The Most Promising Real Estate Tech Startup Ideas

While this might come as a surprise to many professionals in the tech industry, the field of real estate is actually brimming with innovation, and is among the fastest-growing sectors at the moment. Many tech companies are already taking advantage of this fact, aiming to bring sophisticated technologies and digital innovation to this traditionally analog industry. If you’d like to take this opportunity to tap into the real estate market as well, here are some of the most promising tech startup ideas you could try:

Predicting the market

Personalization is key to real estate business success in the modern world, and tech startups can easily take advantage of this fact. For example, you can offer a great search engine that provides access to pre-market properties, and leverage machine learning to predict what sellers and buyers will likely do with their properties. Predictive analysis can also be used to bring customers smarter and more customized results, and provide the best possible matches to their unique needs. If you focus on providing a simpler, smarter, and more personalized real estate experience, your consumers will likely see the real value in your service.

Providing transparent data

Data sharing is often a particularly inefficient process in the real estate industry, and your startup can help to change this fact for the better. You could provide transparent and accurate data by handling relevant data points on a weekly basis in an effort to create a more robust and comprehensive database. This can relate to the current state of the market, investment predictions, tracking loans and mortgages, or any other aspect of the real estate industry. As a result, you will be able to offer better and faster deals to everyone involved in the selling, buying, renting, or investing processes.

Removing the middleman

The process of buying, selling, and renting property can be quite a costly and time-consuming one regardless of the circumstances. But considering the fact that most consumers appreciate swiftness and efficiency, removing the middleman from the equation could turn out to be quite a profitable business venture. With that in mind, you can create a no-brokerage website or application, and enable businesses and private citizens to avoid the lengthy formalities often tied with real estate procedures. This will give them the opportunity to rent, buy, or sell properties much more quickly, and with no additional brokerage fees.

Accessing global markets

When it comes to real estate investments, individuals are increasingly looking at international markets for their next profitable venture. For instance, extraordinary Montenegro properties have become incredibly popular in recent years, offering comfort and luxury in a particularly investor-friendly country. However, the right type of property can still be challenging to find for global buyers. Developing a platform where investors can easily find suitable real estate in Montenegro and similar developing markets is quite a promising startup idea, as it fills a gap in the market while presenting great potential for growth in the following years.

Locating suitable homes

Hyper-personalization is another great area you could focus on. For example, you can collect data from consumers and ask them to fill out short surveys regarding their needs and requirements, and then cross-reference that information with a database of private individuals, companies, or others aiming to rent or sell their properties. Then, you can provide your customers with a detailed list of several properties that meet their unique demands the most. This is quite a convenient and effective service that has a large potential customer base, especially in terms of large and competitive cities such as Los Angeles and New York.

Enhancing rental processes

We can easily find hotels and private properties to rent for vacations, or even new homes to buy using handy mobile applications. But when it comes to long-term rentals, our options seem to be limited. This is another gap in the market you could potentially tap into. You can make renting apartments and houses as simple as booking a hotel by creating an end-to-end rental marketplace. This will speed up search times and cut out the middleman as well, making it more affordable and convenient for consumers. You could also use personalization to enhance this platform, aiming to notify customers as soon as a new property enters the market that meets their exact needs.

Enabling homeownership

With prices continuing to rise and the real estate market becoming more competitive than ever, homeownership is a difficult goal to achieve in this climate, although a necessary one for many consumers. You can be of great service in this area by making the purchase of single-family homes a simpler, easier, more accessible, and more cost-effective process. For instance, you can enable first-time buyers to evaluate, purchase, and own their own homes from the palms of their hands, thus coming in with a bold approach that’s bound to have a great pay-off in the near future.

While it might not seem like the ideal industry at first, real estate can evidently offer great potential to startups. As long as your idea can leverage technology to improve and disrupt the field, success will be guaranteed.

5 Strategies for Making a Successful Financial Plan for a New Company

These days, we are living in a highly digitalized world where business resources are widely available and the playing field looks as level as you can possibly hope. This favorable situation can give a lot of entrepreneurs a false sense of security where they are allowed to take shortcuts and use advanced tech to find solutions for eventual deficiencies.

The truth, however, remains that all successful companies are built on solid foundations. Setting up these critical cornerstones is just as important as every strategy or tool you utilize after the launch.

Today, we are going to take a detailed look at one of these cornerstones and see what you can do to write a successful business plan that will guide your company through future challenges.

