Three Things Accounting Firms Can Help You With

In the United States, we spend little to no time working on figuring out how to manage our money, and in general, school tells you nothing about budgeting beyond the very general ‘having a budget is important’.  Is it any wonder, then, that we live in a society where so few people have any savings account to speak of?

To make matters worse, we live in a country filled with nothing but easy credit.  Do you want to buy something from Target?  Why not get a Target card (actually a Target CREDIT Card, but that word has negative connotations, so we’ll call it something else)!  Do you want to buy a guitar online from Guitar Center or Sweetwater Music?  Don’t pay for it all now, but take out a credit card with the company and make twenty-four monthly payments, while we eat away at your credit score and add interest!  It’s a great thing, except it really isn’t.  You ought to be waiting to buy those things outright.  In fact, with the possible exception of college loans (depending on your degree.  Really, if you’re going to get a degree in something that isn’t marketable, you’re probably better off just skipping college and learning a trade skill than you are taking out college loans) and with a home loan (and int his economy, even this is iffy), you should avoid debt like the plague, and whenever you accrue any, you should pay it off as quickly as you possibly can in order to make sure that you’re in good financial standing.

However, what with our general lack of budgeting skills, how are we to do this?  Well, if you have trouble managing your money, you may find value in hiring personal accounting firms to help you do so more effectively.  Here’s just three things they can help you with.

1.  Filling out taxes and getting all the deductions possible.

Filling out taxes is a pretty awful experience, but when you do it your first time, or when you’re trying to save yourself money or get the most money back in your tax return, it can quickly become a nightmare.  Then, of course, there’s the fact that nobody actually ever teaches you how to, you just get dropped into the IRS website with their questions about deductions and withholdings and what is and isn’t a valid business expense.

You can try and wrap your head around this, and you may have some degree of success, but you can also save yourself a lot of time and hassle and just hire a CPA firm to help you figure out how to save yourself the most money you can from falling into the hands of the Internal Revenue Service.  That’s what I’d do, personally.

2.  Paying off debts

If you’ve never had debt, congratulations!  You’re a very lucky person.  Or you’ve never gone to college, one of the two.

For everyone else, you’re going to hate having debt.  There’s a lot of temptation to make minimum payments and just try to get to the forgiveness range, where after making payments for so many years, they just drop it.  This just damages your credit, instead of your pocket.

Any useful accounting advisors that you may hire are going to tell you that the very first thing you need to do is pay off the debt, so that it stops accruing continued interest, which will slowly be harder and harder to pay off as it comprises more and more money.  The faster you pay it off, the less you have to pay, so finding money to save and to pay off your debt is an important thing in personal accounting.

3.  Budgeting for retirement

accountingSomeday, you’re going to want to stop working, if you live that long.  When that time comes, you’re going to need a savings, a retirement fund to live off of, so that you can enjoy life to some degree and not have to worry about bills and other expense.  You need to begin saving now for that, and that may mean that you need to cut back on the way that you spend money today in order to have money later on in life.  If you don’t, you’re going to have to rely on the federal government for your retirement, and that just isn’t something you want to do.

In all things, you can improve your lot in life with better budgeting.  Sure, it won’t make life perfect, but it’ll do quite a bit to make sure that your life is easier than it has been.

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Experiential Marketing And Trade Shows

For people who get to attend a trade show, it can be a lot of fun.  It can be a great way to hang out with people who work in the same industry as you from around the country, to see the state of your industry in general, and to make sure that nothing groundbreaking has happened without you hearing about it.  It’s also a great place to network, which is never a bad thing for someone in a market that is as questionable as our current economy is.  Then, of course, there’s the fact that a lot of trade shows are going to be held in places that are a lot of fun to visit, places like Boston, Chicago, New York City (alright, I really don’t much care for NYC, it’s crowded, everyone is rude, much of it reeks, there’s a ton of crime, etc), and even in places like California or Hawaii, meaning that not only are you getting paid to travel and look at the newest equipment coming into your industry, but you get to spend the night in a city that can be quite a fun place to hang out.

event marketingTrade shows are packed from wall to wall with trade show booths, with people showing everything from new technology to new ideas.  Some people will have finished builds of new things (for example, I know that Caterpillar, the makers of the most awesome heavy-duty construction equipment, will often show off their new designs, and then, when they’re finished, will be bringing their finished equipment to trade shows as well), while other will be showing off things that aren’t quite done, but will be done soon in the future, or even some people will show up trying to get orders for a product that they haven’t finished yet because they’ve run out of money for production (no offense to those people, but unless they’re part of a large business, I’d be wary about spending money on something from an unproven business that isn’t yet finished.  If they go bankrupt, you’re going to wind up having a hard time getting back your cash, believe me).  Almost everyone with a booth is trying to sell you something.

