This post brought to you by Corporate TravellerID-10047009

So perhaps you’ve just landed your first corporate job, or perhaps you’ve been in the workplace for years. Maybe you’ve been raising eyebrows with how well you’ve been doing or you might have finally proven yourself for the job.

Whatever the situation may be, your boss has decided that you’re ready to go on a business trip, a trip that will establish you in your industry. But while you are ready to take the next step in your career, you somehow don’t feel as ready for work-based travel. Do not fret, for here are three simple tips that will guide through the process:

Plan Ahead

Before you depart, make sure you have written a list of everything you’ll need during the trip. This includes the essentials like clothing, toiletries and your passport, as well as anything you will need for meetings or special events. It’s also a good idea to make sure your journey will be comfortable. Choose luggage that is practical and manoeuvreable and consider if you will need a garment bag. Good accommodation is also very important, so find a hotel that will take care of you and that is close to your desired location. Services like Corporate Traveller can inform you of the best hotel rates and make the process of choosing a lot smoother.

ID-10053921

Extras to Pack

There are a few simple extras you might not have thought to pack, one of which is coat hangers. Assuming that your most of your clothes will be work-appropriate, it is vital that they remain in good condition. Neatly folding them is all very well, but to avoid permanent (as far as your trip is concerned) creases, consider hanging your clothes in the provided closet with the coat hangers you have packed. Snacks are also imperative during a potentially very busy trip, as well as a small notepad — as opposed to a tablet — for important meetings and conventions.

Sell Yourself

It’s important to look and act the part of a corporate traveller, meaning you should try your best to make connections along the way. Sell yourself by handing out business cards, dressing your best, and making new friends. Even if you don’t think this is important, the people you meet for work probably will.

Once you have the basics covered, you can now relax and enjoy the trip for what it is: a trip! Yes, you may be travelling on a work basis, but you still have an entire city to explore, so find some time to roam about town and have some fun. Even if your entire week is booked out and you have only a couple of hours to spare, use those hours to truly enjoy yourself. Treat yourself to a nice restaurant experience, or even grab some takeout and head to a local park so relax on a bench and marvel at your rising success. It might be a while before your next business trip, so seize the opportunity while you can!

Woman image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net – List image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Multi Tasking & Managing Time | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

This post brought to you by FCM TravelID-100181544

Let’s face it: running a business costs money. Whether you have a multinational company or a small local business, managing expenses and monitoring costs is a key component of running a business. Here are five effective ways to help reduce your business expenses:

1. Equipment

Don’t compromise quality for costs. Buying a cheaper product doesn’t mean it’ll be the best choice in the long term. Maintenance, repairs, utility costs… these are all factors to consider when deciding on new equipment for your business. After accounting for all these factors, that cheaper piece of equipment may not be so cost effective after all. Thinking of renting? Purchase items such as printers instead of renting them; tax benefits such as depreciation and not having to worry about ongoing costs will cut your business expenses long term.

2. Outsource

Hiring external people might seem risky, but this can be a great way to reduce business expenses. For example, a freelancer will often end up cheaper than an internal staff member, as you simply stop paying them once their tasks are complete. Hiring interns can also be a cost-effective solution. Another expense-cutting idea is to offer your staff the option to work from home at least one day a week. This might seem a bit strange, but it will save on electricity and water costs that do add up.

3. Business Travel

To travel or not? This is an excellent question when cutting business expenses. Evaluate the expectations of your trip to see if there is a more cost-effective substitute. Do you really need to meet overseas or will a quick Skype call do the job? Even local trips, such as a 20-minute drive to catch up with a client, might be unnecessary if a phone call would suffice. If travel is necessary, contact a professional business travel consultant, such as FCM Travel, as they will have a wide range of cost-effective services and solutions suited for all travel purposes. Before you plan that next business trip, explore all your options and you may find a more cost-effective way to achieve the same results.