Understand the main components of a financial plan

Much like any other corporate document in common use, the financial plans are also built around a certain template you can use as a reference. So, regardless of the type of company you are starting, your financial plan should roughly cover the following topics:

  • Profit and loss statement – Estimated revenue, cost of sale, gross margin
  • Cash flow statement – The detailed explanation of how much your company is bringing in and much is paying out
  • Balance sheet – This is a snapshot of your company’s current financial position that includes the overview of your assets, liabilities (loan repayments, credit card balance, etc.), and equity
  • Sales forecast – This entry can be best described as your informed assessment of what you are going to sell in some specific covered period
  • Personnel plan – Financial justification of every employee’s necessity to the company
  • Break-even analysis – Using all the previous data you have gathered, this final entry describes how much revenue you need to generate in order to stay in the green

These main items will help your company in engaging in any kind of meaningful forecasts, setting up the relevant performance indicators, and breaking down overall long-term goals into meaningful immediate tasks.

Plan for contingencies

In other words, you need to always keep in mind the worst-case scenario, make sure you are able to cover your losses in the case of cash flow disruption or some kind of disaster, and factor in these figures into projections. Fortunately, the options you have at your disposal are plentiful. If we, for example, take the consumer insurance market we will see the growing popularity of Consumer Credit Insurance Refund plans that allow clients to financially protect the clients in the case of different unfortunate events. You should ensure your business is secured with similar contingencies and able to keep a stable cash flow.

Create multiple financial projections

We already mentioned this as one of the entries in your future financial plan, but we would like to use this opportunity to point out that singular financial projection won’t serve the intended purpose in any meaningful capacity. The business world finds itself in a constant state of shift. That is why you always need to take into consideration different criteria and market scenarios and run your model through these simulations. The insights you get at the end should be used for new forecasts and new financial projections. This job doesn’t have any set finish line so be read to facelift the plan on a regular basis.

Write a detailed strategic plan

Ideally, your company should have a fully developed business plan that should cover this and similar topics. But, even with a more limited set of goals in mind, you should always have a strategic plan as a companion piece to your overall financial proposal. As for the very document, the strategic plan should outline the organization’s mission, vision, focus areas, overall objectives, future projects, and values. Of course, all these figures should be accompanied by relevant KPIs you are going to use to measure the progress. Cross-referencing financial and strategic plans can help you with countless valuable insights.

Try to monitor and compare goals

Last but not least, we would like to mention that as much as your strategic goals need a relevant set of indicators you will use to measure the fulfillment of your goals, you need to set up the same indexing values for financial performance as well. But, what are the KPIs we can use to monitor and compare our financial goals? The full list is too extensive to cover in this article but we will give you some of the most important mentions:

  • Gross and net profit margin
  • Operating cash flow ratio
  • Return of sales
  • Working capital
  • Current accounts receivable
  • Average invoice processing cost
  • Gross burn rate
  • Inventory turnover
  • Cash conversion cycle

In conclusion

We hope these few considerations gave you a general idea about the importance of financial planning and presented you with a couple of strategies you implement to use this asset to the greatest benefit of your company. The modern business world is formed by countless different forces. The only way to make sure our companies are able to survive these challenges is to put them on rock-solid foundations. Writing down a thorough financial plan does seem an excellent way to start this labor.

How to Start and Run Your Gaming Company with Potential for Growth

The gaming industry is larger and more popular than ever before, presenting plenty of opportunities for generating revenue in this field. However, this newfound popularity has also made the video game sector incredibly crowded and competitive. This means that a brilliant business idea alone might not be enough for achieving success in the industry. Instead, you will need to follow some essential steps that will allow you to create a viable, sustainable, and profitable company with the potential for growth. Whether your goal is to design interesting games, create an innovative console, or even look to the future with VR and cloud gaming, here are some ways you can start and run a successful gaming company:

Assess your knowledge 

Before starting a gaming company, it might be wise to assess your own knowledge and skillset first. Are you a great programmer? Are you an expert in video game design? Do you excel in special effects? Or do you simply have plenty of experience and a passion for playing games? Your background and personal skills could present a great advantage when starting a company. Not only will it be quite advantageous if you ever need to step in and help out during the early stages of your business, but it can also allow you to clearly define the direction you’d like your company to go in, thus increasing your chances of achieving success.

Focus on your finances

Starting a company requires plenty of financial knowledge. From office space and startup costs to payrolls and development expenses, there are plenty of costs to be considered when starting and running a gaming business. That is why it’s recommended to familiarize yourself with the basics of finance, and make a solid financial plan that guarantees success at the very beginning. If you have a large enough budget, hiring a finance professional to develop the best business plan for your specific needs and goals will also be of great help when starting a business.

