The top source for startup resources, business resources and startup business ideas for young entrepreneurs Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:23:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Festivals Can Teach us About Making our Events Safer and More Successful Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:23:46 +0000 The needs of performers, worse-for-wear teenagers, mile-long queues of traffic, high-tech equipment: they all need looking after at a festival. It’s an understatement to say ensuring everyone’s safety at a festival poses lots of challenges – and the last couple of decades has seen the development of event security solutions to directly meet those challenges. It’s no coincidence that the same time, festivals have become much safer – and popular places.

Very few of us will ever have to organize a spectacle of Woodstock proportions – but lots of us will have an event of some form or other to take care of. Looking at how festival organisers approach things can give us some useful pointers for our own events.

Security shouldn’t be an afterthought

Festivals have grown up in recent years – in more ways than one. It’s not unusual to see septuagenarians headlining main stages – and recent research shows the average age of a festivalgoer is now mid-thirties. Something else has come of age as well: organisers’ attitude to safety. On one occasion back in 1969, The Rolling Stones’ management left the task of stage and equipment security in the hands of Hells Angels – with tragic consequences. Occasionally, you may hear people harking back to the days of huge free concerts – but it’s worth remembering such events could afford to be free largely because of the absence of anything resembling proper security. The price of a ticket for a festival in the 21st Century doesn’t just have to cover the acts; it includes paying for the manpower needed to keep the whole thing descending into chaos.

Whatever size of event you’re organising, take security seriously. It’s about looking at security at the very earliest stages of planning; making proper provision in your budget, liaising with the local authority if appropriate and choosing the right solutions for whatever it is you’ve got planned. It’s not about ringing around for a couple of security guards-cum-car parking attendants a couple of weeks before the event with whatever funds you happen to have left.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to security

You wouldn’t expect a traffic cop to investigate a wallet snatch. In the same way, a close protection guard who’s job is it to ensure a headlining act gets where they need to be when they need to be there, tends to have a subtly different skill-set to personnel skilled in crowd management.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulates the private security industry in the UK and all personnel operating within the sector need to demonstrate they have the basic qualifications for their broad roles. Simply looking for SIA accreditation may not be enough for ensuring you get the right people for your particular requirements. Responsible festival organisers look for specialist providers with a proven track record in this area. You should take a similar approach. If possible, get to see the company in action. How are the personnel relating to the public? How is the event as a whole going? Remember; this is your brand image at stake.

Choosing the right people will help you with risk evaluation and management

Getting the right security provider in at an early stage can provide you with valuable assistance with identifying the risks you need to be aware of. It means that if changes to the event as a whole need to be made, this can be dealt with relatively early in the planning process.

Look after your talent

Will certain guests or keynote performers have bespoke requirements? Effective security is about meeting those needs to enable those individuals to get the most out of the event. Remember; very often these people are the opinion formers whose opinions your general customer base follow avidly. Make sure your VIPs are looked after to ensure they come away with the right impression of your brand.

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These Are Some of The Most Effective Yet Efficient Ways to Get Rich Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:06:10 +0000 Some of the most successful and richest people you know today have great stories about how they made it, what they did right and wrong and the sacrifices they made to become rich. Just so you know, most of the World’s Billionaires (Forbes list) are all entrepreneurs. Getting started on your entrepreneurial journey may just be the best way to riches. There is no reason why you shouldn’t start your own business. Take the risk. You may fail, but at least you tried. Take a chance on yourself.

With an upvote of 4.5k, here is Evan Asano’s (Startup founder, bootstrapper) answer to the question: What is the most effective yet efficient way to get rich (Quora).

1. Start a company. Name a billionaire who didn’t start a company. Yes, there are a few. But they ended up running the company they joined (Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Ballmer, Eric Schmidt). Starting a company may seem completely out of reach and unfathomable, but when you’ve done all the preceding steps, it will be the most logical next one. Successful companies don’t start out with 50 employees and a $10M in revenue, they start out small, tiny and scrappy. They start out in their dorm rooms or their parents garages or spare bedrooms.

The founders beg, borrow and steal to get what they need. Michael Dell started his company by hacking together computers in his dorm room. Walmart started as a single variety store in Newport, Arkansas. Ever hear of Newport, Arkansas? Yeah, me neither. Richard Branson started out selling records by mail, one at a time. Don’t look at the most successful people and companies and see where they ended up or you’ll be overwhelmed. Look where they started and you’ll see how it’s achievable.