Now, some of the trade show booths will be attracting people to their booths with the use of flashy pictures, lights, effects, what have you.  Depending on the expo, some will be using booth babes, beautiful women who have been hired to stand near the booth and add some sex appeal to the whole affair, and to make it seem like a much more inviting place to be (for the record, I went to a trade show for the beer industry, and the only people I saw with booth babes were at the Budweiser booth.  Although a couple German beer-makers did, in fact, have booth fraus, which I am all for).  Some booths will attempt to attract you with swag, free, often cheap, things that they will give you with their corporate logo on it, so that you think about them anytime you, say, open a beer, or write a message, or whatever the case may be.  However, the best booths have something else going on.

Experiential marketing is kind of the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to marketing (can you imagine how easy it is to market sliced bread?  I don’t think anyone ever had to advertise it.  Just put it in the bread aisle and you’re done.).  It means that not only are you informing them about what you have to offer, but you’re pairing it with an experience, something that will stick with people even after the event has ended. This is the best way to ensure that, later on, you’re going to get sales.  Look at E3, and the way that those booths are designed.  Sure, a lot of them are showing video footage of games that they’ll be able to showcase later on, and some are showing off the system that they’re building, or a sleeker version of something that they’ve already built, but others are letting you experience the game.  Some are even letting you dress up like your favorite game characters, like Link, Cloud (and seriously, where is my Final Fantasy VII remake???), Mario, the list goes on.

Just remember, running a booth is all about making sure that you’re going to be bringing in additional business in the future, and you’ve got to do something to make an impression.  Provide them an experience, and you’ll be well on the way to making the money you need.

 

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A Visit To Your Dentist

Let’s be brutally honest here; pretty much nobody likes going to visit their dentist.  It’s just the way it is, and I suspect dentists are aware of this, which may be why their job satisfaction rate is so very low (and, sadly, why their suicide rate may be so very high).  However, even with the lack of satisfaction with their job, and with the job that they do and the services that they provide to society, you’re going to need to see them from time to time.

We place a lot of importance on our teeth and our smile, so it makes sense that we’d be interested in spending as much time and money on it as we do.  Consider this; on the average day, the average person will spend at least ten minutes in brushing and flossing their teeth, with a toothbrush that costs around three bucks and toothpaste that costs around seven dollars for a tube.  The range is ten to fifteen minutes worth of time, and this is just the average range, which doesn’t include people who are really insane about the amount of time that they spend on their oral and dental hygiene.

Of course, just doing your own thing at home every day isn’t going to be enough to make sure that your teeth are going to last as long as you do.  There’s a lot of things that you don’t have access to that you’re going to need to ensure the longevity of your teeth and the smile that you can be proud of.  To get these things, you’re going to need to visit someone who can offer you quality dental care, or else you’re not going to be able to guarantee that your teeth will stay in the mouth as long as you would like.

So, what happens when you go to the dentist, after you’ve done all the work and put in all the effort of finding a good dental office?  Well, you make an appointment, you go in, you sit in that chair, and they look at your mouth, your teeth, and see what’s going on in there.

Now, if you’ve done good work in keeping your teeth clean, that’ll be about it.  They’ll use some sort of polish and apply it to your teeth, and then you’ll get some sort of fluoridation treatment (the current most common method is with some sort of fluoride foam) which will strengthen your teeth and the enamel in them.  Incidentally, any time you drink tap water in the United States, you’re getting a tiny amount of fluoride that is helping to make sure that your teeth are staying as strong as they can be.  Conspiracy theorists have suggested that fluoride is used for mind control or for sterility, and there’s no evidence for any of those claims, so don’t be worried when you get fluoride treatments.

professional family dentistryAnyway, what if your trip to the dentist doesn’t go as easily as you’d hoped?  Well, then things can get a little bit more interesting.  In this case, your professional dentist is going to identify the issue.  For example, a common issue is that you’re feeling pain on a specific tooth anytime that you, say, eat something cold and it touches the tooth in question.  What this means is that you have a cavity, and there’s only one thing that can be done to treat it.  First, you anesthetize the area with the use of some local anesthetic.  Then, you drill away the rotting portion of the tooth, so that you’re going to be able to stop the rotting from spreading.  Then, finally, you’re going to be able to have a cap implanted.  Traditionally, these were made using various metals, like dental gold, but these days we tend to use a porcelain filling that will blend in with the tooth.

Now, you can let this go, and skip having the cavity fixed, and that just allows it to get worse, becoming a dental abscess.  While a cavity is a very uncomfortable thing, or can be, a dental abscess is something that can kill you.  It’s basically a very rotted tooth, and that rot can travel along the nerve endings in the form of an infection, going to the brain and causing a tumor that, to date, no one knows how to reverse.

