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Guest Article: How to Feel Your Best While Working From Home

Today we are hearing from Eleanor Wyatt about working from home and making it your best space. Most of you know I’ve been working from home since 1996 so I believe her ideas are really relatable. While the word “employees” is used, these tips relate to anyone who works from home. Enjoy!

How to Feel Your Best While Working From Home

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For many employees, working from home offers benefits that can’t be found in a regular office setting. No commute means more time to enjoy your family and more opportunities to spend time on personal pursuits. But for some, it can also feel isolating and even depressing. How do we find a good balance when home and office are one and the same? We have a few tips to share with you:

Improve the Ergonomics of Your Home Office

If you’re working from home full time, you can’t just plop down on the couch with your laptop anymore. You need to invest in an ergonomic desk chair, or you’ll be at risk for some serious back and neck pain. Make sure your desk is at a comfortable height as well so your feet can rest flat under it. There are also many gizmos and gadgets on the market that you can purchase to improve your posture and prevent repetitive motion injuries, so find the ones that help you feel your best while you’re working at your desk.

Give More Definition to Your Work Area

If your desk sits in a corner of your living room or bedroom, consider partitioning off your home office space. Adding elements like tall plants or shelving units can help define the space without making the room feel smaller. An area rug will also visually set your work area apart. Additionally, getting rid of the clutter around you is especially important if you don’t have dedicated office space. Too much visual clutter can distract you from your work, provide negative stimulation, and wear you down as your eyes and brain have no place to rest. So strive to achieve a more streamlined look in your work environment to reduce your stress levels.

Wear Comfortable, Yet Fashionable Clothing

Working from home allows you to wear the clothes you feel most comfortable in. But wearing frumpy sweats and pajama pants every day can take its toll on your morale and even lower your self-esteem, so make sure to add a few pretty pieces to your wardrobe to boost your confidence, even if you’re the only one in the room. Invest in supportive yet comfortable bras that will compliment any top you wear–a must when you have a videoconference coming up. Dressing up for work even if you stay home will help you establish better boundaries between your professional and your personal life.

Step Outside for a Quick Reset

Spending all day and night in the same space is bound to give you a bad case of cabin fever at some point. So set time aside every day to step out of the house and leave the stress of work behind. Call a friend or colleague who may be in the same situation as you are, and decide on a good place to meet like a local park or a coffee shop where you’ll be able to enjoy each other’s conversation and company. A brisk walk around the block can also help you unwind after a stressful online meeting, and taking a quick break in the fresh air will help you regain some much-needed energy when you’re working hard to complete a difficult project.

As the novelty of working from home wears off and the boundaries between professional and personal lives become blurrier with each passing day, a few changes to your workspace and your wardrobe may help you stay focused on your job and still be able to tend to what matters: your mental health, wellness, and happiness.

Eleanor Wyatt of Remote Work Wellness has a host of ‘hacks’ for at-home workers so be sure to check out her site.

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Guest Article: The How & Why of Starting a Business During the Pandemic

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The beginning of the pandemic saw headlines dominated by stories of job losses and closing businesses. However, the following months saw momentum swing in the opposite direction with a record number of businesses being started across the country. As reported by the Census Bureau, upwards of 4 million new business applications were received in the year 2020, and current projections show this number to increase further in the years to come.

Not only has the opening of new businesses helped the economic recovery, but they’ve also been a prime source of job creation during the pandemic. If you’ve been contemplating starting a business, this article will explore why now is the best time to do so and how to ensure your entrepreneurial journey is successful.

Focus on Customer Needs

According to research, here are industries that have experienced massive growth through the pandemic:

  • Home Renovations: This includes selling products such as paints, tools, or services such as interior designing, handyman services, etc.
  • Food: Meal prep services, homemade organic foods, and food delivery services have been major winners during the pandemic.
  • Gifting: While this can encompass any product from chocolates to rings, brands that have marketed their offerings as the perfect gift for special occasions have experienced high sales.

As a new player in the market, entering a thriving industry will help you get your business off the ground faster.

Have a Business Plan

While millions of businesses are opening each year, unfortunately not all of them will survive. One of the main culprits for this is a lack of planning. To ensure your business doesn’t fall prey to this mistake, your first goal should be to create a business plan.

A business plan encompasses all important aspects of your business such as short and long-term goals, financial requirements, funding sources, marketing strategy, and details about your offerings. Your plan provides you with a clear vision of how to manage your business and provides valuable insights while making important decisions.

Delegate Responsibilities

A sign of a good entrepreneur is their ability to manage time by delegating responsibilities as needed. While you spend your time handling important projects such as securing funding, creating business strategy, etc., look to pass on subsequent projects like those mentioned below to the experts at Hilltop Secretarial Service:

Email Management: From sorting emails based on priority to prompt replies to customer queries, all your email communication needs will be handled, saving you hours each day.