2. Learn relentlessly. Read books and books on success, people skills and anything that might have some inkling of strand of wisdom about success and wealth. Especially read the biographies of successful people. In his autobiography, Mark Cuban talks about how we would buy and read any book on business that he thought might help. The $15 he’d spend was a fraction of the wisdom he picked up was worth. Drew Houston of Dropbox talks about how he would spend every weekend reading books on business, sales, marketing, all day longEvery weekend.

3. Become a people person. This is a learnable skill or skills. No one is born a great salesperson. There may be people (like athletics) with better inborn abilities (outgoing, etc). But the best learn, they read, they study, and they practice, relentlessly. A lot of times, those with the best given talent, don’t end up being the top in the field, because at the start, it comes easy to them. The ones that have to work at, work relentlessly and don’t ever get complacent. And then one morning, they wake up and the effortlessness at sales or marketing or leadership that they never thought they would achieve, they now embody.

4. Work hard. As an employer, one of the things that stands out the most with employee is a good work ethic. It’s worth it’s weight in gold. Drop your expectations and ego, and put your nose to the grind and good things will happen.

5. Take risks. Not dumb, fickle risks and not gambles. But smart, calculated risks where you have a good chance at succeeding. You won’t always succeed, but you will learn a huge amount in the process and you will garner an enormous amount of respect from people in doing so.

6. Create multiple income streams. Start writing, consulting, tutoring, fixing things, just get busy with a second source of revenue. This will get you hungry for more and you’ll double your learning. You’ll see that a job tutoring on the side, can lead to starting your own tutoring company on the side. Your marketing consulting job can lead to writing Amazon books on marketing.

Quotes from the billionaires

1. You have to have success and failure. Both make you better, both help you learn and both will help you fail less often. But you have to have both.—Darwin Deason

2. You have got to experience setbacks. A few years after I’d started by own hedge fund, I had a terrible year. I was down 23% in 1994. I had to work hard, persevere, move ahead. By the next year I was back up 30%.–Leon Cooperman

3. Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.–Warren Buffett

4. I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars: I look around for one-foot bars that I can step over.– Warren Buffett

5. When you live for others’ opinions, you are dead. I don’t want to live thinking about how I’ll be remembered. -Carlos Slim Helu

6. We’re going where no one has gone before. There’s no model to follow, nothing to copy. That is what makes this so exciting.– Richard Branson

7. Vision is perhaps our greatest strength… it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.–Li Ka-Shing

8. If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.-John D Rockefeller

9. Whether you’ve found your calling, or if you’re still searching, passion should be the fire that drives your life’s work.–Michael Dell

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What’s Stopping the UK Becoming a Nation of Volunteers? Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:34:29 +0000 Shortly before and after the last general election, there was a loud call to action for more volunteers. Five years on, the evidence on whether this made any difference is distinctly mixed. Figures suggest we like the idea of volunteering in principle – it’s just that most of us don’t sign up to it in practice. We take a look at what’s stopping people getting involved – and what charitable and other organisations can do to remove those obstacles.

Did the big society persuade us to get involved?

A big part of the Government’s flagship policy involved encouraging people to take a more active role in their communities through volunteering. Did it work? The jury’s still out. According to UK Civil Society, the number of volunteers actually declined when the recession was at its height and when The Big Society was at the forefront of Government policy.  A couple of years later though, the Government’s Community Life Survey was suggesting there was an increase in volunteering activity – in some form or other – between 2010 and 2012.

Experiences differ between organisations. The London Olympics, for instance, did not seem to have a positive effect on the number of sports clubs volunteers. On the other hand, organisations as diverse as The Samaritans and The National Trust were reporting record numbers of people offering their services. Recent figures suggest a big rise in the number of volunteers helping to keep local libraries afloat.

Quite a lot of us are keen on the idea but don’t quite get around to doing anything about it. A survey from the Royal Voluntary Service for instance suggested 13% of us said they were planning on volunteering in January last year – but by December, the number of volunteers only grew by 2%.

What’s stopping you getting involved? 

‘I can’t afford the time’

Effective management of volunteers involves not only marrying skills to requirements but also recognising that many volunteers are limited in terms of the time they can devote to voluntary activities. Your skills and time will be welcome – even if it’s just for a few hours a month.

