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Claire @ October Rain

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The Ups and Downs of Starting a Physical Store That You Were Never Prepared For

When you’re ready to start a business, it can often be daunting thinking about all of the possibilities and responsibilities of being your own boss. If you’ve been working for the past couple of years under someone’s guidance, then making decisions on your own can be surprisingly difficult and you’ll need to be a hundred percent prepared to fail or else you’ll end up burning yourself out and shying away from ever starting up a business again.

There are many ups and downs to starting a physical business, and we’re going to help explain them to you one by one so that you get a better understanding just what it takes to become your own manager of a store that you’ve worked hard to grow.

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You’re Not Getting Rich Quick

Unless you become an overnight viral success and make something ridiculously popular (such as the famous cronut story) then you’re not going to get rich quick. You’re going to spend long days and nights working hard to make just enough money to pay your employees and keep your business running. There are going to be periods of good income and there will be times where you’ll barely scrape by and make just enough. It’s going to depend a lot on how you approach your business, but the cold hard fact is that you’re not going to be wealthy by opening a retail store unless you become a viral success and make something so popular that everyone around the world wants. Even if you make it into the news, you’re just not going to reach the same level of success that you could if you aimed for an international market with an online business.

Passion Goes a Long Way

One of the most important aspects of success is to create a business that resonates with you. If you love books, sell books. If you love to bake, sell cookies and cakes. If you love to serve the community, create a local grocery store. Passion helps you remind yourself that what you’re doing isn’t just for yourself, but for your customers as well. As mentioned in the previous point, you’re not going to get incredibly rich by just having a physical store. A retail store might make you some money and you might live well, but if you’re not passionate about what you do then it’s going to be incredibly hard to grow your business and make progress. In short, create a business and a retail store about something that you are passionate about.

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Growing Your Retail Store Is Hard

Between hiring an engineering firm to help you create a parking lot and integrating yourself into the local community, there’s a lot to think about when attempting to grow a retail store. Once you reach a certain point, you’re going to need to think about physical expansion. It could mean building and staffing a second location on the other side of town or it could mean moving to a larger store and accommodating more products. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. The truth is that there’s no simple formula to help you grow your retail store and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, dedication and ultimately passion in order to grow larger. Whether it’s physically increasing the size of your store or increasing exposure to draw in more customers, it’s much more difficult than an online business because you’re limited to your local area. A great way to bolster your sales is to actually look online and offer your services and products (if possible) over the web. Of course, this is going to be difficult if you’re a bakery, but if you sell books or art supplies or something that could be found on the internet, then you can greatly increase your sales by getting yourself on the internet.

Dealing With Customers Is Even Harder

Coming face-to-face with an angry and disagreeing customer is one of the most terrifying things an entrepreneur can face when they’re inexperienced. It takes a lot of time and experience in order to fully grasp these situations so you know how to defuse it before something goes terribly wrong. However, it’s not just frustrated customers that you need to deal with. Some customers love to talk and get you excited that you’re about to make a sale, but it’s how they use their wallets that will ultimately matter to you. As much as we love to hear a customer talk about how much they love our products, it doesn’t matter much unless they actually purchase something. It can be incredibly stressful to guide a customer around your store, making recommendations and showing them everything you have in stock only to be told that you don’t have what they’re looking for. It’s almost enough to make you scream and shout at having your time wasted, but the art of drawing in customers and making a successful sale is something that not everyone has, hence why it’s important to hire the right staff for the job.

Some Final Words

While opening a retail store is a great idea for people who are confident in their ability, there are many ups and downs that you’re going to have to deal with in order to fully grasp and appreciate how difficult it is to actually run a successful retail store. It’s not something you can wing because every decision you make not only affects your brand, but also the livelihood of your employees that you’ve built a relationship with and your own reputation. In short, if you’re going to start a physical store, then you need to prepare yourself by reading as many journals and guides as possible, and you need to be ready and willing to fail for the sake of learning.

The New Decade Is Going To Be Here Sooner Than You Think: Start Getting Sorted

We are currently through just over 10% of the year, and let’s be honest, it feels like it hasn’t even started. Most people are probably still recovering from overeating at Christmas and drinking on new year’s eve, making this year seem like it has barely begun. That said, the pace that this year is going at makes one think, and it also makes you realise that the new decade is basically here. If we keep going at this speed, this year is going to be over before we know it, and the year 2020 is almost upon us, that’s a whole 10 years after 2010, which also doesn’t feel too far away. Time is a strange thing, to say the least. Weren’t you thinking about how different your life is going to be by the time 2020 rolls around? Weren’t you sure that everything would have “solved itself” at this point? Weren’t you going to be the new you, who has taken care of all those things which you kept telling yourself you were going to take care of? If you’re nowhere near accomplishing all those goals, then do not worry, because you are most definitely not alone. Why not make it a personal ultimatum to get some of your issues out of the way before the turn of the decade?

