5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Career

You’re unhappy with the way your career is going and you want to fix it. You want to fast-track it, help it along and stand out from the crowd. But how to do it? There are many strategies, in fact, that you can apply right now. It’s not even necessary to get up from your desk.

Adjust your attitude

Complaining, criticizing and being lazy do you no favours. This is not the type of employee or colleague people want around. Come promotion time, you’re likely to be passed over in favour of someone with a positive attitude. Actively work on bettering your attitude by adjusting your thoughts and looking for the good things about your job.

Review your annual review

It’s easy to forget about your annual or quarterly review once it’s done, but dust it off from time to time to check how you’re doing. There might be problem areas that were highlighted that you forgot about or even opportunities that could be seized. It’ll improve your performance at work, making it more likely that your next review will be a stellar one.

Get organised

A desk that resembles a landfill site does not make for a productive day, because you spend a lot of time searching for misplaced files and documents. To get more productive, get an in-out tray and divide your work accordingly. Trash anything that you don’t need and file the rest. Do the same for your computer’s desktop and your documents folder.

Spend 30 minutes reading

The first thing you should do every morning is read – a blog post, a newsletter, an article; any piece of information that’s relevant to your industry that’ll help keep your knowledge current. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that you stay relevant and have information of value at hand during conversations. If you feel that you need more, look at short courses presented by business schools.

Get noticed

Sitting in your corner, not speaking up and not contributing, is not the way to get noticed. Speak up during meetings, propose a solution to a workplace problem and volunteer to help out. If you really want to make an impression on your manager, ask for more responsibility, then take it on and perform!

Need more quick ideas? Send a mail to someone you connected with at a conference, dress for the job you want, polish your online resume or have a chat to someone that you admire for inspiration.

Should I Translate my Business’s Website?

The question posed in the headline is one that should be considered carefully. The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that should be taken into account.

Presumably, you’re asking yourself the question because you are expanding your business into foreign markets. This means, first and foremost, you have to carefully examine the online habits of your future target market. If you are looking to tap into the European market, a 2011 Eurobarometer report done by the European Commission might provide some initial insight.

Responses from European citizens to the questions put forward by the European Commission showed that 9 in 10 internet users in the EU always visited a website in their own language, provided they had a choice of languages. A slim majority of respondents (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language. More than 4 in 10 (44%) respondents agreed that they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.

These finding were reported in the fourth section of the report, titled “Opinions about the availability of websites in several languages”, and is a clear indication of the fact European internet users, at least, would prefer to use a website in their own language.

Should you decide, following this and your own investigations, that you do in fact want to translate your website, you’d next want to consider whether it is financially feasible. Translating an entire website could be costly, and there is a chance that your business cannot afford it right now.

Don’t even consider doing the translation yourself or by using an online translation tool. That is unless you have an exceptional knowledge of the language you intend to use. Online translation tools are incredibly dangerous, because these tools have not been equipped with grammar rules, exceptions to those rules, nuances or accepted slang terms. It is highly likely that you will get an unintelligible mess back when you type a sentence into an online translation tool.

The best choice for your business and its reputation would be to use a professional translation agency. This type of agency would hand your website over to someone with expert knowledge of the language you want to translate your website to. This person will be aware of any vocabulary updates, slang or idioms, so the text you’ve used will contain its original meaning. The other advantage to this is that the text on your website would be in a language that’s up-to-date and readers will thus be able to relate to it. Use outdated forms of speech and people will be able to recognise that you are not familiar with them in an instant. This will tarnish your reputation.

Of course South Africa presents its own unique situation, because of our 11 official languages. So perhaps you don’t want to expand internationally, but do you want to target a wider audience base within the borders of the country. For instance, you could do a Sotho translation if you want to target the Free State, or a Zulu translation to take advantage of the KwaZulu-Natal market. The process would stay the same – familiarise yourself with how these target audiences browse the web and then look at whether you can afford to translate your entire website.

Whether the issue of expansion relates to international or local markets, it could be worth your while to investigate only translating parts of your online marketing strategy to start off with. Perhaps you can begin with your PPC ads or a monthly newsletter. It’s better to have something than nothing available in someone’s mother tongue if your research shows that is the language they prefer to be addressed in.

Make Your Product Packaging Standout

Product packaging has always played an important role in selling a product. If the packaging is dull, boring or ugly, no one would buy it. However, if the packaging is bright, colourful and obvious, people tend to gravitate towards it.

So how do you make your product packaging standout from your competition? Here are four ways:

Spy on the competition: The first thing you need to look at is your competition. What does your competition’s packaging design and labels look like? It is very likely that your competition is going to have very similar shapes and sizes, simply because that is what the customer wants.

Change the size: A simple way to make your product look bigger and better than the competition’s is by making your packaging bigger. For instance: if you are walking down the cold drinks isle on a hot day, and you are absolutely parched, what kind of drink are you looking for? You want the biggest and fastest thirst quencher that you can find. The truth is people are innately greedy and therefore, they want the biggest and best of everything. So by making a small change and making your product packaging just that little bit bigger, you can immediately change a consumer’s perspective of your product.