Although being out of work offers people the time to get involved, it also seems those out of work are less likely to volunteer for formal activities (something which may explain the fall in volunteering rates when the recession was at its worst). It’s worth bearing in mind that volunteering does not affect your entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance – so long as you are still able to look for paid work in the meantime.

‘I won’t be able to do anything useful’

Are you going to be able to genuinely add value to the organisation? Will you be able to develop your own skills in the process? Look at whether the organisation has something specific in mind for you. Most of us do not want to offer our time – only to find ourselves scratching around looking for something to do. From the point of view of the organisation, a useful way forward is a formal induction and interview; assessing the existing talents of the individual and looking at how they might be developed whilst meeting the needs of the organisation.

‘I won’t be allowed to “get stuck in”’

The development of tailored charity insurance solutions means there is no excuse for charities not to obtain effective coverage that ensures volunteers are protected. From the perspective of organisations, the appropriate way forward is to liaise closely with brokers – telling them what activities they have in mind for their volunteers and ensuring the protection is in place to enable them to get fully involved.

Risk management and assessment is part of this too. Provision of proper training, supervision and progress monitoring: these all help to ensure volunteering is a rewarding experience for all involved.

You’re likely to be pleasantly surprised at just how many opportunities are out there that fit in with your lifestyle. Forget the obstacles and get involved.

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The New Face of Online Classifieds Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:50:28 +0000 Online classifieds are growing fast in recent times. Most companies are now comfortable advertising to the larger online consumers. It’s easier to reach young consumers who spend most of their time online. And most importantly it’s a cheaper way to reach millions of people compared to traditional advertising. Online classifieds will still be the preferred way to advertise goods and services to a greater audience for a very long time.

The market will get bigger as the number of internet users increase. But only online classifieds that change with time and serve consumers with better information in an intuitive way will ultimately win. Niche classifieds that focus on single sections of the bigger pie including automobile, real estate, job opportunities etc have a good chance to get even bigger. The growth has made it even more significant to create online classifieds for specific markets or countries.

With the introduction of hundreds if not thousands of online classifieds after the success of Craigslist, the only way to win big is to focus on usability. Consumers don’t have time to waste on sites that make it difficult to find products or services. Filtering is of immense importance to every consumer. If you don’t get it right, users will easily move to the competitor next door.

How big is the market?

Classifieds is considered one of the oldest form of advertising but new and online technologies are changing how goods and services are traded or exchanged. The internet has made it even easier to list products online to reach customers from different parts of the world. Every country rely on some form of classifieds for information on products currently on the market. In the US  alone, the online classifieds market has experienced significant growth over the years. The US Classifieds marketplace was estimated to grow to about $25 billion by 2010. Since the research, Online classified market has experienced further growth and it will get even bigger in the future.

Other regions and countries are yet to fully benefit from online classifieds. The growth in emerging countries are not as strong as developed countries, but there is still opportunities for growth. Online advertising in Africa and The Middle East is expected to reach $2.8bn by 2016.  Asia’s online advertising is expected to hit US$53.2 billion by 2016. Free classifieds in Ghana are taking shape despite Google’s decision to shut down its Google Trader free classified platform last year.

Focus on usability 

To make the most of online classifieds in any region, companies would have to improve customer experience right from the beginning. Product listings, filtering, search options and general presentation of ads and services would have to appeal to the user to get their attention and to ensure your users return time and time again. Unless you are Craigslist (which hasn’t invested in aesthetics in a very long time), you should focus on giving your users the best user experience to attract and retain new customers.

Invest in better search options

The growth of mobile devices has made it even more crucial to invest in a cleaner layout. Your business should be improving search to win mobile users. It’s a great challenges to present products and services on a small mobile device but customers expect the very best experience to stay with your business. Make your search better and get your filters right and users are more likely to come back for more. The more you grow as an online classified site, the better your user experience should be for your users.

Despite the increase in online classified sites, you can only win big if you provide what users expect when they visit your site. Product or service presentation is key to success.

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Are You Getting the Most out of Summer to Promote Your Business? Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:28:53 +0000 If your summer marketing efforts consist of little more than firing off some seasonal vouchers, you’re missing a trick. As your customers head outdoors, you should too.

