Archives for April 2013

The Importance of Safety in the Workplace

There are certain health and safety issues to consider in all professions and workplaces, whether you work at a desk in an office, at a machine in a factory or at the wheel of vehicle. Nobody wants to feel in danger or at risk in everyday life, especially while earning money.

According to HSE, the national independent watchdog for work-related health and safety, just over one million people suffered from a work related illness in 2011/2012. Not only does this mean a potential loss in earnings for the individual, it has negative consequences for employers, too.

The importance of safety in the workplace is far-reaching, as is recognising the significance of creating an environment free from risk and danger.

Employee benefits

Even though keeping staff safe and protected is a standard responsibility for employers, ensuring the workplace is completely free from danger can hugely benefit personnel.

Potential employees will be more attracted to the business, job satisfaction is sure to become greater, efficiency will increase, absenteeism will decrease and staff will be reluctant to leave.

Employee safety doesn’t just apply to the potential dangers in working, as every member of staff should also feel protected against discrimination and bullying. While this may not result in physical injury, psychological damage can be just as debilitating, if not more.

Business benefits

Every boss wants their enterprise to be the most successful it can possibly be. Neglecting safety and ignoring how important this is could result in a failing business.

Losing an employee to injury or illness means losing a competent member of the workforce with a replacement being potentially difficult to come by – they’ll need training, too.

An accident at work will also increase the company’s insurance premium and any potential legal costs could spiral out of control. Instances where compensation is required include an industrial accident or simply slipping on an unsafe surface.

Reputation is also an important factor to consider. A business runs the risk of losing new and existing customers if it becomes clear that employee safety and well-being is compromised.

Health and safety policy

Having a system in place that can effectively manage health and safety will help ensure no accidents or injuries occur. Being able to plan, organise, control, monitor and review safety procedures will result in a better working environment for all parties involved.

An employer may need the assistance of a professional who is fully aware of any legal obligations. However, identifying potential hazards is one of the first things to address.

Assessing each individual risk and how often it might occur (if at all) is vital. The next stage will be implementing a workable solution that proves to the workforce that a danger has been eliminated.

Measures to control risk will need to be constantly monitored and evaluated, and this may involve training. However, health and safety law indicates benchmarks and standards that should be adhered to in any circumstance.

The Top 5 Franchises for 2013

If you’re an entrepreneur at heart and you’d like to run your own business  one of the best, least risky ways to do so is to purchase a franchise. The reason is simple to understand; a franchise brings with it a structure and process that has already been researched and perfected. Like a ‘plug & play’ electronic device, when you purchase a franchise you get a business that is already known to the public and ready to start serving them right out-of-the-box. (Ray Kroc was a brilliant guy, you gotta’ admit.) (He was the founder of McDonald’s, btw.)

With that in mind and with franchising on the rise again according to Entrepreneur magazine, we decided to put together a blog about the Top 5 franchises for 2013. Frankly, most of you reading this blog won’t have the financial ability to purchase into any of these franchise opportunities. That being said, we believe that the examples that they set as far as their marketing schemes, customer service and franchisee / franchisor relationships are well worth reading about. No matter what type of franchise or business you decide to open, these examples will help you and guide you. Enjoy.

Hampton Hotels

If you drive down any major highway in the United States you’re bound to see a Hampton Hotel. They take the top spot because of something that they call ‘Hamptonality’,  a word they used to describe their unique culture and obsession with customer service. Indeed, for a mid-level hotel they have service that borders on four star and aren’t ashamed to let people know about it either using YouTube, Facebook and their own website. Throw in their money-back guest satisfaction guarantee and you can see why they  are the envy of many other hotel chains.


