Make Your Brand’s Graphics Click with Customers

downloadToday, a name isn’t enough to grab a customer’s attention and help them connect to the company brand. A brand’s graphics should click in more than one way with the customer’s than just the logo. Of course a logo is the most important representation for a brand-it’s what customers notice and register with the company when they see it each time. But a company should consider using graphics to represent their brand with animated graphics, motion graphics, and informative written pieces related to their industry and grab a consumer’s attention.

Amp up Your Logo

A logo may go through five different focus groups with about 8-10 people in each group. A good logo design tends to be simple and different methods of psychology are used to choose colors that coordinate with the connection brands want to make with their customers. For example, red is an excellent color for a restaurant for a lively atmosphere and blue is popular for technology brands. Consider what your company and logo already says to your customer and what message your future logo could represent.

Teach with Animation

Whether you decide to use it in your commercials, online video blog, or through another message, animated and motion graphics are becoming more popular as a way to demonstrate a product or service and share a message to consumers. Popular animated infographics are a great and simple way to explain something about your company and anything related to your industry. Animated infographics can be a timeline or a process of how a product is made or a service completed.

Connect with your customers by teaching them how to use your product at home with a step by step guide or try to do something that is not entirely related to your company but is in your industry. For example, if your brand is a food chain or a local cafe, create a step by step illustrated guide to how to cook a certain recipe or if you are a boutique, teach your customers how to design a scarf or a shirt.

Not only do infographics inform, but they can present two different sides by comparing and contrasting two different views. Political parties and product comparisons such as PC versus a Dell have used infographics as a way for a person to easily read and compare the facts side by side. This helps a person better understand the two different sides so that they may be able to see with which side they agree with the most or which is better suited for them.

Inform with Motion

Motion graphics can be shared in video forms to further tell a short story with music in the background. One example of a great motion graphic that told a story and promoted the brand is Chipotle’s Mexican Grill video that promoted the food supply industry and the use of family farms in place of factories for sustainability.

A company can do so much more than just update their logo to make their brand stand out and be memorable. Meet up with your team of graphic designers or consult with a freelancer about what you can do to make your brand click with customers.

Marianne Ross is a freelance writer and guest blogger who is interested in marketing and different promotional techniques.

 

6 Ways to Help Work-Related Back Pain

prevent-back-pain-at-work-315x217If you deal with back pain at work, you know how difficult it can be to get through the day. Some workers accept this pain and take over-the-counter medication on a daily basis. But there is a better way to manage pain.

There are several causes of work-related back pain and it can vary by person. It is difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause. But once you know your triggers, you must take steps to relieve pressure and inflammation.

1. Get a chair that supports your spine

Maybe the problem isn’t your back, but rather your chair. An office chair that offers poor support can put pressure on your spine or lower back, thus triggering chronic pain. You can relieve discomfort by placing a towel or pillow behind your back, or you can look at ergonomic chairs for your office.

These chairs allow adjustment of the seat height, width and depth, backrest and armrests. In addition, ergonomic chairs offer better lumbar support. Perfect for anyone who sits at a desk for long periods of time, these chairs can help reverse work-related chronic back pain.

2. Don’t cross your legs

You probably do this without realizing it. However, make a conscious effort to not cross your legs when sitting at your desk. This can create pressure in your legs and trigger back pain while you’re sitting.

3. Take breaks

Not to imply blowing off the work day, but if you experience work related back pain, it’s a good ideal to rise from your desk and stretch. Walking around for as little as five minutes can provide relief. Go for a coffee break, or simply switch to a task that requires standing. It also helps to walk and pace your office while talking on the phone.

4. Skip the high heels

Sure, high heels may make your outfit. But if you’re dealing with chronic back pain on a daily basis, heels can be your worst nightmare. Regardless of whether you stand all day or sit most of the day, always have a pair of flats on hand. Perhaps you can alternate shoes throughout the day. Wear your heels for a few hours in the morning, and then switch to your flat shoes to give your back and feet a break.