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Sort out your insecurities

We’re all insecure, even the people who insist that they are not. In fact, the people denying it the most are probably the most insecure. Not to sound shallow, but the chances are that most of people’s insecurities nowadays probably stem from their appearance. Once again, you can either sit around and wait for things to sort themselves out, or you can get out there and get things done. All those tiny things which have been on your to-do list which really need addressing, go and do them. Need to lose weight? Need to gain weight? Need to look after your teeth better? Need to get your hair looking healthier? Go and get it done. Start that diet, pick from a variety of diets which you can find online to fit your needs. Go to that dentist and get started on getting your perfect smile back, visit a dentist like Dr. Kit DDS PC or somewhere equally as qualified somewhere close to you. Start applying all those treatments for your hair, whether it’s rinsing your hair with coffee or using a variety of hair oils, what better time than now?

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Make steps towards your dreams

Most of us were probably thinking we were going to be professionals making insane amounts of money from doing what we love by 2020. If you are, then you are living the dream, and congratulations on your success, but if you’re like most people who are still stuck in their mediocre job just trying to make ends meet, then you’re in the majority. Start making steps towards your dream profession, make a conscious effort to developing your skills and portfolio in your desired field. Take courses related to what you are interested in, and see if you could maybe even do them online.

Protect Yo’ Self Online – Here’s How

When you have a knack for writing, a blog can go from being an outlet for your opinions and your emotions, to being one of the most important things in your life. It’s how you can communicate with people who have the same way of thinking that you do. It’s how you can express how you feel on your own platform and if people don’t agree, then all they have to do is click away from your site to another one. Sometimes, with careful thought and planning, your blog can become your income. The thing is, not everyone out there sees the magic of a blog. They don’t always see how an outlet for one person that becomes a viral success is a good thing.

These people are hackers. They are those who purposefully take something that does not belong to them, and then exploit it for profit. They either use your blog to spam adverts across the pages, or they use the lists of your many subscribers to promote criminal activity – all under the banner of your brand. Protecting your personal-turned-professional blog should be a priority for you, and whether you get help from Brown, Smith & Wallace, or you choose to wrap your computer in the highest security settings, you need to realise how important it is. When you become popular online, your blog will have a high readership, which makes your reputation something that others aspire to have. If your blog gets hacked, you could end up losing both your reputation and your readers, which you’ve taken so much time and effort to grow. Making sure that this doesn’t happen has to be on the top of your list when you grow a blog big enough to matter to the wider world.

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Think about the way that you use your home internet. Do you protect your computer with firewalls and security settings? If so, then you need to apply what you do to your home computer to your blog. The things that can affect your computer, from viruses to hackers with agendas, can affect your blog, too. It doesn’t matter if you access your blog from a different device, either, as its core is going to be on your computer. Maintaining your blog is more than just updating your posts week to week; it’s securing it properly. It’s checking for updates and making sure that those updates are done properly. Here are some of the ways that you can protect your blog from the outside world.

Passcodes. It’s an obvious and convenient answer, but a passcode is necessary for your blog. Where you can, try not to save your username and password to your computer at any time. When you set your password, choose something complex. Mix capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols in a random pattern that would make perfect sense to you, but that would stump any hacker trying to get in. The other thing to remember about passwords is that they should be changed often. Once a month, you need to change something about your password, whether that be writing the same one backwards or mixing up the letters and numbers for new ones. A username won’t be so well protected, but you can still minimise the risk of hacking by ensuring that you don’t give your username to anyone.

Software. The computer that you use at home will be the core of your blog, and there’s not much more that you can do to change that. What you can do, though, is ensure that you have installed the best quality security software with consistent updates. You should also be erasing your computer history and cookies on a nightly basis. If someone gets into your computer, your blog is toast and it’s the last thing that you want to happen. There are free security products out there like these, and then there are those that you can buy, like these. Go with what your budget and your needs dictate, and you won’t be making a bad decision. Constant vigilance is key, and your blog should be invested in to keep it alive and kicking.

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Platforms & Plugins. An old, outdated website for your blog will give potential hackers the impression that your security is old and outdated, too. You should aim, where possible, to update your website with the latest plugins and security tools. Most blogging platforms have them inbuilt, for example, WordPress has WordFence, which is the current most popular plugin at the moment. You can read about WordFence here and how it can protect your blog. Whatever you choose, think and plan carefully. You need to ensure that while your blog is secure, it’s not overloaded, and your computer isn’t packed with more security programs than it can handle. Every six months or so, you need to sit down and review the plugins that you use and update them where necessary. Doing this gives you the chance to change passwords, strengthen the security of the platform that you are using and keep up with the evolution of cybersecurity.