So, in other words, it’s a good idea for you to go visit your local professional dentist and have them work on your teeth.  There’s a lot at risk.

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4 Ways A Website Developer Benefits You

As a business, you need a website.  I can’t believe that, in the year twenty fifteen, this even needs to be said, but you need, NEED, a website in order to survive.  It’s been twenty years and change since the internet was made available to average people with the advent of things like AOL and Netscape Navigator (remember that thing?  Yeah, I though so.  Great program), and there is no reason to not be taking advantage of the ability and opportunity to use the internet to reach more people in order to bring in more money for your business.

Now, I understand that not everyone is going to have the staff on hand to design their own website, and that not everyone even knows how to design a website, so you may (likely will) need to farm out the project to a professional website developer.  These people will be able to help you with your website designing, getting it up and running, making sure that everything works, and many other things, like those that I will mention below.

1.  Grabbing Attention

To begin with, when someone clicks on a link on the internet and goes to the site that it leads to, you basically only have a limited amount of time to get their attention before they leave and go to the next site.  This isn’t something that is limited to the internet, either.  Ever been on a date?  If you have, I’m sure that you noticed that the person on the other side of the table was either pretty warm or cool to you right off the bat.  This is because, likely before they even sat down, they knew whether they wanted to see you again or not.  It takes like ten seconds to make the decision, and you’re making it based on you see (yes, humanity is designed to be shallow.  I know, it’s rough, but it’s reality).  This is the same thing that happens when you click on a website and five seconds later say ‘nope.  Pass’, and hit the back button.

communicative responsive website design agencyA professional digital agency is well equipped to help you with these issues, don’t worry.  They’ll help you make the right website for you and your business, and to make sure it grabs attention right when it’s opened, and in a positive way, not in one of those obnoxious ‘it’s blaring music that I can’t find to shut off’ ways.

2.  Crafting Content

Once you have a website, no matter what you’re doing with it, you need content. This doesn’t just mean that you need to be putting up the products that you’re selling and their prices and availability ,you also need to be posting things about sales, deals, whatever the case may be.  You may also want to update your ‘about me’ and ‘contact info’ as appropriate, and for that personal touch, you may even want to write a message to the customer about how your business is doing and what you hope to be able to offer to them in the near future.  It’s up to you what you write, but there needs to be content, and it needs to change and be dynamic.

3.  Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is important.  There is nothing worse than having a business website that, when you search for your business name, isn’t the first one in the list of results on a search engine.  Luckily, your quality responsive web developers can help make this a reality, keeping you at the top of the list with search engine optimization, which you can learn about yourself (I don’t want to spoil the internet for you).

4.  Building Trust

There is nothing worse than having a business that nobody trusts and that nobody wants to do business with.  And if you don’t show your customers that they’re valued by your business, that’s how you’re likely to end up.  You need to offer people something to keep them coming back and to build that trust.  Things like discounts on bigger orders.  Things like free shipping in exchange for various things like repeat business or ordering over a certain amount, that sort of thing.  It can be different depending on what you’re doing, but you need to do something!

So, if you’re just getting into the internet game, or if your website just isn’t working as well you’d liked or hoped it would, hire a developer to help you bring in more web traffic and, hopefully, more business.  You won’t regret having more money on hand, believe me.

 

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Three Reasons To See Orthodontists

There’s a lot of work that goes into having a beautiful and perfect smile that you can show off to the world.  Sure, some of it you can do yourself.  For example, you need to spend the time (and money) in brushing and flossing your teeth daily in order to make sure that they’re in the best shape that they can be, and that they’re going to last for a long time (remember, once you get your adult teeth, once all your baby teeth are out, that’s all you’ve got as far as teeth go.  If you don’t take care of them, you end up needing dental implants or dentures, neither of which are a very attractive prospect).

However, you can’t do all the work in perfecting your smile that you need, not by yourself.  Eventually, you’re going to need to seek out the services of a professional, and that means that you’re going to need the services of orthodontists as well as dentists. They’ll be able to help you to make sure that your teeth are as straight and beautiful as they can possibly be.

Here’s just three ways that you’re going to be able to benefit from the help of a professional practitioner of board-certified orthodontistry.

1.  Examination of your teeth and diagnosis of issues

The first thing that you need when it comes to the health of your teeth is to make sure that you’re fixing the right thing, and not just spending a lot of time and money on treating the symptoms while not doing anything about the underlying issues.

In order to do this, you need professional orthodontic treatment from a professional orthodontist, but before you can get this treatment, they need to take a look at what’s going on in your mouth.  This is going to mean that you need to have things done, something like  dental x-rays, for an easy example.  You can also get bite mark modeling done, which will give a fairly realistic depiction of your teeth and the way that they’re currently angled.  There’s also all sorts of imaging that you can get done, computer imaging especially, but that doesn’t always need doing.

