Archive: May 2015

May 22nd

10 Essential Tips For Running Your Small Business From Home

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For a lot of people, running a small business involves working from home.

While some people find this inherently easier than others, the key to effective home working is self-discipline.

There is certainly still some debate about the pros and cons of home working but if you’re one of the 4.2 million UK home workers, here are our top 10 essential tips for helping to keep you both productive and healthy.

  1. Separate work and home
    Just ‘having a desk’ isn’t enough.You need to create an area that is a genuine dedicated workspace.

    If you can afford to set aside a full room as your office that’s a great start. If this isn’t an option, do your best to re-create the important elements of a good office space.

    Keep this area free from TV, games, magazines – or whatever is most likely to distract you. If there are others in the house while you work, set boundaries and don’t feel bad in closing the door.

  2. Set up an ergonomic workstation
    Spending a lot of time at your desk can wreak havoc on your body.

    Ensure you setup a healthy, ergonomic work-space to keep your body comfortable and injury-free. Use this great guide to help evaluate your current work station setup.

  3. Stay tidy
    An untidy desk = distractions.

    People tend to snack and make notes while they work and while that’s fine, if your desk is littered with sweet wrappers, old Biros and piles of crossed out notes, it gives you an excuse to do something unrelated to work.

    Make sure you get rid of stuff you no longer need and keep your desk and mind clear.

  4. Close non-work related tabs. Think of it as digital mess. Tabs you can open include:
    • Your business website
    • Business social media pages (not your personal ones!)
    • Competitor webpages
    • Research pages
    • That’s it.

    No tags for personal shopping, the news, or Netflix. We understand it’s difficult but you will be surprised how many hours you will lose to these distractions.

  5. Learn to relax
    You may find it hard to believe, but life isn’t just about work and knowing when to take time off is important.

    If you don’t learn how to relax you’ll burn out quickly and it will negatively affect both your business and personal life.

    Try to do something you enjoy (and non-work related) every day; a few chapters of your book, an episode of your favorite TV show or a long walk. Without some time for yourself, you’ll resent your business quickly.

  6. Create a schedule
    Plan your days. When are you updating your social media? Do you have items to post? Do you have to send regular emails to contractors?

    Our productivity levels differ throughout the day so take the time to learn at what point in the day you are at your most effective and plan to complete your more complicated tasks then.

    Before you finish work each day, make a schedule for the following day so you know exactly where you need to start in the morning.

  7. Set goals (and tick them off)
    If you don’t have aims, your business will never progress.

    Setting daily, weekly and monthly targets will help your business progress as well as giving you a sense of achievement. They don’t have to be big but you need to know where you are heading.

  8. Take mini breaks
    We are not designed to sit for long periods of time, so every 40 minutes or so, take a couple of minutes to stretch your legs or grab a coffee.

    Mini breaks are great for several reasons. It stops your body becoming stiff and sore and keeps your mind fresh.

    You will be amazed how a quick 5 minute break can really help you to spot silly mistakes in your work or solve a problem you have been working on for hours.

  9. Get a fast internet connection
    In 2015 this is a must.

    If your business depends on the internet there is no excuse for a slow or limited connection.

    A slow, unreliable connection leads to frustration and possibly to missed communication. If fiber broadband is an option, get it – it’s worth paying for in the long run.

  10. Go outside!
    Living and working in the same space day after day can be claustrophobic and affect your ability to concentrate.

    Ensure you get outside at least once a day, even if it’s only for a walk. Keeping active will make you feel physically and mentally ready to work.

    A gym membership might be a good thing (paying for it should motivate you to use it!), or spend one afternoon a week working in your local coffee shop. Whatever works for you, remember that getting out of your normal working environment can help inspire creativity and keep your mind and body fresh.

This is not designed to be an exhaustive list but merely a guide to get you thinking.  

Use the above points as a starting point and adapt it as you find out what works best for you.  By staying productive and healthy you give your business the best chance of success.

Got a killer tip that keeps you super productive when working from home? We’d love to hear about it.Please share it with us in the comments below.

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Apr 17th

The 5 Golden Rules For Writing Great Content

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From what your business does to how you communicate on social media pages – your content is key to the success of your business.