Travel. Where you use your blog is important, and if you are a blogger with wanderlust, then you need to think about public domain security. We are very fortunate to have the ability to log online wherever we are, but if you want to keep your blog secure then you need to be smart about where you log in. Public domains can be the worst enemy of a blogger. They’re the best friend, though, of the hacker, who can use a public and unsecure link to get into your blog. The best way around this is to use a VPN, so that your connection to the internet is encrypted and your passwords are safe.

Online security is as important as the words that you want to get out there into the world. Take it seriously, and you can ensure that your blog is secure and as safe as possible.

You’ve Got A Friend In Me…Until We Embark On Group Travel

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For those of us who enjoy traveling, a big part of the fun comes from the chance to explore solo. Nothing beats embarking on a big journey by yourself. Sure, it gets lonely. But, stripping back your security blankets helps you get the most from each experience. In fact, once you’ve traveled solo a few times, you’ll find it difficult to imagine doing this any other way.

In truth, though, getting caught in the solo travel spiral can cause you to miss out. After all, trips with friends, family, and loved ones can be amazing, too. If you’re used to going it alone, you’ll undoubtedly find you can chill out with others around. You won’t have to watch your pack or make all the plans yourself. This could be like a vacation from your vacations.

But, there’s no getting past the fact that group travel isn’t without its faults. Many a friendship has floundered this way. So, how can you ensure your group travels don’t tear your group apart?

Travel with like-minded people

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For one, you should travel with like-minded people. Before you agree to anything, consider what the group in question are likely to spend their vacation doing. If you’re an avid traveler, but they’re beach bums, you’re going to bang heads. Equally, if you’re keen to experience culture but they don’t leave the hotel, there are going to be arguments. That is, of course, unless they’re okay with you heading out to do different things each day. Either way, you need to make sure you’re all on the same page with this.

Take a test run

An excellent way to test that would be to do a test run before you head anywhere too far away. A close to home break would be the ideal way to ensure you all get along. Even better, this shouldn’t cost too much given that there are a few of you. You could could head into the city for a weekend break at a hotel. Or, you could find extraordinary vacation rentals in Avalon and Stone Harbor NJ if none of you have ever been before. Whatever you choose to do, use this time to judge how an extended vacation could be. If you notice niggles during a short break, it should be an automatic red flag.

Do your own things too

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As mentioned above, going off every day on your own could irritate the rest of the group. This is, after all, a friend’s trip. If you don’t spend any time with your friends, they may start to feel a bit used. And, you’ll miss out on the chance of their company. But, that’s not to say that you need to spend every second in each other’s company. Sometimes, all we need to stay sane in a group setting is a few hours alone. So, don’t be afraid to ask if everyone’s okay with you booking some solo activities. Keep it to one or two, and this shouldn’t be an issue.

Thoughts To Remember When You Receive Unexpected Money

A higher paycheck than you were expecting; a sudden repayment of a debt you’d long forgotten you were owed; a compensation payout; an inheritance– whatever the cause for an unexpected influx of money, your finances will likely look a lot healthier because of it.

The one problem with windfalls is that they tend to be difficult to deal with correctly. While on some level you know you should do something constructive with your unexpected wealth, on another you’re thinking “shopping spree” or “move into a new apartment”. After all, this is money you didn’t expect and never had to budget with, so why not treat yourself?

 

While there’s nothing wrong with a little “treat yo’self” action, it’s also worth keeping the below thoughts in mind…

How much of a difference could that windfall make to your debts?

If you have manageable debts that you’re paying off and that are under control, it can seem pointless to try and repay them with your windfall. The debts aren’t problematic, debt is fairly normal in this day and age, and you want to feel that you enjoy that unexpected money.

However, paying down debt with your windfall — or at least some debt — can be seen as treating yourself in the future. Without having to budget for monthly repayments to credits, you’re going to be able to treat yourself for many months to come thanks to the budget surplus you’ll be able to enjoy. Use some of your windfall to offer partial settlements on tax debt or pay off your largest credit card, and you’ll continue to reap the benefits of doing so for months to come.

How much money could your unexpected money earn you?

One of the best ways to use an unexpected amount of money is to use it to earn more money, which you can then rely on for a boost to your monthly income.

There are a few ways you might want to consider achieving this goal. The most obvious is savings and the stock market, both of which can generate decent (though not great) returns. Additionally, you could consider peer-to-peer lending, which offers a higher degree of return on investment, or even starting a side business that can continue to earn you money for years.

Would you buy the items you want to buy if you didn’t have an influx of money?