Virtual Assistant: To avoid distractions during work, forward your calls to a virtual assistant such as Hilltop Secretarial, who can handle customer queries, receive appointment requests, and screen calls.

WordPress Blog Administration: A WordPress administrator will handle all responsibilities relating to designing, posting, and maintaining your company blog, leading to an increase in website traffic and business.

Choose the Right Business Structure

When it comes to choosing the best business structure as an entrepreneur, a Limited Liability Company tops the list due to the following advantages:

  • It makes you eligible for tax write-offs and a lower tax rate
  • Establishes your business as a separate legal entity, reducing liability during disputes
  • Makes it easier to add or remove partners
  • Has fewer requirements as compared to other business structures

When deciding to form an LLC, opt to use a formation service such as ZenBusiness. It will help avoid dealing with lengthy paperwork, adhere to state-specific regulations, and drastically reduce costs compared to filing independently.

While skeptics will view the pandemic as a period to delay their business plans, the data and market conditions point towards the perfect opportunity for motivated entrepreneurs to create new thriving businesses.

By Elena Stewart from Elenastewart.com

Guest Post: Building Your Startup: Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

Whether you’re a recent graduate with an exciting business idea or a young professional who would prefer to run your own startup rather than work for someone else, entrepreneurship might be in your future. If you’ve been daydreaming about a particular business idea, these tips from The Hilltop Group will help you execute your entrepreneurial vision.

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Outline Your Idea

First, you’ll need to get your ideas down in writing. Jot down your thoughts – what do you plan to sell? Will you need a retail space? Will you work independently, or hire employees? WeWork advises writing down all of these details in an organized business plan.

Budgeting and Funding

As you create your business plan, you should also include information about your budget projections. You’ll need to determine whether or not you can fund your business from your own savings to start, or if you’ll need to apply for outside funding. Foundr suggests using crowdfunding platforms to raise money or applying for relevant grants.

Hiring Employees and Establishing Payroll

You may not be able to handle every aspect of running your startup by yourself. But how can you find trustworthy employees? Look for candidates who have great potential in addition to relevant experience. Ideally, you’ll want to hire reliable people who are passionate about your company’s mission.

Getting your payroll off the ground will be an essential part of setting up your startup for success. Setting up your payroll will involve creating a payroll schedule, asking new hires to fill out W-4 forms, and organizing your employees’ information.

Forming an LLC

You can begin offering your products or services to clients and customers before deciding on an official business structure, but if you’re planning to form an LLC, it’s best to take care of this task early on. You’ll be able to enjoy an array of benefits for your business if you form an LLC, including tax perks, flexibility, and limited liability. The process won’t involve dealing with much paperwork. Make sure to research the rules for the state where you live before you begin gathering your documents for filing. Each state has its own process.

Creating a Supportive Culture

As you run your company, don’t solely focus on maximizing profits – think about how you can become a better leader and create a positive company culture. You’ll have an easier time attracting and retaining top employees! Be willing to listen to your employees when they have feedback and integrate their suggestions into company operations when necessary. Step up to tackle difficult issues as they arise rather than sweeping them under the rug. Take time to address the roots of problems within your company so that you can remove these obstacles.

Be patient with your employees — you’re all learning and growing as you go! And remember, upholding clear priorities as you expand your company will allow you to set a better example for your employees.

Market Your Business

Whether you are selling a product or providing a service, you’ll want to let the public know you’re open for business. Even if you’re not a marketer by trade, it’s important for you to know  who your target audience is and how to reach them. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of your time and resources on people who will never buy from you.

Utilizing marketing professionals may be the way to go, as they come equipped with the latest tools and technology — and expertise — to help get the results you’re looking for.

Many young people with entrepreneurial aspirations feel like they need to wait until later in life to start their own businesses. While gaining experience in your field can be undeniably beneficial, there are plenty of opportunities for young entrepreneurs today, and sometimes, your fresh perspective can be an asset! By following these tips, you’ll be ready to transform your business idea into a thriving company.

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love. 

Guest Post: Tips for Starting Over After Closing Your Business

From time to time I like to include guest posts about relevant topics. Following is an insightful article which is certainly relevant for the times.

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Tips for Starting Over After Closing Your Business

This is just one example of all the great content you can find on The Hilltop Group website!

It’s tough to let go of a business when you’ve put so much time, energy, and money into it, but sometimes there’s just no other option. There’s nothing wrong with admitting defeat and deciding to move on. In fact, some of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs failed many times before achieving success. The key is to accept it and use what you learned to build an even better business the next time around! Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Start Planning Your Next Venture

Many entrepreneurs find that the best way to move on from a setback is to jump right into their next big project. If you want to bounce back quickly, start thinking about a new business idea. Look for ways in which you could improve on your last business model or branch off and explore a whole new industry—it’s up to you!