5. Stretch your body

Back pain can develop after sitting in one position for too long. If you have to sit for most of the day, stretch your arms a few times throughout the day to exercise your back muscles. Roll your head from shoulder to shoulder to loosen the muscles in your upper back. You can also loosen your back muscles by stretching your arms to the ceiling.

6. Reduce stress

Stress can trigger muscle tension and spasms, which may occur during the workday. If possible, eliminate stressors at work to maintain your back health. Create a daily schedule, don’t over-commit, take frequent breaks to clear your mind and don’t procrastinate.

Back pain can have a huge impact on your workday and greatly impact productivity. Apply these suggestions and get through your day with minimum discomfort.

 

5 Tips for Starting Your Own Business/5 Tips for Entrepreneurs

images1. Have a target demographic in mind but stay flexible and agile:

We founded Dobbin with a detailed business plan, and a firm target customer in mind. We imagined what kinds of places she lived, where she worked, what brands she shopped, and what she liked to do for fun. As soon as we launched, and started successfully selling, we realized we were only partially right in our estimations. From then on, we’ve gone back to the drawing board almost weekly to discuss our learnings about our customers and to try to further define our constantly evolving core customer, and to crystallize our business strategy. So far, so good!

2. Find a way to work on your business and not always in your business:

Prior to founding Dobbin,  both Catherine and myself have had specific roles in small and large companies. Now that we’re co-founders, we’re wearing a much wider variety of hats. I once heard a designer joke that he once spent a whole day changing lightbulbs in his showroom.Now, I know that to be true. As entrepreneurs, we spend  95% of our time working on administrative tasks like ordering fabric, shipping, accounting, inventory, customer service and manufacturing. We make it a point, as mentioned above, to constantly tackle marketing and biz dev. But it’s something we need to make time for.

3. Find co-founders and workers whose skills complement your own:

Catherine and I are great partners because the way we work together is so complementary. Our thought patterns and work styles are synergistic, but they’re also different, in a good way. Co-founders and co-workers who can help to accomplish a greater vision via varied talents will pave a quicker path to success.

4. Look luxe; spend smartly: 

Dobbin’s product is luxe. We use the same high-end fabrics as brands like Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez and Diane von Furstenberg, and we manufacture our line right beside those brands. So although we’re a tiny company-we need to project a glamorous marketing image-especially because our product is sold only online. At the same time, we’re as thrifty as we can be. We negotiate contracts, aim for short photo shoots, use our own accessories, search Etsy for packaging and do our graphic design in-house, all in the name of cost-saving.

5. Talk to your customers as often and in as much detail as you can: 

I learned early on that they key to a successful business was to listen carefully to  customers. I’ve carried this with me all throughout my career, and am now in touch with Dobbin customers day in and day out. We list our emails all over the site, on both customer service and actual product pages. I include my business card in each and every customer package, so women can easily reach me when they have questions or comments. We thrive on customer feedback on our product, our pricing, our marketing and our service. Remember that your closest advisors are those who are shopping for and actually buying your product.

 About the Author: 

Jessica Gold Newman is the Co-Founder (with Catherine Doyle) of Dobbin Clothing (www.dobbinclothing.com). Based in NYC, Dobbin is a line of wardrobe workhorses, constructed of the finest
European stretch fabrics, fit to flatter, that is sold exclusively on their website and priced under $200. Jessica has had 15+ years of experience in the fashion and retail industry.

Is Your Desk Holding You Back?

