Fresh college graduates face the daunting task of launching their professional careers at the time of the new normal. The pandemic has affected economies around the world and the United States was not spared. 

A 6.5% growth in the second quarter of 2021 raised hopes that the U.S. is on track for a post-pandemic economic recovery. Slowly but surely, businesses will be rising from the hardships caused by intermittent lockdowns all over the world. 

But just when HR departments and recruiters were anticipating busier days ahead as thousands of job openings hit the market, businesses were hit with another problem. 

The New Reality At The Time Of The New Normal

More American workers are quitting their jobs at a time when the economy is on a cusp of a boom. The number of resignations are hitting record highs – at levels unseen the past 20 years.

Apparently, as the pandemic triggered an emergency shift toward work-from-home arrangements, many people realized they prefer to dedicate more time with family and an office job won’t cut it.

As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. In this case, there are an estimated 9.3 million open doors for fresh college graduates to walk through. 

What Skills Are Recruiters Looking For In Fresh College Graduates?

Despite the demand for new talent to make up for the resignations, getting hired is never automatic for fresh college graduates. Recruiters still want to find the best candidates to fill in key positions in the company. 

You still need to qualify for the job by having the skills recruiters are looking for in fresh college graduates. 

1. Technology Savvy

Before the pandemic, we were already headed toward a technology-intensive global economy. 

Concepts such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Augmented Reality (AR) were increasingly discussed and gradually implemented in many businesses. 

Digital technology will continue to evolve and introduce new innovations designed to improve efficiency and productivity as integrating remote workforces remain the norm in the age of the new normal. 

When the world went on lockdown mode, many businesses were scampering to familiarize themselves with telecommuting and teleconferencing tools such as ZOOM, WebEx, MS Teams, and Google Meet. 

Likewise, companies are investing in developing technology that’s proprietary to the business. These are software programs, hardware, and networking systems that are designed specifically to run the processes of the company. 

Recruiters will be looking for fresh college graduates who are proficient in technology. They must be comfortable managing work through the use of software programs and only a slight learning curve to deal with.

2. Leadership

Leadership used to be a skill that was identified only with those in the mid-management level position to the top officers in the company. Today, recruiters are constantly on the lookout for talent with the potential to become potential leaders within the organization. 

In business, success is never guaranteed. There are always hindrances or obstacles toward accomplishing business goals. A company wants to hire people who aren’t afraid of facing these obstacles. They view problems as challenges that need to be overcome. 

Leaders are people who aren’t averse to making mistakes or experiencing failure. They know failure is part of the journey to success. 

Employees who have the potential to become leaders in the organization are those who don’t procrastinate and continue to push forward despite the odds. 

They’ll do what is demanded of them but at the same time, they won’t hesitate to share their thoughts and ideas with top management simply because they want the organization to succeed.

3. Adaptive Mindset

In a global economy, the repercussions of an event aren’t isolated to one part of the world. It will have cascading effects across regions. For example, world-changing events such as 9/11, the 2003 Crash of the Equities Markets, the Eurozone Crisis of 2009, and the pandemic have affected the economy of every nation. 

For this reason, a rigid and inflexible mindset will not thrive in a global economy. Recruiters want to hire people who have an adaptive mindset. They recognize that the world has turned VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous – and understand that circumstances can change without warning.

Having an adaptive mindset helps them foresee and anticipate these changes so they can prepare alternative courses of action in the event current strategies fall short in delivering results. 

Recruiters prefer to hire people who are open-minded and willing to accept new ideas, concepts, and processes. This is an important component for ensuring a productive and progressive organizational culture. 

4. Cultural Awareness and Diversity

Talent is never a monopoly of a region. You can find talent across time zones. The most successful companies have long recognized this. As an example, businesses continue to outsource work to other countries not just to cut costs but to capitalize on talent as well. 

Inevitably, whether you work in a brick-and-mortar office or from a remote location, you will find yourself working with people from different ethnicities. The challenge businesses frequently grapple with is navigating incidents that encroach on cultural inappropriateness. 

Oftentimes, the situation is unintended. It’s normal for people to be simply unaware of cultural differences. 

Try to educate yourself on the cultural practices and traditions of other nationalities. If you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to take the conservative or less risky approach or to simply ask. 