Taste the product: Imagine you are selling a simple hamburger. Your product is reasonably priced and you know your burger tastes pretty good. However, the consumer does not know that. You need to sell your product via the packaging. You need to make your customers hungry just by looking at your product. How do you do this? You make your packaging look tasty. The package design needs to showcase your product as the only brand to buy.

Do not neglect the label: So you have sussed out your competition, made your product bigger and created a more appealing packing cover, but are you finished? No, you still need to change the product label. Changing the label does not mean you need to redesign your entire logo or slogan. By simply changing the label’s position, you can make your product look completely different. For instance: imagine ten sports drinks lined up next to each other. All these drinks are exactly the same, except one with the label in a slightly different place. Will this not instantly catch your eye and make you choose that product? Just take note, as mentioned previously, humans are greedy, so positioning the label slightly higher will make your product seem larger and more superior to your competition’s product.

Packaging distributors take note, if you want your product to sell, you need to differentiate your packaging from your competitors’. Use these four tips to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.

Seven Tips for Growing a Successful Business

To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible in your planning and organisational skills. The majority of people think that as soon as they open their doors to the public, they will start making a profit, only to find that making money is not easy. In order to avoid this in your business venture, you need to take your time planning out the necessary steps you need to achieve success. Here is how:

Get organised: The very first thing you need to do is get organised. Being organised will help you complete tasks and allow you to stay on top of things. A good way to do this is by creating a daily to-do list. This will ensure that you never forget a task, no matter how small and meaningless it might seem.

Keep detailed reports: All successful businesses keep a record of everything. By keeping all your records, you will be able to know exactly how much money you have received through sales and what your expenses (debit orders, start-up costs and fixed and variable costs) are. By being aware of your financial constraints, you will be prepared for any hiccups or hurdles that might occur down the line.

Analyse your competition: You need to understand your competition. What services do they offer, how do they sell their products and what advantage do they hold over you, etc.? Understanding your competition allows you to implement your own business strategies to improve your competitive edge and grow your business.

Be creative: You need to always be on the lookout for unique ways to improve your business and stand out from your competition. Once you recognise that you do not know everything about the industry or the sales approach, you are able to open up to new approaches in your business processes.

Prepare to make sacrifices: The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after opening your doors, the true work has just begun. You will need to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else. In turn, you will need to make sacrifices, such as spending less time with your family and friends in order to be successful.

Understand the risks and rewards: The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help grow your business. A good question to ask in every situation is “What is the downside?” If you are able to answer that question, then you know the worst-case scenario is. This type of knowledge will allow you to make calculated risks that can generate incredible rewards for your business.

Be consistent: Consistency is one of the key components to making money in business. You have to be consistent in your daily services and work practices. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you build relationships and make money in the long run.

A successful business is built on consistency, creativity and continuity. Ensure that you follow these steps to help you grow your business.

Should I Translate my Business’s Website?

The question posed in the headline is one that should be considered carefully. The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that should be taken into account.

Presumably, you’re asking yourself the question because you are expanding your business into foreign markets. This means, first and foremost, you have to carefully examine the online habits of your future target market. If you are looking to tap into the European market, a 2011 Eurobarometer report done by the European Commission might provide some initial insight.

Responses from European citizens to the questions put forward by the European Commission showed that 9 in 10 internet users in the EU always visited a website in their own language, provided they had a choice of languages. A slim majority of respondents (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language. More than 4 in 10 (44%) respondents agreed that they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.

These finding were reported in the fourth section of the report, titled “Opinions about the availability of websites in several languages”, and is a clear indication of the fact European internet users, at least, would prefer to use a website in their own language.

Should you decide, following this and your own investigations, that you do in fact want to translate your website, you’d next want to consider whether it is financially feasible. Translating an entire website could be costly, and there is a chance that your business cannot afford it right now.

Don’t even consider doing the translation yourself or by using an online translation tool. That is unless you have an exceptional knowledge of the language you intend to use. Online translation tools are incredibly dangerous, because these tools have not been equipped with grammar rules, exceptions to those rules, nuances or accepted slang terms. It is highly likely that you will get an unintelligible mess back when you type a sentence into an online translation tool.

The best choice for your business and its reputation would be to use a professional translation agency. This type of agency would hand your website over to someone with expert knowledge of the language you want to translate your website to. This person will be aware of any vocabulary updates, slang or idioms, so the text you’ve used will contain its original meaning. The other advantage to this is that the text on your website would be in a language that’s up-to-date and readers will thus be able to relate to it. Use outdated forms of speech and people will be able to recognise that you are not familiar with them in an instant. This will tarnish your reputation.

Of course South Africa presents its own unique situation, because of our 11 official languages. So perhaps you don’t want to expand internationally, but do you want to target a wider audience base within the borders of the country. For instance, you could do a Sotho translation if you want to target the Free State, or a Zulu translation to take advantage of the KwaZulu-Natal market. The process would stay the same – familiarise yourself with how these target audiences browse the web and then look at whether you can afford to translate your entire website.

Whether the issue of expansion relates to international or local markets, it could be worth your while to investigate only translating parts of your online marketing strategy to start off with. Perhaps you can begin with your PPC ads or a monthly newsletter. It’s better to have something than nothing available in someone’s mother tongue if your research shows that is the language they prefer to be addressed in.