home-office-desk-2Whether you are running your own business or working for one, chances are you are spending several hours a day at your desk.
This extended desk time not only eats into your personal life, but it can disrupt your work/life balance, it can also have dangerous ergonomic effects.
Ergonomics is the study of how we work, focusing toward working efficiently and effectively. When your workstation is not ergonomically sound, it can disrupt your work flow and lead to an injury.
Injuries related to poor ergonomics include carpal tunnel syndrome and back and neck strain. These injuries can cause a great deal of pain, which can disrupt your work flow.
You can adjust your workspace to be more ergonomically sound with a few simple steps.
Desk and Chair
Your desk chair should support your lower back and be adjustable so that you can control the height of the seat. Both your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees bent 90 degrees. The chair should have arm rests and be level with the top of your desk. If you are short and have trouble adjusting your chair so your feet remain flat on the floor, use a foot rest to raise the floor and support your feet and keep your knees in the correct position.
There should be enough space between your desk and chair for your legs to fit comfortably. The desk should also be wide enough to accommodate everything while still giving you ample room to work. A desk with a computer storage compartment will free up the desktop for writing and other work.
Another consideration is comfort level. This can be compromised by a cramped desk. If your current desk is not high enough to provide adequate leg clearance, you can find a replacement at an office workspace store like officedesk.com. They provide ergonomic office chairs and desks of various heights for any professional.
Finally, reduce the amount of clutter on your desk by keeping the things you aren’t using (such as files) in drawers. If you must have papers on your desk, put them in a desktop box or filing system.
Computer and Printer
The computer monitor should be an arm’s length away from your face. The top of the monitor should be at eye level so that you have to tilt your head down slightly to view the entire screen. Your keyboard should be placed so that your hands are slightly below or at the same level as your elbows. Your mouse should be within easy reach, on the same side as your dominant hand. There should be no obstructions on the desk that would impede mouse movement – you should not have to pick the mouse up to continue a motion.
To preserve space, consider keeping your printer on a separate surface near your desk, and within easy reach, such as a credenza behind your desk. If you must place the printer farther away, put it in an area that you can get to without having to stretch or climb over obstacles.

Supplies and Equipment
Supplies and equipment like pens or your desk phone should be within easy reach – you should not have to stretch or strain to access them. If you can’t reach something while seated, stand up to reach for it rather than stretching to reach it from a seated position.
Even small changes to your workspace can make a big difference in your workflow. Working more efficiently not only makes you more productive, it can also give you more free time with friends and family because you can work faster comfortably.

4 Factors to Consider When Relocating Your Small Business Office

truck_office_rampAre you a small business planning to relocate to a new location? Want to make sure that everything falls in place without having to exceed your budget? If yes, then you will have to keep take various important factors into consideration to ensure a successful office relocation. Let’s see what these factors are and why you need to focus on them:

#1: The Size of Your Office

The most common mistake that entrepreneurs make is that they overstretch on size plus budget when relocating office. However, your focus should be on finding an appropriately sized property that fulfills all of your business needs. Starting small is fine because you’ll always have room to move to a larger business space in the future if required.

It’s also a good idea to consider sharing your business space with another entrepreneur or company as it will help in saving costs and lowering the risk factor. Always keep in mind that reducing expenditure doesn’t mean that you go for cheapest property out there. Having a healthy, inspiring and productive work environment is also important.

#2: The New Office Location

Finding the right location for your office is important when it comes to shaping the future of your business. So before you go ahead and embark on your search for the right office location, think about your business needs and then prioritize them.

If your business deals in retail products/goods then it becomes imperative that you choose an office in a central location. But if your business doesn’t really need any prominent presence, you could look for a location that’s more economical. In short, your office location should be chosen according to your specific requirements.

#3: Your Budget

In order to plan a realistic budget try and talk to an office planning expert. Don’t forget to include a proper estimate of the different expenses related to staff, property, marketing and communication. Before you go ahead and finalize your office location, see to it that the total of all these costs aren’t exceeding your projected income. Also, don’t compromise on the important expenses just to lower your budget. For example, if your business in Jacksonville is relocating during the summer, you may want to consider humidity controlled storage for the office furniture. The combination of controlled humidity and temperature helps reduce the chance of mold and mildew growth, paper rot, metal corrosion, and other moisture related deterioration.

#4: Lease or License Agreement

When it comes to legal property contracts, you need an option that works the best for your business. License agreements are generally good for new businesses as they have changing needs. Such agreements happen to bind you for short-term and are much faster to sort out. They also incur minimal to zero legal fees.

Leases on the other hand happen to offer extensive accommodation rights. Besides that, leases demand a long, enduring commitment on the tenant’s part, which goes up to 25 years. The good thing about leases is that they offer more security, the rent is pre-agreed and you have the right to renew once the lease period ends.

