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How to stay motivated while working remotely

Working from home is great, but it can come with its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles that you can face is making sure that you stay motivated and work productively despite not being in an office environment.

For some people this comes relatively easily, although for others they may need a bit of an extra push to get going.

If you are the type of person who needs some extra motivation, then it may be a good idea to take a look at some of the following ideas and gadgets that can really help boost your productivity. They may sound simple, but they are often things that are overlooked, and if put in place can really give you that push you need.

WiFi Baby Camera

Do you cram in your work whilst your little one sleeps? This is common for a lot of people who are running their own business. The trouble is that you may then be tempted to run backwards and forwards to their room checking on them. Having a WiFi Baby Camera means that you can be comfortably sat in another room, working away, whilst still being able to keep an eye on them and make sure that they are okay. It really does offer the best of both worlds.

Amazon Echo

Find that you are sometimes distracted by looking at the news or finding out about the weather, what you need is Amazon Echo. This amazing little gadget is entirely voice activated and can give you all the info that you need. Best of all, you don’t even have to lift a finger.

Roomba

A gadget that you can link to your Echo, the Roomba is a robot hoover. It is ideal for those remote workers who find that they become more than just a little bit distracted by the idea of hoovering and cleaning their home. Best of all, you can use your Echo to plan in when Roomba needs to get busy cleaning!

A coffee machine

We all need coffee or tea to get us through the day, but the trouble is that getting up to make endless cups can take a toll on your working time. Rather than having to head to the kitchen when you need a top up, why not invest in a coffee machine? It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or flash, just a way to whip up a brew quickly when you are really focused on your work.

A comfy chair

There is nothing worse for your motivation then being uncomfortable, as this is going to make it much more likely that you will get out of your chair and talk a walk. Taking a break, of course, is good for you, but if you are finding that an uncomfortable chair is causing you to want to go for a wander more, then you might need to rethink your seating arrangements.

Headphones

Working from home when the rest of the family are around? This comes with its own set of hurdles. Noise distraction has to be the biggest though, particularly if your kids (or your partner for that matter) find it hard to be quiet. A good pair of headphones are ideal, they will not only cancel out the noise around you, but can also play you some soothing (or not so soothing) music which will make sure that you are focused on the work you need to do.

RingSmart Doorbell

Do you find that during the day you are interrupted by people knocking on your door? If you do, then it might be time to invest in this RingSmart Doorbell. It allows you to see who is actually at your door without you even having to leave your desk. Which is ideal if you are expecting a delivery or have clients that visit you at home.

Equil Smartpen

Taking down notes or jotting down ideas is great for those who work in creative jobs or who need to attend lots of conference calls or virtual meetings. The thing is, these scribbles may then need to be typed up or can get lost. This is where the Equil Smartpen is going to be a gadget that you just have to have. It allows you to take down notes in the old fashioned way, but then these notes can be transferred from the pen to your smartphone, ready for you to save. Pretty impressive!

A good old fashioned to do list

Now this last top tip may not be packing a techy punch or be a newcomer to the block, but a lot can be said for simply having a to do list. It is a place whereby you can write down all those things that you need to get down, as well as have the satisfying feeling of being able to cross off or put a tick against the things that you have finished. The great things about to do lists is that they don’t have to cost the Earth and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are also fully portable, which means that you can take them with you when you head to the coffee shop to work or perhaps back to your office to get things done.

As you can see, there are a huge number of gadgets and accessories that you can have in your home office to help you to work better and faster. That said, the best tool to make sure that you get your work done is you, so make sure that you are aware how important it is to be motivated and you will soon feel the benefit. 

9 alternative ways to boost professional development

Sick of seeing the same regurgitated tips on how you can get ahead at work? – We’ve got just the thing for you.

If you’ve claimed to be an ‘outside the box thinker’ on your CV – then it’s time to set yourself apart for them rest by picking up some of these tips and becoming the most interesting and useful person in the office… 

  1. Find a mentor

There’s a lot to be said for being a trailblazer – but don’t forget, there were people trailblazing long before you came along. Smart people are often quite humble, so you might not find them shouting, blogging or consulting about what they know – often, you’ve got to bring the info out of them yourself.

You’ll only find these people by talking. Chat with the people who’ve been with your company a long time, you’ll pick up some incredible knowledge about the business and ways of working that’ll bolster your professional toolkit. Download Microsoft Office and use Word to take notes and build a list on excel to keep track of the mentors you are connecting with.

  1. Read a book

There’s no end of knowledge out there on subjects that directly impact your role. Truth be told – it doesn’t have to be a book, start picking up professional journals, studies and research papers that are relevant to your industry and prepare to absorb a LOT of priceless info.

Bulking out your knowledge in different areas can be really useful too. If you’re in a marketing role – why not look for psychology info that might inform your decisions? If you’re in sales – brush up on the latest financial info to stay ahead of the curve and understand the right markets to go at.

  1. Learn sign language

There are around 150,000 people in the UK who use British Sign Language – so why not look at picking it up as an additional language and immediately expand the ability and accessibility of your workforce?

Sure, it might not be something you use very often – but in that moment that you’re needed to help support a customer, meeting or business associate, you’re immediately priceless to the business.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is often penned as an entirely selfless act – and while giving your time and energy to a cause with no financial recompense might seem that way, the truth is that you can get a lot from it too.

