Category Archives: Business

Take that Break. You Deserve It.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It also makes Jack stressed and over-worked. Sooner or later, Jack (or Jill) will need a break. But what if Jack or Jill’s diary simply does not leave time for it? Then there is only one thing to do – incorporate play into a business trip to take a well-deserved break from the daily slog.

Stay for the weekend

A business trip that ends on a Friday can easily be extended to a Sunday. That makes for two whole days to catch up with friends of explore the city you’re in. You could book the extra days at the start of the business trip, but a resting period after will be so much better for you.

Purposefully include a stopover

Perhaps you’ve been in the city you’re going to before and you don’t feel there’s much left to explore. If so, request a stopover in a city or country you’ve never been to. Your employer might find the request odd and deny it, but they could surprise you and approve it. The only way to find out would be to ask.

Plan ahead

Ask for your itinerary a week or so in advance and check when all meetings and other business commitments are taking place. Now plan your downtime around these. Identify one excursion as a must-do. Then, even if you don’t get round to everything, at least you would’ve done that one thing and would still feel like you got to do something for yourself.

A word of caution – don’t fill your diary to the brim. Leave space for unexpected events and time to just rest. You’ll need sleep to be fresh in meetings!

Do what you can beforehand

To free up time in your diary for leisure activities, do whatever you can before departing for your business trip. This ranges from preparing presentations and notes to stocking your briefcase with enough pens, paper and business cards. Planning on bringing back a present for the boss? Then shop for duty free alcohol delights and fragrances before departure and have it delivered to your seat.

Keep in mind that it is still a business trip, so treat it accordingly. Put work first and keep businesses expenses separate.

Now all that’s left to do is decide what goes in your suitcase. You are, after all, essentially packing for two trips. This stressful event in itself could justify a bit of a break!




Mistakes to Avoid When Public Speaking

Everyone knows the story of Moses. How he defied an empire and led an entire people to a new destiny. However, many people don’t realise that the famed story also says that he wasn’t a good public speaker. In fact, this was a primary reason he gave for not wanting to do the task ahead of him. And so, his brother Aaron was brought in to speak on his behalf. Not being a natural public speaker, however, didn’t stop Moses to go on and do great things.

Whether you believe the Biblical story or not, it still teaches us one valuable thing – even if we don’t want to, we may one day find ourselves in the position of having to speak in public. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a charismatic orator step in and do all the talking. So we need to step up and learn to do so ourselves.

If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll be on your way to delivering a great speech that engages your audience.

1. Reading through your whole speech

This is a tough one, because it’s so tempting to get up and simply read through what you’ve written. It’s safe and easy, but one of the worst things you could do because: you’re not actually speaking to the crowd. You need to make a connection with your audience and you’re not going to do that by keeping your head down, avoiding eye contact, and simply reading your way to the end.

The best way to get over this is to practice your speech so that you’re comfortable enough to not rely on your notes. You’re welcome to keep notes in case you lose your place mid-speech, but practice it by yourself until you know it back to front. Once you can say it well, practice saying it in front of a camera. Then practice in front of one person. And then in front of a few friends or family members. The ease will eventually come.

The other key way to comfortably get through a speech without having to read it line by line is to avoid mistake number two.

2. Using unnatural language

If you use language you wouldn’t otherwise in your everyday life, you’re going to struggle getting through it without relying too much on your notes. Don’t try to use fancy words and too formal language. While the situation might call for a formal tone, write your speech in such a way that it feels like something you would say in actual conversation (albeit a long, one sided conversation) .

Remember that often the best speeches are the ones that are conversational in tone, not the ones that use the most impressive words.

3. Not speaking with your audience in mind

It’s important when public speaking that you engage your audience. There are several ways to do this, besides the two points mentioned above.

One way is to make eye contact. This is scary – but you can do it.

Another way is to remember why it is that you’re making the speech in the first place. Why are you there and why are people listening to you? This seems obvious, but it’s easy to lose track of this when you write your speech. For instance, if you’re at a corporate oil conference, it might be that people are there to forge oil partnerships. In which case you would want your speech to reflect this. By keeping your talk relevant, you will keep your audience engaged.

Some people are naturally good public speakers. For the rest of us – we can become good public speakers. You might feel like public speaking isn’t your forte, and you wouldn’t be alone. Like spiders, public speaking is one of those common fears.

However, most of us find ourselves having to do it at some point in their lives. Whether it be giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding or presenting a talk at a conference, getting in front of a crowd and having them listen to what you say is a useful skill to develop.

5 Ways to Make Your Office More Secure

Security and safety have always, and will always be, important parts of business. And while the protection of data is a high priority in today’s digital world, the safety of the people that make up a business also deserves attention.

No matter the size of your business, or the type of business, you can increase the protection your data and staff enjoy. Here are five ways in which to do it:


Secure your smartphone

Smartphones make life incredibly easy, keeping us connected to information and people around the clock. But all that connectivity comes with risk. Many of us don’t think twice about keeping sensitive information on our smartphones.

To make your smartphone more secure, activate a PIN lock on the screen, turn off the Wi-Fi and GPS, install reputable apps and perform updates when required. When you receive a request to click on a link or open an attachment, think twice before doing so.

For more information on how to secure your smartphone, read this article by Microsoft.


Use strong passwords

This seems like an obvious one, but many people are still using their birth dates or even the word “password” as a password on computers and applications or programs.