ID-100296078

4. Utilities

Paying too much for your utilities? Research your current utility company and compare with others; there could be a better deal out there. Always paying late fees? Check with your current provider whether they have an early or on-time discount. Ever thought about “going green”? From energy efficient light bulbs to water efficient taps, there are many ways to help reduce the cost of your business utilities.

5. Negotiation

Negotiation is key! From suppliers to credit cards, negotiating a better deal can assist in cutting your business expenses. Tired of those high-interest credit cards? Negotiate a lower APR (annual percentage rate) with your bank to reduce your long-term expenses. Don’t forget to pay your bills in full and on time to stop paying late fees to further cut down expenses.

Large or small, your business will incur expenses in its daily operations. If you monitor your expenses, you are sure to find ways to reduce costs in the short and long term. Feel free to share any tips or tricks that cut your business expenses in the comments below.

Cutting costs image courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Travel image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Accounting & Finance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This post brought to you by Absolute DomesticsID-100213919

Sometimes, life gets hectic. Other times, it spins into pure chaos. There are many ways to organise your life so you’re prepared for these times. While spreadsheets and nifty-looking stationery are great for getting organised, the most effective approach is to begin at the core: by organising your mind and your home.

Here are five simple tips for letting you pass through the chaos unruffled:

1. Organise with Long-Term Goals in Sight

To-do lists are tried and tested ways to stay organised, but a more holistic approach is the “core beliefs” list. Begin every week with a set of goals that link in and work towards your long-term values and goals. For instance, if these long-term goals include raising a great family, maintaining personal health, and making a positive contribution at work, you would sort your to-do list under these headings. It can even be a loose association, so long as it resonates with you. Something like “Plan Miss 5’s birthday party” might go under the “Family” subheading, while “Try a Pilates class” would fall under “Health”.

2. Clean and Neat Home

It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s something we often forget: an organised life begins with a tidy house. And that means a house that’s consistently tidy, not just tidy in the few hours after your fortnightly cleaning blitz.

When the dust and clutter build up around you, your ability to think clearly and plan ahead gets clouded. A messy house can be so distracting you may even lose sight of your core values. Commit to a regular cleaning routine as the basis for all other organising activities. If your core values pull you towards dedicating your time to something else, consider hiring someone in to do the work. Companies like Absolute Domestics could send a cleaner to your house every month or every week – however often you need to win your time and head-space back.

ID-100290621

3. Plan Ahead

Set aside time at the end of each day to plan the next. Check in with your diary and weekly goals list. Has one task consumed all your time? You might need to reshuffle and carry over activities. Locate, fix, and lay everything out in its place: lunch for work in the fridge, clothes hanging at the front of your wardrobe, and papers together by the door. This will let you wake up feeling on track.

4. Entries and Exits

You know the feeling: You’re all set to head off for the day when, suddenly, you can’t find your keys, your phone, or your sunglasses. Clear a space by the front door. Place a large storage box, such as a hamper, underneath and a smaller storage container, such as a bowl or shallow basket, on top. Develop a habit of storing your must-have items in these containers, perhaps even including a checklist on the wall of things that should always remain in this area when not being used.

5. File Away

For most of us, the average day comes with a bombardment of literature: flyers, bills, receipts, forms, work papers… the list goes on. Most of it will end up floating aimlessly around the house until you need it, at which point it disappears entirely, destined to reappear only after you’ve torn the place to pieces. Right?

So, a good filing system is essential. We’re well and truly in the electronic age, so why not embrace it in your filing? Throughout the day, collect all your papers in a folder or box. Put aside 10 minutes in the evening to sort the papers. Anything you’d deem mildly important, such as receipts, business correspondence, and user’s guides, can be scanned and entered into your computer, allowing you to throw away the hard copies and save space for the documents you absolutely must physically keep.

Do you have any organisation tips of your own you could add to this list? Don’t be selfish – share them in the comments below and help other readers get their lives organised!