Once you’ve discovered the underlying issues, you can treat it.  For example, a somewhat rare problem is a basic overcrowding issue, meaning that your teeth are trying to vie for space in a limited area.  This can lead to teeth overlapping, for example, as well as to some pain and discomfort for the patient.  It is, in fact, the reason that we so commonly have to remove the wisdom teeth from the mouth; we just don’t have the room for them in our mouths any more.  However, that isn’t the common treatment, nor the common issue; in fact, it’s one of the rarer issues.

2.  Standard braces

Braces, on the other hand, are far more common as a method of treatment as far as your teeth go.  You see, they’re the most commonly used, and very effective, way to fix your teeth and the alignment issues that you may be having with said teeth.

straighten teeth with orthodontic treatmentThey’re also astonishingly simplistic.  They consist of a series of metal brackets, which are mounted on the teeth with the use of a long term dental adhesive that makes sure they won’t come off during treatment.  Over the top of these metal brackets, in a groove that runs along the top of them, is run a long metal wire, which then is hooked or looped around various brackets as need dictates, and provides the tension that is necessary in order to realign the teeth more optimally.  However, there are newer ways to get the job of realigning the teeth accomplished.

3.  More modernized braces

Invisalign is the name of the game when it comes to a more modern solution to your teeth alignment issues, though.  It’s basically an improvement over braces in almost every discernible way.  For example, unlike standard braces ,they’re made of a clear plastic, meaning they’re very discreet and can be put on the teeth without anyone ever noticing they are there.  Also, unlike standard braces, they’re not permanently attached tot he teeth, but are, rather, removable, and easily so.  Truly, they’re a great step up over the standard metal braces that they’re slowly replacing.

So, if you’re looking to realign your teeth, to improve the way that your smile looks when shown to the world, consider the help that you can get from your friends at your local orthodontist’s office.  You’ll be glad that you did when your smile is immaculate!

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Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Your Indoor Grow Room

Growing marijuana has come a long way since the cannabis fields of history. Most of the growing industry has moved indoors, and the methods to grow big, high quality buds are no longer just an art, but a science. Decades of trial and error and experimentation have resulted in a methodology of cannabis growing that produces the most potent weed that has probably ever existed. The primary tool in producing the highest quality cannabis that your plants’ genetics have the potential to manifest is the indoor marijuana grow room. This technology is your key to growing excellent marijuana.

cannabis grow room designJust like the technology of automobiles, the technology of grow rooms is made of various component technologies: indoor growing enclosures, grow lights, air filtration systems, watering systems, environmental monitoring and regulation systems, all of these things are basic elements that are critical to creating an optimal grow. But beyond having these basic components, what are some of the ways that these can be optimized, to improve the efficiency of your grow? In this article, we will list a few such optimizations, and how you can achieve them.

One simple way to optimize your grow room design is to line your walls with a reflective surface. This will make the maximum use of your lights, and minimize the number of photons that don’t go directly into your plants. There are a number of ways to do this, the most effective being mylar. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive. Still, given the value of what you’re growing, it can be well worth it. If you do invest in this incredible material, which reflects 97% of light, then it’s best to keep it clean and lay it as flat against the wall as you possibly can, to maximize its efficiency. Another, cheaper option is to use the brightest flat white paint you can get your hands on. A good white paint will reflect 85% of the light given off by your lamps, which is pretty good. Emergency blankets are also another cheap option, but won’t reflect as much light as white paint. Don’t even think about using foil, it crinkles too much, and it’s a fire hazard.

It’s also important to use the right wattage bulb for your space. Typically, each 400-600 watt bulb will supply a 1-2 square meter area, usually four normal sized plants. Additional light can also be gotten to your plants if you hang your lights on adjustable rigging, so that they can be raised or lowered. This way, your plants are as close as they can be to the light, throughout their growth process. Of course, you don’t want them to actually be too close either, as it can get pretty hot, and can burn those previous buds and leaves. A good measure for this is if the back of your hand feels relatively cool, then it’s also cool enough for the plants. If not, it’s too hot. If you want to play it safe, you can keep your plants about 50 cm away from the lights. However, if you install light boxes with ventilation systems to keep them cool, then you may be able to let your plants get even closer, with no harm done.