We all know successful marketing is about engaging effectively with your customers – and this involves reacting to what they’re doing at any particular time. As things heat up, shopping (both online and offline) gets pushed lower down customers’ list of things to do. Yes it’s a challenge for marketers – but it’s also an opportunity. It’s time to get out there and connect. Here are a few ways to do just that…

Take advantage of the staycation crowd

According to TripAdvisor’s latest release on British travel trends, “staycations” look set to be popular for 2014. London and Edinburgh head the list of top 15 travel destinations for Brits this summer. Also in the list are Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham. If you’re looking for they type of promotional event that’s designed to have people flocking to you, pay close attention to where your customers are likely to be.

Appeal to the tastebuds

Whether it’s an invite-only event for existing clients or a promotional drive aimed at new customers, one sure-fire hit for getting people’s attention is the promise of good food. By all means, make it fun – but don’t make it amateurish. A few burnt sausages aren’t going to do you any favours (and in all likelihood will get you into trouble with environmental health). Make sure you’re tooled up with decent equipment  – and above all, catering staff who know what they’re doing.

Remember, this is not simply a giveaway for the sake of it. You’re playing host – but at the same time you’re inviting customers to engage with the product you’re promoting. Couple appropriate branding with ways to make it easy for your customers to try the product (or find out more about it) while they eat and drink.

Engage locally

If you’re appealing to a local market, where are those people likely to be gathering this summer? For every Glastonbury and Glyndebourne there are hundreds of mini festivals, family fun days and other cultural events up and down the country. Which of these are likely to be honeypots for your customer base?

A table with a few leaflets manned by a bored-looking receptionist isn’t going to provoke much interest. If you want to make a splash, think more along the lines of providing (and sponsoring) a ducking stool – or even better, a bucking bronco. Your involvement could even be as simple as providing and sponsoring a prize at a local village fair. You have three crucial factors to consider: your proposed promotional activity should be an appropriate fit for the event taking place; it should be appropriate for the customers you’re looking to communicate with and finally, it should be in keeping with your brand image.

Back to basics with advertising

Take a look at this breakdown for the UK advertising spend last year. We all know print media is struggling – but it may surprise you to see out of home advertising is actually holding its own pretty well. Even for small businesses with a local customer base, it’s all too easy to focus entirely on your online marketing strategy and quietly shelve simple street presence ideas as hopelessly old fashioned. If you’ve got an idea that’s consistent with your brand; that won’t break the bank and is easy to implement, now’s the time to give it a go.

Make summer 2014 a time to connect with your customers in a way that will make them remember you when the sun stops shining.

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3000+ Amazing Business, Productivity, Blogging and Life Hack Resources Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:43:58 +0000 There are now hundreds of thousands if not millions of resources online to do just about everything. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find everything you need. It now takes a lot of time to find exactly what you need. To make things easier for you, we have put together this list of awesome business, blogging, life hacking and productivity resources you need to do almost everything online (and offline). This is a comprehensive list you can bookmark for future reference. Share with your audience and followers.

1. Business Resources

FORBES 100 Best Websites For Entrepreneurs –Some of the best business blogs you need to start and grow your new business.

24 Must-Read Blogs For Entrepreneurs–Business Insider’s list of the best sources of small business and tech news for entrepreneurs.

100+ Resources For Starting And Growing Your Startup Now– Our list of some of the great resources you need to kickstart your startup

Top 60+ Content Marketing Education Resources–Educational resources — from blogs and videos to training, events and more on content marketing from Marketing Land.

Top 100 tools for your online business or startup –Some of the best apps and products for getting your business up and running.

The 10 Best Marketing Resources for Startup Marketers–The business marketing blogs your should be reading. The best blogs that are educating readers on marketing.

39 Resources for Understanding the Science & Psychology Behind Great Marketing – The guys at KISSmetrics have put together a great list of all the resources you need to educate yourself on great marketing.

The 100 Best Free SEO Tools & Resources for Every Challenge – Interactive– Moz collection of 100 best completely free and paid SEO tools get your SEO right.

55 Email Marketing Tools For Small Businesses To Use –Email marketing still works. If you need some of the best services and products on email marketing, this list has everything covered.

29 Free Internet Tools To Improve Your Marketing Starting Today -Buffer’s collection of the top free marketing tools in a variety of marketing categories.

60 Awesome Social-Media Tools for Entrepreneurs –A list of social media tools to streamline your social-media functions.

29 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros –The Best social tools to enhance your social media marketing.

2. Productivity Resources

The big list of 100 tools, tips and tricks to work more efficiently online –Buffer’s list of 100 tools, tips and tricks to work better, smarter and faster everyday.