Build a brilliant team

Putting together a great team is essential for any business, especially when it comes to the world of gaming. Your staff will be responsible for creativity and innovation, development and production, as well as quality assurance, all aspects that are key to success. And remember that your team doesn’t have to be particularly large in the early stages of your business. As long as you have an excellent core team filled with knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced people, you will be able to build a company with huge potential for growth.

Take care of your staff

Having a knowledgeable and experienced team is not enough for success; your employees need to be engaged, motivated, and productive as well. To achieve this, it might be wise to take better care of them as a leader. For instance, you can provide your staff with healthy gamer drinks to boost their performance, especially during the creative, development, and testing processes. By increasing mental clarity, improving concentration, and raising energy levels, such beneficial drinks will enable your employees to be at the top of their game, thus presenting new growth and success opportunities.

Define your brand

Your brand represents your main business goals and objectives, the things your company stands for, and the way it is perceived by your audience. Not only is a strong brand necessary for establishing a reputable and reliable company, but it’s also crucial in terms of standing out from the competition. For that reason, you might want to invest in branding as well, such as developing a good strategy and impactful messaging, making an interesting logo and tagline, and creating a unique “voice” that reflects your brand. These aspects are truly crucial for growing and evolving your business.

Market your business

No company can truly succeed without good marketing strategies, as this allows you to establish yourself as a brand, reach a wider audience, and increase your overall revenue. Begin by performing market research and identifying your target consumers in order to know how to successfully advertise your products. Digital marketing tactics are quite popular at the moment, particularly in the gaming industry, and options like website ads, social media advertising, and even influencer marketing could all be essential for your company’s growth as well.

Learn to accept failure

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of any business, but this might be even more true in the gaming industry. It’s thought that publishers kill around half of all titles deliberately before completion, whether it’s due to development delays, changing markets, or unexpected competition. Having a product denied is not only disheartening, but also a challenging period that leads to disorganization and turmoil within the business. This is why being a flatter, more flexible, and more agile company that knows how to accept and overcome failure will be key to success.

The video game industry is a competitive field, and starting your own gaming company can often be a challenging task. But with enough dedication, perseverance, and the use of the helpful tips mentioned above, you can easily create a successful and prosperous gaming business with plenty of potential for growth.

6 Ways to Build Your Business’s Credibility

In a digital age where truth is one click away, building a credible business has never been more important. As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to separate yourself from other businesses and gradually build your brand across various platforms and markets.

With nearly 250,000 different products launched annually, how do you stand out from the competition? And, do you have a fair chance of becoming a competitive brand in your niche industry?

We believe that transparency and credibility are equally important for your corporate reputation as the products and services you are offering. However, you can’t establish credibility overnight, and it takes a lot of time for customers to trust you. Instead of rushing things out, you can engage in various strategies that will help you pave the way for credibility.

Have a professionally looking website

You can’t expect customers to trust you without a professionally looking website. This is your business ID, and based on your website, clients will form their first impression. You need to ensure your page looks polished and clean while evoking professionalism, trust, and credibility.

When creating a website, choose a reliable hosting provider and purchase an SSL certification that offers encryption of personal information. Beyond that, your web page needs to appear great to visitors, free of spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and other features that can damage its aesthetics.

In the online world, appearance is crucial, so have that in mind when designing your website. Additionally, don’t overlook virtual mailbox because it can give your business integrity and a professional image.

Be consistent

Like in every business, consistency is the key! Whatever you are doing, always try to be consistent. Should it be your website, content, marketing strategies, business decisions, or ads, your tone has to be consistent.

As a business owner, everything you do or say needs to be intertwined with consistency. Remember that credibility and trust only come if you are truly consistent with your intentions and ideas. The more consistent you are, the more likely you are to gain new and retain the existing customers.

Rely on confidence

If you are just starting your business, you probably don’t have a lot of achievements to brag about. While experience, endorsements, and accomplishments are necessary to build credibility, they aren’t the only thing you can rely on.

When mastered properly, confidence is an impressive treat to have and can speak volumes about your business. If you are trying to be an entrepreneur, you already have credibility above millions of other people around the world who lack the confidence you have. Be proud of the things you have managed to accomplish so far. That will give you an incentive to continue.

Present your achievements

As you navigate the entrepreneurial environment, you will experience small and big wins. From opening your business and serving your first customer to receiving an award, it’s necessary to celebrate and recognize your accomplishments. If you want to be credible on the market, you need to show customers you are a winning company.

Speaking of your business accomplishments, don’t be afraid to brag about them; after all, you earned them rightfully. Present your awards, achievements, and prizes you received for everyone to see. Don’t be afraid to show your clients and vendors how far your business has come. 

Lead by example

Trust is the foundation of your business, and without trust, you can’t expect to build credibility. If you are saying one thing and doing another, nobody will trust your services or the products you are selling. To increase credibility, you need to be honest across all mediums, meaning you have to be transparent and show your customers and vendors they can rely on you.

Your communication with others should be honest and open. It will set up an example for your employees and show everyone else how reliable you are.

Use testimonials and reviews

Nothing evokes credibility and trust in your business like reviews and testimonials you received from other people. People like to hear recommendations from others. Considering how easy it is to fake information nowadays, it’s no wonder why forums still survive.

But, instead of making your customers look for information elsewhere, display testimonials and reviews on your website. Moreover, if you sell products online, allow customers to rate them. It’s also important to filter out false reviews to offer your buyers confidence.

People are more likely to buy your products if they can read positive or negative reviews. It shows your business is real. 

In conclusion, all these tips are great in building your business’s credibility; however, this process requires diligent execution and years of hard work! More importantly, you should be aware that even the slightest mistake can wreak everything you worked really hard to accomplish in a matter of minutes. As you are building your credibility, take some time to protect it as well.

How Office Design Can Impact the Performance of a Startup

From simple and sterile solutions often found in traditional office spaces to playful and colorful options favored among young modern businesses, office design has significantly evolved in recent years. And while many companies might believe great interior design can only help to attract enthusiastic employees and impress certain visitors, it can achieve much more than that.

When done correctly, office design can improve your branding efforts, increase the productivity and efficiency of your business, and even provide an enhanced experience to clients, making it one of the most important aspects to invest in. To that end, here are just some of the many ways office design can impact the performance of your startup:

Strengthening brand identity

Branding is essential for any startup, helping to boost identity, recognition, and overall success of a company. Interior design can be of great help in this aspect. Simply by incorporating key branding features such as your unique fonts and color palettes into the office design, your startup can be instantly recognizable and appear more trustworthy to all visitors. However, you could also take branding a step further, whether that means incorporating your products at key points around the space or even taking inspiration from your services and including subtle connections throughout the entire interior design. No matter how big or small, all aspects of branding incorporated into office design can help to strengthen and reinforce identity, thus affecting your overall performance as well.

Increasing business efficiency

When done in a smart and intentional way, office design can be a great solution for reducing productivity loss and promoting communication and collaboration within a workspace. For example, startups can opt for task-based seating solutions that encourage cooperation and interactions between employees, thus providing an ideal space for brainstorming. Similarly, companies could also include more informal areas like coffee points and game rooms into their offices, in an effort to promote socialization even when the staff wants to unwind. Such clever office design can improve communication, teamwork, collaboration, and overall efficiency of your teams, leading to more successful and lucrative business operations as a result.

Boosting employee productivity

Every business wants to maximize the productivity of their employees, but not many realize that interior design can play quite an important role in this aspect. As frequent breaks and rest are essential for boosting focus, mental sharpness, and efficiency, startups should consider incorporating a neutral zone specifically made for relaxation into their offices. This means creating a calm and quiet area decorated with colors and art that encourage inspiration, or even including interesting games that promote teamwork and collaboration. Along with comfortable seating areas, soft and warm, beautiful rugs could help to improve coziness and relaxation in this area as well, while including a brilliant design element that helps to tie the entire space together.

Improving the client experience

Many startups don’t realize that office design could be used as a way to appeal to your clients as well. As people do tend to judge a book by its cover, it’s crucial for the interior design to match your company image, branding, as well as your products and services. If you are an elegant and regal company, the classic mahogany wood might be the best option. For the more tech-oriented and futuristic startups, a clean and simple space-inspired design can be a brilliant solution, while creative and playful businesses might benefit from office game rooms or some interesting arcade games in the waiting area.

Representing your core values

The location of your offices and what you decide to do with them can also represent your company values. For instance, a LEED-certified office space clearly demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, while renting in a transitioning neighborhood shows you wish to contribute to the local economy. The interior can be a great representation as well, whether that means encouraging a healthy lifestyle with snack supplies, setting up child-friendly areas for employees, or even supporting local artists through decor. By demonstrating your core values, your office design can easily convey the positive aspects of your startup to employees and clients alike, thus improving the company image and helping to boost performance.