Another way that you can optimize your grow is to install an automated environmental regulatory system. Any indoor grow room will have a thermometer and hygrometer, to allow you to monitor temperature and humidity, but this still requires you checking on it frequently, making adjustments or turning the humidifier on or off whenever the system is out of balance. You can eliminate this opportunity for human error by installing an automated system. Just like your air-conditioning in your house, it senses when the temperature and/or humidity have reached a certain threshold, either too high or too low, and will appropriately turn on or off your humidifier, dehumidifier, and/or heating and air conditioning systems, if you have them. These are sometimes referred to as auto-grow, and some are even a complete, computerized central control system which will automate virtually all elements of your grow, including the lights, all the relevant temperature and humidity elements described above, CO2 levels, and some even come with an alarm to alert you in the case of intruders. Having one of these systems can make your necessary involvement in your grow drastically reduced, leaving you free to go about your day while your plants happily grow and thrive, cared for by intelligent machines.

All of these are good ways to improve or optimize your grow. However, if you haven’t already invested in converting a room, you could choose instead to purchase a modular, prefabricated indoor grow room, designed and provided with all the best components already included. Most of the enhancements discussed in this article would already be incorporated into the product, and a good company will even send a professional grow room designer to help you build your turnkey growing system to your specific space and individual needs. It’s sort of like buying a car, rather than trying to put one together yourself. You pay a little more to get a machine that you already know will be high quality, and long-lasting, to avoid the mishaps you would probably run into building it yourself. However, unlike a car, an enclosed indoor grow room will actually pay for itself within the first few harvests.

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Deciding to Invest in a Hedge Fund

Business Accounting AdvisorsPerhaps you’ve got a rather large sum of money you’re seeking to invest. You’ve got many options available, but one favored by many high-level investors are hedge funds. Though hedge funds can provide a fantastic return, they aren’t easy to manage or even understand. The experience and talent of a great CPA firm or investor will be needed if you want to make the most of your hedge fund. This is far from a “set it and forget it” investment, and will require constant upkeep and management. In order to find success with hedge funds, you’ll need someone who has an expert understanding of investing, accounting, and financial markets. The term comes from the act of ‘hedging,’ a strategy with the goal of turning a profit regardless of the condition of the economic environment.

Hedge funds are dynamic and provide investors with many options when it comes to investment opportunities. Hedge funds however, don’t require the same level of transparency and reporting as mutual funds and other similar investments. The fund manager will be responsible for a yearly audit, but nothing really beyond that. While mutual funds require routine and detailed financial reporting, the audit is the only thing you’ll see regarding your hedge fund.

Now that you know the complexity of a hedge fund, you likely realize that the guidance of a talented accountant or investor is definitely required. Even still, it’s good to know a bit about hedging yourself, as it will make the yearly audit much easier to understand and evaluate. Hedge funds rely on two different types of investment positions, ‘long’ and ‘short.’ The most basic of the two is a ‘long position,’ which functions much like a normal investment. It simply involves investing in a stock that the investor believes is undervalued and waiting for it to increase. ‘Short positions’ are where things begin to get complicated however. This is what requires hedge fund managers to have a deep knowledge borrowing and repaying, as well as buying, selling, and then re-buying. It seems simple on the surface, but when it comes to stocks and securities it gets complex quickly. The hedge fund manager will use his or her expertise while investing in stocks that they anticipate dropping in value. It seems counter intuitive, and this is why it requires an expert’s touch. There are many CPA firms with people ready for just the task!

Ultimately a hedge fund seeks to provide an “absolute return.” That is, a return regardless of how the market looks at the time of the investment. It’s difficult for some people to understand how a profit can be made when the market is trending down, but it’s definitely possible. Experienced investors have a track record of success, but an investor still assumes a risk when it comes to a hedge fund. This risk will be much greater is one who is not experienced in hedge funds attempts to investor like a professional. The more experienced and knowledgeable about hedge funds the investor is, the greater the chance for success. It may seem simple as first, and you may readily understand that a ‘long position’ is used when an investor is confident the value of the stock will increase while a ‘short position’ is used when it’s strongly suspected the value will decrease, but if you’re not an expert you’ll need help.

To understand a little bit more about hedge funds, let’s look at one of the more common strategies.

Reviewing the 130-30 Hedge Fund Investment Strategy:

  1. First $100 is invested in a stock group believed to be undervalued. (Stocks that are worth more than their price)
  2. $30 of the worst-performing of these stocks is used as collateral on a $30 loan of stock believe to overvalued. (Worth LESS than its price)
  3. The $30 worth of loaned stock is sold right away, while the investor anticipates a price drop.
  4. If the drop occurs as planned, let’s say from $30 to $10, it is re-purchased for the lower price.
  5. The broker will then return the stock he or she has just purchased for $10, getting their $30 of collateral back, making a profit of $20.
  6. The $20 is re-invested into the best performing stocks.

Anyone considering investing in a hedge fund should learn as much as they can about them first. It’s a wise choice to speak with an experienced accountant, investors, or provider of any other financial services before deciding to invest in a hedge fund. Don’t forget that the interest is a valuable tool as well, with a plethora of information regarding hedge funds.