Top 100 Tools for Learning in 2014 –Great list of resources, tools, and apps to help you learn something new this year.

61 Productivity Experts Reveal Their 3 Favorite Productivity Tools –A full list of tools voted by productivity experts as the best in the market.

64 Ways Location Independent People Earn a Living –Earn a living that would allow you to live and work anywhere in the world.

50 Essential Resources for Online Freelancers & Entrepreneurs –Some of the best freelance and self-employment related resources out there.

50 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone –An all-in-one productivity resource list for your review.

20 Twitter Resources for Job Hunters –Twitter related resources for finding your next job.

500+ Ways To Make Money Online –A huge list of the many ways you can earn money online.

The Write Life Presents: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 –A list of 100 Best Websites for Writers into 11 different categories.

3. Blogging Resources

81 Topic Ideas for Starting a Blog that Matters–A huge list of the blog topics for those looking to start a relevant blog today.

57 Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic — effective tactics that boost your blog traffic.

The 100 Best, Most Interesting Blogs and Websites of 2014–This is a huge collection of the most interesting and awesome blogs you should know. It covers almost every industry.

73+ Pivotal Blogging Shortcuts, Tools and Tips for 2014 — A list of shortcuts, resources and tips you can use in your blogging career.

53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts — Where can you find free, good quality images that are cleared to use for your blog.

52 Totally Free Resources for Freelance Bloggers — Some of the best and free resources for freelance blogging success.

63 Blogging Tools That Will Make You Insanely Productive –Tools, resources, apps and services to make you a productive blogger.

100 useful blogging tools– Blogging platforms and tools that can help you optimize your blog for growth.

40+ Essential Tips, Tools and Resources to Start a WordPress Blog — Some of the top tips, tools, and resources you need to start a WordPress blog.

Top 60 WordPress Plugins of 2014–The best WordPress plugins you should be using.

How to Grow Your Blog to 100,000 Visits a Month Within 1.5 Years –The best strategies you need to grow your blog traffic today.

4. Lifehack Resources

How to Anonymize Everything You Do Online–Everything you need to go a step closer toward true privacy online.

The 101 Most Useful Websites –These are some of the most useful websites on the internet you probably don’t know about.

24 Awesome Tools That Can Help You Learn Something New This Year– Apps and sites you need to learn something new.

60 Productive Websites to Spend Time on When You’re Bored –The websites listed here can help you spend your time wisely when you’re bored.

20 Tools to Showcase Your Portfolio — Some of the best tools and platforms to build a custom portfolio that shows off your creative work

125 Ways to Manage Your Money –Here are 125 tips to help you make the most of your money.

50 Free Resources to Help Manage Your Money –Here are 50 great tools, apps, spreadsheets, calculators, services, and informational resources.

The Best Websites to Learn Coding Online A list of some of the best online and programming books that can help you learn programming.

47 Top Typography Tools and Resources–Resources to help you improve and learn more about typography.

30 Sites For Legal (and Free) Torrents –All of the content at these sites is legal to download and distribute.

The App 100: The World’s Greatest Apps– Business Insider’s list of the world’s 100 best apps.

13 Google Search Tricks That Make Life A Whole Lot Easier — Consider this your instructions manual for the world’s most popular search engine.

Lifehacker’s Most Popular How-To Guides of 2013 — Some of the best and most popular how-tos from the year 2013.

77 Facts That Sound Like Huge Lies But Are Actually Completely True– Get ready to be blown away by these facts.

50 Things Every Man Should Do: The Ultimate Bucket List –Here’s a whole bunch of things men can add to their to-do list.

5. Miscellaneous Tools/Apps

The best free stock image resources on the Web–Just the best and free images for everything you need.

The 100 Best iPhone Apps of 2014–PC Magazine’s list of the best iPhone apps for 2014.

100 Free Useful Mac Applications –For Mac users, this is a list of useful yet free applications you can install for your Mac.

The Ultimate List of Online Resources for Being a Better Photographer –A list of resources that photographers generally use and how they use them.

77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything –Learn new photography techniques – and master old ones – with this essential photographer’s resource.

Most Popular Photography Tips, Tricks, and Hacks –Lifehacker’s most popular photography tips, tricks, and hacks of 2013.

The Top 50 Mac Apps –Check out some of the best Mac apps out there to enhance your Mac experience.

