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  • Keep It Simple

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by
    simplicity

    Recent studies have shown that the average reading level for the general population of the United States ranges somewhere between a fourth and a sixth grade reading level; studies from several years ago put most individuals graduating high school as reading at no better than a fifth grade reading level. Do you feel that the content being presented to you has been dumbed down in recent years? Are you surprised at the latest arguments regarding whether or not it is socially acceptable for adults to read young adult novels? There’s a reason.

    The average reading level has decreased drastically throughout the years. When I was in intermediate school, (6th grade), I tested at reading at college level, the highest the test would go; most of my classmates capped out at the same rate, with only a few of them hitting eleventh or twelfth grade reading levels, nothing any lower. In today’s day and age, those who are graduating aren’t even close, nor do they really seem to care.

     

    Why This Matters and How it Affects You

    It matters for a lot of reasons, but this is neither the time nor the place for a soap box rant regarding the quality of education that students are receiving today. This matters because the majority of content presented on the Internet comes in one of three forms: lolcat, graphic representations, or text. That’s right; most of the information on the internet involves reading. How then can we expect the material that we find relevant, the topics that we find interesting, or the manner in which we convey information to be able to maintain interest, much less be comprehended by the new target markets and audiences that are coming into their best years of buying power? There’s only one thing to do....  

    How to Deal with It

    You’ve got to Keep it simple. Don’t go for the thesaurus, don’t try to make your sentences sound more intelligent, and, much as I hate to say it – try to stay away from those compound sentences. Make your content as easy to understand as possible. Make it so that a sleep-deprived and un-caffeinated version of you would have no issue understanding what you are attempting to convey. It’s frustrating, it’s obnoxious, but unless you’re catering to a very specific crowd, like those who subscribe to Shakespeare Quarterly or only those who have received their Master’s degrees (and yes, this is an over exaggeration, but you get the idea), keep it basic. Remember, everything else aside, your goal is to market and sell your product; to do that effectively the average consumer must be able to understand what you are selling.

     
    Image source: https://jumpcloud.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/simplicity.jpg
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  • New Funding Methods For A New Age In Business

    Monday, January 5, 2015 by
    kickstarter

    Starting a Small Business

    So you’ve decided you want to start a small business of your own; you’re ready to stop working for others and start working for yourself. This is great! Yes, you get to set your own hours, and yes, you get to do what you would like to do; however, when starting up a business of your own, you need to have the available capital to do so, and the time it takes to get it done. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

     

    Ways to Accomplish This

    You've decided to start your business online. There are lower associated startup costs, and you don’t have to wear pants to go to work, both of which are decided bonuses! The problem is that it still costs money. You need a hosting plan, and you need up front capital to be able to get your inventory started, regardless of whether you are making something yourself or whether you are selling pre-made, manufactured products. How would you go about doing this if you don’t have the money saved up yourself? Well, there are several ways. You could find an angel investor, a set of investors, get a loan from the bank, or you could turn to the latest in funding – investment sites like Kickstarter.

     

    Kickstarter

    Kickstarter is a site that people may go to in order to present their ideas to the general population. Individuals read through the proposals, some of which include bonuses to those who donate x amount to their cause, and then donate. Yes, that’s right, people just give you money because they like your idea and want to see it come into existence.

    Now keep in mind that your idea must be a good one, as defined by the population at large, and that not all Kickstarters work. If the proposal is not written well, the likelihood of gaining funding decreases dramatically. Included below is a link to a very helpful article that discusses the progress of one small business; how they took their idea from just an idea and turned it into a successful business using funding gained through Kickstarter. That’s right, someone is being helpful just for the sake of being helpful. This increasing amount of transparency in companies serves to benefit you in that it teaches you one possible path to walk, providing you with the information necessary for your business to potentially succeed in the same manner.

     

    Getting Going

    While not all Kickstarters are a success, as we have mentioned, there are those that have the potential to become quite successful (such as Amanda Palmer's ground-breaking Kickstarter campaign). While it is true that you must obtain the knowledge yourself instead of building on top of the knowledge of others, you are able to take information, such as this, and use it as a means of working to increase your knowledge base, providing you with insight on how to succeed, and the different pitfalls to avoid. So, what are you waiting for? Get going! Start your own business, and start reaping the success of your own hard work.