Supporting a purpose-driven culture

Thinking of office design in terms of company culture can also be quite beneficial, as imagination and support are necessary for a great culture. If you’d like to build a culture that focuses on creativity, for example, provide inspiration in the form of art and fun spaces for relaxation. If teamwork is the most important aspect, however, creating large gathering areas that promote communication and collaboration is essential. Regardless of your goals, always ask your teams for suggestions concerning office features that will enable them to perform optimally. Asking for input on office design can significantly improve performance, while allowing you to maintain your core values as well.

Office design is clearly important. Not only does it help to convey your main goals and ideas to all visitors, but it also allows you to boost productivity, efficiency, and overall business performance. If you want your startup to reach new avenues of success, investing in interior design will surely pay off.

Starting fashion business in 2022: Essentials

If your New Year’s decision is to finally start up a fashion business, then there are useful tips you could use as guidance. It’s not too complicated to start a business but you have to take care of legal matters and do the creative part as well. Scroll down to read about starting out a fashion business in 2022.

Learn and make contacts beforehand

If you enter the business like a complete amateur, you might make some mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t. It would be good if you had a formal education when it comes to business or marketing, but it is not mandatory as long as you have talent and perseverance. You should learn the industry standards, make contacts and learn from them. Professionals who have already succeeded can be great mentors.

Registering Your Clothing Line

Your first legal step is to register your clothing line. This is mandatory and you can choose if you want to register a limited company or sole proprietorship. It is recommendable to consult a financial advisor for this matter. Your funding and taxes can depend on the type of business. While sole proprietorship means you and your business are the entity in the eyes of the law, a limited company is an opposite. In case you had any debts, having a limited company wouldn’t affect your personal assets. Sole proprietorship, on the other hand, can be easier when it comes to paying taxes. 

Create a good business plan

A business plan is mandatory if you are serious about your business. There are several questions that a good business plan should answer. First, you should think of ways of funding the business. It can be crowdfunding, angel investment, start-up loan, or self-funding. The last one requires some personal assets. It should also deal with questions like how, when, or where you are going to manufacture and distribute the clothes. Start-up costs are not just for registering the business, it’s also website development if you sell online, storage space, photography, IT hardware, stock, and others

Find your niche

You’ve probably heard that finding a niche or filling gaps in the fashion industry is something good. It is true that if you manage to find something that others don’t have, you will have a huge advantage. This is where your creativity matters. The uniqueness doesn’t have to be about the clothes, it can be about the whole approach you have, the inclusivity, website functioning, etc. If you see that many people work from home these days, designing comfortable but still fashionable clothes for the home can be an interesting idea. 

Designing or dropshipping?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Maybe you’re not a creative person and you only want to sell but not to design. This is fine and there is an option for you called dropshipping. Basically, it’s reselling from wholesalers. You should find a reliable platform from where you could order your clothes. In the early stage of your business, you should already decide whether you want to design or stick to business strictly. Your partner wholesaler company should be related to the niche you chose. If you choose your target group to be urban women, then wholesale party dresses can be considered a desirable product. 

Fabric sourcing, manufacturing, and production

If you have contacts in the industry it can be helpful in this phase of business development. Local fabrics can be good partners for fabric sourcing or even manufacturing. There are online designers’ communities and you can chat or meet with people who can share their experience and contacts with you and give you useful advice. You might not even need outside help in the early stages since your production volume might be low, but contacts are always useful. Other than fabric sourcing and manufacturing, you should deal with distribution and retailers.

Develop your brand

In this stage, you have already registered your brand, started the production and distribution. Your brand is out in the market. Build brand awareness by having a good website with SEO properly done. Your website can be an online store and for this, you are probably going to need customer support service. Digital marketing on social media can help a lot as well. Tell your story, clients like to hear something personal and unique. Bond with the potential customers. You can make giveaways or participate in local events as a sponsor. Instagram and TikTok stars can enhance your brand’s popularity in exchange for some free items, etc.  Don’t forget that the best brand awareness comes from good quality and service that people will later recommend to their friends. 

Now that you know some basic steps for starting out a fashion business, don’t hesitate to make your plans work in 2022. Make contacts, see wholesale websites, online designers’ communities and make sure you do it all legally with proper registration.

Best Ways to Keep up with Startup Trends in 2022

The business world is quickly changing and embracing the latest trends and solutions arising from evolving customer needs and of course, advancing technology. Knowing that nothing ever stands still, no business can afford to stay in the dark and away from the key industry data shaping its future. That is especially true for startups. This highly competitive, innovation-driven business model depends on being at the forefront. As such, any startup with the goal to grow and beat its competition needs to keep learning.