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Is It a Real Law Firm? Wonga Saga Reminds us to be on Guard Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:23:49 +0000 Payday loan providers, Wonga recently issued a formal apology to customers in the wake of ‘fake law firm’ revelations. It emerged the company had sent out letters to thousands of customers purporting to be from separate organisations and giving the impression that outstanding debts had been passed on to law firms. In fact, Wonga had itself sent those letters.

The story highlights a number of wider issues for real lawyers. For one thing, it is in solicitors’ best interest to be on their guard against bogus law firms. This involves checking the credentials of firms they come into contact with in the course of dealing with clients (especially where solicitors have not heard of those firms before). It also provides a reminder to solicitors of the need to provide accurate information on letterheads and other materials (including websites) regarding their organisation and the status of individuals within it.

What was the issue with Wonga?

Between 2008 and 2010 more than 40,000 customers in arrears had received letters from “Barker & Lowe” and “Chainey, D’Amato and Shannon”. The impression given was that the debt was now in the hands of lawyers. In reality, the firms did not exist and took the names of Wonga employees.

The Financial Conduct Authority has already concluded these activities amounted to “unfair and misleading debt collection practices”. The Law Society has called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate the matter – including possible cases to answer under the offence of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and blackmail as well as possible offences under the Solicitors Act 1974 and the Legal Services Act 2007. In its press release, the Law Society made specific reference to the fact that not only is the misuse of the title ‘solicitor’ a criminal offence, so too is the use of any wrongful description implying that a person is ‘qualified or recognised by law as qualified to act as a solicitor’.

A separate issue on a similar theme involves banks, utilities companies and similar institutions sending letters from in-house legal departments. To clarify matters, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has issued a fresh warning notice reminding companies against giving the misleading impression that a separate organisation has been instructed to take legal action, when in fact the matter is in the hands of the in-house legal team.

Issues for the wider profession

It is of course very easy to check the status of a firm and individual solicitors via the Law Society website. In litigation, property, family and similar matters, most solicitors find themselves dealing with the same third party representatives day in, day out. Where a name arises that they are unfamiliar with, it is advisable to carry out verification checks – including contacting the Law Society or SRA direct where appropriate.

Taking a wide view, this helps to protect the reputation of the profession. More importantly, it protects the interests of clients. In litigation for example, if it turns out the opposing party has chosen unqualified representatives who do not carry solicitors professional indemnity insurance and who are unregulated in their activities, remedying this at an advanced stage can cause unnecessary delay.

Solicitors should also take steps to ensure their house is in order when it comes to the information they provide about their firm. Information on letters, websites, promotional material and emails should make it clear the firm is ‘authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’. The desired outcome of regulation in this area is to ensure clients and others are able to make informed decisions on whether and under what capacity to instruct the firm.

Areas that deserve special attention include avoiding the inference that certain individuals are ‘Partners’ (or are of similar standing) when they are not – as well as giving the impression clients are dealing with a solicitor when it is a paralegal who has day-to-day conduct of the matter.

Remember; the impression of being ‘misled’ in this area (however innocently) is likely to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of clients.

For guidance on creating the insurance solutions that best protects your assets, revenues, and lifestyle, think Bluefin. As a top ten independent UK insurance broker, Bluefin provides specialist advice across all classes of business including property, employers liability, public and products liability, professional indemnity, contractors all risks, motor and engineering.

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7 Things That Could Be Holding You Back From Being Your Very Best In Life Mon, 28 Jul 2014 11:44:47 +0000 You can still achieve that goal. Your dream can still be realised if you don’t give up just yet. Most people give up on their dreams too easily or too early because they think it’s not realistic anymore or they become complacent, settling into a normal routines and give up on the idea that they can really make an impact and change their lives. Don’t settle. A lot of your goals in life can still be achieved if you get out of your comfort zone and push yourself a little bit further.

These are a few things that could be holding you back from being your very best in life.

1. I can never be good enough. By saying this, you’re effectively striving for perfection, which does not exist. You’ll never be good enough as long as you don’t give yourself a chance to try in the first place. Don’t aim for perfection. Don’t strive for perfection. Aim to be prolific. So just do it. Make all the mistakes you can. Pick yourself and grow. By all means, keep moving. Don’t give up just yet.

2. I will never as good as him/her.  Whatever you intend to do or are doing, you will look at others who are much further down the road from you and expect your results to be similar to theirs, today. Since you cannot see their struggle, the mistakes and the hundreds of little improvements they made every single day, you assume these never existed. Get closer to one of the people you look up to and ask them what it took to get to where they are now. You will be surprised at what you find.