For example, many Asian countries observe religious holidays and don’t work. However, there are different religious denominations and therefore, the practices will vary. 

So if you find yourself collaborating with people from another nationality who don’t show up for work on a particular date, don’t assume they’re lazy or sick. They could just be practicing their faith. 

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5. Fast But Firm Decision-making

In business, time is money. Every second that passes by where a decision isn’t made increases the cost of opportunity. 

While you’re vacillating on whether to take action or not, another party – your competitor has – and your opportunity to generate sales, get hired, or land an account has just come and gone. 

Recruiters want to hire people who have the ability to make quick decisions but are firm about them. They can do this because they have the fourth sought-after skill on this list – adaptive mindset. 

Quick decision-makers are able to balance the value of time and the probability of risk. They are willing to execute and implement decisions because they’ve already come up with alternative courses of action in case the desired outcome of the decision isn’t achieved. 

If you’re averse to risk, you’ll end up doing a lot of fence-sitting. And in business, if you’re not going forward and just staying still – you’re moving backward.

Speaking of collaboration…

6. Collaborative/Interpersonal 

One of the main reasons why companies have shifted their focus on building teams based on cultural fit is to create effective collaboration among individuals. 

You can have a team composed of the most talented people in terms of experience, academic achievements, industry awards, and levels of expertise, but if they don’t get along, the team won’t produce the expected results. 

Imagine a rowing team where the athletes don’t row at the same cadence or have some participants putting in more effort than others. That boat will be going around in circles instead of a straight line. 

The key component to establishing strong collaboration is having excellent interpersonal skills. When recruiters look for someone with excellent interpersonal skills, he’s not just assessing the ability to communicate. 

The recruiter is also looking for the ability of the person to willingly engage another person on the team; to reach out and establish rapport. He’s open to the idea of interacting with others. 

How will the recruiter test if this skill is present or not with the job candidate?

You might find yourself grouped with the other applicants or with a team of veterans. An HR Officer will ask the group to perform a task. From there, you will be in a fishbowl. 

The HR Officer and perhaps an embedded veteran will monitor and evaluate how you interacted or collaborated with others in the group.

7. Business Acumen

Business Acumen is a skill that’s widely overlooked by many fresh college graduates. The university teaches you the fundamentals of business; theories, principles, and concepts that are used by companies to develop strategies to achieve business goals. 

But learning theory is different from understanding how these concepts are applied in the real world. 

Put simply, Business Acumen is understanding how business works. 

  • What are the current trends in the industry?
  • What are the pressing issues and concerns faced by businesses today?
  • Are there laws that inhibit how businesses perform?
  • How are the equities markets performing?
  • What are the current economic indicators?
  • Are there political issues that could affect the growth of the economy? 

An inquisitive mind is a prerequisite to developing Business Acumen. When you find the answers to these questions, you begin to formulate scenarios as to how a company – the one you’re applying for – creates strategies that protect its interests. 

The recruiter might ask you questions about prevailing issues in the industry and how these impact the company. The idea is to assess your potential and gauge your level of interest in nurturing a career in the industry. 

8. Time Management

A study has shown that in an 8-hour workday, the average office worker is productive for only 2 hours and 53 minutes. 

That’s a productivity rating of only 36%!

What non-work activities are office workers distracted with?

  • Scouring the internet for news.
  • Visiting their personal social media accounts.
  • Water cooler chatter with office workers.
  • Looking for new work opportunities.
  • Smoking!

These distractions are present even if you work from home. You might think “I only spend 5 minutes on Facebook.” Let’s assume you’re being truthful about the time you spend on Facebook, but you’ve been paid for those 5 minutes. 

Secondly, the time spent on other distractions will all add up to your total unproductive hours per day. 

Can you imagine if you were productive by another 50% or by 2 more hours? Now, if everyone in the office improved their productivity by 50% – the company would be more successful and profitable. 

Effective time management is a skill that helps the company become more efficient and productive. 

9. Creative Problem Solving

Employees might be faced with a problem that leaves them stumped. The seconds become minutes that add up to hours of unproductive work. Worse, if the problem isn’t resolved, it could have a cascading effect across the company. 

Sometimes the answer isn’t found in your college textbook or the training manual. You’ll have to flex your creative muscles and conceptualize the best possible solutions. 