Then again, the desire to learn and stay in the know is fueled by such a wide array of outlets, news platforms, not to mention industry experts, that it can often be hard to discern whom we can trust. At the same time, keeping up with trends in the startup world and discovering how you can grow a successful startup calls for ongoing research and data analysis. 

To help you narrow down your resources and make this process more streamlined, we’ve suggested a few of the most effective ways to keep up with startup trends in 2022 and beyond.

Look for relevant startup events

The current health crisis has disrupted the regular flow of event organization and group gatherings. For startups, that means that you most likely don’t have access to as many live networking events such as conferences, workshops, and seminars as you do in normal situations. Fortunately, the online world is brimming with opportunities to set up virtual gatherings with no limitations.

While you’re not able to travel, especially internationally, you can organize and attend virtual startup conferences. You can expect invitations to become a keynote speaker if your business has enough traction, but even without that kind of exposure, listening to other experts and their research is invaluable for understanding where your industry is going.

Subscribe to reputable newsletters

The most notable experts are typically found at events, that’s for sure. However, some global industry leaders and those less popular but equally insightful experts have their own digital outlets to share their views with the world. The easiest way to obtain that knowledge is to subscribe to their email newsletter campaigns and regularly read their blog posts as well as research material.

Look for the most informative magazines and blog pages, as well as startup companies with a dedicated blog page. Join mailing lists of reputable experts, but be sure to select a handful of magazines that you really intend to read, otherwise you’ll just flood your inbox with emails that you have no intention to read.

Follow relevant news resources

In addition to magazines, the online world has become a truly diverse space for trend tracking and educating yourself on specific fluctuations related to your business. For many startups, keeping an eye on potential funding opportunities or setbacks can make or break an entire venture. When you’re about to launch a new product, you need to stay in the loop of what’s happening with the economy.

With that in mind, you can follow finance news via reputable, relevant portals providing real-time insights. You’ll learn how taxation is changing in your region, when it’s wise to invest in certain projects, and how some of the most recent trends are changing the economy. What’s more, these portals let you see their financial forecasts so that you can brace yourself for any upcoming changes.

Keep track of customer data online

Surviving that first year as a startup involves so many puzzle pieces that it might be easy to lose track of what’s shaping your company at any given moment. The challenge of managing your capital, looking for investors, all the way to handling your reputation can be overwhelming. To reduce that chaos and understand what trends matter most for your business – listen to your customers.

That means keeping an eye on all your digital metrics and analytics, to understand their online behavior and choices. If you have an offline store, too, be sure to send our surveys that will unveil emerging trends both in the online and offline segment of your company. 

Make smart hiring decisions

Startups often face unique hiring challenges, because this competitive sphere makes employee retention difficult, and with the funding needed to run a startup, you might not always provide the most appealing financial incentives. However, when you do invest in hiring experts, their industry insights can become crucial in keeping your startup in the role of the industry leader.

Your employees who come from other experienced businesses have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can completely reshape how your business operates. Even more so, having them by your side at events means they can share unique perspectives on the subject matter that is covered.

Keep up with local law changes and regulations

Yes, we’ve learned our lesson and we know that global changes outside the scope of a single industry, let alone a geographical region can have dire effects on entire business sectors. However, for startups operating in one location, or at the very least within the legal parameters of that location, being informed of imminent changes is crucial.

For instance, you might discover that your local government is incentivizing sustainable business transformation, so that you can leverage the new regulations in your favor. You can discover new funding resources from the government, and make sure that you’re compliant no matter your niche.

The pandemic alone has shown us just how disruptive a health crisis can be in the business world. We’ve seen companies close down, new open pop up with innovative ideas, and many still struggling to make ends meet. The difference between the most and the least successful ones in times of crisis often boils down to keeping up with trends and news in the industry and the world.

The Challenges of Self-Employment

Self-employment is becoming more popular than ever. Freelancing currently makes up about 35% of workers in the U.S. Additionally, more than 7 out of 10 small business owners say they’d rather focus on growing their business than going back to a traditional form of employment.

But, just because self-employment is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be quite scary to branch off on your own to follow your dream or build off of an existing business. The responsibilities solely fall on your shoulder, and if you can’t make it work, you risk not being able to pay the bills.

If you’re tempted to dive into the world of self-employment, there are plenty of benefits. You get to be your own boss, set flexible hours, decide exactly how you want your business to be run, and you don’t have to answer to anyone else. It’s great for people who are tired of their traditional job, people with unique skills, or those who want to try something new. For example, self-employment is often a great option for new moms or stay-at-home parents.