Hiring For Employees? 5 Most Important Background Questions to Ask

imagesThe interview process is one of the most important parts of locating an employee that fits well with the company and that will excel in the position. Interviewers should ask questions about the background of the applicant since these questions reveal a large amount about the person. There are five important background questions to ask applicants during an interview.

Recovery from Previous Mistakes

A revealing question about the background of a potential employee is what was the largest professional mistake in the past and how has the individual recovered. The important part of the answer has to do with recovery after the event. A strong applicant will understand why the mistake occurred and how to avoid it in the future. The answer should show that a single mistake did not derail an entire career.

Any Lingering Responsibilities

Applicants for a position could be coming into the interview with previous responsibilities that might interfere with employment. This might mean some contractual obligation to continue consulting with a previous employer. If an applicant has current bail bonds Fresno CA businesses might want to delay employment until after the trial date. Asking about any lingering responsibilities will prevent surprises later.

Criminal History

Employers will want to ask about the criminal history of applicants. People who have a long conviction record could have problems interacting with the workforce or meeting goals. A repeat offender could suddenly vanish one day if another crime is committed. It is important to ask only about previous convictions since it is not permitted to ask about previous arrests that did not result in a conviction.

Previous Terminations

An important question to ask any applicant is why the person left a previous job especially if there was a clear termination. The reason why a person was terminated could provide a number of clues about what to expect if the applicant is hired. Individuals who were fired for excessive absences, poor performance or hostile interactions with co-workers could present a problem in the workplace. It is useful to ask whether the applicant was ever forced from a job position since this is similar to being fired.

Previous Successes

It is important to ask an applicant about the most significant previous professional success. This success could be the completion of a large public project or the receipt of an industry award. The most valuable previous success will reveal exactly what the applicant considers important. It might also reveal what aspects of the job the applicant finds the most engaging.

Interviewers should listen carefully to each response to each question. Applicants sometimes unintentionally reveal information that could make a person more or less qualified for a position. It is also important to ask follow-up questions about any confusing or unclear points.

 

6 Ways to Avoid Distractions While On the Computer

imagesOne of the hardest things to do is to stay productive when there is the whole Internet just calling your name. There are so many things you could be doing, and so many awesome websites you could look at. However, you know that you need to stay productive and not get distracted. So, how do you keep yourself from getting distracted?

Turn off Instant Messaging

You may feel like it’s only a few minute conversation that you are having, but every time you get a message from someone, it is interrupting what you are supposed to be doing. This will distract you, and once you are distracted it is easy to continue being distracted. So, unless it is vitally important, turn off your instant messaging.

Invest in a Program that Blocks Network Connections

There are a variety of software programs that can block your Internet connection, or pieces of it, for a set amount of time. These allow you to select how long you don’t want to be distracted, and how much you want to limit yourself. For example, the program Freedom will completely block you out of any network communication.  If you use Mac, another option is Anti-Social that blocks social media websites.

Turn off Notifications

Your cell phone can be just as distracting as anything else, if not more so. Make sure that you turn off notifications if you want to stay distraction-free. Each time your phone beeps, tweets, or dings, you are tempted to check and see what is going on. Is it an email? A text? Did someone update something important on Facebook? Letting yourself give into the notifications will ensure that you get distracted frequently.

Stay off the Computer

If you find yourself searching DSL Internet options when you should be working, considering staying off the computer. Of course, it depends on what you need to do. However, many projects can be done with other tools, such as pen and paper. Doing initial steps off of the computer can help you stay focused, since you are well and truly away from the distractions.

Plan and Take Breaks

Don’t forget that breaks are important. Though it may seem counterproductive at first, remember that your brain does need time to rest every once in a while. Because of this, you are going to be most productive when you have breaks. Do something that you enjoy during your break, but don’t let yourself get too carried away.

Keep a Routine

Maintaining a routine will help you stay focused. When you know exactly what you are going to do and when, you are able to keep going. You know when you will take your next break. You are able to keep track of what you have done, and what still needs to be taken care of. We are creatures of habit, and having a routine will ensure that you stay as focused as possible.

It’s easy to get distracted. Friends and coworkers will link you funny pictures or interesting articles. Being able to ignore these things until you are done working helps you stay productive.

 

Resources:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1795818/3-proven-strategies-keep-internet-killing-your-productivity

http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/6-ways-to-avoid-letting-your-computer-distract-you/25356

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Getting-Distracted-when-Trying-to-Get-Things-Done

http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Homework-Without-Getting-Distracted

http://lifehacker.com/5593523/deal-with-distractions-in-a-web-workers-world

 

Six Insurance Policies that Protect Business Startups

Kevin Kerridge is the director of small business insurance at Hiscox, a global insurance company with 100+ years’ experience.

Small-Business-Insurance-0513If you’re starting a small business or managing a startup you probably know firsthand that one of the things you can never have enough of, is money. When money gets tight, small businesses often begin cutting corners, and one of the many corners they tend to cut is adequate insurance coverage. As a result most new businesses leave themselves one or two claims away from bankruptcy and financial ruin.

Because every state has different laws regarding insurance, this article will only focus on the types of insurance available and what they’re meant to cover. If you’d like to understand the insurance laws as they apply to your state, you’ll need to contact your local small business association or speak with an attorney in your local area.

Already know the type of insurance you need? Get free business insurance quotes online. Otherwise, here are six insurance policies that can help protect your startup.

1.     General Liability Insurance – You should have a general liability policy in place before your first day on the job. Actual coverage may vary from policy to policy but this insurance typically protects against claims of property damage and bodily injury. It may be difficult to imagine a scenario where your business causes someone else to get injured, sick, or killed. But if it happens general liability insurance is there to help. The premiums are usually low, and if you’re starting a business, you definitely need the protection general liability insurance offers.

 2.     Workers Compensation Insurance – Workers comp is designed to compensate employees who suffer work related injury or illness. An injured employee gives up their ability to sue their employer in return for a guaranteed amount of coverage, regardless of who is at fault. Workers comp will pay all medical expenses related to the injury or illness, but also lost wages that result from the injury. Where I am from this is only required if a business has one or more employees, excluding the owner.

 3.     Umbrella Insurance – Umbrella insurance fills in the gaps left by other policies and is considered one of the best ways to protect your business. For example, if you have a general liability policy that covers up to $1 million dollars, but a lawsuit against you is settled for $2 million, then your umbrella policy would trigger to cover the extra million left untouched by the general liability insurance. If you want to provide maximum coverage for your startup, umbrella insurance is a great place to start.

 4.     Property Insurance – A property insurance policy covers structural and material damage or loss. For instance, if a thief breaks in and steals computers, property insurance will cover this. The same goes for fires, floods, damage from storms, and acts vandalism. It’s important to note that some policies may not include coverage for floods, so you’ll need to check your policy to be sure. If you need it, you can take out a special flood insurance policy.

 5.     Commercial Auto Insurance – If your business has a car, van, or truck you need commercial auto insurance. In some states driving your personal car for business purposes may require a separate or additional policy. Because the financial risk to your business from an auto accident is high, securing adequate auto insurance is something you cannot afford to go without.

 6.     Professional Liability – Professional liability insurance covers claims against intangibles like inaccurate advice, misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of good faith or fair dealing. This means, if you regularly give advice or provide a professional service, you should have professional liability insurance. This will protect you if a client makes a claim against the advice or service you provided.

Risks vs. Benefits

Starting a small business or startup is expensive. Instead of cutting corners on insurance to save money, think about the risks you’re exposing your business to. Most premiums are affordable, and the level of coverage is high. I’d like to reiterate that it really doesn’t make much sense to go without protection. After all, when you’re already strapped for cash, risking an insurance claim is like flirting with bankruptcy.

Kevin Kerridge is the Director of small business insurance at Hiscox, a global insurance company with 100+ years of experience.

The contents of this article and the linked materials do not offer legal, business, or insurance advice related to the needs of any specific individual business. Please consult your attorney, insurance agent or other professional advisor to obtain appropriate legal or other expert advice.

Is Your Desk Holding You Back?

standard-deskWhether you are running your own business or working for one, chances are you are spending several hours a day at your desk.

This extended desk time not only eats into your personal life, but it can disrupt your work/life balance, it can also have dangerous ergonomic effects.