A strong password is at least eight characters long and consists of a combination of both upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols. Never use your real name, user name or company name, and never use a complete word in your password.

Upgrade physical security measures

The size of the business will dictate how high-tech you go when upgrading the physical security. But the basics of any good security system is an alarm and a CCTV system. You should also consider swopping keys for biometric access control systems.

If you can spend a little extra on salaries and equipment, employ security guards and convert a space into a security control room with all the necessary control room equipment.

Have visitors sign in

Businesses that receive a lot of foot traffic should have a visitor’s policy in place. The standard is to have all visitors sign a log book before entering the building. For deliveries and collections, identify a central spot where it should take place.

Assign security officers

In a big company, it’s very easy for outsiders to slip in and out unseen. But if you have a security officer on every floor (or more, depending on the security needs) looking out for strangers, theft and other illegal activities can be curtailed.

Security officers would need some help, though. Make it known within the business who the security officers are, so that staff can approach them when they become aware of strangers in the building or on the grounds. The security officer can then alert the appropriate people, making for a safe and secure working environment.




A To-Do List for Starting Your own Business

Congratulations on taking the plunge to start your own business. You’re in for a lot of work, which you probably already know. But you also stand to reap plenty benefits from owning your own business – which you no doubt have thought about already as well!

However, there are a few things you need to check off before you open your doors. Here’s your to-do list to make sure you’re on track and on your way.

Write a business plan

This may not seem exciting, and might even be daunting, but it’s one of those things you need to do. Not sure how? Here are over 500 free sample business plans, to give you an idea of where to start. A business plan should ideally be a live document that is updated regularly. So don’t worry if it changes as you go along.

Have a financing plan

Make sure you have the money to get going. There are many financing options are available to you for various aspects of the business, from small business loans to crowdsourcing. The Entrepreneur provides a bunch of mini-guides to help you start raising funds. Once you have this in order, you can update your business plan accordingly.

Perform the legalities

There are a few legalities you need to take care of to ensure your business is a legitimate business and always in the clear, legal-wise. This includes deciding on the structure or type of your business, registering your business, getting all agreements in writing, and trademarking your branding identifiers.

Insure your business

Whether you run an entrepreneurial start-up with big aspirations or a part-time business from your bedroom, you need business insurance. The last thing you want is to be held liable in a potentially damaging situation where you aren’t protected. There are many different cover plans, so you’ll find something that suits your particular business.

Set up shop

Where is your office or store going to be located? Maybe to save costs you’d like to work out your home for now. That’s fine and well, but call your local zoning board for details on the zoning laws in your area. If you’re going to be a freelance writer, you can most likely work from home, no problem. But if you’re going to have customers and employees coming in and out of your home, you may have to make a plan.

Have a website

Once upon a time, in a land before digital, businesses could do perfectly well without having a website. Customers heard about them through the yellow pages and used a landline to place orders. Now, if you aren’t showing up in a Google search, you’re going to have a tough time attracting clientele.

These are very simple aspects you need to get going with your new business. But if you neglect even one of these, you may face difficulty getting off the ground, or end up in hot water later. So dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and get going with making your dreams come true.

Banks and their place in the world

Nearly every person on the planet uses the bank, whether it’s withdrawing money from a teller or making an online payment. How often, however, do you stop to think about how banks came about?

To understand why banks came into existence, we have to look back in time and explore the roles money and the bank play in society.

Money makes the world go round

The world is a disproportionate place, where some people are more skilled than others, and some people have skills that are considered more important than those of others. Compare a surgeon’s skills and what it can accomplish, for instance, to those of an artist’s:

The painter, being a human, will have health problems which can be solved by the surgeon. The surgeon might have a love for art, and might want to ask someone to paint his portrait, but the chances that he’ll die if this does not happen is very slim. The picture is different for the painter, whose only hope of life might be the skills of the surgeon. And imagine the only payment the painter had to offer was his painting skills. What happens if the surgeon isn’t interested in this form of payment? Now you have one person with valuable skills and another with skills, but those skills are considered less valuable.

This is where money comes. It was created to erase the inequality between two partners with mismatched skills, or offerings. This is an inequality that has existed for eons and will continue to exist for thousands of years into the future. We’ll never be able to eliminate money, no matter how many people think of it as the root of all evil.

The next step in the evolution of money, one could argue, was deciding where to store the money that was created. The question was answered through the creation of banks – places that serve as storage and distributors of money. Of course banks do much more than this, performing many other functions people require on a daily basis.

When and where did banks start?

The first banks were around in ancient Babylonia and Assyria, about 4 00 years ago. Organisations, like the Knights Templar, grew wealthy from their loans, storage and security. By taking a small cut for services, groups could grow richer and richer. Today, the concept remains the same: provide a service and take a certain percentage of that client’s money for services rendered. The latter, of course, despite the fact that the money belongs to the client.

Let’s look at loans and bonds as modern examples:

If you wish to get a car or house, most people usually don’t immediately have cash on hand to make such a purchase. Banks make bond calculations by assessing various aspects of the client, the transaction, and so on. This means they look at elements like your risk factor and purchase history. The agreement must work more to their benefit than yours, of course, since they are the ones forking out all the money.

Now it’s clear that banks exist to make and exchange money; not just for storage of the world’s money. This allows banks to cater to a natural need and necessary dimension that arises from the natural and necessary existence of money – in whatever form it takes.