    For more information: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angeliatrinidad/passion-planner-the-one-place-for-all-your-thought/posts/1067424

     

    Image Source: Kickstarter.com. (2014). Start your project — Kickstarter. Retrieved 26 December 2014, from https://www.kickstarter.com/learn?ref=hero

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  • Check Your Tech-nology

    Monday, December 8, 2014 by
    Technology today is moving faster than the speed of light (quite literally: NASA recently released specs for a ship with a warp drive), and it’s often hard to keep up. It’s easy for a business to start to wonder whether or not the technology that they are utilizing in their daily lives is antiquated, out of date... or on a slightly pettier note, whether or not their stuff is better than the competition’s stuff.
    Through a look at some of the most commonly used pieces of technology in the business world, it’s possible to give you that piece of mind, because let’s face it; that which is shown on television and in the movies isn’t what the average business has, nor is it quite as easy as the movies make out to sneak in and spy on the competition.  

    Computers

    Desktops have not gone out of style. In fact, many companies are still utilizing Windows XP, in spite of the fact that Microsoft is no longer putting out updates for vulnerabilities that are found. Heck, some people have even found ways around this, working to remove vulnerabilities anyway, allowing their companies to continue to use the OS that they are most comfortable with, one that doesn’t require costly upgrades or a learning curve regarding its use.

    Generally speaking, and with exception given to certain industries, most businesses don’t use Macs.

    The more tech oriented the business, the more likely you are to find them running a Linux system.

    Most companies still utilize separate monitors and separate desktops, as opposed to the “all-in-one” options that many of the computer manufacturers are releasing today.

    We live in an age of “good enough” computing, where businesses have finally realized that upgrading every time something new comes out is not necessary; if something works, there’s no reason to fix it. There are better ways to invest in the business.

     

    Phones

    Most companies are utilizing VoIP phones these days; it just makes everything easier to do so, when all the current options are weighed. It's a safe bet that there are not many old-school, rotary phones being utilized in businesses today... but you never know.

     

    Cell Phones

    Yes, many owners, and even many employees, utilize their own personal phones within a business context. Most people have gone over to smart phones. No more flip phones for the masses! (Ran into a huge issue the other day because of this one – the receptionist with a “unique” personality at the doctor’s office refused to look up my pharmacy and told me to do it on my phone. She refused to believe this was not possible on a flip phone; I refuse to upgrade to a smart phone for a host of reasons. We were at an impasse for quite some time).

     

    Paper

    Though many businesses are attempting to move away from paper records, the majority of businesses are still utilizing paper as a means of completing various business activities; the amount has lessened over the years, but we have not created a paperless environment as of yet... perhaps because playing games with the copy machine is still a lot of fun!

     

    Your Business

    If some of these sound like you and some do not, that’s quite alright. Remember, it’s all about what works best for you. Don’t upgrade if you don’t want to, don’t upgrade if you don’t need to, and always do your best to ensure that you stay within your means!

     
    Image source: Deccan Chronicle. (1996). Mission Impossible. Retrieved from http://archives.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_node_view/public/mission-impossible-1996-tom-cruise.jpg
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  • The Ideal Job

    Thursday, October 23, 2014 by
    There are three types of people in this world: those who work because it gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment; those who work because they have to, but would rather not be working; and those who aren’t working at all.
    It could be argued that these three different types of people exist based on the amount of personal responsibility that they feel for themselves and their lives, with the first group being overly responsible, driven almost to the point of a neuroses, the second group being responsible enough to know that work comes before play, and the third group who never had a sense of responsibility instilled in them at all. The fact of the matter is that given the option, no one wants to work, not really. They want to be doing something that they enjoy; if they get paid for it, so much the better. No one really wants to work, but we do.  

    Doing What You Love, Loving What You Do

    The most successful companies are those with high levels of employee morale, and one of the best ways to have high employee morale is to ensure that management morale is high. Though this may seem silly, research has indicated that the greater the morale of the owners of the company and the managers within the company, the more likely the overall morale of the company will be high. When thinking about starting up a company, don’t just concern yourself with that which will make the most money, concern yourself with that which you love. You will be the most successful doing what you love as it won’t feel like work to you. Everything will be something that you want to do. Sure, there may be some tasks that you’re not particularly fond of, but even when you sit down to get those done, they won’t truly seem like work, given the fact that they are associated with what you want to be doing.  