If you’re part of a medium or large size business, you’ll find there are lots of opportunities to get involved with community projects and initiatives – sometimes even in work time. Getting involved will connect you with great people, inspire conversations and pick you out as someone with good intentions.

  1. Go networking

If you’re thinking to yourself you just don’t have the time for networking – fear not – most of the big networking organisations are a step ahead of you. Whether it’s breakfast, evenings or weekends – you can join up with likeminded (or totally different!) professionals and talk.

There’s usually some format to how a networking event pans out – you might have to make a small presentation to a group or select individuals about you, your business or your products – and in return, they’ll give you similar info about themselves. Whatever’s involved – you’re going to build a professional network that then opens doors to different roles, experiences and knowledge.

  1. Write a blog

Writing a blog can be a brilliant route to exploring your own professional development. It’s creative, so there are no rules – and frankly, even if no one’s reading what you’re writing is going to develop you in ways you might not expect. Its also very easy to setup, you can use platforms such as wordpress.com which is great for getting started.

It’s an often-cited fact that journaling can be an incredible catalyst for creativity – and blogging is really just that – public journaling – and because it’s done in a place anyone can see, you’re likely to get some productive comments and feedback too. Be prepared to be honest and be challenged – but in return you’ll have a lot to think about!

  1. Experiment on yourself

Don’t worry this is a painless experiment! There’s no question that the body and mind are connected – therefore, mixing up your eating, sleeping and exercising habits can have some profound effects on your work life.

They key is taking a measured approach – don’t suddenly start running marathons, being a vegan and sleeping 3 hours a night! Introduce little changes and chart the impact it has on your ability to work. Does exercising before work improve your focus? Perhaps getting an extra hour of sleep means your productivity is up during work hours?

There’s no certain paths or results – do what feels right and see how your professional development follows…

  1. Put yourself with another department

If you’ve got an hour, an afternoon or a day a week that you’d like to invest in development, then look at spending some time with a department that you don’t fully understand or work with often.

Clearly, it’s important to go through the right channels to do so, but if you want a better picture of how the business works as an overall machine – you won’t go far wrong seeing what happens behind the scenes elsewhere.

As an added bonus – you make the company a smaller place when you do this. Your department gets a friendly face that other people can approach – and you make some connections with people elsewhere. From a selfish point of view – it’s always nice to know you’ve got someone on your side should you ever need to take a plan or request over to another part of the building!

  1. Try a foreign language

The internet has made the other side of the world just a few clicks away. If your business has its sights set on expansion – you knowing a different language could put you at the forefront of the company’s plans on how that’s executed.

From a day-to-day point of view too, there’s no harm in being the person who everyone else turns to on the odd instance a non-English speaker wants to interact with the business. There are audiobooks aplenty on learning new languages – and it’s a great way to kill some time in an otherwise tedious commute…

Gain Focus on Your Business

Coming up with a business idea can be a task, but that’s only the start of the journey. There are so many things to do when we first start out in business that it soon becomes the norm for us to focus on a multitude of tasks at once, meaning that no task is getting the time and attention it deserves.

If you want to work from home then I would suggest that you check out some of the best home business rankings

Trying to find time can be problematic, but not impossible. In most instances, if we have procedures in place, then we can give the right amount of focus to each task to ensure that all the cogs are turning.

Don’t Scatter Your Tasks

Jumping for one activity to another can normally mean that we lose time in adjusting to the new task. With this in mind, we should look to group together as many tasks as possible. For example, if you’re currently looking to get a website launched, then it can be advisable to deal with all aspects in one sitting where possible.

This includes the logo design, web hosting and how the final site will look. Something like web hosting may not seem important initially, but is effectively the foundation on which your website will grow, and without it, no-one will know your business exists this is why we have shared this link to web hosting research here.

Ensure You Have an Organised Work Space

The secret to a good working space is to remove all distractions. So, if you have photographs and magazines scattered around, it can be a good idea to ensure they’re put out of eyeshot. You should also have easy access to the material you need. Once you have a designated work area, you will find it’s much easier to concentrate on the task at hand.

Plan Your Working Week

If we’re attempting to get up to date with work, but we’re not sure where to begin, losing focus is almost a given. Having a clear schedule of what lies ahead allows us to handle tasks in the right way.

Planning you working week also ensures that you’re able to give yourself some downtime, meaning that you’re not overdoing it and becoming less focused due to tiredness.

Prioritise Your To-Do List

If we’re simply looking at a list of things to do, then it can be overwhelming, as many won’t know where to start. However, if we’re able to prioritise these tasks, then you should find that you can get the momentum going to complete the tasks.

Ranking each task in order of importance gives you a little more breathing space and ensures that you’re able to meet deadlines.

Turn Off Technology Where Possible

Neglecting technology completely when carrying out a task can be easier said than done, especially if you’re using a certain type of software. However, we should ensure that there are no notifications disturbing us when contending with a task list.

You should look to completely ignore technology where possible, or at least limit what comes through when working on a task. You should also ensure that there are no social networks or similar pages open that could potentially distract you from your work. Once distracted, it can take as long as 25 minutes to get back into the frame of mind we were in before.