Once the butt of jokes on a par with the Starbucks coffee chain, Subway comes in at number 2 because of their ability to figure out the most unconventional locations to place their sandwich shops including hospitals, truck stops and  sports stadiums. Amazingly, subway has been in business for 47 years and the franchise continues to offer customers something new. Leaving the revenue-doubling charge is  their new breakfast menu, a huge success since its 2010 launch. The fact that the American Heart Association also awarded them their ‘heart check’ for a healthy menu is only icing on the cake for a franchise that opened 2500 units in 2012 and expects to beat that number this year.

Jiffy Lube

How did Jiffy Lube make the list? By using an old marketing standard; television. When this car maintenance franchise began its first franchisee funded national television advertising campaign in more than 20 years in 2012 they increased awareness for the brand across the United States and specifically in many small-market areas. One of the major reasons that Jiffy Lube continues to grow is that, unlike many franchises, they have no franchise fee. That has been the impetus for many maintenance centers to switch flags and help increase their growth, a fact that should soon make Jiffy Lube the largest quick-lube franchise in the United States and Canada.


If you notice that your local 7-Eleven owner seems to perpetually have a smile on his face the reason is that  last year more than 2000 of these  ubiquitous  mini markets had extensive makeovers on the company’s dime. That’s right, 7-Eleven  itself picked up the tab and in 2012 began offering upgraded system technology that won’t cost the franchisee a penny. They also offered internal financing for their franchise fee and began offering multi-unit deals as well, something practically unheard of in the franchise world. Add that to the 10% increase in their private label 7-Select line and it’s easy to see why their franchisees are always happy.


With a 65 billion domestic industry to fall back on making it as a hair salon franchise would seem to be relatively easy. The fact is however that it’s not and  many budget salons fail.  Supercuts hair salons, owned by Regis Corporation, are the lucky recipient of quite a bit of attention since a management change was made in 2011.  Improving their candidate selection process is one of the reasons that 65 new Supercuts were opened in 2012, bringing the total unit number in the United States to 2268. With the aforementioned $65 billion opportunity in front of them, this aggressive change is paying off in a big way and the chain should continue to do well, well into the future.

We hope that these five examples have given you, as an entrepreneur, some insight and information that is of value. No matter what type of franchise you ultimately choose  make sure to do your due diligence and research. If you can find one that looks and acts similar to the five excellent examples above you probably have found a winner. Good luck no matter which franchise you choose and we’ll see you back here soon.

5 Fashion faux pas in the Modern Office

It can be hard, figuring out how best to dress if you want to get ahead in the work place. While you want to aim for a professional image that your colleagues and superiors can take seriously, that doesn’t mean you need to look dour. Still, there are a few fashion faux pas you should avoid.

Too much skin

No one is saying you have to dress like a Victorian governess, but having a little too much cleavage or leg on show isn’t going to go down too well with some in the office and will send out the wrong signals.

You don’t need to cover up head-to-toe, but having a skirt that skims the bum is way too short. You can find professional looking short skirts, which have a classic air about them; simply wear with a pair of dark tights or fishnets.

For your top, fashion expert Lauren Conrad advises no more than an inch of cleavage. It’s a view that’s supported by a survey taken by entrepreneur Peter Jones. According to the survey (of 3,000 managers), it was found that almost half passed up women for promotion if she had regularly turned up to work in low-cut tops and, in their opinion, tried to attract attention that way.


While a complete lack of makeup can make it seem as if you don’t care, too much can isn’t a good idea either. It’s about capturing the essence of classic over sexy. Make up should make you look well, alert and ready to work, much like your clothing.

Shoes and heels

In most establishments, a pair of stilettos isn’t the best idea. You don’t want to be towering over everyone in the office. Get an idea of the height most of the others wear and aim for something similar.

However, you don’t want to be too casual in your shoes. In a traditional office setting, sneakers or trainers aren’t going to impress many people, nor is anything too garish and loud. Gauge the atmosphere before going for anything too drastic.


It’s best to ensure your panty line remains under the waist line of your skirt or trousers – and avoid thongs at all costs.

It’s going to be even worse if the pants on show are over-elaborate or lacy, and the same goes with your bra. If people can tell you’re wearing something a little ‘special’ under there, then you’re probably going a little wrong.