By comparison you will feel inadequate, incapable and discouraged. Shift your focus instead to where you are today compared to yesterday to get a more accurate picture of the progress you’re making today instead of comparing yourself those at the top.

3. I just don’t have the time.  Everyone knows someone who just seems to get a lot more done than other people. You may be asking yourself: How do these folks do it? They must have no life. Actually, they have a great life. They’ve figured out what is important to them, and they’re making it happen. Figure out what’s important to you. Strip away all the stuff that isn’t. Then make it happen. We’re all given the same amount of time. The only difference is how we use it.

4. I need permission/approval.  It could take you a while to get something significant done if you are always looking for some kind of approval from others close to you in life. You are looking for that approval to confirm that you’re on the right path. You may never get it. Actually, you don’t need it.

You don’t want to disappoint. And so you end up stuck and paralysed at the same place for a very long time. You don’t need approval to start your dream career, You don’t permission to start that project. Just go ahead and give it a try. Start doing, stop seeking approval.

5. I am waiting for the right time. The right time is now. You can never be prepared enough. You keep putting something off because it’s not the “right” time yet. You need to make a few more improvements, get more experience, learn a few more skills. You wait for the economy to improve. Guess what, the right time may never come. Only by starting will you discover what else needs to be done or improved, never before.

6. I will probably fail, why bother! Nah. It won’t do you any good if you don’t try, for failure only comes when you stop trying. And failure is your best ally when it comes to your endeavours. It is through failure where you’d learn the most. So don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t let the idea of failure hold you back.

Don’t let your fears hold you back. Whatever you’ve been planning, whatever you’ve imagined, whatever you’ve dreamed of, get started on it today. If you want to start a business, take the first step. If you want to change careers, take the first step.

7. I am not talented enough. “If I had any talent, this would be much easier. I’m not cut out for this.” When you start your project, you discover it’s a steep uphill struggle to get where you want. You make it mean you’re lacking in some way. Don’t buy into this mindset. Anything you do will get easier the more you do it. Persistence and not talent is the secret to success, so stick to it, keep working at it and eventually you’ll find yourself at the top where you belong.

Image courtesy rachel^ (Flickr)

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How the Cloud has Revolutionized Video Conferencing for Business Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:41:17 +0000 Video conferencing is one of the best communication tools developed to date; it could be argued that the only form of communication that is better than video conferencing is talking to a person face-to-face. Video conferencing allows people to interact with one another no matter the distance between them; a person in Japan can easily talk face-to-face to someone in Canada easily through the virtual environment provided via video conferencing and the Internet.

The advantages to being able to communicate instantly over long distances has been known for quite some time; the telephone has been around for over a hundred years and is still used as the primary communication tool for just about everyone living in a technologically inclined society.

But a telephone only transmits voice, and sometimes not even very well, whereas video conferencing transmits a video of a person, allowing for more in-depth communication and understanding. Humans communicate through verbal and non-verbal means, and a great deal of understanding is lost through voice only communication. Humans need to see each other in order to have a more complete understanding of someone else’s message.

According to Mobile Office, non-verbal cues are an important aspect of business communication. Taking hints from people’s body language and facial expressions can allow the speaker to tailor their message to fit the mood of the listener. Additionally, employers can use facial tics and body language to catch employees being less than truthful.

In the Past

Even though video conferencing is a revolutionary form of communication, it wasn’t always as accessible as it is now. In the past, video conferencing at a business level required thousands of dollars of specialized equipment that could take up an entire room. The participants would need to be in a special conference room where they could be on camera while the other end did the same. Conferencing through personal computers has been available since the early 1990s, but high quality video and audio didn’t appear until 2005.

While video conferencing is beneficial in almost every aspect you could think of, it hasn’t always been practical. For quite some time, video conferencing was limited to large businesses as the cost of the equipment and the space needed to house the system made it a viable option for those businesses that had the resources. Its usefulness to consumers was also limited due to technology; the consumer needed a computer powerful enough to run the program and an Internet connection capable of dealing with the higher bandwidth usage of video and audio, and until the advent of high definition, the quality of the video could be quite horrendous.

In the past, a telephone call was arguably cheaper and easier to deal with than trying to use video conferencing. Yet video conferencing is more prevalent today than ever before, and that is partially due to the revolution in the mobile market. The invention of the smartphone and tablet revolutionized the way people communicate and interact with technology on a day-to-day basis.