Ensure Your Working in The Right Temperature

If our workspace is too hot or too cold, then it’s likely we will be experiencing some form of discomfort. If we’re not able to get comfortable, we’re not going to be able to get any work done. While it may seem like an inconvenience in the first instance, you should look to set your temperature to a comfortable level, otherwise you could find you are easily distracted.

Look to See If Any Tasks Can Be Automated

Many tasks can be cumbersome because we do them manually, but there may be an easier solution to hand. Whether you’re looking to find a solution that helps automate your finances, or invest in Customer Relationship Management software to automatically schedule your marketing campaign, there are a series of tools available that can help ease the workload.

Consider Outsourcing Some of the Work

While many businesses feel it is more cost-effective to deal with any tasks relating to the business themselves, it can be easier to outsource the work. While this solution won’t work for every type of business, many will have more time to focus on other areas if they’re able to outsource the more generic of day to day tasks.

Whether you’re looking for someone to manage your social network profile, or keep track of how your website analytics are doing, you can normally find a cost-effective freelancer who will only be too happy to help.

Don’t Tackle More Than You Can Handle

During busy period, it can be normal for us to double or triple our workload, and invest more working hours as a result.

Trying to contend with a mass of work in a shit space of time can mean you’re likely to burn out, and not complete the work to the best of your ability.

Before committing to projects, ensure that you have the time available. If you’re already tied up with other projects, then it could be a good idea to give yourself some breathing space.

Improving our focus at work can mean taking some time out to implement some changes, but once these changes have been implemented there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t see the benefit moving forward.

Why you should care about website accessibility

For a lot of companies, the accessibility of their website is a factor that features much further down the list than a lot of other required or desirable factors.

On the surface, configuring your site so it can be used by those with additional needs might seem like a lot of work for little reward – but when you realise that 8.5 million people in the UK are registered as having a disability, not ensuring access for all can have a big business impact.

To understand why accessibility is vital, it’s important to understand what it means for a website…

What does accessibility mean?

For lots of people, the term accessibility conjures images of ramps, lifts and dropped curbs that allow easy wheelchair access to a building – and while correct, both the architectural application and the image of a wheelchair user put too narrow a meaning on the term.

Accessibility extends to any ‘occupation’ – that’s to say any task or action that a person may want or need to undertake – and the term ‘disabled’ or someone with ‘disabilities’ extends well beyond physical limitations – and into issues relating to differing cognition, mental function and sensory needs.

So, in website terms, it’s useful to think of ‘accessibility’ as simply making the site accessible and useable for anyone – regardless of any impairment, reduced ability or external conditions.

A broad spectrum

A broader look at the population’s range of abilities sees a wide variety of conditions that should be accounted for in web design:

  • Visual issues – including people who are blind, have reduced vision, colour blindness or sensory sensitivity to colours and light levels.
  • Auditory issues – people who are deaf, have a reduced range hearing – or have sensory issues that relate to particular noises and pitch levels.
  • Physical issues – including musculoskeletal issues leading to reduced movement, any inability to use limbs that ruling out standard device control methods and any cognitive issues leading to difficulties in movement.
  • Learning disabilities – leading to issues with movement, understanding of content and ability to interact with devices.
  • Autistic spectrum conditions – resulting in sensitivities to site design, colours and noises.

Environmental limitations

While we tend to think about accessibility as being human conditions that limit access to sites, there are also environmental conditions that can limit a person’s ability to access and use a website:

  • Old technology that doesn’t cater for the latest design features
  • Speech driven search and browsing owing to user’s situation
  • Limited network speed
  • Working in areas of high noise or light interference

Benefits of accessibility

Before considering any business benefits, there’s a significant moral and ethical argument for ensuring accessibility for people of all abilities and in all conditions.

A great deal of companies put their ethical responsibilities before any business considerations – and this should always be taken into consideration when something as significant as a company’s web presence is in question.

Limiting access can damage your reputation

Social media makes it extremely easy for your bad decisions around accessibility of a site to become a much more widely publicised problem than you would intend. Your decision to limit accessibility is not shared by social media platforms – meaning you can make it hard for people to use your service – but you can’t stop people telling the world about your ethical shortcuts!

The law

While there haven’t been any significant cases against which precedent can be set, limiting people’s use of your website based on your ineffective design could find you in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Effectively, neglecting to provide a service to a disabled person that is otherwise accessible to others is unlawful discrimination. This principle applies regardless of the type of organisation you are or the service that you offer.

Business considerations

Even if ethics take a backseat to cold business decisions, the numbers that drive accessibility should speak for themselves. 8.5 million people in the UK are registered as being disabled – with an additional unknown number handling access issues without medical support.

8.5 million people represents more than 10% of the population of the UK. If your company decides that accessibility isn’t a priority, they’re effectively turning away 1 in every 10 customers who try to access the business online – the web version of door security turning away every tenth customer who tries to enter a shop! A stark image, but effectively the same.

What does accessibility look like?

There are hundreds of possible adaptations that allow equal access to your website – although they tend to break down into categories:

  • For people with limited vision: Adaptations should be made/available for colours, contrasts, text size and font type, i.e. text should scale up without losing quality or readability.
  • For people with no vision: Consideration should be given to how the page is presented and how a screen-reader would interpret the different elements. This should include image alt tags, title tags for links and audio descriptions for any video or animation content.
  • For people with limited hearing: If you have audio content on the page can it be represented graphically? I.e. closed captions or subtitles – or signing alongside video.
  • For people who have physical restrictions: Does your site offer feasible control options via the keyboard? Do you allow forms and fields to be autocompleted?
  • For those with learning difficulties or disabilities: Is you content easy to comprehend? Is it broken down so it can be read by people who might struggle with large blocks of text? Is your site compatible with software that will read text aloud?