If you’re looking to progress, you want your work clothes to show that you take your job seriously. You want your colleagues to know that you are dedicated, professional and command authority – and your clothes can go a long way to displaying that.

The first thing people see when they meet you is your clothes, so unfortunately they will make a first judgement based on that. After you impress them initially, then you can make another lasting impression with your character.

10 Excellent Tips for Starting a Business

If you’re keen on starting a new business in 2013 there are many tasks that you have ahead of you. Deciding on the type of business that you are going to open, picking a name, finding a location and much more. What you’ll also need, in our humble opinion, is a lot of advice and guidance, especially if you are keen on being successful (and we know you are). With that in mind we’ve put together 10 of the best tips that we have for starting a business. Have a look, follow their advice as much as you need and, as always, enjoy.

  1. No matter what you do make sure that you really enjoy doing it because you’re going to be doing it an awful lot. Whether it’s a dance studio, an online service company, an advice blog or any one of a million different and myriad ideas, if you enjoy doing it you will have a much better chance of success.
  2. If at all possible start your new business while you’re still employed. Simply put, most people don’t have enough savings to be able to support themselves if they don’t have some type of income and most new businesses don’t start making money for at least a few months. Knowing this, it would be a great idea to keep your job, and thus the income you make from it, while your new business gets up to speed.
  3. Start putting your support system into place now. As an entrepreneur we know you’re keen on being the boss and we have no problem with that. What we encourage however is that you have a support team in place, whether a mentor, a family member or a good friend. Applying for a business startup program in your city or town is also an excellent idea, all with the goal of having people who will support you in your new business when things get tough (and also to celebrate with you when things finally turn the corner).
  4. Don’t wait until your business opens to start getting new customers. Start letting your entire network of friends, family and colleagues know about your upcoming new business and start looking for people who will be able to use your services or want to buy your products. The fact is, it’s never too early to start marketing and advertising for your business, even if it’s only word of mouth.
  5. One of the most vital tips that we can give is that you write a business plan before starting any plans for your business. A well thought out and fully realized business plan will give you an amazing amount of information, some of which you might not have even thought about. This info, good or bad, will help guide your future decisions and may also help you avoid spending your time and money in a business that has a low chance of success.
  6. During the time that you’re writing your business plan you will be doing a bit of research. What we suggest is that you don’t stop there but continue to research the industry, product, services or anything else involved in what will eventually be your new business. Another great idea is to research and join professional associations that relate to your industry before you get started.
  7. While you may be an expert in some things there are very few people that are experts at everything.  That being said, it is vital that you surround yourself with other experts that can help you to achieve your new business dreams and goals. Attorneys, accountants, bookkeepers and other professionals of this type should be on your speed dial before you start any business.
  8. Weeks or even months before your proposed opening day you should be lining up your finances and talking to your banker or even several bankers. As the old adage will tell you, it takes money to make money. Get your money lined up before you start so that you can start making money.
  9. As a small business owner you assume a great amount of responsibility to be a professional.  What you wear, how you talk and especially how you treat people all will be seen in a different light once you own your own business. Also, having business cards, a business phone number and a separate business email are important to projecting a professional image.
  10. Get legal and tax advice from professionals when you first set up your business. The fact is, depending on where you live there may be quite a few legal hurdles that you have to clear before you can start. We suggest that you do this right the first time because it will be much easier than fixing a big mess down the road.

We hope that these 10 tips will help you immensely in determining how to go about opening your new business. It’s an exciting time and we wish you the best of luck with everything. Follow the tips and advice above and we’re sure that your new business will be quite successful. Also, please come back and visit us often for more advice and tips on starting and running your own business. See you then!

A Guide to Getting Your New Business Wardrobe

The great thing about business attire is that the rules are flexible enough to let you do things with a little bit of flair for added effect, as well as other different touches for different occasions. If you’re smart about how you dress for work, you’d be surprised at the effect it’ll have on your business dealings and associates.