Recruiters love candidates who exhibit the ability to “think outside the box”. Creative problem-solving means finding answers when it seems that you’ve arrived at a dead-end. You’re able to pick out features from different theories and personal experiences and develop creative solutions. 

Another word for creative problem solving is resourcefulness. These are the types of people who won’t throw in the towel because they believe every problem has a solution – you just have to know where to look. 

 10. Self-Management

Gone are the days where supervisors micromanage their employees. Micromanaging is not only a time-waster but it also hinders the progress of the employee. 

Recruiters prioritize candidates who can work on their own and be entrusted to manage their tasks without the need for much supervision. These are the types of personnel who embrace responsibility and understand the importance of completing their assigned duties. 

Fresh college graduates might be micromanaged by their supervisors for the first few weeks. But once the supervisor is convinced that the newbie is consistently delivering results and maintaining the quality of work, they will gladly remove the training wheels. 

Hiring people who can self-manage allows the company to optimize its available man-hours and accomplish more goals every day. 

Conclusion

As you’ve read from our list, recruiters aren’t only looking for candidates with the requisite technical skills. They are also looking for candidates who are made of the “right stuff”-  the personality/behavioral attributes that make you who you are. 

Technical skills are referred to as Hard Skills. The personality attributes are called Soft Skills. 

In our list, only Technology Savvy, Interpersonal (Effective Communication), and Business Acumen are hard skills. The rest are widely considered by recruiters as soft skills. 

Of course, the nature of your job will require you to possess the necessary hard skills to manage the duties and responsibilities that are specific to your profession. 

However, recruiters over the last few years have shifted their focus toward identifying people who aren’t just talented but have the right attributes to fit into their organizational culture.

It’s no longer just about what you know but who you are. 

We hope you enjoyed this article as we have been writing it. Feel free to share it with your community.

For your web design and digital marketing needs, give us a call or drop us an email. We can create a website for your business that will help you navigate the challenges of the new normal. 

SEO for Your Business

Businesses started transitioning to the remote environment in 2014 when smartphones, mobile devices, and Internet services became more reliable. Fast-forward to 2020 and the global pandemic has made going remote the new normal for businesses. 

It’s been more than a year since we went into lockdown. For your business to thrive in a world where going remote is a matter of necessity, you need a few tools in your belt to keep it growing and adapting. 

The tools you need must cover the following areas of business:

  • Meetings
  • Project Management
  • File Sharing/Organization
  • Communication
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Marketing
  • Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition
  • Email

Based on our experience, here are some of the best tools you need in your belt to tackle 2021.

1. Meetings

Virtual meetings have been growing in importance as businesses continued to seek strategic partnerships with other companies across the globe. The global pandemic accelerated the need for more businesses to incorporate virtual meetings as part of their process. 

Zoom 

Zoom Video Communications made it on the map when the San Jose-based company offered its 45-minute package free of charge for K-12 schools and small businesses.

What are the features of Zoom?

  • HD audio and video for up to 1,000 participants.
  • Collaboration tools such as share-screen.
  • Record meetings and create transcripts.
  • Sync meetings with Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
  • Chat messaging system.
  • The webinar platform is expandable to 50,000 participants and can be streamed via FB Live, YouTube Live, and other streaming services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams in 2017. In 2019, Microsoft reported that its web-based app had more than 20 million active users. Because of the pandemic, Microsoft disclosed that there were now over 44 million active users of MS Teams. 

What are the features of Microsoft Teams?

  • Teams use Channels to converse with other teammates or invite others. 
  • Chat messaging system.
  • Access to SharePoint Online, a platform where teams can share documents.
  • Video conferencing with share-screen. 
  • Online meetings can host up to 10,000 users.
  • Audio-conferencing allows anyone to join via phone.

Google Meet

Google Meet was introduced in 2017 as a replacement for Google Hangouts. Google reported that because of the pandemic, Google Meet experienced 100 million active users daily compared to 200 million active users for Zoom. 

What are the key features of Google Meet?

  • An unlimited number of meetings for up to 100 participants.
  • Closed captioning during meetings.
  • Compatible with many devices from desktop to mobile platforms.
  • Preview for audio and video.
  • Change screen layout.
  • Exclusive control for meeting host.
  • Share screen and messaging.
  • Sync with MS and Google apps.