Meet customer’s needs

It’s a fundamental for business owners everywhere; build a product or service that answers a market need. To think that a huge number of those same business owners then have websites developed that preclude their business, product or service from many of the customers they are trying to find is unfathomable.

Accessibility means you’re:

  • Abiding by the law – and getting a significant head start on any further legal changes should they occur
  • Accessing extensions to virtually every demographic – with a collective spending power of £100billion+
  • Creating a site that is more useable and friendly to all – not just those from whom accessibility is a must.

These are the kind of goals that marketing teams work for hundreds of hours to achieve. Save yourself your hassle by putting website accessibility at the top of your to-do list.

 

 

A Ten Point Checklist to Startup Funding in 2017

Image result for startup

There are many avenues of capital available when starting a business such as a loan from https://oinkmoney.com/, but regardless of the route we take, we need to ensure that we have our financial affairs in order when it comes to our startup. Evidently, there can be a lot to remember, which is why it can be helpful to use a checklist.

  1. Complete Your Business Plan

While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s worth enforcing how important your business plan is. Not only does it allow you to look at the financial commitments of your startup, but it also serves as a guide as to how your business will operate as a whole.

It will also give any potential lenders or investors an overview of how your business operates, and what methods are used when it comes to acquiring customers. This will ensure you’re portraying a more robust vision of the company and its business goals.

  1. Research the Market

Another point that may seem a little obvious, but it can be easy to assume we have a viable business model simply based on how many businesses are placed within the industry.

However, you should look at what competitor’s solutions are lacking, and what can be brought to the table with the introduction of your business. This could be something as simple as amazing after-sale service, or something as complex as a new piece of software that automates an otherwise time-consuming task.

Knowing what services are already available, as well as ascertaining what customers are looking for puts you in a prime position to meet their needs.

  1. Monitor Your Incomings and Outgoings

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a loan or an investment, you should be in full control of your business expenses. This means looking for cost-effective solutions where possible, and ensuring that these can be paid on time without having a detrimental effect on other aspects of the business.

When operating a startup, the costs involved can be very low if you’re willing to carry out the research. It also ensures that you have to borrow less should any further capital be required, which is more cost-effective.

  1. Protect the Legal Aspects of Your Startup

Depending on the nature of your startup, it will often be the case that some form of legality will be involved. This could be anything from the contract you give to the customer, to the service itself.

Many are able to stay abreast of any legalities simply be following the relevant news platforms. However, if you do find you’re scratching your head in some respects, then you should consider the services of a legal expert.

Granted, it can be costlier upfront, but having a contract not worth the paper it’s written on can be much more detrimental overall.

  1. Keep Up to Date with Paperwork

When running a business, dealing with paperwork can seem like a task that’s of very little importance, but quite often the opposite is true.

Any correspondence sent in relation to your startup should be dealt with in the first instance. It can be too easy to put such task to one side, but if Government bodies such as the HMRC don’t receive paperwork on time, it will often issue fines as a result.

  1. Become Familiar with Your Tax Incentives

Paying tax is part and parcel of operating a business, but that doesn’t mean we should pay more than we have to.

If you have to purchase equipment or stationary for the business, then ensure you keep the receipts. This will reduce your tax liability for the financial year, as you won’t be taxed on income that has been used for the business.

  1. Protect Your Intellectual Property

While many businesses are similar, there will be those that have an idea that can offer something new, but this means it can be open to theft. While falling in line with the legal aspects of your startup, you should look to ensure that your business’s IP is trademarked so you’re not subjected to any inferior imposters looking to cash in on your idea.

  1. Register a Website

Having your idea down on paper is a great idea, but it can mean that it’s inaccessible to some. Having a website allows you to give out an overview of your business with one click. This is an ideal complement to your business plan, and it allows people to really look at what your business is about, and how it presents itself to the business community.

Having a website may be vital for some, especially if they operate a mail-order service. But as many people use Google as their first port-of-call when looking for businesses, a website is an essential starting point.

  1. Only Deal with Reputable Suppliers and Providers

There will be instances when some start-ups have to rely on the services of third-parties. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you do have to ensure that you’re only dealing with providers that are of good repute, or you could find that your startup suffers as a result.

Fortunately, there are many places to turn when it comes to reading reviews. A quick Google search will often bring up a series of reviews left on dedicated review platforms, as well as those listed on social networks such as Facebook and Goole Plus.

  1. Obtain a Business Bank Account

While it may be easy to separate your finances in the early days, as business starts coming in, you may find it confusing having so many entries in one account. Registering for a business account allows you to manage your finances with more clarity.

As well as allowing you to assess profit more clearly, it also prepares you for prompt returns in relation to any Corporation Tax or VAT payments.

There may be some elements here that are irrelevant to your particular business model, but it does show how much there is to factor in when running a startup, and just how useful a checklist can be.

To G Suite or not to G Suite, that is the question.

