is studying in your home country exciting and inspiring enough for you? If not, you’re probably considering a foreign exchange program, so that you can work and study in a country of your choosing. As appealing as this concept can be, moving to a country completely different from yours can also have some downsides. So, in case you’re considering changing your scenery in order to work and study abroad, here are some pros and cons you should be aware of.

Language and culture

Moving to another country usually means experiencing a fresh lifestyle and getting familiar with a new culture and a language. A con would be that it’s sometimes very difficult to adapt to things you haven’t had contact with so far. Learning a new language could require a lot of effort and it might also slow down your studies and make it more difficult to find a job.

On the other hand, there are several pros to this as well. Yes, you have to learn a new language, but what better and faster way to do it than by being surrounded by people speaking it all the time? Also, even though a new culture and customs can appear strange and puzzling, there is a lot to gain from learning about them and being a part of them. If reading books and watching documentaries can broaden your horizons, then actually experiencing something as interesting as this can be enriching beyond what you could imagine. Plus, of course, adding another language to your CV could mean a great advantage when you apply even for the most demanding and difficult-to-fill positions.

Accommodation

Finding accommodation in a foreign country could prove to be tricky, which is another con. The reason for this is that you need to find a place to stay even before you actually move there. Most people do it online, but what you see on the internet can differ greatly from what you actually get when you arrive.

The pro here is that a growing number of countries are making an effort to make foreign students feel more welcome. Countries like Australia are aware of how important it is for students to feel comfortable and safe while on foreign exchange. This is why you can find awesome student accommodation in Sydney, where hospitality and student security are among top priorities, along with great location and a positive environment for young people of all cultures and backgrounds. These accommodation options are close to the city center and some of the universities, while you can use public transport to get to other universities easily.

Social connections

When it comes to your social life, your friendships and family relations, there is an obvious con if you move abroad. It’s only natural that you miss your closest friends and your family members greatly. This may make you feel lonely and in need of some emotional support, which is something you didn’t have to think about while you were surrounded by those who love you and know you best. Furthermore, in case you’re pursuing a career, once you move, people might disregard you as an employee option.

However, a huge pro is that you’ll get to meet many new people from all over the world. Think about all the new friendships you’ll have the chance of making. Even if you find it hard to form meaningful connections with new people, you’ll meet so many of them that it will be next to impossible not to find somebody you like and want to become friends with. This can even make it easier to deal with your studies, since most of the people you’ll meet will be students, just like you, giving you an opportunity to form a nice study group. Meeting your academic requirements is always more fun and less stressful when you’re doing it with somebody’s help. Plus, you’ll be in a position to make new business connections and open some new career doors for when you decide where you want to live and what kind of job you want to do.

Expenses

One of the main cons of studying abroad can be the expenses. Not only do you have to pay for the transport there and probably some fees for your student visa, but the university fees are sometimes different for foreign students, too. And then there are the accommodation expenses, the food and everything else.

The pro here is that there are many scholarships and other financial benefits available to international students nowadays in many of the world countries. You can actually study for free as a foreign student in countries like Germany, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain. Some countries, like India, Argentina and Taiwan have study programs at great value for international students, while others, including Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Canada offer scholarships to people who want to come from abroad and study there. And when it comes to other everyday expenses, they are something you’ll have to deal with even if you study in your own country, which is why they should definitely not be something to stop you from studying abroad.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every choice you make in life. The best thing you can do sometimes is to just leap forward and see what life brings you. You never know. This might be the best choice you’ve ever made.

5 Benefits of Buying a Franchise

Many people would like to start their own business but lack the means and resources to do so. Entrepreneurship is a great way to ensure a profitable career and a solid retirement as well. However, not everyone can afford to build and grow their business from the ground up. Fortunately, you can run your own business even without having to start it on your own.

The best way to achieve that is to buy a franchise. Franchises are supported by brands or a trademark also known as franchisors. In other words, they supply you with whatever you need while you run their franchise. That being said, here are a few benefits of buying a franchise.

Lower costs

For those of you who lack the funds to start a business, buying a franchise may be a good alternative. You only have to pay the fixed costs of buying yourself into a developed business model, i.e. franchise, which can be quite less expensive than developing a business all on your own.

Moreover, the operating costs of running a franchise are also reduced, as the franchisor provides you with marketing strategies, consumer base, brand awareness and training for employees. That way, you don’t have to come up with any strategies on your own or fund them solely from your own pocket as well.

