About 3 months ago I bought a new clock radio. Last night, I found that I needed to use the alarm for the first time. So I looked at all the buttons, took a wild guess as to how to set the alarm, and managed to change the correct time to the wrong time. But failed to set the alarm.So I searched the web and found a copy of the user manual. After following the instructions, I successfully set the alarm so that it would ring at 5:30am on every weekend morning for the rest of my life. But I still couldn't set the alarm to ring the next day.The solution? I went to a 24 hour pharmacy, bought an alarm clock for $5.99, plugged it in, and pushed the button labeled "set alarm." Worked like a charm. So what does this have to do with using technology to support online collaboration? Too many tools try to do too much. As a result, users simply refuse to even try to learn how to use them. This creates a big problem if you need everyone to use the technology for the workgroup to work.The answer is to implement a solution that users can understand. The downside is that it won't do absolutely everything, but the upside is that everyone will use it. After all, the whole idea is to get everyone on board. As you consider possible solutions, begin by taking a hard-look at the user interface and sharing it with some actual users. See if they can figure it out. If they can't, the most likely problem is that they are faced with too many options. So limit the options only to those that are critical to the needs of the group. The good news is that technology providers are beginning to recognize that there is a market for collaboration tools based on the concept that less is more that by offering a simple solution, it will actually be used, fulfilling the promise of allowing individuals with varying levels of technical expertise to all work together. Which, of course, is the whole point.
A credit score is primarily based on credit report information, typically from one of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Since lenders or banks lend only against your creditworthiness, it does makes sense for you to know what factors determine your credit score. What Is A Credit Score? Based on the snapshots of your credit report, credit score is the number arrived to summarize your credit risk. It ranges from 300 to 850 and helps a lender to determine the risk level. Or we can put it like this, if I give this person a loan, how likely is it that I will get paid on time? There are different methods of calculating credit scores. FICO is one of the most popular credit scores developed by Fair Isaac & Co. The higher is the FICO score the lower is the risk for lender. What Affects Credit Score? Your credit reports contains many pieces of information that reveals certain important aspects of your borrowing activities mainly focusing on: Late paymentsThe amount of time credit has been establishedThe amount of credit used versus the amount of credit availableLength of time at present residenceNegative credit information such as bankruptcies, charge-offs, collections, etc. Bad Credit Small Business LoansSeeking loans with low or bad credit score can drive you up the wall. The mainline lenders may simply reject your loan application while the others from subprime market may charge you extortionate rate of interest on your bad credit small business loan. In case you are an entrepreneur and need new business loan for growth or expansion, bad credit can put you in pickles. In such a scenario, its better to go for cash advance option that is provided irrespective of you credit history. Such cash advance is given against your future credit and debit card sales. What Is Cash Advance Option? Cash advance is a small business loan approved against the monthly amount you process through credit card sales. Cash advance lenders do not ask you for your credit rating and can pre-approve your loan within 24 hours. A mutually agreed upon percentage from your daily sales through credit card processing goes to the lender automatically as repayment of the loan. How To Increase Your Credit Score? Your credit score cannot be improved in short run but a few steps can help you improving your credit rating over a period of time. Here are a few tips: Pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections can have a serious impact on your score.Do not apply for credit frequently. Having a large number of inquiries on your credit report can worsen your score.Reduce your credit-card balances. If you are "maxed" out on your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively.If you have limited credit, obtain additional credit. Not having sufficient credit can negatively impact your score.