Image result for g suite

Formally known as Google Apps, G Suite is part of Googles cloud based offerings for businesses. We are all familiar with Googles basic yet powerful free tools such as Google Drive or Google Docs and a lot of us use them extensively in our business lives, especially in smaller businesses where buying expensive software isn’t in the budget.

Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations together with colleagues no matter where you at the same time. Whether you are a small business such as Reid Brothers – Stainless Steel Banding or a personal blogger with big admissions, G Suite is there for you to take advantage of its collaborative, cloud based software.

Why G Suite?

Googles free tools are fantastic as they allow you to work seamlessly across different platforms like Docs and Sheets which are basically Googles versions of Word and Excel. These programmes allow several users to access the document at the same time. Not only that but edits can be viewed in real time as they happen and notes can be left between the users to share ideas or suggestions. Thanks to G Suite being a cloud based system, you can comment on a document, while it’s being written in Japan, while you are in London.

Hangouts

We have also been given free access to Google hangouts which gives us the ability to video conference with up to 10 colleagues across the world. Not to mention Google Drive which is perfect for sharing and storing up to 15GB of data. Both of these free Google services have previously been very expensive from other providers.

For a lot of small businesses these free tools are all that are needed. Many businesses will create one business account and share the login details with everyone in the office. Some businesses ask their employees to create a personal, work Gmail account and grant them access to the various documents. Whichever way people decide to set up and use their accounts, it’s clear that Google has delivered some of the best free cloud based software available. Thanks Google.

Image result for hangouts

Cost

G Suite has all the same advantages as the free tools like Docs, Sheets, Drive and Forms with one main difference, it’s not free. Now before you catapult your cup of coffee across the room, it’s not as bad as you would think. There are three tiers, $5 Basic, $10 Business, $25 Enterprise and as you would imagine, as the price increases the amount of features increase too. In a nut shell, you get more control and less restrictions over your G Suite than you do with Googles free tools.

Storage & Collaboration

You get more storage space, 30GB for the basic package and unlimited for the other two. You also receive more advanced actions like smart search across the Suite and higher security control like data loss prevention. Being able to add multiple users to the account also allows for simple organisation and limitless collaboration. G Suite is also available on mobile so no matter where you are, as long as you have your smart phone you can retrieve and present the information you need in a matter of moments. If you are already fairly dependant on Googles free tools, it’s worth looking at the details of each tier to understand which package would best meet your specific needs.

G Suite Benefits

The main reason people choose to purchase G Suite over continuing to use what’s free, is that it brings your Google tools up to a professional level. Having more control over the business data and the users that have access to it. The most practical advantage of G Suite is that it gives you access to a business email. So instead of having a yourbusiness@gmail.com email address, you receive a @yourbusiness.com email address.

This not only gives your business emails a more professional look, but having a dedicated business email address also helps build trust with your stakeholders. A quick search for email hosting will give you an idea of the different prices available from other vendors. 123Reg for example offers you 1 email address with 25GB of storage for £6.99 + VAT and that’s all you get. If you compare that to the Basic G Suite package at $5, even if you all you needed was a business email account, it is still better value for money.

You get all the great cloud based tools with 30GB of storage and it’s from google, which is probably the most trusted source around. G Suite is fantastic value in comparison its competition.

It really comes down what you need and what your business needs. For a lot of people, continuing to use Googles free tools is the way to go.  After all, for a free service it’s brilliant. If you don’t need a lot of storage or a business email, it also may be pretty hard to justify spending any amount of money on added benefits you wouldn’t use. However, for those businesses looking to up there game, G Suite may just be the best option.

Real Estate and Virtual Reality: When Worlds Collide

If you’ve been in a shopping centre lately (yes there are still a few around) you’ve likely seen folks queuing up at what seem like video game booths. Except there’s no video game screen or steering wheel or any other type of controls to be seen. Just some chairs and some strange looking boxes that those people are strapping to their heads. Welcome to virtual reality.

Virtual reality as a concept has been around for decades although it wasn’t able to migrate very far from the labs in which it was born until recently. As the amount of computing power available to consumers in PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones has grown exponentially in the past few years this long-time fringe technology has burst out into the open and with it an almost unlimited array of possible applications from medical to cinematic and everything in between.

The Real Estate and home buying industry too has seen great potential in virtual reality, for example home reports glasgow could actually carry out a full home report without actually having to visit a location. Also, VR with the Internet will allow clients in every corner of the world to experience a property without ever setting foot in it. Below we’ll explain how they’re going to do that.

Virtual Real Estate

The real estate industry is a forward thinking industry populated by men and women who make it their business to know what’s going on in the world. As such when new technologies are introduced real estate companies are typically some of the first to make use of them. So it is that as virtual reality (VR) has gained traction in the marketplace real estate companies have looked for and found new ways to put this breathtaking technology to work. To understand why VR would be attractive to real estate companies you only have to consider two of the biggest problems they typically face:

  1. The time required to make physical visits to sites to show prospective buyers and
  2. The fact that photos often don’t give a realistic idea what a property is like.

VR presents an ideal solution to both of these problems while also allowing a company to expand their potential customer base. Here are several ways real estate companies are employing VR to do that.

  • Augmented Reality Tours – This is the most common type of 3D virtual tour currently in use and is often mistakenly labelled Virtual Reality. With AR guided tours the entire home is shot in 360 degrees and then a dedicated web page is created where the ‘tour’ video file is available for viewing. If a home or commercial property is as yet unfinished the tour can be further augmented using models and/or 3D computer graphics. Narration and on screen notes describing various aspects of what the viewer is seeing can also be added in post-production. This type of augmented video is the first step in the direction of true VR and has become increasingly popular as a promotional device.