In years past, only big money investors with tons of excess cash were investing in hedge funds. They weren’t really accessible or available to “regular people.” This isn’t the case any more however, the economy has shifted and hedge funds are much more accessible than they once were. Remember however that very little information is required to be given to the investor regarding hedge funds, because they are private investments. This is different from mutual funds and other more common investments. These typically require quite a bit of information to be released about them, with frequent and detailed financial reports.

Since hedge funds typically only get one hedge fund audit per year, it’s extremely important. The SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) requires and oversees the audits. These audits are beneficial in order to ensure that they fund is being managed properly, and that financial statements are clear and accurate.

Before you leap into a hedge fund, be sure to examine all the implications and risks. When handled properly, they can be a fantastic investment opportunity.

 

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How Product Development Companies Help You

When you offer something, whether it be a product or a service, to the public, it’s important that you properly develop whatever it is you’re offering.  This doesn’t just mean the actual concept and design (although, obviously, making sure that you properly design your product is extremely important), but it also includes managing the image and the branding of the product or service.  And that shouldn’t end at the launch date, it should continue.

However, for a lot of small businesses, especially smaller ones, such things are well outside the realm of their budget, and outside their realm of expertise.  Nevermind all the work and expense that goes into the analysis of a product and how it will be received, and getting a big enough sample size for those analyses for it to hold some sort of validity (you can’t take a test sample of forty people in your local area and pretend that it’s something that can be extrapolated to the rest of the nation.  It’s just not realistic), and then all the market testing.  Then you have to consider that there are a lot of steps to bringing a new product (or service) to market.

The first step, if a name had to be applied to it, is inception (no, not the movie.  That movie was awful), the origination of the idea.  For outside product development companies, this is when they’re going to be working hard to figure out the ins and outs of your business, ensuring that they know what you do and how you do it, and working with you to figure out deadlines for various portions of the product development process.  If you’ve hired a product development company to help you with marketing, this is around the time they start creating a website and inventing a digital footprint out in the vast internet for your company.

finding a product development companyThe second step is commonly referred to as ‘creation’.  In this step, your product development company is going to be deciding on an artistic direction for your product while you, hopefully, should be in the process of solidifying the design of your product (or service) and the way it’ll be offered to the clients.  You’ll also be beginning to craft the brand that you’ll be presenting to them once the product is properly launched.

Thirdly, we come to the construction step.  While you’re hard at work, slowly manufacturing your first run of the product you’re going to be offering, or constructing the needed framework in order to be able to offer the service you’ll be offering to the masses, the professional product development company you’ve hired will be busy crafting your marketing approaches, website, and any other advertising that you’ll be doing pre-launch.   Hard deadlines will be set, and will be met, especially if you’ve hired a company you can trust to do what you’re paying them to do.

Fourth, we come to execution, although it’s sometimes known as launch.  Professional product development companies live for this day, the day that the product launches and their marketing plans show their effectiveness (or, if you hired the wrong company, their lack thereof).  Another important portion of this step is making sure, after the product launch and the website launch, that you sit down, both internally and with your product development firm, and you look at what went well and what didn’t, and resolve any issues so the next product launch goes much more smoothly (or, if things went terribly, you may want to start shopping for a better company to work for, and my condolences to you if you’ve had this experience).

Now, at this point, a lot of people stop paying attention, move on to new projects and never look back, and that’s to their own detriment, because there is an important fifth stage.  That stage is evolution, and not only does it mean that the product itself needs to evolve with the times and with new technologies that may come out, but the support of that product must evolve as well.  You need to be up to date with the way that you’re advertising the product, as well as making sure that your website reflects the product as it currently exists.  This is time-consuming, and it isn’t a short-term project; if you think about it, as long as your product exists, it’ll have an image and a brand that will need to be professionally maintained.

So, if you’re new to the world of business, look for a professional product development company you trust, and hire them to help you maintain the marketing image of your products.  You’ll be glad you did when it pays off in increased sales.

 

 

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Learning About Web Design

Almost half of internet users claim that a website’s design is the number one factor in determining a business’ credibility. In other words, if you have a poorly designed website, many people are going to think poorly of your business. You may be the most expert firm in your field, but a poor website design will hold you back. Well-designed sites on the other hand, have the opposite effect. You can earn user’s trust and confidence by dedicating the time and investment towards a great website.