2. Project Management

Before project management apps became available, close collaboration was difficult when working with remote teams. There were a few platforms you could use but the features were limited. 

The project management apps that we selected make it possible for teams to collaborate on tasks as if they were sharing space. 

Asana

“Asana” is the term used to describe the act of practicing Yoga poses. Similar to Yoga, the objective of the project management app Asana is to help businesses achieve balance in managing remote work.

Asana was founded by former Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein in 2012 as a mobile productivity app that helps teams manage, track, and organize their tasks. 

Forbes magazine reported in 2020 that there are more than 1.3 million paid users of Asana around the world.  

What are the key features of Asana?

  • Create customized forms for projects.
  • Create customized templates for workflows.
  • Create customized drop-down menus and fields.
  • Track the progress of a task as “Completed” or “Waiting”.
  • Put timelines on specific tasks.
  • Motivate your team by establishing milestones.
  • Option to make projects private or public.

Monday

Monday started out as an internal productivity tool for Wix.com from 2010 to 2012 when the app was bought out and became daPulse. It was rebranded to Monday.com in 2017 and to date is used by more than 100,000 organizations.

Monday.com won the 2020 Webby Award for Productivity in Apps, Mobile, and Voice.

What are the key features of Monday?

  • Centralized management with the use of an easy-to-use, color-coded, multi-functional board.
  • Comments and notifications to team members are sent by “pulses”.
  • A well-organized board helps managers track the progress of every task.
  • Allows companies to invite clients and collaborate on projects.
  • Advanced search features that enable users to locate projects, images, assignments, and updates without restrictions on dates. 
  • The timeline feature gives users the look and feel of Gannt charts so they can monitor and update progress.

Basecamp

37Signals developed and launched Basecamp in 2004. Owing to the success of the project management app, 37Signals changed the company’s name to Basecamp in 2014. 

Today, Basecamp is valued at US$100 Billion and has millions of users across the globe.

What are the key features of Basecamp?

  • Create and assign to-do lists.
  • Chat system for group and private messaging.
  • Generate reports to follow progress on tasks and to track the performance of individual team members.
  • Hill Charts feature allows you to monitor progress on tasks in real-time.
  • Schedule hourly back-ups of files.
  • A keyword search function allows you to find what you’re looking for right away.

3. File Sharing/Organization

Yes, digital technology and advances on the Internet made it faster and more convenient to manage tasks. However, it also means you have to attend to and accomplish more tasks often within the same number of work hours. 

If you don’t have an efficient and easy-to-manage file sharing and organization tool to manage your tasks and projects, you might as well break out the lock and key for that heavy filing cabinet in the corner of your office.

Google Drive

Google launched its synchronization and file storage platform in 2012. Work with other Google services such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides then share files with team members using various devices. 

According to Google, Google Drive had more than 2 billion active users in 2018, and in excess of 2 trillion files were stored in the platform in 2017. 

What are the key features of Google Drive?

  • Sharing of files is under the control of the owner.
  • Compatible with a large number of 3rd party apps.
  • Google Drive viewer is compatible with a multitude of formats.
  • The Android version features QuickApp that “predicts” the files you need even before you can tap on the keyboard.
  • With built-in programs that make the platform accessible to the visually impaired.
  • Includes encryption capability. 

Dropbox

Dropbox was launched in 2007 by a pair of MIT students and seed funding from Y Combinator. Today, the company is valued at over US$10 Billion. 

According to Statista, Dropbox had 15 million paying active users in 2020. Other statistics show that there are more than 600 million users of Dropbox worldwide. 

What are the key features of Dropbox?

  • Store and access files from anywhere and from any device.
  • Synchronize work from other platforms and services.
  • Instant notifications on updated to-do lists and project timelines.
  • Collaborate with everyone on your team by using Dropbox Paper.
  • High-level security keeps your files safe.
  • Designate work and limit access to files only to authorized people.
  • Restore damaged or hacked files within 30 days.

Microsoft 365 – OneDrive

OneDrive is a Microsoft file-sharing and synchronization service that was launched in 2007. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products and services. 

There are millions of users of Microsoft 365 worldwide. In the United States alone, Microsoft 365 has more than 650,000 active users.

What are the key features of OneDrive?