So your favorite thing to do is ski, and your least favorite thing to do is go to work. And of course you are under the impression that there is no possible way to combine both and make a decent living. Sure, you can become a ski lift operator and live in a small apartment with 3 other roommates eating top ramen every night. But I have found a way to be self employed, hit the slopes by 10:00 am and conduct business from the chair lifts. I hope this doesnt come off like bragging, I just want to let people know that there is a better life out there. Personally, I havent had this much fun since college.With that being said I bought a home near the slopes of a major ski resort in Colorado, and converted it into a bed & breakfast. It is the most entertaining job I have ever had. You basically make breakfast every morning and ski the rest of the day. Sure you need to clean rooms every few days, but guests normally dont want anyone in their room during their stay. They just want to be pampered during breakfast, hit the slopes all day, go out to dinner, come back to their room and pass out from exhaustion. Looking at the following schedule you might say that I work 7am to 5pm everyday, with a six-hour lunch break.Here is the average Saturday for me:- 6:30 am Shower, drink coffee, check emails and the weather forecast.- 7:00 am Start guest coffee, prepare breakfast and set the table.- 8:00 am Guests start coming to the breakfast table. I give them a big plate of food and make sure their orange juice and coffee never run empty. During this time we talk about skiing and the resort. They always want to know the weather forecast, if I am skiing that day, and how many times I have gone during the season. It is always an enjoyable conversation, since they are on vacation and couldnt be happier.- 9:00 am I generally need to run a credit card payment for someone, or check out a movie from the library (I will discuss this later). Guests are also heading to the resort during this time, so I let them know how to get there, the best places to eat and my favorite runs. I also start doing dishes so I can hit the slopes (be sure to see friends in my tips section).- 9:30 am The last guest has eaten and I finish cleaning. But, before I head out I need to shovel snow and check the hot tub to make sure no one turned the heat down the night before.- 10:00 am Hit the slopes.- 11:00 am Normally by this time I have already received a phone reservation. People get excited when I tell them I am on the chair lift, because they know that they will be there soon enough. Guests who reach me while I am on the slopes are always more likely to make a reservation. With a cell phone I can feel the vibration of a call and store numbers for a return call later that day.- 4:00 pm - The lifts close and I head for home.- 4:30 pm I make a quick walk through of the bed and breakfast to find out how much fun my guests had and check in any new arrivals. Then I return phone calls and check emails.- 5:00 pm By this time all my guests have made it back from the slopes, so I check out movies and make recommendations for dinner.After that I am done for the day, with the exception of a few miscellaneous reservations. I clean rooms on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but can still make it to the slopes since I dont have a lot of guests to tend to.Of course there are a lot more things to think about before starting up a "bed and breakfast" , but these are the things that cant be found in most of the books:- Get a good cell phone. You need a phone that gets good reception everywhere on the mountain. Every resort has a tower, just find out which phone company owns it.- Most people plan their vacation over the internet, so you must have an easy to find & informative website. Here is mine http://www.slopeview.com/. A lot of the things in this list can be seen in more detail on my site.- Location is everything. Make sure people can get to the slopes easy, whether it be by shuttle bus or walking. They dont want to drive, and you dont want to offer transportation, because it will seriously cut into your ski day.- You need a hot tub. If you dont have one, you might as well sell the beds and let your guests sleep on the floor.- Rooms have to be unique. People like interesting rooms that are unlike any room in their home. I have gone with a Five Great Things To Love About Colorado theme.- Offer it as a vacation rental. This will allow you to take a few days off and get first tracks in the morning, or go out of town.- Your friends are the cheapest employees you will ever have. If you have a place for them to sleep, and give them leftover breakfast, they will help you get to the slopes faster. Most of my friends that live in Denver have season passes, and I never have to shovel snow.These are just a few recommendations, but not necessary:- People like having their own bathroom! Not every room will have one, but they will have useless closets that you can convert.- Set up a coffee & snack bar, and let guests make coffee whenever they want. Flavored coffee syrups and microwave popcorn are cheap, but offer a little perk for your guests.- Everyone loves movies. I have set up DVD players in every room and have a library of 270 movies (it was a hobby before I started the b & b). You can buy used movies at video stores and ask friends to loan you theirs. Unique movies are great, because it is nice to recommend good movies that people havent seen.- Waffle makers rock! If you take instant waffle mix and mix in fresh berries or nuts, you are going to have some happy customers.People may tell you that running a bed and breakfast is hard work, but these people must think they have an obligation to clean rooms everyday and prepare a 5-course breakfast that takes hours make. I have never had a complaint, and many of my guests are repeat customers, that just like to ski. In fact I feel that the more time I spend at the resort, the better I am as a concierge.Not only is it a good business venture, but the property around ski resorts will always go up value more so than anywhere else. You can also sell an established business for twice as much as a residential home.So knock down the walls of your cubicle, grab your skis and prepare for a lifestyle change that will result in you becoming a bum a ski bum.