 

  • True VR Tours – The next step up is to actually immerse the viewer in a virtual environment created entirely in the computer and then uploaded to the Internet and linked to a VR headset. This provides the viewer with a level of interactivity simply not possible using a linear augmented reality video tour. In true VR if the client looks left they see what’s to the left in the virtual room. If they look down they see the floor and so on. Like the AR tour the VR tour is uploaded to the real estate company’s server and the dedicated URL given to prospective clients. Of course not everyone in every corner of the world is going to have the requisite VR headset to view this type of content and so each visitor is given the option of taking the standard AR tour described above or to view the true interactive VR tour using their Oculus Rift or other VR headset.

 

  • Unprecedented Interactivity – The level of interactivity possible with true VR is mind blowing. The client can proceed with the tour at their own pace concentrating on the things that interest them the most and “moving” back and forth, left and right within the virtual space. Hot spots can be created within the virtual environment that appear in the client’s field of vision. Using their VR controls they can access the information available at these hotspots. The info can contain wallpaper options, flooring options, upholstery options and much more. With true VR there are no distractions, no extraneous visual clutter to block out. The client feels as though they are in the room and they’re able to navigate as if they are.

The Benefits

  • For the Real Estate Company – The benefits of VR are enormous and include the aforementioned ability to drastically reduce the number of site visits that need to be made as well as the ability to showcase properties to potential clients all over the world. Your client from Dubai will be able to get a feel for what it’s like to actually walk through the property at their own pace taking their own route. It’s like bringing the model home or condo unit to the client instead of having to have the client come to the model home. That also means of course that developers may no longer even need to build model homes or condo units. Instead they’ll simply direct potential clients to the web page where they can access the VR tour. The potential savings are enormous.

 

  • For the Client – Clients stand to gain just as much or more than the real estate companies as they’ll be able to take hyper-realistic, virtual tours of an unlimited number of properties worldwide while sitting at their kitchen table wearing their VR headset. No more time and money spent doing the open house shuffle. No more wondering what the floor might look like if you ripped up the tiles and installed hardwood. It’s all right there at your beck and call through the VR software.

 

Virtual reality is taking the world by storm and is set to revolutionize how people buy and sell real estate. Whether you’re a buyer, a seller or an agent you stand to benefit from the VR revolution.

6 pieces of tax advice for every small business

Whether you’re just starting out or are well established in business it’s vitally important that you seek good tax advice – without it you could literally be giving money away. While there’s no replacement for a qualified accountant, there are some pieces of advice that apply to all small businesses.

Have a look through our 6 pieces of tax advice and see if there are any areas you could be working more tax efficiently…

  1. Explore flat rate VAT

VAT is VAT right? If this is your assumption – you’re wrong – and you could be missing out on a healthy size chunk of profit.

A flat rate of tax applies when you choose to pay VAT annually on your turnover – rather than individual transactions. A flat rate also means that the rate you pay is based on your industry, for example:

  • Advertising – 11%
  • Computer repair services – 10.5%
  • Printing – 8.5%
  • Labour-only building services – 14.5%
  • Security – 12%
  • Transport (including taxis and removals) – 10%

…and that is to name just few.

So, VAT is charged at 20% – but if you choose to pay that one-off flat rate then you’ll be paying a reduced amount to HMRC – with the remainder retained by your business. And if that isn’t good news enough, HMRC even give you an additional 1% discount for your first year of operating that way. Well worth looking into in more detail.

  1. Work from home?

If you’re a sole trader or small self-employed business it’s easy to settle for the most basic tax perks of working from home – HMRC offer a fairly small £2 per week allowance if your home is your business base. However, there’s much more available if you do a little homework.

As an example, let’s say you have a house with 5 rooms, if you use one of these as an office then effectively 1/5th of your household costs can be attributed to the business – so if your electricity bill £500 then there’s £100 worth of electricity that is being used to power your work if you’re there full time.

There’s a sliding scale too, so even if you just work one day from then there’s still a proportion that can be claimed. And it’s not just energy bills, you can claim against a proportion of the following:

  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Council Tax
  • Mortgage interest or rent
  • Internet and home telephone use

It can be tempted to just keep things simple and claim the most basic amount – but remember this is likely to be far less than it actually costs to run your business from home, so calculate what you’re entitled to with a ‘Use of Home’ claim.

  1. Staff perks can be tax perks

Perks for staff might sound like something that’s going to impact your bottom line – but in actual fact, used smartly there are perks that can save your business money at the same time as keeping employees smiling!

  • Car leasing – Have you considered offering a salary sacrifice car leasing scheme? There are lots of companies who’ll walk you through the kind of services they provide and explain the benefits in details. You’ll instantly do away with those ‘car won’t start’ excuses for days off too!
  • Ride your bike to work – There are a variety of Cycle to Work style schemes – staff can save a huge amount on buying a new bike, have a small monthly sum taken from their wage for doing so and your company receives a tax incentive for promoting green travel methods.
  • Child care – Providing tax free childcare vouchers can be a huge benefit to employees with families – especially considering the lofty prices of professional nurseries and child-minding providers.