  • Access your files from anywhere using any device.
  • Share your files with teams or individuals.
  • Integrate with other Microsoft 365 products.
  • Free up storage space.
  • Personal Vault gives you high-level security to keep your files safe.
  • Supports different forms of multimedia.
  • Scan documents with your mobile phone.

Evernote

Evernote was introduced in 2000 as a marketing software then evolved into a productivity app that helped businesses manage and organize their tasks in 2008. 

Evernote has become a go-to tool of businesses that despite increasing its prices in 2016, has amassed more than 220 million paid subscribers. 

What are the key features of Evernote? Take note the key features outlined below are for Evernote’s Premium Subscription.

  • 10GB of new uploads every month.
  • Synchronize with various devices.
  • Capable of searching for text inside images.
  • Share files and notes to teams or individuals.
  • Passcode lock feature for the mobile app version.
  • Forward your emails to Evernote.
  • Annotate, search for images in PDF format.
  • One-click feature for presenting notes.
  • Scanning feature to create business cards.

Pocket

Pocket was launched in 2007 as Read It Later, an app developed to help you manage a list of reading materials and videos curated from the Internet. The service can be accessed by multiple devices and browsers. 

The company reported that as of 2018, Pocket has more than 30 million users. 

What are the key features of Pocket?

  • Save an unlimited amount of articles, web pages, and videos.
  • Synchronize with a wide range of devices.
  • Use tags to organize your saved items.
  • Accessible from various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard to name a few.
  • Listen to your articles by converting text into high-quality audio.
  • The intelligent tag suggestion feature helps you organize your content for easier and faster search.
  • Customize layouts and font styles. 
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4. Communication

Having excellent communication systems in place can replicate the advantages of shared space collaboration for your remote setup. 

The communication tools we selected will allow you to keep track of your team’s work without hovering over them as you might do in a physical office. These apps function like central hubs where you can get everything done in one place.

Slack

Slack started out as an internal communication tool for gaming company Tiny Speck when they were developing Glitch. It was formally launched as Slack, a communication platform for businesses, in 2013.

As of 2019, Slack has an estimated 12 million daily active users. 

What are the key features of Slack?

  • The use of Channels allows you to organize and manage teams handling different projects or tasks.
  • The “Narrow search” function makes searching easier.
  • Mentions feature lets you find messages that were specifically for you.
  • A flexible messaging system enables you to quickly find a specific user and send a DM, mark a message as “unread” for future reference, and restrict access to threads.
  • Keep track of important discussions by using the Highlight Word function to advise you if a keyword shows up in a thread.
  • Create auto-replies for faster response time.

Microsoft Teams

We discussed MS Teams earlier but the service is worth mentioning again as an effective platform for communication. 

After deciding against bidding for Slack in 2016, Microsoft developed MS Teams as a direct competitor of the communication platform. As you will read below, MS Teams has communication features that aren’t available in Slack.

A 2021 survey showed that MS Teams has 75 million Daily Active Users (DAUs) compared to “only” 12 million DAUs for Slack.

What are the key features of MS Teams?

  • Channels function like conversation boards and make it easier for team members to communicate.
  • Compared to Slack, MS Teams invites more open communication by getting teams to view other communication and provide inputs. 
  • Files are automatically filed and organized in a SharePoint document.
  • Quick and easy access online calling and conferencing system with top-level audio and video quality.

Blink

Blink is a communication app that was developed to improve employee productivity by providing them with a platform to collaborate effectively and avoid incidents of miscommunication. 

Companies that have used Blink were reportedly able to reduce employee turnover rate by 26% and improve employee satisfaction by 30%.

In 2018, Blink received 2 awards from Finances Online – the Great User Experience Award and the Rising Star Award.

What are the key features of Blink?

  • Fully customizable; companies can add their logos and colors.
  • Accessible to multiple devices and browsers.
  • Availability of team calendar to help team members keep track of deadlines.
  • Workplace analytics enables managers and top officers to evaluate employee engagement and performance.
  • The one-on-one chat messaging feature lets you communicate directly with frontline employees and give them valuable feedback.

5. Accounting/Finance

The absence of proper money management systems is the number one reason why many small businesses fail within the first 5 years of operation. 

One of the first things you have to do when starting a business is to fortify its foundation. These are the support activities that help your business run smoothly. 

Accounting is considered a back-office function but it plays a significant role in ensuring the success of your business. 