But, there are also challenges you’ll undoubtedly have to face. The more aware you are of those challenges ahead of time, the easier it will be to face them and overcome them.

Paying Yourself What You’re Worth

When you’re just starting out with self-employment, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is knowing how much to charge people for your services. You can create your own policies that can help to determine your costs, and use a time card calculator to clock your hours. That can be helpful if you’re charging an hourly rate to your clients.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as working a set number of hours. Your pricing should be less about income and more about the quality of life you want to have. You could have 50 clients at one time and be completely burnt out, or you could have a handful of clients, be well-rested, and make more money.

Don’t set your pricing so low that you have to take on more than you can chew just to stay afloat. Consider what your services are worth. How much time and detail are you putting into what you do? What would you pay for your services? Developing pricing strategies that answer those questions is an honest way to know how much you should be charging.

If you burn yourself out because you’re not charging enough, your self-employment will fizzle out quickly because that’s not a sustainable way to live. Set boundaries for working hours and for how much work you can reasonably take on. The best clients are usually willing to pay a little bit more, so go for those big fish and don’t underestimate how much you’re worth.

Facing Personal Challenges

When you decide to take the plunge into self-employment, you should anticipate that it will be stressful – at least for the first few years. First, you’ll have to devote nearly all of your time and attention to making your “business” work. That can impact your relationships and even your mental and physical health.

You might also not be an instant success. Your first few years will undoubtedly consist of building a client base and getting consistent work. It takes time to build up that kind of loyalty from people, and at times you might feel as though you’re failing. That can take a huge toll on your self-esteem.

It’s important to build your confidence by doing things like talking positively about yourself, banning negative self-talk, and staying focused on your goals. Building confidence will help you to stick with it and can provide you with the motivation you need to make your self-employed career a success.

Planning for the Future

Once you get a large client base and it seems as though your business is taking off the ground, the last thing you’ll probably want to think of right away is what you’re going to do when you retire. Self-employed workers often face the challenge of not having a retirement fund. Not only that, but many don’t even have an “emergency” fund for the future in case something were to happen.

It’s hugely important to save for retirement when you’re not working for a business that will do it for you.

As an individual, you can contribute to an IRA with the income you make. Self-employed individuals also currently get social security benefits. While the amount given by social security usually not enough to cover living expenses, it can help when your self-employed business is slow.

Planning ahead as much as possible will help you to stay secure for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you can continue to do what you’re doing for many years to come, but everyone needs to retire at some point.

Have you been thinking about becoming self-employed? The best thing to do is to weigh out the pros and cons. If you believe the advantages of self-employment outweigh the risks, you could be the dreamer the world is looking to with the next big idea.

Image Source: Unsplash 

What Are the Best Team Collaboration Tools?

Everyone has heard of Slack and Zoom. You probably use them both every day.
But what are the other, lesser known — but as equally effective — team collaboration tools?

And, more importantly, how do they help?

Notion

We’re big fans of Notion at Cronofy. It allows us to collaborate on all kinds of documents in real time.

We can create Kanban boards, tables, to-do lists…you name it, Notion can do it. You can set pages to public, company-wide, team-wide, or keep them private.

Having a centralized tool like Notion means that all information is stored in one place and we can collaborate easily on things like copy, or see what each other is working on. It’s also been invaluable for me in the learning phase of my onboarding.  — Laura, Product Marketer

It’s completely flexible, which makes it super useful. We’ve been using it for a few months now, and we have no idea how we coped without it.
As our CTO Garry puts it:

If you’re not in the same office you have to be able to look at the same thing, even with a basic tool you’d be able to share documents, source code, etc.

It also has a desktop version, which means you can even use it offline.

Calendars

We’re all about calendars and connectivity here at Cronofy.

We can all see each others’ calendars, which makes it easier for us to know who’s in the office and who isn’t.

It reinforces our culture of transparency while also making it easier to schedule meetings with each other.

Calendars can be taken to the next level when they connect to the software we use every day:

It’s useful when our calendars connect with the software we use such as Slack and Zoom. We can schedule meetings with each other without flitting between multiple programs. — Kristina, Content Marketer

The time spent flitting between programs when scheduling meetings is time that gets wasted. Syncing calendars with software we use every day saves us hours every week.

GIT

As our Senior Developer Tom puts it:

Solid version control is a key part of any code-based workflow, but we literally could not be as effective team without being able to branch and merge our code. It allows us to work independently and safely combine all our efforts. As a bonus, the ability to review works-in-progress and collaborate on the same code at the same time makes all our work better.