 Quality website development and design cannot be achieved overnight. You may quickly find that you do not have the time or experience necessary to build a successful website on your own. Fortunately, there are many professional development agencies willing and able to lend a hand. Even if you are hiring one of these firms, it’s wise to learn a bit about design and development yourself. It will help you give the agency you are working with a clear picture of what you expect. Additionally, having this knowledge can help you oversee the process.

experienced website development companyLet’s take a look at a few things to remember when it comes to design, as well as a few things to avoid:

Design Tips and Suggestions

  • Ensure that your website is responsive. It’s no longer necessary to design separate website for mobile and desktop devices, so long as responsive website design is employed. We are seeing more people shift to surfing the internet on mobile devices exclusively. At the same time, these mobile devices vary widely from size to layout. It’s imperative that your website displays properly no matter what. A responsive website works and displays properly on any device, regardless of screen size. If a user on a particular device can’t access your site (or any part of it) chances are they’ll leave with no intention of returning.
  • Cut down on clutter. A great way to increase your bounce rate, one metric you definitely want to keep low, is to have a website that reminds users of the GeoCities age web design. Obnoxious flash banners, pop up ads, and other intrusive design features need to be avoided at all costs. Expert web designers favor a simple, clean, and straightforward approach. When users arrive at well-designed websites, they want to stay. The longer you can keep users at your company’s website, the better off you’ll be. High bounce rates hurt your search engine ranking and ultimately make your website less visible. Keep it simple.
  • Focus on SEO. Search engine optimization is quite important to the success of your company’s website. The first result in a google search gets nearly 33% of the traffic, while the 10th result doesn’t even get 3%. Imagine what percentage of overall traffic a site that comes back on the 4th or 5th results PAGE. Pretty darn close to zero. An aggressive yet thoughtful SEO campaign can have a fantastic impact on your site’s search ranking. High organic search rankings can drive traffic much more than pay-per-click ends, giving companies a great ROI on SEO investments.
  • Keep content flowing. Rotating fresh content onto your website frequently is a necessity. Fortunately many design firms will handle content management on a retainer and keep things fresh for you. Of course you’ll want to check in on things and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Content needs to be high quality and relevant to your industry in order to draw users in. Websites that provide useful content for visitors at no cost often prove invaluable to users.

Things to Avoid

  • An explosive color scheme. Vibrant colors can often be abrasive and cause users to hit the back button almost right away. As we said earlier, simplicity is key. Ensure that the design team you’ve hired is experienced in choosing professional and elegant color schemes. Try and select colors that fit in well with your theme too. It’s easy to get carried away with color, but a good designer should be able to keep you grounded.
  • The use of stock images. Your company website needs to look and feel professional. Stock images do the opposite. They give websites a cheap and generic feel that pushes users away. Instead, have your designers make good use of professional photography. Original, high-quality photos can have an excellent impact on how your site is perceived. It may cost a bit more than stock images, but it’s well worth it.
  •  Failing to stay on top of the website. Too often, a firm or company will invest heavily on design and development but neglect upkeep and maintenance. Remember, content is king, and it needs to be kept fresh. There are also bound to be minor issues that pop up with your website that will need to be addressed. A plan for maintenance and content upkeep can easily address both of these issues. Reliable responsive website designers will generally offer these services at a reasonable rate after they complete your website launch.

Whether you’re just getting starting or you’re looking to revamp your company’s image, a well-designed website is a great place to begin. It will often be potential customers and clients first interaction with your firm, and by investing wisely you can ensure it’s not their last.

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Public Relations And You

When a lot of people hear the words ‘public relations’ it conjures a very particular picture to the mind.  For most people, myself included (and I know better, but hey, exposure is what exposure is and all that), it conjures an image of a celebrity who has done something wrong in the public eye, and is now having to apologize for it.  Maybe someone who, say, made disparaging comments about people of a certain race, or was caught being abusive to a crew member during the filming of a movie or show, or maybe someone who got caught being cruel on stage to the fans.  It also, to me, brings to mind the idea of someone saying that they’re going to rehab, but I blame punk music for that.

Of course, that isn’t all that public relations is about.  It isn’t necessarily something that is only for an individual, or even just for a person, but can be for products and corporate entities that make them as well.

Public relations, you see, isn’t just about protecting a person, but about protecting an image.  To be fair, it isn’t even so much about protecting an image, but rather, about projecting a positive image to the world using the most current methods and media.

For a lot of groups, that means that they’ll be using media advertisements, and any public relations firm that is worth doing business with will be well-versed in buying ad space.  This is a good thing, because ad space can be very expensive for a small business, especially a small business that hasn’t even ordered any before.  Ad space is available in a multitude of forms.  You can invest in older media, buying ad space in the oldest of media, the magazines and newspapers of our day, but in this day and age, you’re going to find that fewer and fewer people are reading magazines or newspapers, thus the reason that so many of them are going under.  There’s also radio and television, which are great ways to get the word out, but there’s always the question of not only expense involved with not just buying the ad space, but also with producing the actual advertisement and making it a quality ad, not something that people are going to see or hear and end up mocking for weeks to come.