And that’s not all – there are various salary sacrifice schemes available for businesses of all sizes, cutting your tax bill and giving excellent incentives that could help you recruit and retain excellent staff.

  1. How are you paid?

If you’re smart with how you take money from your business you can make some really big dents in your tax bill. The goalposts can move on what’s going to be best for you, so discussing options with your accountant is important – but some things to think about might be your level of salary, how much is drawn as dividends and anything that can be considered a ‘benefit in kind’.

Generally speaking the most common benefit in kind is the use of a company car – usually a positive step for someone self-employed – however, do make sure that HMRC are made aware, even delaying notifying them by a couple of months can mean a chunky tax bill.

The guidelines on how company directors are paid look set to change – so an on-going dialogue with your accountant is important. Which takes us neatly to…

  1. Talk to your accountant

We’re in an age that makes finding a ‘tick-box’ accountant really easy… That’s to say, every company needs an accountant – and many decision makers feel like having one onboard is just a formality – when, in reality a business-accountant relationship should be much more than that.

If you’re not talking to your accountant on a regular basis you’re missing out on what you’re paying for! An accountant isn’t just someone who’s there to keep track of the business money, in actual fact, proper financial advice is worth far more than the advanced admin skills that many are used for.

There’s no tangible amount of percentage of tax benefit that talking to your accountant will return, but if there’s one thing you can be certain of – it’s that they know more about tax than you do – so talking to them should be done as frequently as is practical!

  1. Keep organised!

Again, we’re finishing up with a non-specific piece of advice – but one that has the potential to save you a fortune in unnecessary tax. Keep your receipts and expenses in an organised manner! That means different things to different people – but the more detailed you are – the more efficiently you and your accountant can work together.

Can you face keeping a spreadsheet with all your business expenses? Can you just manage to keep all your receipts in one folder?

If you’re feeling really lazy, consider having a company credit card that you only use for expenses – pay it off at the end of every month and your statement suddenly becomes a very neat and organised list of your expenses – all kindly provided, printed and sent by your card company!

How Cryotherapy Start-ups Are Changing Health Industry

Cryotherapy (also known as cryo sessions or cold therapy) is a rather unusual medical treatment because many people have a very inaccurate view of what it actually is. The popularity of science fiction in all its forms have built a very advanced image of cold therapy when it’s real-world uses are actually far more on the mundane side.

According to Coldwellness, one of the industry leading manufacturers of cold therapy chambers, It’s used to treat a wide range of issues most commonly tissue damage, it can also be used in a range of cosmetic procedures as well. It’s a popular choice of therapy for the sports industry because it’s a quick and effective way to decrease inflammation and improve rejuvenation.

And despite its futuristic reputation amongst the general public, it’s a therapy that’s been around since the 17th century. Cryotherapy can also be carried out in a number of different ways at its most simple ice packs can be used, but there is also liquid nitrogen based treatments and whole-body therapy.

While more complex medical producers like cryo surgery are carried out at hospitals whole-body therapy and other similar simple procedures are available in certain spas and gyms. Cold therapy has many uses and has been adapted into a wide range of different treatments and therapies, but while it might have a much early history than many people know it’s the future of cold therapy that’s really of interest.

Cold Therapy Start-ups

The healthcare industry is always changing and cold therapy as shown its self to be a popular choice for start-ups, especially in America in the past few years. Particularly whole-body therapy because it’s a relatively simple variant of cryo therapy with a wide array of uses.

Whole-body therapy uses refrigerated chambers and participants stay inside for a short duration, research on it as shown that whole-body therapy could stimulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS) causing it to help relieve pain and soreness from a wide array of existing conditions. So, there are a lot of potential opportunities for entrepreneurs when it comes to cryotherapy. 

You could become the new manufacturer of the refrigerated units that are needed for whole-body therapy for example? Or you could start your own spar business specialising in different cold therapies, there’s also been a rise in cold therapy based franchising opportunities as well.

Cold treatment start-ups are rising because it has so many different opportunities, whether you want to become the new manufacturer, focus on being a treatment provider, or you want to add it to your existing business there’s a lot of potential opportunities for entrepreneurs. But what impact could this have on the healthcare industry?

Disrupting The Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is always changing and as technology advances those changes are going to come much faster. Cold therapy due to its wide array of uses and the ease of access people have to certain therapies as the potential to drastically disrupt the healthcare industry. This could have far reaching implications in a variety of ways.

More and more people could turn to whole body therapy instead of relying on traditional treatments or painkillers. This could mean that more start-ups are founded with the sole purpose of being the manufacturer of cold therapy products and equipment.

Or they could instead focus on training others on how to safely provide a range of different cold therapies.  America’s healthcare industry, in particular, could be hugely affected by the popularity of cold therapies because unlike other countries the U.S healthcare industry does not yet officially recognize cryotherapy for insurance purposes.

Although licensing and training are still needed in order to offer the services outside a hospital or professional medical setting.

Alongside other technologies like artificial intelligence, medical based virtual reality, and 3D printing cryotherapy is predicted to be one of the leading and most disruptive new technologies in the healthcare industry.

With the potential to be adopted by a number of different industries and a wide range of uses entrepreneurs will no doubt be taking a more serious look at the potential of cryotherapy in the years to come.   