Having your financial transactions covered and organized by a reliable accounting app will help you monitor your liquidity, cash flow, and if you’re on track to meet your profitability objectives.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks feels like it’s been around forever and to some degree, it has. First introduced in 1983 as Quicken by Intuit, Quickbooks was developed with the small and medium-scale business owner in mind. 

According to Intuit, Quickbooks garnered 74% market share in the US in 2005. The NPD Group reported that in 2008, 94.2% of retail units in the US used Quickbooks. 

What are the key features of Quickbooks?

  • Create and send customized invoices and quotations.
  • The software can be accessed from a remote location.
  • Offers remote payroll assistance and outsourced accounting services.
  • Availability of electronic payment options.
  • Online banking and reconciliation options.
  • Mapping integration feature with Google Maps.
  • Email functionality feature through MS Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Integration with Excel.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks was developed by 2ndSite, a company based in Canada and was launched in 2004. Initially, Freshbooks was intended as an invoicing program for IT professionals. 

In 2015, 2ndSite set up a second company, BillSpring, that handled product development. Freshbooks evolved into an accounting program that can manage the accounting needs of small and medium-scale businesses.

What are the key features of Freshbooks?

  • Customizable invoices.
  • Automatic payment reminders for clients.
  • Automatic late fee penalties for invoices that are past due.
  • Incorporate credit card payments into your system.
  • Automatically schedule invoices for recurring payments.
  • Organize invoices and confirmed payments per client.
  • Multi-currency and multi-lingual billing options.

Xero

Xero was developed in New Zealand and introduced as a cloud-based accounting software program for small and medium scale businesses in 2006. The company has gone global with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Asia.

According to Xero, in 2018, there were more than 1 million subscribers to its app in Australia and New Zealand plus another 1 million users worldwide.

What are the key features of Xero?

  • The software program is compatible with Windows and Mac.
  • Versions for Android and iOS are available.
  • Customizable dashboard for convenience and ease of use.
  • Generate multiple reports at one time.
  • View and share financial reports with your partners or investors.
  • Option to invoice clients using different currencies.
  • Customizable invoices.
  • ISO/IEC 27001-2013 compliant; this is the gold standard for high-level online security.

6. Marketing

Marketing has grown in prominence over the last few decades. It used to be the case that companies would only allocate 1% of their revenues for marketing activities. 

According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, companies have steadily increased the budget allocation for marketing. Consumer goods retailers are the biggest spenders at 24% while those in the Energy sector spend the least at only 4%.

Thanks to Marketing apps, small and medium-scale businesses have the means to run marketing campaigns without spending too much time and money.

HubSpot Marketing

HubSpot is a wonderful resource for everything marketing-related. It’s no surprise that the HubSpot Marketing app which was released in 2006 is actively used by more than 30,000 companies in 90 countries.

HubSpot Marketing is a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. A free service is available for first-time users to try and test the products and other offerings. 

What are the key features of HubSpot Marketing?

  • Build and design your own website.
  • Create and publish content from a built-in blogging platform.
  • Perform keyword research to optimize your content.
  • Customizable CTA buttons and Landing pages.
  • Organize all information including leads into one database.
  • Easy-to-use and highly customizable email templates and campaigns.
  • Marketing automation software allows you to customize and develop marketing campaigns to help accomplish specific business goals. 

OptinMonster

Lead generation is a very important part of digital marketing. The ability to generate leads will help you pre-qualify potential clients and allow you to better maximize your marketing budget as well as optimize your marketing efforts.

OptinMonster is a lead generation software that was developed to help businesses build their email list by improving engagement levels. According to OptinMonster, the program is used by more than 1,213,437 websites.

What are the key features of OptinMonster?

  • Drag ‘n; Drop Builder lets you create customized forms.
  • Campaigns can be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Use MonsterEffects feature to create more eye-catching visuals.
  • Customize messages to increase engagement levels.
  • Choose from a wide variety of campaign types including the very popular Lightbox PopUp, Slide-screen Scroll Box, and Floating Bar.
  • Built-in technology designed to study visitor behavior.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation service that was launched in 2001 by its developer, Rocket Science. It started out as a paid service before introducing a freemium service package in 2009. 

According to Rocket Science, Mailchimp was generating 14,000 new subscribers every day in 2017 and was sending out an average of 10 billion emails per day. 