Be your own boss, but not on your own

Running a franchise business is excellent for entrepreneurs who don’t have any previous experience in running a business. If you’re indecisive about going forward because you lack the know-how, then a franchise is the right small business idea but for you.

Simply put, you get to run a franchise business but you get continuous support in form of advice, planning, strategizing and anything similar from a franchisor. They will provide you with the know-how and teach you everything you need to know about running a business.

Help the local community

Franchising business is beneficial for the local community, as well as for the local economy. When a franchise business opens up, it creates more job opportunities. A franchisor will hire local employees instead of bringing them from abroad.

Also, other businesses, such as bookkeepers, lawyers, electricians and others in the area have a tendency to thrive when there’s a franchise nearby. What’s more, franchisors prefer to maintain their good reputation and will not hesitate to participate and donate to local charities.

Source: The UPS Store

Brand’s reputation

As mentioned before, franchises are supported by trademarks or brands, which means that you basically operate under the franchisors name. This elevates your franchise on the local market due to franchisors brand awareness and reputation.

What’s more, consumers are likely to recognize your franchise due to the brand name or trademark and will be more willing to engage with your business. In addition, applying for bank loans or financial support from investors is more likely to go through due to your franchisors established reputation on the market.

Seamless operations

Running a franchise business is much simpler when a franchisor has your back. In other words, stocking your business with inventory, ordering products, categorizing and organizing is quite more efficient. A franchisor has an already developed system in place. That means that they know what and why it works, and you only have to follow through.

Furthermore, you have developed marketing campaigns and strategies you can utilize to promote your franchise. When all activities are combined, they ensure a smooth and seamless operation of your franchise. The only thing you must do is oversee the process and ensure everything is going well.

 

Buying a franchise is more suited for entrepreneurs who lack the resources or the knowledge to start their own business. A franchise business will complement your ambition nicely and allow you to grow in the business world.

 

Things to Know Before Considering Investing in Stocks

The stock market has always been the most popular destination for aspiring investors. Even the experienced investors are mainly focused on stocks due to their benefits and their potential for yielding a substantial return on investment (ROI). But what does investing in stocks really mean? Simply put, by purchasing a share of some company’s stocks, you’re purchasing a small percentage of their entire assets. You can sell or buy more stocks when the price is right or hold on to them, in order to enjoy the income from dividends.

Either way, stock investments are a good opportunity to gain profits from the money you have saved up and currently have no need for. However, even though the stock market is highly regulated, it’s important to understand that every investment is a risk. In other words, stock prices are evaluated based on a company’s performance. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might lose your entire investment before you even realize your own mistake. With that in mind, here are a few things to know before considering investing in stocks.

Consider diversification

As mentioned before, every investment is a risk, especially if you focus only on a single investment method, such as stocks. Investors suggest that by diversifying your investment portfolio, you can minimize the risk of losses. For example, if you suffer a loss from stock price decrease, you can balance it out from other investment assets.

Diversification means investing in various stocks as well as ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds), bonds and mutual funds or investing in alternative methods, such as gold, real estate and so on. However, if you want to stick to stocks, you should know that you have options available to you that will help hedge risks and insure stock losses. These options are also called stock options, specifically, call and put options. Options are contracts between two parties on the stock market, so it’s advised that you do not engage in such activities without consulting a lawyer first.

Consider taxes

Taxation laws should always be monitored by investors. Taxes can influence your investment decisions in many ways. For example, after the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” has been signed in the U.S., the taxes for large companies went down from 28% to 21%. The same act affected small companies reducing their taxation from 32% to 21% as well. This change made small cap stocks a good investment opportunity. However, it’s important not to solely focus on how taxes affect stock prices but how they affect your gains as well.

For example, if you receive dividend income from your stock investments, you must pay income tax that is oftentimes 15% but it’s subject to change. In addition, taxes affect selling stocks for a profit or loss. If you hold on to your stock for more than a year, for example, your incomes are taxed at a long-term capital gains tax rate. That’s why it’s important to consult with an advisor, in order to understand at which capital gains tax rate your incomes or losses are taxed.

Understand the rules and regulations

The stock market is highly regulated, which means any wrongdoings or misconduct won’t go unpunished. The stock market is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. SEC is a government agency whose task is overseeing and enforcing rules and regulations regarding the stock market laws. Each country has their own government agency representative to help regulate the market, such as the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the U.K. or the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in Australia.