The Future of Cryotherapy

It’s sort of ironic that the biggest developments in cold therapy are still likely to come when you consider many people believe it to be an advanced medical practice solely used in sci-fi movies. But while we haven’t quite developed the futuristic stasis technology you see in the movies cold therapy will likely be seeing a lot of development in the coming decades.

Few medical treatments can offer the levels of versatility and flexibility of cold therapy and its popularity in the sports and cosmetic industry, as well as a number of celebrity endorsements, have made it very popular. So, I believe it will be a big name in the future of the healthcare industry.

7 design hacks to make your startup office stand out!

Starting out in business is tough – but it’s not without its perks. For a lot of people the building space they work in is one of the first things they stamp their personality on. Say goodbye to the boring corporate offices you used to drag yourself into every morning and say hello to 7 designer inspired hacks that will make your new startup space uniquely yours!

  1. Clear the way!

Have you ever tried to move your bedroom around only to find that there’s literally one practical position for the bed and that’s it?! Frustrating isn’t it? Don’t let your office layout or current furniture constrain your office plans, think outside then box, you may even want to consider a steel framed building from https://www.steelbuildinguk.com/ Also, when it comes to the insides – clear out everything you possibly can and look at the space with fresh eyes.

Now, the extent to which you can do this will depend on your tenancy – but if it’s practical you can take down doors, lose window coverings, remove office divides – and so on, until you’ve got a totally blank space.

Then when you do…

  1. Use the space unconventionally

The quirkiest startup offices do things a little differently – and that often begins with the layout. Think about what you want to see when you walk into the space – should this be a vista of your hardworking team? Or should it be a breakout area that keeps guests from stumbling into important business areas?

Do you want open space? Or would you prefer defined working areas? This is your office, so go with what you like and remember you don’t have to rely on the usual elements to divide the space – why not use book shelves to create areas? Or rugs to differentiate one space from the rest.

The best designers don’t rely on walls and doors to define spaces!

  1. Make the space about your company

If you’ve ever been away from home for business you’ll probably have stayed in a few budget travel hotels. The reason the colours, layouts and decorations are all exactly the same is to give a feeling of familiarity regardless of where you are geographically – familiar equals comfort. However, familiar also equals forgettable…

If you want people to remember your company you’re going to want to stamp your brand on the space. When we say ‘brand’ – we don’t mean your logo, we mean giving a feel for what your company is all about. Take for example Instagram’s startup offices…

The designer behind their initial space wanted to reflect the fact they were all about photographs and technology – while still giving a hint of the retro style filters that everyone came to love so much. They did that with clean white walls and sharp contrasting vintage style furniture – and as for colour, accents of pale and mid browns gave a sepia feel that made gave the space an unquestionably vintage photo feel.

Have you got colours that would work for accent walls? What’s the feel of the product you provide? Are you cutting edge tech or wanting a more relaxed vibe? Reflect it in your space!

  1. Let the light in

If you want a productive workspace it’s important to let as much natural light in as possible. The reason natural like looks unlike anything that comes from a lamp – is because it covers the full spectrum of light – not like fluorescent tubes or light bulbs that offer only a small range of colour.

Giving a full range of light triggers the parts of the brain that encourage wakefulness and energy – meaning your workforce is going to be as bright and switched on a possible.

Controlling the light in the office is as much about organising furniture as it is about windows and skylights. Those typical U.S. office ‘cubicles’ are a crash course in how not to do things – take a big spacious office with lots of light and surround everyone with opaque artificial walls. Not ideal!

It might be tempting to put big plants or feature items in your windows – but try not to – and you can boost the amount of light with carefully positioned mirrors around the place too.

  1. Pick some colour carefully

When you had your logo and website designed you probably went with a colour palette that involved some black, white, greys and one or two accent colours. Try to do the same with your office space – if you throw a bucket-load of different statement colours in there you’ll start to diminish your brand and design – and start to look a little hotchpotch.

  1. Consider some wall-art

If you’re looking for a bold statement that really tells the world who’s occupying the space, you might want to think about putting some art onto the wall. We’re not talking pictures, we’re talking full wall murals that reflect your company, your message, the vibe of the room – or whatever else you want to shout about!

Even if it’s just a generic pattern, you’ll find that a team feels more stimulated when they’re surrounded by more than just plain walls.

Not sure that your landlord will appreciate an 80s New York graffiti mural sprayed onto his freshly rendered wall? No problem, there are plenty of companies who’ll create custom removeable wallpapers that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

  1. Mix old and new

If you’ve shaped and coloured a stunning space only to fill it with crisp catalogue-fresh office furniture you’ve fallen at the final hurdle! The best office spaces try to mix old and new to give a classy and well-thought-through feel.

Don’t overdo it though, aim for around 30% of your office furniture to be vintage or antique – if you have much more you run the risk of looking less shabby-chic and instead just plain old shabby.

There are some things you’ll probably want to ensure are cutting-edge – computer chairs are going to keep you workforce comfy – so save the Queen Anne style wing-back chairs for the breakout areas! Consider vintage where ergonomics matter a little less – storage areas, cupboards and side tables are all perfect for that retro vibe!

The result?

There’s mixed bag here – not only are you going to have an office that’s memorable to the clients who come and visit you there – but you’re going to find that the combinations of colours, light and working space bolster productivity – making your office the ultimate in form and function…