Building a strong foundation for your new business will maximize your chance of success, so try not to rush things. Give your full attention to each step in the process. This means spending time on market research, writing up a basic business plan, securing the appropriate amount of funding, and choosing a business structure carefully. ZenBusiness suggests forming an LLC if you want to protect your personal assets from liability but keep your administrative obligations as simple as possible. You can do this online as long as you follow the specific requirements in your state.

Give Yourself Time to Heal

Of course, you may have to spend some time tending to your emotional and financial needs before launching a new business. Closing a business can really disrupt your life! Take some time to practice self-care and allow yourself to heal. It’s completely normal to experience a period of grief after closing a business, so try to accept how you feel and embrace the grieving process.

Practice Self-Care

It can help to distract yourself with self-care activities like exercise, cooking healthy meals, and spending time with loved ones. This is also a great opportunity to relax and reset after all the hard work you’ve been doing. Take a hot bath, go for a drive and blast your favorite music, or find a quiet spot outside to sit and read a book. Before you know it, you’ll feel recharged and ready to take on your next venture!

Recover Your Financial Health

Next, get your financial health back on track. Recovering from a financial setback can be challenging, but with the right plan, you should be able to rebuild your personal finances and get back to where you started.

Clever Girl Finance suggests adjusting your budget first and foremost. Make sure you will be able to cover your bills and pay for essentials like groceries and personal care items. If you’ve lost your only source of income and you plan on leveraging debt to get by for a while, a ruthless budget will help you minimize the amount of debt you take on. You may even want to get a part-time job or an online side-gig while you get back on your feet and build your new business.

Closing a business is an incredibly stressful and emotionally challenging process. Try not to let your recent setback discourage you from the entrepreneurial path. There’s a lot to be gained from embracing failure and using your experience to drive you forward!

Are you ready to start a new business? Check out The Hilltop Group website to access business services like virtual assisting, consulting, and video production that can help you get up and running!

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love. 

Critical Customer Service Skills You Must Have

Critical Customer Service Skills You Must Have By Dennis Sommer (www.dennissommer.com) Do want to be known as “The Expert” or “The Guru”? Do you want to advance your career and income? If you answered yes to both of these questions then you need to become a “Top Performer” in your profession. Whether you are now a Manager, Executive, Consultant, Sales or Service Specialist, then Customer Service skills will be one of the keys to your success. Experience and knowledge in your area of specialty may make you an above average performer, but to be a “Top Performer” start implementing the following 16 Customer Service skills and action items today. Top performers are successful by being honest, respecting a clients intelligence and focusing all their energies on how to make a difference in a clients life. After reviewing the following “Top Performer” Customer Service skills and action items, you will know how to be more effective, efficient, and successful. As customer satisfaction improves, so does your revenue and career. 1. Your attitude, attention, and commitment to resolving customer complaints will have a huge impact on customer satisfaction and the likelihood that they will buy more. 2. Money motivates in the short term but helping make a customer’s life better will provide sustained success. 3. Guarantee your offering and stand by it. It is best to offer an unconditional money back guarantee. 4. Trust in your company and the customers perception of the level that your company and people will stand behind the offering in the event of problems is the number one reason customers purchase an offering. 5. The best way to serve your company is by putting the customer first. You may lose a sale today, but long term rewards will be much greater. 6. Quality improvements that improve customer satisfaction are more profitable than those focused on cost cutting. 7. Help customers achieve their goals. 8. Achieve your goals by satisfying customers. 9. Have the best interest of the customer in mind. 10. Get customers to discuss their needs with you. 11. Influence customers by information rather than by pressure. 12. Offer an offering that is best suited to meet a customers needs. 13. Answer a customers question as correctly as possible. 14. Try to bring a customer with a problem together with a offering that helps them solve that problem. 15. Disagree with a customer in order to help them make a better decision. 16. Give a customer an accurate expectation of what the offering will do for them. About The Author – Dennis Sommer Dennis Sommer is the founder and CEO of Executive Business Advisers, a management consulting firm specializing in business growth, sales and profit improvement.www.executivebusinessadvisers.com Dennis helps companies increase sales revenue, reduce sales and marketing costs, improve marketing ROI, and drive new business growth by improving and optimizing their sales, marketing, company strategy and financial health. Dennis is a highly sought after business keynote and seminar speaker www.dennissommer.com and author of several highly popular sales, marketing, leadership and professional development international articles and bookswww.advisersecrets.com . Contact Dennis at 800-627-6512.]]>