Finally, the above question is well worth asking if you’re intending to buy items with some, if not all, of your unexpected windfall. If you’re going to use the money sensibly, then you should only buy items that you genuinely wanted anyway, rather than buying items just because you can.

It’s very tempting to just indulge yourself when you have cash burning a hole in your pocket, but sticking to items you already knew you wanted — and already had a purpose in mind for — is the best way of ensuring that you use your funds responsibly, while still allowing a little room for indulgence.

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To conclude

Unexpected money is always a bonus and, by thinking through the above questions, you can be sure that you make the most of it.

3 Reasons A Blog Helps Build Your Brand (And How To Start One)

As I’m sure you’re well aware, branding is very important when starting a business. Especially when you’re starting a service-based business built around yourself and your image. For people to pay you for your services, they have to trust you and your brand. Otherwise, it’s seen as too much of a risk, and they’ll find another service-based business to use instead.

Now, there are many ways you can start building your brand, and it starts with a professional website. A website acts as a portal for consumers to come to and learn more about you, your services, and so on. But, if you truly want to build your brand up as much as possible, then you need to start a blog. This blog can sit nicely on your business website, and be there for all to see.

Why is a blog great at building your brand? Well, here are a few reasons explaining this. Oh, and as a bonus, the second half of this post will show you how to set your blog up, enjoy!

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How Does A Blog Help Build Your Brand?

Builds Trust With Consumers

A big part of branding is about bringing the consumer closer to you. You must develop this bond with them, and gain their trust. A blog does just this; it’s a place for you to create content and make people trust you. You become something of an authority source online because your content always informs people of certain topics and issues relating to your business and industry. If you keep getting great content from the same site over and over again, then you start to trust them more and more. Your blog is the best way to gain consumer trust via your website.

Establishes Core Values

Your blog is also a fantastic way to establish the core values of your brand and company. The posts you write could be about certain issues you hold close to your heart. More importantly, the way you write your posts helps establish the values of your business too. If you market yourself as a service-based business that’s super professional, then your blog post can show this by being written incredibly professionally. Your values make up your brand, and a blog helps reinforce them.

Increases Awareness

Perhaps the best thing about a blog is that it boosts brand awareness. By publishing blog posts, you provide alternative ways for your business to be found online. Typically, how would most people find your site via search engines? They’d probably be looking for your service, or something similar to it. With a blog, you can target different search queries, bringing more people to your site. As such, more people are aware of your brand, which helps make it more relevant and well-known. The more well-known and established you are, the more trust you gain, and the more customers you are likely to see.

These are pretty much the three main things you’re looking at when building a brand. You need to establish that trust between you and the consumer. You need to increase brand awareness, and you must establish and reinforce the core values of your company.

So, let’s move onto the second part of this little guide, and see how you can start a business blog on your website.

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How To Start Your Blog

Starting a blog is much easier than you initially think. Especially when you follow the right steps and do everything properly. Firstly, some business owners decide to set up their blog on a separate site to their main business website. I don’t think this is very effective, it’s just a lot easier to keep everything in one place and have a page on your site where blog posts are placed. With that being said, here are a few things to consider if you want to start your blog.

Create Original Content

You will ruin all your hard branding work if the content on your blog isn’t original. Let’s say you’ve got loads of duplicate content on there that you’ve pretty much just nabbed from other blogs. What does this say about you and your brand? It says you’re sneaky, lazy, and can’t possibly be trusted. Original content shows you’re creative, knowledgeable, and helps build trust with the consumer.

Post Regularly

It’s no use having a blog if you only post there once a month or less. This should be a regular thing as it constantly updates your site. The content is continuously fresh, and you can actually start to establish a regular audience of people who visit your site to read new articles as often as possible. Daily posts are the best possible idea, but it’s likely you’ll be too busy to do this. Instead, try and stick to a schedule of 2-3 posts per week.

Make Your Posts SEO-Friendly

To truly see the benefits of a blog – particularly from a brand awareness perspective – you need to make your posts SEO-friendly. This makes them rank well in search engines, ensuring your blog posts are always near the top of the results ahead of other similar posts. As well as helping you gain more traffic, this will also cement your place as an authority source, further strengthening your brand. There are almost too many things you can do to make your posts SEO-friendly, far too many to run through in this article alone. All I’ll say is that the titles need to be catchy and include relevant keywords and that you should try and get more keywords into the main content as well.

On that note, you should be able to figure out how to set up a business blog now. It’s a simple case of setting up a page on your site, then following some of the tips laid out above. By doing this, you will end up with a blog that brings all the benefits mentioned earlier in this piece. For me, as someone who runs a service-based business, a blog has helped strengthen my brand considerably. It really doesn’t require a lot of effort to run a blog, and your brand will suffer if you don’t have one.