    Finding Others

    When looking for others to work for your company, now that you’ve got it off the ground and have started nurturing it into the size you want it to become, don’t just look for those with the fanciest resume, look for those who genuinely enjoy the work. Silly as it may sound, there are those who enjoy all different kinds of work; if you look, you will find someone who loves data entry, you will find someone who loves accounting, and (say your company is in charge of making gizmos), you will find someone who not only loves gizmos, but genuinely enjoys the work that you want them to be doing in regard to gizmos. You may find an accountant who plays with gizmos in her spare time, or a teenager who has a gizmo collection and is a whiz at data entry. Employee morale is dependent upon the overall morale of the company; if everyone there loves what they do, then the company itself will assuredly be a success. With everyone enjoying their jobs, it creates not only a pleasant work environment for the individuals who work there, but for your customers, as they will not be made to feel as though they are the burden. Happy employees make for happy customers, which in turn makes for a high revenue stream. Don’t discount a worker because they have worked in a cubicle for the past five years but is applying at your company because they have liked gizmos as a child; chances are that this individual will be a better candidate. And with everyone doing what they love, everyone wins.  
    Image Source: Swiss Fit Chick. (2014). Do What You Love Quote. Retrieved from https://swissfitchick.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/do-what-you-love-quote.jpg
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  • Scheduling Hassles Are Disappearing

    Monday, October 6, 2014 by
    google now

    Scheduling

    Scheduling matters. It's a concept that everyone is made aware of from an early age; first with working to make sure that you’re up and dressed and ready to go for school on time, and later as a busy entrepreneur, a seasoned CEO, or as a new start-up owner. It doesn’t matter what your position is in the world, from the time that you’re old enough to go to school, you have a basic concept of what a schedule is, and that you’re supposed to be on one.

    As you get older, these schedules become more and more important. You’re no longer on your own time as you were when you were a child on those lazy days of summer; the doctor can only see you at a set time, you’ve got to be at work at a certain time, and you’ve got that conference call at a certain time. Everything is on someone’s schedule.

     

    Partial Systems

    Over time, you come to have a system; that system may be sticky notes all over the place, a calendar on the wall in the kitchen, or even a reminder programmed into your phone. Still, you’ve got to remember to add all those important tasks to that calendar, into your phone, or write them down. The human mind can only remember so many things. If there’s not a system in place, it becomes easy to forget ("failing to plan is planning to fail," after all). Little things, it may be argued, are okay to forget: failing to pick up an item out of the twenty you need from the grocery store is one thing, but failing to meet your boss to talk about a raise is something else entirely.

     

    Tools

    With today’s digital world, there are a host of different programs available that work to ensure that you can keep track of the events that make up the fifteen minute blocks of time that your days have been regulated to; still, in order for these tools to work, they require you to remember to input that information into their program.

    Every email client and every online email provider has a calendar equivalent that can be utilized, and there are hundreds more that come in the form of apps or programs that may be installed; and yet, none of these are intuitive enough to be able to take your life and act as a secretary, at least, not until now. For those of you who use Gmail, there is a new light on the horizon; if you use Google’s Calendar, Google Now will take the conversations you have in your email and infer calendar events, asking you automatically if you want these events added to your calendar. What’s more is that the program will likewise notify you, based on how you setup the notifications, in advance, thus ensuring that you don’t miss an event simply because you forgot. The program will take everything from confirmation emails regarding travel plans to your message to your next door neighbor asking if he wants to get together for a barbecue on Saturday night and prompt you to see if you want the event added.

    Now, it won’t create the events automatically, and if you forget after the notification, it’s hardly the program’s fault, but the fact of the matter is that this is a far more intuitive method than others currently available. Combine this with Google’s ability to setup business email addresses for the company, and you have a way to work to ensure that your employees will be able to make all their meetings without issue. While it’s not the be all and end all for all people, it does offer an additional means of working to ensure that your business runs smoothly, regardless of what that business is.

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