Unless words come naturally to you, writing content can be a very daunting task. To help get started we’ve broken down the fundamentals of great content writing into five easy to remember rules.

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Mar 13th

6 Essential Elements all Business Websites Should Have

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There is no doubt about it, building a website is a creative challenge – but it’s important that you don’t get lost in the creativity.

Here at SiteZulu, we spend a lot of time looking at websites and advising our users how to get the best out of their sites.  So this week, we have put together a list of our top six elements all good business websites should have.

These are simple things but are often overlooked. If you’re thinking about building a new website, or feel your existing site needs an overhaul, take a look.

1. A clear statement of what your business does

According to data by Tony Haile of Chartbeat, you have about 15 seconds to capture your visitors attention. so your website must say what you do and say it quickly.

Explain clearly what your business does, what it offers and give the visitor a reason to stay on your site.  A good website tells the visitor what they’re about and what they offer, without having to be asked.

Take a look at the Lace Market Theatre’s website.  As soon as you land on the site you are shown immediately what is showing and what is up coming at the theatre.

2. Images & examples

Sometimes, showing what you do or sell can be more effective than saying it. Using professional photos of your business is a fantastic, simple and effective way to add real value to your website.

If you’re a restaurant, display photos that show off the size and atmosphere of your restaurant– and of course have plenty of mouth-watering photos of your dishes to make customers crave your food.

Take a look at the Deco Noir gallery.  A bijou boutique events company that through exceptional use of photography make you feel like it’s the 1920’s again – top job!

(A word of warning – Please, please please don’t use photo’s taken on your phone – use a DSLR camera, or, even better hire a professional photographer who will take photos that will show off your business in all its glory.)

3. Mobile friendly

You do it, your friends do it, everyone does it – accessing the Internet through a mobile device.

As everything on the Internet is now made-to-go, so too must your website; it must be mobile friendly. If it isn’t, you could (will) lose potential customers.  You are already competing for your customers business, don’t make things difficult for them.

If you are building your website with SiteZulu you don’t have to worry: we have you covered – all our sites are already mobile friendly.  However, If you’re thinking of building your business site with anyone else, make sure it will be mobile friendly.

Contact us card

4. Contact information

It sounds stupid but we see so many small start-up business websites that put everything on their website – except their contact information!

There’s is very little point of having a business website if people can’t contact you.  It’s frustrating for a user and in many ways simply unprofessional.  In some cases it’s a smart idea to put your contact details  on your homepage but if this doesn’t work for your business, make sure you create a dedicated page with your contact information.

The Book Club, a bar and gallery in London, is a great example of a fantastic but simple contact page.  With different email addresses and phone numbers depending on your needs and a handy map for visitors.

5. Simple, Clear Navigation

No one likes the overcomplicated. The same is true for your site: keep the design, content and navigation simple.

Ensure the the layout of your website flows so that visitors can use their intuition to find what they’re looking for. Remember, “a confused mind never buys”.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated – Confucius.

6. Social media links

In a previous post, we discussed how important it is to be using social media for your business – but it’s just as important to have links to your social media pages on your website.

A live stream of your Twitter feed is also a nice idea, so people can see up-to-date information about what you’re doing. You can do the same with Facebook and Google+.

Aside from links to their social media pages on their homepage, Meantime Brewery has a great Twitter wall, which includes re-tweets from customers – some found through the magic of the hashtag.

 

Check, improve then check again

Take this check list, and apply it to your existing website.  Are you guilty of neglecting any of the above points?

Take a look at some of your favourite and most used websites to see what you like most about them.  Think about how you can apply what they are doing to your own website.  You will be amazed at how the simple things can make such a difference to the experience a visitor to your website has.

Think we’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar 7th

The Hashtag: using it to boost your business views on social media

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Hashtags are everywhere.  From being used in text messages to being spotted on the catwalk.  They first arrived on Twitter back in 2007 but have since spread to most other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Blogger and Pinterest.

In this blog we discuss what they are and how you can use them to promote your business online.

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Feb 27th

Why your business needs Social Media

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The term ‘social media’ is everywhere. In this post we dissect why your business needs to be using Social Media and how to take advantage of the right Social platform.

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