It’s always worth forking out for new business clothes, so don’t be afraid to sell some of those old CDs of yours at before you hit the stores. This article acts as a short guide to aid you in getting your new business wardrobe. We’ve outlined this in three sections – attire for men and women, as well as unisex attire.

Business attire for men

If you can afford it, you should invest in a few tailor-made linen and wool suits. If your funds aren’t too vast, you can always go for a few ready-to-wear suits instead, which are considerably cheaper.

These suits will be for regular wear. They should be darker colours – you mean business, after all. As for the shirts, you’ll need some silk/cotton mixes, long-sleeved and collared. White is generally a good choice of colour, given its neutrality.

Given that you now have some basic, straightforward colours for your shirts and suits, you should invest in a range of ties, some flashy, some serious. Make sure your shoes match well with your suits.

Business attire for women

The base of your wardrobe should include a few skirted suits that run just above the knee. You should also have two suits with pants at your disposal at all times. A few white blouses will also be necessary – you’ll be surprised at how versatile a white blouse is. It all depends on what you combine it with.

On its own, a white blouse can seem plain, but your image can be enhanced depending on what you choose to wear with it. Make sure it fits right – you don’t want any waistline exposure happening when you sit down.

As for shoes, it’s a general rule to go with low heels, no higher than a few inches.

Unisex business attire

Wearing a watch is always a good idea for an accessory. Obviously, don’t go for something too flashy, as it will send out the wrong message. You want to go for something sleek and serious.

The same applies to jewellery. You can wear it, but just don’t overdo it.

Business Ideas for 2013

Although the economy isn’t exactly back to normal the improvements seen lately  bode well for the future of any new business. With that in mind and knowing that many of our readers are entrepreneurs we put together a blog about some of the best business ideas that we have heard about so far for 2013. If you’re looking to start a new business this year one of the suggestions below might just be up your alley. Enjoy.

As our global marketplace grows beyond simply Mexico and China there is a growing and indeed huge need for translators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and statistics has predicted a high demand as a result of the growing international ties that the United States has with non-English speaking countries and a 22% increase in need throughout the profession. If you are already bilingual or know more than 2 languages and can speak, read, and write them fluently, a translation business might be an excellent choice for you.

As workforces become more and more mobile many larger companies are in need of assistance in tracking them as far as where they are, how their work is progressing and so forth. Although there are mobile time clocks as well as vehicle tracking and time clock apps most employers don’t have the necessary staff to manage all of this new data and also manage payroll and billing tasks. If you started an employee monitoring business your services  would already  be in demand and the future demand should  continue to grow sharply.

If you already own a hair or nail salon but you find that your clientele is starting to dwindle it’s possible that the problem lies in the fact that they are getting too old to leave the house as regularly as they used to. If that’s the case, or if you’d just like to start an interesting and popular as well as portable business, a traveling salon might be just the ticket. Indeed, the need for in-home services of many kinds will continue to grow as the United States population continues to age.

Many Americans are starting to pay better attention to their health and health needs but are still strapped for time during their busy lives. A vending machine business that catered to these health-conscious adults would do quite well we believe, especially if you were able to offer snack foods that were healthy and easy to take on the go.  There is actually a whole new industry sprouting up around this theme and some vending companies are offering franchisees the chance to get started  with only 1 or 2 machines, giving them the opportunity to start small and go from there without a huge initial investment.

If you’re looking for an opportunity that is still wide open but certain to grow over the next few years by leaps and bounds then you may want to look at starting a smart phone repair business. Frankly, it can cost as much to get a smart phone fixed as it can to replace one and, if you can offer a more affordable option, you should have plenty of customers.

Another small business that still has plenty of room for growth would be a testing business for apps, websites and e-commerce sites. These have become essential for practically all businesses but  often times they don’t work when first set up (for many different reasons). Services to test these apps and websites are actually quite in demand and there is even one company that offers cloud testing services, a niche that would give you an edge over a company that tested everything.