Order/Chaos image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Desk image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Multi Tasking & Managing Time | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

brandingI recently rebranded my business. I still get a thrill out of telling people my new business name and all about what we do; I suspect this feeling will linger for a long time, as I’m confident in the choices I’ve made.

So how did I know it was time to change? Well, to be honest my original name wasn’t a well thought out business name. I was “Interior Decorating by Sophie”, a name selected in a flurry of excitement when I was encouraged to jump in and start my own consultancy to source and supply interior finishes and furnishings for a relatives’ renovation. After finding an available name, I registered an ABN, wrote a one page plan and I was in business.

After having the name for a few years, I learned a few things through networking groups, mentoring sessions, workshops and short courses. The name I had selected had poor SEO (search engine optimisation), my name was in it (which is a mouthful when you make a phone call, let me tell you!), people could never remember the exact name and it wasn’t going to take me to where I want to be in the future; it was simply, well, OK.

I now have a clear vision on exactly what work I want to be doing and the determination to be successful at it. I have a set of goals and know who the clients are that I want to attract, what vocabulary people use to find my service (opposed to technical jargon). I know that my business is growing from ”I” to “we” and I have an exit strategy for the distant future. I now see the value in using other services (I really had to get my head around this, I mean I’m a designer, surely I can design my own business cards using an online program… and I’m smart, I can create my own website using a free template, and I did well in English at school, I can write copy…). What I’ve realised is that I am the key and outsourcing to people that are great at what they do, supplying them with an awesome brief is far more valuable than me “figuring it out” and fumbling by myself.

brandingNow you will find me in the role I’m best at, that I most enjoy and am passionate about. So please let me introduce myself, I’m Sophie Kost, Director and Lead Designer at “My Beautiful Abode”, an interior design and styling consultancy focused on helping people to make their homes beautiful, inviting spaces.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Branding | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

cafe

Has it ever been your dream to open up a quirky garden café that serves up great coffee and wholesome, fresh food in a relaxing atmosphere?

How about an underground bar pouring the best cocktails in the city accompanied by share plates that will make your mouth water?

Opening up a café or bar is something a lot of people consider. Many even take the plunge into the hospitality industry in the hope of realising their true passion and creating a job that doesn’t feel like work. We all know the hospitality industry is not always fine dining, good food and happy customers, so here are the pros and cons of opening your own café or bar:

Pros

  • A culture for dining out is growing as people choose to go out for dinner, try new experiences, and eat delicious food on a regular basis rather than sparingly or for special occasions.
  • Professional shopfitters, such as TU Projects, can make your space completely unique so that you stand out amongst the crowd of average cafés and bars. Shopfitters will also ensure the space works for you and the customers, so everyone can have an enjoyable, relaxing time as soon as they walk in the door.
  • The days are not getting shorter but people are getting busier and busier. This opens up a new opportunity for cafés and restaurants, especially to cater for time-poor families who want good food quickly and for a fair price.
  • There’s the satisfaction that comes with realising you have achieved your dream, created something special for people to enjoy, and secured a host of regular customers who support your business.
  • When things go right, you can achieve, long-term financial security for yourself and the business.

bar

Cons

  • The café and bar industry is saturated with choice, so it can be hard, especially for a new, small business, to stand out in an overcrowded market.
  • The start-up cost involved in opening up a café or bar is high because equipment, produce, and licensing are all large and ongoing expenses.
  • The success of your business and its incoming revenue is highly dependent on your customers. It is a gamble that sees you relying on the opinion of the general public whose views can be very subjective.
  • If you have ventured into the hospitality industry as a new business owner rather than a franchisee, there is no overarching company that will prop you up when you are down. While being an independent business may have its advantages, there is an increased degree of security when franchising an already established brand that you will not have the luxury of relying on.

While this isn’t a list to deter you from opening your own café or bar, it is important to consider both the pros and cons of every project before investing in it financially and emotionally. Balancing the pros and cons will allow you to see every factor of the project without tunnel vision, which is essential when starting a business.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Starting Out | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment