Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Make Productivity More Fun

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Every successful business owner or manager understands – or should understand – that happy employees make productive employees. Many also wonder if it is all really so simple.

Outside of a great salary and awesome benefits, many companies have developed systems (which sounds overly serious) to create active, energized and (gulp) fun workplaces to increase employee productivity. If that’s a counter-intuitive concept to you, then you might want to listen up.

While some companies, most notably those like Google, NIKE, Zappo, or Foursquare, have blazed the trail in creating fun workplace environments, there is research to suggest a fun workplace not only improves productivity, but also fosters organizational community, pride, and loyalty. A University of Florida study found employees who had fun on the clock accomplished more and showed more creativity. Likewise, a professor at the Mayo Clinic [told The New York Times] workers don’t take enough breaks, while another study shows regular breaks increase productivity.

On the flip side, recreation in the workplace not only promotes creativity and innovation, which increase productivity and profitability, it also reduces costs in employee turnover and health care. The World Health Organization suggests that workplace-related stress actually costs American companies more than $300 billion. As it is, more than 40 percent of American workers report chronic workplace stress , and other research points to the fact that employee stress squashes creativity and competitiveness.

It could lead one to believe stress is bad for business, and fun is good.

So what are the best ways to take a break, goof off or recharge your batteries that lead to less stress and increased productivity when you get back to work?

Get out of your chair. Do anything that gets you up and moving , whether it’s a walk around the block, running an errand or just visiting co-workers to chat. If your company has a gym, take advantage of it during the middle of the day.

Add fun or relaxation space. A game room will give employees a reason to take a mental break, while a quiet relaxation room could be used for reading or naps during mandatory breaks.

Use fun tools. If you’re a fan of gadgets, use them to manage your productivity and make more time for fun. Check out these mobile apps that can make you more efficient.

Ditch the mundane meetings. Traditional meetings can be boring and a huge time waster. Try different approaches to the traditional meeting that focus on different principles for hyper-productive sessions.

New thoughts on workplace design. Let employees create a sense of ownership by decorating their own spaces, such as with lights or chairs, and bring in personal artwork for the office. Take down walls that separate employees, create open environments, or even standing work stations.

Celebrate good things. Instead of a pat on the back, take time away from the desk to celebrate victories and recognize good work. Take afternoons off or let people out early for a holiday weekend.

What is your favorite thing to do at work to take a break? Check out these ways to be more productive.

Do you think it’s productive to take breaks during the workday? Click here to learn more.

What are the best ways companies can promote having fun at work? Click here for ideas.

Apps for your (digital) wallet

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bigstock-hardware-wallet-30917513There could be a time soon when carrying your wallet – the one you actually keep in your pocket or purse – is a thing of the past. That time is actually here now, and some digital wallet apps are close to making it practical for you to stop carrying cash altogether.

If you dream about a streamlined, digital existence and a totally cashless society, though, we are not quite there yet. But mobile payment technology is primed to drive commerce thanks to the next big thing in tech.

Thanks to a little something called near-field communication (NFC), your smartphone can be enabled via a hardware chip to wirelessly communicate with another NFC device in a store to make transactions. A digital wallet app on your phone stores your payment and loyalty card information, all of which is encrypted. Simply put, when you tap your phone against an NFC receiver in a store, behind the scenes computers will charge your credit card, debit from your bank account, refund a return, or complete any other transaction.

Before we get to full-fledged implementation, there are hurdles – such as security issues, among others – to hash out. And, conceptually, other technologies such as digital currency – with Bitcoin being the most well-known – on the horizon that could alter the future of digital commerce.

For now, here is a look at several of the digital wallet apps:

Google Wallet
This robust system allows you to link a credit, debit or loyalty card to your Google account for both in-store and online shopping, simply by waving your phone.

Apple’s Passbook
Relies on a barcodes to help you manage your loyalty cards, coupons, movie tickets and boarding passes for selected merchants. You can’t link to cards for in-store purchases, but you will get location and time-based discounts.