The SEC is also in charge of publishing mandatory financial disclosures regarding corporations. Moreover, they investigate criminal behavior such as insider trading, spreading of false information, accounting frauds, manipulation of the market and so on. That being said, it’s important to familiarize yourself with any laws, rules and regulations regarding the stock exchange in your country of origin, in order to avoid misunderstandings or inconveniences.

Be mindful of the influence

Investors are prone to following what the others are doing, especially new investors on the stock market. The fact of the matter is that each investor has a unique strategy they’re following. That means that you shouldn’t copy what others are doing or where they’re placing their investments. For example, following the trends from newsletters or investing where everyone else is may mislead you to make a mistake. Instead, try to follow the accuracy of stock prices.

As a matter of fact, stocks have actual value but they oftentimes vary in accuracy. As mentioned before, stocks are evaluated based on a company’s performance on the market and prices are bound to rise or drop based on estimates and future projections of that company’s performance. However, at any moment, stocks are worth the present value of the future cash flow their holders will receive. Therefore, trade based only on actionable information you can obtain, instead of risking your investment based on a hunch.

 

The stock market presents investors with the opportunity to maximize their ROI for long-term investments. However, the stock market holds a significant risk, especially for those that are unfamiliar with how the market works. That’s why it’s important to consider important factors before you start investing in stocks.

Why Operating Cash Flow is Important for Small Businesses

Every business, no matter how large or small it may be, depends on its cash flow. Cash is the most important business asset because it’s the most liquid asset as well. Having cash means you can pay for every expense immediately. It also means you can make investments when an opportunity presents itself. Without cash, a company would start having financial difficulties and eventually go bankrupt, even if that same company is generating good revenue and profits.

That’s why cash is considered king in the business world, at least from a financial point of view. It’s of the utmost importance for companies to track their operating cash flow. Operating cash flow is cash generated by a company’s everyday operations and not the cash gained from external resources, such as private reserves or investor funds. In other words, the cash a company can generate in order to sustain its business operations. Here are a few reasons why operating cash flow is important for small businesses.

Business liquidity

A company’s liquidity determines its chances of long-term success. Basically, what liquidity means is the ability of a company to cover its immediate and short-term liabilities, i.e. its obligations or debts using its own assets. The liquidity ratio is determined by a company’s ability to pay its dues on time within a one-year time span. That’s where cash flow and cash-on-hand come into play. To calculate the ratio, companies must assess their liquid assets. The number of liquid assets a company possesses can usually be found in their balance sheet.

For instance, an emergency savings account is considered a liquid asset. Simply put, how fast can you turn your asset into cash determines the liquidity of an asset, and since a savings account is basically cash stored up, it’s one of the most liquid assets a company has. On the other hand, a building is also a liquid asset, but it takes time to sell it and turn it into cash. What’s more, you can rarely get the right price quickly for the building’s true worth, which means this asset is less liquid than the cash itself.

Balancing the cash flow

Positive cash flow is crucial for companies. It means you have more money coming in from accounts receivable than going out through accounts payable. However, too much cash can be almost as bad as not having enough cash. Primarily because if you have a surplus of cash, it means your company is missing out on potential investment opportunities where it can generate even more income and profit.

On the other hand, lacking cash means your company is most likely unable to collect payments from clients or customers on time. That can be solved by implementing a direct debit system for your recurring incoming payments and repeat customers, which will automatically collect funds. In other words, you balance the cash flow by ensuring payments are collected on time and surplus funds are invested wisely.. However, you cannot do that if you don’t track your operating cash flow.

Avoiding a financial crisis

As mentioned before, companies that generate good revenue can still go bankrupt without a positive cash flow. As you already know, cash is the most liquid asset. That means that you can use it to pay urgent expenses, such as bills, taxes, salaries and so on. However, a lot of small business owners confuse revenue and profits with cash, which is a huge mistake.

  • Revenue is a total sum of money your company has obtained by conducting business operations over a specific period of time. Simply put, revenue is the entire income of your company, which was generated from sources such as sales, borrowed capital and interest rates among other things.
  • On the other hand, your profit is the total sum of money your company has after you subtract your business expenses, i.e. operating costs and taxes from your total revenue. That profit is also called Net Profit.

Revenue nor profit is actual cash.