Laptop

This one seems obvious, but you don’t realize just how important it is until yours breaks. This happened to one of our team members a couple of weeks ago.

Luckily we had a spare that she could use while hers was being repaired, but what if we hadn’t? It would’ve made it difficult for her to get her work done. We’re so reliant on the hardware that we use that we often forget how important it is to our day-to-day activities.

You should also ensure that the laptop you use is fit for the job. A salesperson will need something portable, for example, while a developer needs something with more processing power.

The right laptop means that you can connect with your coworkers easily, wherever you are in the world.

Of course, a good laptop is nothing without an internet connection when you’re talking to your colleagues, so make sure you have a speed that can handle video conferencing, too.

Conclusion

Giving your team the right tools to collaborate with is vital to their success in their role. It also plays a major role in the success of your company.

The easier it is for employees to connect and collaborate, the more likely they are to do so. This improves communication between teams, which can be reflected in communication with customers, and therefore their experience and opinion of your brand.

Better communication also leads to happier employees and a more productive working environment.

Find out more about our favorite team collaboration tools over on the Cronofy blog.

How Surveys Can Help Improve Both External & Internal Company PR

Information serves a large variety of purposes in business. Specifically, looking back through annual information can help a business determine where their shortcomings are, as well as their strong points, which can help them decide what areas of their business they should grow or scale back on. There are a few ways to gather this data, but depending on the information you’re looking for, surveys are often the best way to understand both the internal and external perception of your business.

Survey Uses for Management

Company surveys can indicate a lot of things about a company, such as receptiveness to customers and employees, and caring about quality and ambition. When a company holds surveys within their personnel, either for specific departments or general employees, it can sometimes indicate that there is a business practice concern they are trying to work out. Depending on what questions are being asked of their workers, surveys often gives employees the impression that their company cares about them and that if there are concerns they want to bring up, they can be addressed.

If you’re considering using a survey to gain an understanding of employee satisfaction or what employees are looking for in the workplace, make sure you use an effective survey method that follows guidelines for effectiveness to achieve optimal results. This may include a platform that will allow you to ask both open- and close-ended questions, as well as survey channels that are convenient, like SMS. Another important aspect of surveys is to ask the right questions by using careful phrasing in order to receive the type of response you’re looking for.

Employee surveys can help your company come to solutions regarding business structure changes you’re considering making. They are a good way to gauge interest if you’re seeking to begin outsourcing work to freelancers rather than in-house workers. Although these decisions can be controversial, 11 percent of the U.S. workforce get their full income from gig economy, so it’s not uncommon to do so. In fact, there may be a significant number of employees seeking the benefits of gig economy work, such as heightened independence, flexibility, and at times better pay. If you’re gauging employee interest for a change like this, a survey could help your company establish goals surrounding prospective changes.

Improving External Company PR

Surveys can also provide companies with an idea of the areas that your PR team should work to address. A company’s reputation can be instrumental to its success, and if there’s any ongoing speculation about areas of your company, your PR team should be dedicating resources to addressing them. It is then up to the company to make both internal and external changes to get down to the root of the problem.

Although seeking out client reviews is generally a good practice, especially considering that most individuals seek out company reviews before getting involved with a company, surveys allow companies to receive a more thorough understanding of the customer experience. It also gives customers and clients a chance to voice their concerns before any incident that occurred becomes so overlooked that there is no hope in getting their business back.

Although clients are arguably the most important audience for a company, a business cannot succeed without all of the cogs in the wheel that keep the business turning; such as clients, employees and suppliers. It’s important to have a skilled accounting department prepared to handle accounts for your business to ensure suppliers are receiving the attention they need. If your company takes too long to pay clients and vendors, it reflects poorly on your company’s reputation. Therefore, if there are ongoing issues in this field, your company may want to consider adopting accounts payable automation to help facilitate these processes.

If surveys indicate low satisfaction rates due to a lack of innovation or slow growth within the company, consider incorporating some new tech trends that are capable of redefining your business. These can include hiring cybersecurity professionals to limit the number of IT incidents and incorporating AI, chatbots and predictive analytics to help with hiring processes. New technology can help facilitate many steps in business, and by finding small ways to innovate, your company can start to improve its internal and external perception.

Surveys can be helpful in understanding where you company stands to improve and can give you an idea of the ways your clients and employees want to see you innovating. By regularly surveying personnel, as well as clients and other companies you associate with, you can ensure that satisfaction is high and that any ongoing issues are taken care of before they become a PR concern. Internal and external company PR are both almost equally important, and it’s vital to the success of your company to ensure you’re taking care of both.