What are the key features of Mailchimp?

  • Organize your leads with its built-in Marketing CRM.
  • Learn more about your customers with the Audience Dashboard.
  • Improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns with the segmentation feature.
  • Find out where your visitors and customers are coming from by accessing data on demographics. 
  • Availability of content creation tools to help develop optimized content. 
  • Access reports that give you empirical evidence of audience behavior.

7. Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition

Small business owners know that to scale operations they need help. The challenge is to pay for talent without compromising their cash flow. 

The cost of hiring Full-Time Employees (FTEs) can be calculated by multiplying their salary by 1.4. For many small business owners, hiring FTEs can be too expensive. 

A more affordable option would be to outsource work to remote employees or professionals who provide technical services through the Internet. Examples of remote workers are virtual assistants, freelancers, and telecommuters.

With remote workers, you have different payment options. You can pay only for the hours worked or on a per-project basis. You have more flexibility and can stay within your budget. 

Here are some of the best sites to hire remote workers:

UpWork

UpWork started out as Elance in 1999. Then, in 2003, Elance merged with another online freelancer platform called O-desk and was rebranded as Elance-oDesk. The company settled with its current name in 2015.

The UpWork head office is based in Santa Clara, California, USA.

What are the benefits of using UpWork?

  • Choose from more than 18 million freelancers from different countries.
  • Trusted by more than 5 million businesses.
  • 3 million jobs posted every year; UpWork is the biggest freelancer platform in the world.
  • Freelancer profiles contain valuable information such as client reviews, total earnings, and a summary of skills and certifications.
  • Work Diary feature allows you to check and verify the total productive hours worked by your freelancer.
  • The Payment Protection feature gives you the option of choosing between pay-per-hour and pay-per-project arrangements. 
  • UpWork is the only freelancer platform that offers a dispute resolution service.

Freelancer

Freelancer has staked its claim as the world’s biggest freelancer platform with a reported user base of more than 51 million clients and freelancers from over 247 countries. 

The company has acquired other freelancer sites such as GetAFreelancer.com, EUFreelancer.com, and ScriptLance.com. 

What are the benefits of using Freelancer?

  • Wide range of freelancers to choose from; you can find freelancers who can handle large-scale as well as small-scale projects.
  • Option to pay freelancers per hour or with a fixed price.
  • The chat feature allows you to communicate directly with freelancers.
  • Milestone Payment system gives you the protection of paying the freelancer only when you’re 100% satisfied with the result.

Guru

Guru.com was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It started out as eMoonlighter.com. In 1999, it was rebranded as Guru.com and was used to hire high-tech freelancers for an online clearinghouse. 

Presently, Guru has 1.8 million freelancers offering more than 4.4 million freelancing services to businesses around the world.

What are the benefits of using Guru?

  • A streamlined dashboard makes it easier to keep track of projects and the work of freelancers.
  • Communicate directly with the freelancers or “gurus” that you have contracted for the job.
  • Pay a minimum fee of US$29.95 to have your job or project posted for 30 days to attract more freelancers.
  • Multiple payment options such as electronic payment systems, credit cards, checks, e-checks, wire transfers, and direct payments to the website.
  • SafePay system lets you review and approve the work before paying the freelancer. 

8. Email

Email remains a critical part of communication. Despite the availability of various media and platforms, people still depend on email and regard it as the primary channel of communication.

The tech giants recognize this and have expanded their offerings to include apps that can turn your email into a central hub with all the apps you need to manage your business. 

The email service providers have also upped the ante on security and data protection. 

Office 365

Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010 in response to growing competition from Google’s Gmail service. Office 365 was designed to provide subscribers with a wide range of Microsoft services that cover all of the key areas of a business. 

With the addition of MS Teams, the user base of Office 365 grew by 53% from 75 million users in April 2020 to 115 million users to date. 

What are the key features of Office 365?

  • Availability of apps for spreadsheet, word processing, slide presentation, online conferencing, and file sharing to name just a few.
  • A cloud-based platform means you can access Office 365 anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
  • Real-time collaboration with team members on any document or project.
  • Yammer is Office 365’s communication app that allows you to set up specific channels with different departments or individuals. 
  • Files are shareable with people who are not part of your company.
  • Workflows app keeps your team updated on deadlines and lets you monitor their progress. 
  • Top-level 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption. 
  • Built-in proprietary antivirus software.