There were about 146,000 business startups a year, and an average of 12,000 business bankruptcies per year from 1994 to 2004 in Canada. A 2004 Statistics Canada study on small business failure rates Key Small Business Statistics January 2005: How Long Do Small Businesses Survive? found that the first few years were critical. While almost three quarters of small business startups survive the first year, less than one third of micro companies (less than five employees) were in business after five years. These statistics by themselves may be of little value to you directly. We know how many small businesses survive and for how long, but its far more important to know why some survive and others do not. There are a lot of studies on "small business failure" . Searching reasons for small business failure with quotations on Google will give you almost 700 results (about 38 million without!). Why small businesses fail will give you almost a thousand. The 1997 study by Statistics Canada Failing Concerns: Business Bankruptcies in Canada found major internal factors of small business failure was management deficiency, financial management problems and poor marketing. The Small Business Administration study Financial Difficulties of Small Businesses and Reasons for Their Failure in 1998 found several causes of small business bankruptcy: outside business conditions (38.5%), financing (28%), inside business conditions (27.1%), taxes (20%), disputes (18.8%), personal calamities and other (32.9%).There is a wealth of information on this subject, but what are the common factors? There are four basic areas: External factorsExternal factors include new competition, your major client moving out of town, poor weather if youre a seasonal business, or economic downturns. Theyre often largely out of our control, and may be unique to your particular company, but there are often ways to mitigate them. For example, if you have a seasonal business, such as a landscaping company (at least up here in the cold north its seasonal) you could buy a bobcat to provide income during your off-season with snow removal. The bottom line is, have a contingency plan for external factors that could have a negative impact on your small business success.Lack of management Big companies have the luxury of being able to hire several people to get all the jobs done that need to be done, but chances are youre going to have to do it all yourself, at least for awhile. That means youre not only going to have to develop your product or service, youre also going to have to make financial, accounting, legal, marketing, human resources, and purchasing decisions. You may do some of these tasks very well, but its unlikely that you do all these tasks well, and even if you do, you might want to contact a lawyer and an accountant at the very least. And, research, research, and research some more, and when youre done researching, find an expert or two bounce ideas off and give you solid advice. Lack of planning Small businesses often fail because of lack of planning. Let me make a bold statement: the single-most vital part of your business success is your business plan. Why? Simply put, your "business plan" specifically and concretely lists your goals for the next few years. It spells out, step by step, how youre going to meet those goals, and gives you something to measure your performance against at the end of your business year. Finally, a complete business plan helps you get financing and includes a marketing plan. I have one more thing to say about business plans. It does very little good to write a business plan, put it in a drawer and never look at it again. That same 1997 Statistics Canada study we talked about earlier found that successful small business owners refer to and revise their business plans often.Lack of marketing Most small businesses seem to think it takes a lot of money to market their product or service effectively. Thats simply not true. There are many ways to market inexpensively. You could use direct mail marketing which is as cheap as a stamp, or email marketing, which costs nothing. The point is, you need to get your product or service out there somehow. You may have the best product or service out there, something completely unique from anything else, but what good does that do if nobody knows about it? So there you have itmy thoughts on the main reasons why small businesses fail, and how you can avoid becoming a small business failure statistic by developing a contingency plan, consulting with experts, and developing and using a business and marketing plan. If you are thinking of starting a small business, trust me, Im not trying to discourage you. I sincerely believe being in business for yourself may possibly be the most rewarding career there is, but a little knowledge can go a long way towards arming you against small business failure.
You may have spent quite a bit of time designing your web site and writing the copy for it, or you may have spent quite a bit of money and had it all done by a professional designer and copywriter. But there are about 4 billion websites on the internet. Thats a lot of competition for your site, so how do you get people to actually read your copy? There have been several interesting studies about website reading patterns and usability. Theyre referenced at the bottom of this article.Website users generally leave a site that takes longer than 7 seconds to load, and the average visit length is just over 1 minute. So assuming your site loads in less than 7 seconds, you have on average, one minute to convince your visitor to stay. And how do you get them to stay? The answer is simple: content, content, content.But it takes an average of 5 to 7 visits in order to get people to buy your product or service, so how do you get them to come back? By changing your content on a regular basis. Delete text, add text. Add whole pages from time to time, and consider splitting long pages into two. According to research, content in and of itself is not enough. There are several factors to consider when building a superior web site. Several studies tell us how to improve any web site. How Viewers Read Web SitesWould it surprise you to know that most web site users wont really read your web site? Thats what Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes found in a 1997 study. What they found is that 79% will scan your