For instance, payments from invoices are considered sales profits and revenue but you don’t get cash until invoices are due, which is anywhere between 30 and 120 days. Conversely, you still have expenses to pay during that time, such as salaries and bills but you can’t do that without cash, which means you either find funds elsewhere or declare bankruptcy. That’s an example of going bankrupt even when your company generates revenue.

Operating cash flow is essential for small business success, as well as for financial stability. Having positive operating cash flow means your company is self-sustainable. In other words, your revenue, profits and cash can maintain optimal business operations without you having to pour external funds into your company, such as taking out a loan or asking an investor for financial aid.

4 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Customer Experience Strategy

Nowadays, consumers are savvier than they ever were. Businesses that wish to engage their customers and ensure their loyalty must provide more than exceptional product or service quality. As a matter of fact, it’s all about the customer experience these days. What exactly is customer experience? Simply put, customer experience is the sum of all interactions a consumer has with a company both pre- and post-purchase.

What’s more, a customer experience strategy is a company’s effort to make those interactions meaningful, seamless, and exceptional, in order for them to form an outstanding experience for the consumer. The better the experience companies are able to provide to customers, the easier it becomes to ensure their satisfaction, engagement and even loyalty. Not only that but consumers generally prefer to do business with companies that can provide a seamless customer experience. That being said, here are a few ways to improve your company’s customer experience strategy.

Understand your customer needs

Nowadays, customer experience revolves around ensuring your company is able to meet customer expectations, needs and demands. In order to achieve that, you must first understand your audience well and also understand their needs. Market research, for example, allows you to gain insight into your target audience and discover who they are, what they do and of course, what they like.

Also, a competitive analysis allows you to learn more about your customers from the way your competitors treat their customers and how customers are responding to that experience. However, the essence of understanding customers is to put yourself in their shoes and determine what you would expect from a business or a brand. This will help you develop a more strategic approach with a focus on the customers themselves. It will allow you to improve your strategy and deliver an exceptional experience to your audience.

Improve customer support

It’s no secret that you cannot expect from every individual customer to immediately understand how your products, policies, services or something similar works. Sooner or later, someone is bound to get confused and seek support. You must be able to provide customers with answers or solution because customer support is also a crucial element of customer experience. As an example, even industry giants, such as Apple have a unique approach when it comes to customer experience, especially support.

There are various Apple store locations worldwide that can easily be found with a simple search. Apple’s take on in-store experience is to train staff to deliver value to customers through service and support, instead of just trying to sell a product. Therefore, whether your company is interacting with customers online, offline or both, make sure you provide adequate support on each access point. That way, you ensure there are no inconveniences or misunderstandings that may ruin customer experience.

Hire the right staff

When it comes to improving your customer experience strategy, it’s important to remember that, in most cases, customers interact with your employees. Therefore, employees are also essential in delivering a seamless experience whether through service, support or some other method. When improving your strategies, consider hiring the right employees with the right people skills, if you haven’t done so by now.

Employees can establish and encourage emotional responses in customers, which will improve customer relations with your company. In other words, customers are more likely to relate to your brand when they interact with the pleasant and helpful staff because those employees help humanize your brand. Human interactions are much more meaningful than customers having to interact with machines or automated responses. Customer experience improves when customers can find assistance from the staff should they need assistance in the first place.

Listen to your customers

Another approach to your customer experience strategy improvement is to listen to your customers. No doubt that expert consultants in your company will give you valuable advice on how to improve customer experience, but in the end, it’s the consumers themselves that get to decide if the experience is good or not. That being said, it’s better to get information from the audience you’re trying to serve. You can start by asking your customers for feedback.

For instance, are they satisfied with your current efforts, are there any improvements they’d suggest, is your customer service and support meeting their needs and so on are just a few things you should focus on learning from your customers. What’s more, acting upon your customers’ feedback not only helps you improve overall customer experience but it also grants you customer appreciation as well. In fact, consumers are much more willing to conduct repeat business and remain loyal to companies that listen to them, especially companies that are willing to improve, in order to meet their customers’ needs.

 

Customer experience plays a vital role in business success. Not being able to provide a seamless customer experience will ruin your business regardless of the product or service quality you have to offer. Consumers want to do business with companies that can provide them with an exceptional customer service, support and overall experience. That’s why it’s important to improve your strategies and ensure customer satisfaction.