Ergonomics is the study of how we work, focusing toward working efficiently and effectively. When your workstation is not ergonomically sound, it can disrupt your work flow and lead to an injury.

Injuries related to poor ergonomics include carpal tunnel syndrome and back and neck strain. These injuries can cause a great deal of pain, which can disrupt your work flow.

You can adjust your workspace to be more ergonomically sound with a few simple steps.

Desk and Chair

Your desk chair should support your lower back and be adjustable so that you can control the height of the seat. Both your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees bent 90 degrees. The chair should have arm rests and be level with the top of your desk. If you are short and have trouble adjusting your chair so your feet remain flat on the floor, use a foot rest to raise the floor and support your feet and keep your knees in the correct position.

There should be enough space between your desk and chair for your legs to fit comfortably. The desk should also be wide enough to accommodate everything while still giving you ample room to work. A desk with a computer storage compartment will free up the desktop for writing and other work.

Another consideration is comfort level. This can be compromised by a cramped desk. If your current desk is not high enough to provide adequate leg clearance, you can find a replacement at an office workspace store like officedesk.com. They provide ergonomic office chairs and desks of various heights for any professional.

Finally, reduce the amount of clutter on your desk by keeping the things you aren’t using (such as files) in drawers. If you must have papers on your desk, put them in a desktop box or filing system.

Computer and Printer

The computer monitor should be an arm’s length away from your face. The top of the monitor should be at eye level so that you have to tilt your head down slightly to view the entire screen. Your keyboard should be placed so that your hands are slightly below or at the same level as your elbows. Your mouse should be within easy reach, on the same side as your dominant hand. There should be no obstructions on the desk that would impede mouse movement – you should not have to pick the mouse up to continue a motion.

To preserve space, consider keeping your printer on a separate surface near your desk, and within easy reach, such as a credenza behind your desk. If you must place the printer farther away, put it in an area that you can get to without having to stretch or climb over obstacles.

Supplies and Equipment

Supplies and equipment like pens or your desk phone should be within easy reach – you should not have to stretch or strain to access them. If you can’t reach something while seated, stand up to reach for it rather than stretching to reach it from a seated position.

Even small changes to your workspace can make a big difference in your workflow. Working more efficiently not only makes you more productive, it can also give you more free time with friends and family because you can work faster comfortably.

Five Important Steps To Getting Your Business Up and Running

Man Putting out Open SignWhen you want to launch a new business and you want it to be successful, getting it up and running may be a challenge regardless of the industry you are working in and the experience you have. There are a few important steps to help you to get your business up and running that can help contribute to the overall success you experience down the road.

Create a Plan

Launching a business requires you to develop a business plan that has been thought out and that is solid for any future plans you have in mind. Creating the right business plan for your ideas may entail plenty of research and a dedication to understanding your financial situation and potential needs in the future.

Consider What You are Providing

You should also consider the type of products, services or even content you plan to provide to potential customers or visitors who are interested in your business. Considering what you plan to provide to those who are genuinely interested in your company will help you to choose the right target demographic or audience to appeal to, regardless of whether you are selling items or if you want to share content online through your company’s official website.

Search for Suppliers or Contributors

Your next step to get your business up and running is to search for and locate your manufacturers, suppliers or the contributors you want to work with together with your business. Finding the right suppliers and contributors will help you get started with adding content, products and the services you want to provide immediately to your business. When you are in need of a money transfer for any reason during the planning process of launching your business, Sigue is available for a wide range of services.

Marketing is Essential

Understanding how important marketing is when it comes to launching a business is essential. Developing a solid marketing plan that entails how you plan to reach potential consumers or visitors will help you to get ahead in promoting and selling the items you have to offer. Implementing social media and online marketing is also necessary today, especially if you are launching a website or developing an online presence to help with representing your company or the type of business you are running.

Be Persistent

Always being persistent during the process of launching a business is a key factor to discovering success. The more persistent you are with promoting your brand, believing in the products or content you have to offer, the easier it becomes to attract customers and potential investors or business partners. Being persistent shows you are truly dedicated to your business and professional.