Another great thing about hiring a pr agency is that they buy a lot of advertising space.  Far more ad space, in fact, then you’ll find yourself ordering for your own company.  Why is this important or relevant?  Well, the pr agency that you hire will be able to buy ad space at a discounted rate, because they’re buying more of it, and because they have leverage due to this.  If you’re coming to buy ad space and you’re only buying a few slots here and there at cheap prices, you’re not business that they can’t live without, and because of this, you have no leverage when it comes to bargaining for the price of the ad space.  However, your pr agency will be buying in bulk, and will be buying in bulk regularly, meaning that if they say something like ‘No, that price is no good, but that’s fine if you can’t do any better, I’ll take my business elsewhere’, they’re likely to actually listen, and probably even capitulate a bit on the price.

public relations companyA public relations firm can also help you to manage your online presence, which, as anyone can tell you who was born since the internet first came into wide use, having representation on the internet is important.  It’s not enough, though, to just have a website, although this is a very important step for any modern business.  You also need to have some presence on the major social media networks.

This internet presence serves to do a few things for your business.  The most important thing it does, though, is gives your customers a place to come and feel like they’re connected to the business and what’s going on with your various products, as well as giving your small company a place to advertise your product, rent free (or almost rent free) to people while also providing them a place to come and investigate what you’re selling for themselves.

So, if you need help managing the image of your small business, consider hiring yourself the help of a public relations agency.  You’ll be happy to have the help that you need with managing your image when your business is booming because of it.

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What A Product Development Firm Can Do For You

If you run a small business, you’re sure to be well aware that you need to spend time and money in order to grow your business and expand.  You must always be moving in one direction or another, whether this means expanding your premises, expanding your staff, or expanding your product lines.

Product lines are essential for a business that does anything in fabrication.  They’re so essential, in fact, that many stores now offer their own product lines in competition with the others that they sell in the store, which is a truly interesting development, as they’ve stayed out of that kind of business, for the most part, in the past.

understanding the process of product developmentHowever, for your small business, coming out with new products can be a life or death situation.  The process of product development is a very daunting one, and one that costs a lot.  I don’t just mean that it costs a lot to come up with a new product, speaking of money, but it costs a lot in terms of man hours, hours that are being spent working on the new product to the detriment of other things that may need doing as well.  Then there’s the fact that you’re pumping a lot of money into the product development, and you can see how daunting a task the whole thing can be.

The process of product development can destroy a company without proper planning and a proper understanding of what needs doing.  A company needs to not only be able to afford the money they’re going to be spending on the process, but also be able to survive without the money while it’s rolling back in, which can be a timely thing.  Without a good amount of profit from a new product or product line, you’re going to find yourself without a lot of capital, and in some cases, you can find yourself without the capital that you need to survive and continue to run a business, which can mean bankruptcy and the end of your business.

You can avoid this pitfall with proper product development, but for most small businesses, you don’t have the marketing team on hand that you’ll need for real product development on a meaningful level.  Hiring and keeping one employee dedicated to marketing is expensive enough, but having the entire team that you’ll likely need is just cost prohibitive for many businesses.  What are you to do, then, to get the expertise you need to ensure that your new product sells well?  You hire a product development company.

What can they do for you, you may be asking.  Well, they can help you with the marketing aspects of your new product, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is something that is likely to be very important if you want to make some money with your new product instead of suffering the collapse of your business. A product development firm is well equipped to help you make money, and make themselves a bit as well.

So, let us pretend, for the sake of informing you of how they help you, that you’ve brewed a beer, as a business.  It’s an amazing beer, but one that you’re only going to brew three thousand bottles of, and so you’ll be charging twenty dollars a bottle for it.  Who do you think your market is?

No, your market isn’t simply ‘beer drinkers’.  Consider this; one of every two beers sold in America is a cheap, tasteless beer, suggesting that the only reason people buy it is to get inebriated quickly and cheaply.  So, you don’t want to try to appeal to the people just trying to get inebriated cheaply and quickly, it’s not something your product is going to be able to offer to them at the cost of twenty bucks a bottle.  Your product development firm, though, will look at the beer market as it exists today, and will notice that there are people who consider buying a beer to be an adventure, and experience, and that these people are likely to spend more money for a very tasty, or unusual, beer, both of which your hypothetical product is.  They’ll advise you, then, how to reach these people, most likely hipsters, and how to get their money.

So, if you’re looking at producing a new product, hire a product development firm (if you’re looking to produce a new beer, hire me. I will taste test it for you for free).  They can assist you in ensuring you market it well, and that means more money for you, leading into new projects, and the cycle continues from there.

 

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