web site, and only 16% read it word for word. Their recommendations are to use scannable text by using: Highlighted words Meaningful sub-headings Bulleted lists One idea per paragraph Inverted pyramid style Half the word count of conventional writingLets look at what the W3school says too. Their article Web Site Design confirms that users scan rather than read, leaving in a few seconds if they dont feel theyve found what theyre looking for. The W3school suggests using short sentences and paragraphs, and breaking up excess information into different pages. Lets talk for a moment about the inverted pyramid style because thats probably the only term you may not have heard before. Remember the papers you used to have to write in high school or for university? Typical they start with an introduction, then move to background information and discussion, then to findings and finally to a conclusion and recommendations. All that means you have to read a lot of information before you reach a conclusion and recommendationsWhat Nielsen and Morkes are suggesting is to invert the pyramid. You could write your web site as a variation of the inverted pyramid by writing a summary first, and adding detail after the summary. Most people dont scroll, but writing your web site inverted pyramid style just might convince them to.How Writing Style Affects ReadabilityNielsen and Morkes measured the effect of different styles of writing on five versions of the same website. A site with promotional copywriting was the control version, and each of the other four sites used one of the following versions and had the following improvement in per cent according to their test readers: Concise version with about half the word count as the control: 58% Scannable layout with the same text as the control but easily scanned: 47% Objective language using neutral rather than subjective, boastful or exaggerated language: 27% Combined version using all three: 124%Tracking Their Eye MovementsIn 2003 and 2004 Eyetrack completed a study called Eyetrack III. Their study was for news-type sites, but what they found will also help us structure our small business web site. The study found their users followed our left-to-right Western Culture, first noticing the top left of the page, hover there for a bit, and then moving downward in a z-like pattern to examine the rest of the page, and finally moving back up the page to the upper right. The study found that the eye pauses and reads the first few words of a dominant headline first, especially when that headline is in the upper left and sometimes the upper right. Readers will usually stop reading at five headlines regardless of the number used, but an unusual keyword will often get people to pause. Curiously, they also found that smaller type encourages reading while larger type encourages scanning. Are You Credible?Nielsen and Morkes found that web site users look for credibility in various ways, and suggest credibility is increased by high-quality graphics, good writing and using outbound links. The internet was originally intended for information, and it remains that way to this day. Over the years, several people have tried experimenting with website copywriting. What they consistently found was that users did not want to see hard sell types of copywriting. Nielsen and Morkes confirmed that theory in their article as well. They found that web site users want to get straight facts and that credibility suffers when users feel claims are exaggerated. An interesting study on web site credibility is How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility? by B.J. Fogg Ph.D, Cathy Soohoo, David Danielson for Consumer Webwatch.. They studied 10 sites in each of 10 categories, with almost 2700 participants evaluating the websites.They showed the results of 18 comments on credibility. These are the top 10: Design look: 46.1% Information design/structureorganization and ease of navigation: 28.5% Information focusbreadth and depth: 25.1% Company motiveadmirable motive vs strictly commercial: 15.5% Information usefulness: 14.8% Information accuracy: 14.3% Name recognition and reputation: 14.1% Advertisingdislike of pop ups, positive use of advertising: 13.8% Information biascommented on positively and negatively: 11.6% Writing tonestraightforward friendly tone boosts credibility: 9%What Does All This Mean for You?Content may be king, but design has a strong influence on credibility. Your design should be professional, organized, consistent, and easy to navigate. Pages should load within seven seconds or you might lose visitors, so use a small number of quality, optimized graphics, and keep your page content down to two, or at the most three MS Word pages.Your readers eye first stops at the top left quadrant, so thats a good spot for your logo and company name. And, a headline in the top left quadrant is very important to keeping your reader on your page for longer than a minute, so consider a headline just under your logo. Consider that the first three words of your opening headline are the most important, and straightforward headlines are better than cute, ambiguous ones. As to the content itself, are you really a good writer? If youre not, you might want to hire a professional to write your web pages for you. If you are, use a concise, scannable, and objective writing style to maximize your web site readability. Aim for a straightforward and friendly tone and write useful, accurate information with both breadth and depth. When youre finished, put it aside for a day or two, and then edit what you wrote. Dot all the is and cross all those ts. Check spelling and punctuation. And then take another good look at what youve written and remove any hard sell. It has its uses, but it just doesnt seem to work on the net. Works cited in this article: How Users Read on the Web by Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes, 1997, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9719a.htmlThe Best of Eyetrack III: What We Saw When We Looked Through Their Eyes Steve Outing and Laura Ruel, 2003 and 2004 http://poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility? by B.J. Fogg Ph.D, Cathy Soohoo, David Danielson for Consumer Webwatch. http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/web-credibility-reports-evaluate-abstract.cfmWeb Site Design W3Schools http://www.w3schools.com/site/site_design.asp