If you are a writer of any kind and especially if you have specific knowledge of a specific industry you may want to consider starting your own freelance business. As a matter of fact you could build an entire business around freelancing of all different kinds including data entry, data processing, blog article writing and even academic writing. The truth is, when it comes to freelancing, the sky really is the limit.

Those are seven of the top new business ideas that we have heard about lately and, if you do your research, we think you’ll agree that they’re all pretty darn good. We’ll be looking for more in the future and posting them to our blog so make sure to come back often and check if the ideas above weren’t the right ones for you. See you then!

Planning on Starting a Business? First You Need to Answer These 5 Vital Questions.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people start their own businesses. That’s a good thing and excellent for the economy but, frankly, within five years the majority of those businesses have already closed. The reason; improper planning. While we agree that it is nearly impossible to plan for every challenge or every possibility that may occur, there are five questions that really need to be answered before you move ahead with your new business plans. With that in mind we put together a blog with those exact five questions and a little bit of information and advice about each one. Enjoy.

  1. Setting goals. When it comes to making plans one of the very first things that needs to be accomplished is goal setting. Your goals, whether they are for the next week, the next year or the next five years, will be your guide map to where you want to be at any specific time as far as your business is concerned. If you haven’t started setting goals yet you will definitely want to do that before you actually start moving ahead with any business plans that you have. The fact is, if you can’t set realistic goals, for whatever reason, you probably aren’t ready to go into business for yourself just yet.
  2. Legal paperwork and documentation. When starting any business there are many legal hoops that you need to jump through before you can open your doors. One of the first and probably the most vital is to decide on what structure your business will have. It can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), all of which have their positive and negative traits. You’ll also need to register your business name and the municipality where it will be located and get any licenses and permits necessary for your area of the country. Talking to your accountant about business taxes and planning for said taxes is also a vital task that needs to be accomplished.
  3.  Are you financially strong enough to open your own business? This is a major concern that needs to be addressed well before any plans are started. For example, if you’re leaving behind a steady paycheck will your new business be able to support you at the level that you are accustomed to or will you need to cut back on things while your business is growing? It’s an important question and one that needs to be answered before you burn any bridges or cut any ties with your current job.
  4. Do you have a support network? While the new business may be a sole proprietorship or partnership, it is vital that you also have an external support system that will help you should any setbacks occur. This can include family members, friends, colleagues from your industry, a business mentor or coach and anyone else who can give you unbiased, frank and intelligent advice. The best thing about having a support system in place is that you will not feel like you’re completely alone if things are tough and you will also have a great group to celebrate with when things finally start going full speed ahead.
  5. Are you prepared to be a business owner? Frankly, there are two types of people in this world; those who lead and those who follow. While we are not saying that followers are lesser people, we also believe that a business owner who is a follower is destined to fail. There are many small business character traits that you will need when you open your own business in order to be successful including a sincere and strong desire to actually be a successful business owner. Being an excellent communicator and extremely extroverted is also a plus. If you lack in one area you can sometimes make up for it with the others but if you’re lacking in several areas you may well wish to reconsider leaving your steady job behind, at least for now.

If you can answer these 5 questions honestly and frankly and, when you’re done answering them, still feel the same sense of urgency to become a small business owner then you are most likely ready to move forward. If you can’t do that then you may not be ready at this point. We suggest that you work on answering all 5 of them first and once you do, moving forward from there.  Small business ownership isn’t something you should simply dive into, for myself it took a quite a few years of working the daily grind.  It wasn’t until I was traveling to one of the many conference venues in Hong Kong for my day job that I realized I wanted more out of life, so I went out and accomplished it.  No matter what you do, we wish you the best of luck and we urge you to come back and visit us often as we will be presenting more information on  owning and running your own business in the near future. See you then!