With smartphones, people had computers powerful enough to easily handle high quality video and audio without any issue, alongside the ever increasing power provided through phone networks. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, video conferencing become far more viable and attractive to small businesses and private consumers.

The Cloud

The Cloud is one of the more recent developments of the Internet; it’s basically a network of servers that allow users to store data or utilize a service without an intermediary hardware. According to Mashable, each server that is connected to the cloud serves a different purpose, some are for data storage while others run services that users can access through subscription fees.

Services like SkyDrive and Dropbox are cloud based services, meaning they don’t require the user to actually have any sort of hardware in order to use them (besides a computer or phone to access the service). Thanks to the cloud, video conferencing services no longer require a huge, sophisticated setup confined to a single conference room.

Conferencing services like Blue Jeans Network allow people to use their smart phones or tablets to join in on multi-party conferences from anywhere as long as they have access to Internet service. The benefits this provides businesses are astronomical; not only does it save on time and travel, but it also allows collaboration and interdepartmental communication unlike anything before.

Two business colleagues no longer need to go to a specific room in order to video chat; they can simply download a lightweight client to their mobile device and instantly be part of a big business meeting or just a conversation between the two, according to Processor.

With services like those provided by Blue Jeans Network readily available to any and all mobile users, businesses can communicate within their own hierarchy and with other businesses in ways never imagined in the past.

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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone (Your Success Depends on it) Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:59:40 +0000 “Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!” T. Harv Eker

It’s about time you took that risk and try that new idea, you have hesitated for far too long. The reward (and the lessons learned) will be, without question, worth the risk. You may be doing what everyone does–conforming to norms and and everyday pressure around you but that’s not where you need to be.

No one likes to move beyond his or her comfort zone, but that’s really where the magic happens. It’s where you can grow, learn, and develop in a way that expands your horizon beyond your wildest dream. Everything remarkable happens beyond the safe zone. By pushing yourself into new areas you will have a chance to authentically define who you are, and break free of the limitations of what others think you should be.

Growth outside your comfort zone can mean confidence in other areas. One of the greatest benefits of stepping out of your comfort zones in areas like speaking at events or stepping up your exercise routine is that growth or progress in your current endeavour can give you a massive amount of confidence in almost every other area of your life. This is a good reason why you should have many areas where you stretch yourself.

According to Marla Tabaka (an Entrepreneurial Coach and an Inc. Magazine author): “Your comfort zone keeps you in a very predictable space: You usually know exactly what’s going to happen. A fear of the unknown will keep you stuck forever. So the trick here is to let go of your expectations and accept the results of your actions. Take risks in measured amounts. If you are designing a new consulting program or rolling out a new product, do it in small bits. Don’t go gangbusters and risk losing it all. Gamble with something you are willing to lose. These losses will teach you something, such as how to make the product better or market it differently. Look forward to the outcome, whatever it is.” Inc.

Too many of us are still playing it safe in our choices everyday. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” That’s a quote you should always think about when change and  risk taking seem like a long shot to take. Nobody said it would be easy to start a new project, start and maintain a new habit or even stop that habit you have been thinking about for the past six months.But the ugly truth is that if you don’t do something sigificant about it, you not be able to change at all.

Whatever profession you find yourself, there are somethings you just can’t think about changing, but if you expect a different and even better results, it’s about time you did something different. The results of a step outside your comfort zone could change your outlook on other challenges you may be considering or other  ideas you want to try for your business.

This is what Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group) has to say about taking risks and challenging yourself: “At Virgin, I use two techniques to free our team from the same old routine: breaking records and making bets. Taking chances is a great way to test myself and our group, and also to push boundaries while having fun together. One of the great benefits of taking on challenges in your working life is that you and your team learn to confront risk together – and also to lose sometimes, because when you make a good wager, the odds are not going to be in your favor. The calculated risks you and your team take should be strategic judgments, not just blind gambles: Protect the downside by figuring out the odds of success, working out what the worst possible consequences would be, then deciding whether to accept.”

Get out of your comfort zone, your success or breakthrough probably depends on it. If you do better outside your safe zone, you will most likely start thinking about how you can do it more often. If it turns out bad, you would have learnt one more way that doesn’t work. Either way, it’s never a bad idea to do something that scares you a little bit; it’s taking that chance and seeing the outcome that may surprise you.

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