PayPal
Allows you to send money to friends, family or merchant accounts and view past transaction history. The PayPal app also allows you to make your smartphone a swipe machine for credit cards.

Are you one of those people with an embarrassingly large or messy wallet? Click here for the latest on digital wallets.
What is you favorite feature of using a digital wallet? Click here for some popular apps.
What is the best digital wallet you have used? Click here for some popular apps.

Online Invoicing/Accounting Services

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Make account less painfulÑHere are the best online invoicing and accounting services

It’s good news for small business owners that the today’s software market is inundated with more choices than ever when it comes to online invoicing and accounting options. The biggest problem might be knowing which option to choose.

Thanks to the boom in online cloud-based applications, there is a wide range of inexpensive, easy-to-use and widely-used options with similar sets of features for business of all sizes. Given the options, it’s important to determine the services your business requires, how the invoices are generated and your budget. Then draw up a short list of options and try the free trials to test each to decide which best suits your needs.

Freshbooks

One of the veteran application options, Freshbooks facilitates fast and simple invoicing, offers team management tools and the ability to work across platforms , on mobile devices (iPhone and iPad only) or by using other apps. Create invoices, manage projects and accept payments online from anywhere.

 QuickBooks

Offers eight different products, including five online accounting packages, which run on Windows or Mac operating systems. Provides advanced invoicing, reporting, expense tracking, billing and payment tracking, imports data from Excel and comes with mobile tools to create invoices (both iPhone and Android).

Invoicera

Offers an intuitive user interface as well uncluttered navigation. Supports 20 global payment gateways and languages and advanced invoicing functionality, including a time and expense tracking feature. Creates estimates and supports reoccurring billing, invoice scheduling, partial payment options and late fees payment.

Harvest

Features superior online, desktop and mobile time-tracking app, which is both iPhone and Android compatible. Supports Google apps integration, plus uploading data to Excel and QuickBooks. Includes timesheet management features and is adept at converting estimates and tracking expenses on the road.

Proper Planning for B2B Content Creation

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image-1000pxIn the online world, content is still king. For marketers and businesses creating content for other business, content marketing is more than just buzz worthy, it’s a solution that can accomplish a wide array of business goals for clients.

Content creation in today’s social-media driven digital world needs to do more than actively capture and engage audiences; it needs to cut through the noise. The array of objectives for content creation can include building brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, lead generation, driving sales, and search engine optimization, among others.

Maybe, this is easier said than done. But with clear goals and a well-defined strategy, creating content – exceptional content – can accomplish all of these goals. Here are five elements a business can include when planning and implementing content for other businesses.

Targeted content. Content that doesn’t capture and engage your audience isn’t the right content. Know the audience, and objectively determine what content satisfies their needs. Consider the objective, and think critically about what you need your content to accomplish (what reactions it will cause) given its target audience.

Choosing the right assets. An established objective and target audience will lead directly to determining the format and structure of the content. Along with an editorial calendar that plans how and where the content is consumed, what formats (blogs, videos, podcasts, ebooks, newsletters, social) are used?

All about optimization. Strategic content is optimized in two ways – for search engines and for lead generation. One of the biggest benefits of lots of content is SEO, as each piece of content (blogs, video, podcasts) gain traction in search engines. The other is that effectively optimized content will be positioned to generate business leads.

Offering real value. Producing content that is truly valuable to an audience is the most effective way to cut through the noise. What makes it valuable? Apply what you learn to the content you continue to create. Content that educates, informs, offers industry opinions, advises, or reacts to news often brings value.

The end result. What good is content creation if it isn’t driving results? Planning and implementing amazing content requires adaptability and the need for continuous improvement. Utilize statistics and user feedback to validate the value of the content. If the content is helping business – brand awareness, thought leadership, generating leads, driving sales – then it represents a successful content campaign.

What do you think is the most important element of planning content creation? Click here for more.

Looking for new ideas on content marketing and creation? Click here for a few tips.

What steps does your company take in planning B2B content creation? Take a look at these steps.