Gmail

Gmail is Google’s game-changing, free email service that was launched in 2004. According to Google, as of 2019, there are 1.5 Billion users of Gmail worldwide. 

Once you open a Gmail account, you can access its other business apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and Google Meet.

What are the key features of Gmail?

  • 15 gigabytes of storage; the largest among email service providers.
  • Email capacity for receiving emails can go up to 50 megabytes.
  • Send out emails that are as big as 25 megabytes.
  • Google’s mail servers immediately scan mail for spam, malware, and context-sensitive ads. 
  • Access to other services such as Google Drive and Google Photos.

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is literally the stuff of science. It was developed by scientists from Switzerland who spent time at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). 

Introduced in 2016, ProtonMail uses a proprietary client-side encryption program to safeguard email content before they are transmitted to the ProtonMail servers.

From only 2 million users in 2016, ProtonMail has over 50 million users as of 2021. 

What are the key benefits of ProtonMail?

  • High-level combination of encryption programs to fortify email protection and integrity of services.
  • Availability of Two-Factor Authentication process to prevent unauthorized access to email.
  • The addition of the Archive folder lets you store important communication while keeping your Inbox clean.
  • Label feature helps you organize your emails based on sender or by category.
  • Customizable themes to create a distinct look and feel for your Inbox.

Conclusion

You don’t have to include all of these apps in your digital toolbox. Give them a try and find out which products fit the needs of your business. 

Times may have changed and it might be a while before we develop a sense or feel of normalcy. The last thing we should do is to wait because the old normal as we knew it might take some time to come back – if at all. 

What we need to focus on is finding ways to adapt, survive, and ultimately, thrive in this new environment. Having the right apps in your belt will certainly help you tackle the challenge in 2021 and beyond. 

If you have questions about these apps and if you want to build a website for your online business, give us a call and we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns. We can use Zoom or MS Teams to get the ball rolling!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

Whether you have a stable job or are looking for work, having a new stream of income will always be welcome. One of the best ways to make money is to work as a freelancer. 

For many 9-to-5 employees, freelance work not only augmented their income, it was also the first step to a rewarding career as an entrepreneur.

What Is A Freelancer?

A freelancer is a person who works independently and offers services to businesses that are interested in his specific skill set. 

Essentially, a freelancer is self-employed. He can be considered an entrepreneur because he manages the needs of his business. Similar to an entrepreneur, he is responsible for the success or accountable for the failure of his freelance business.

What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A Freelancer?

The benefits presented to a freelancer are the same benefits presented to an entrepreneur.

  • You have your own time.
  • You have a chance at achieving financial independence.
  • You have control over your financial growth.
  • You are the main decision-maker.
  • You choose who you work with.
  • You choose the clients you want to manage.

In other words, a freelancer is his own boss!

How To Make Money As A Freelancer

However, being the boss isn’t easy. 

If the decisions you made resulted in losses to your business, there’s no one else to blame. It becomes your sole responsibility to find solutions to situations before they become full-blown problems. 

Likewise, achieving financial independence is never guaranteed.

Having control over your financial growth entails making the right decisions.

  • How many clients can I handle without affecting the quality of work?
  • Am I charging the right fees?
  • Should I keep networking for more clients?
  • Do I need to hire people now to expand my business?
  • What tasks should I outsource?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now – don’t worry!

We’ve created this guide to help you get started as a freelancer and make good money along the way.

1. Identify Your Skill Set

There are thousands of jobs available on every freelancing site. Businesses from all over the world are looking for freelancers who can help them get work done at the least cost. 

Unless you identify your skill set, you’ll get lost – not knowing which jobs you should apply to. 

Do you consider yourself an expert in a particular skill? If so, are you 100% confident that you can offer this skill to a client and assure him of high-quality work and top-level performance? 

For example, you have experience as a Graphic Designer. You’ve done graphic design for friends and for your department at the company. How qualified are you as a Graphic Artist?

You should be proficient in a few software programs for graphic design such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and CorelDraw Graphics Suite. Some of the job ads will specifically require proficiency and experience in conducting graphic design work using the software. 

It would also be to your advantage if you are proficient with a particular style of art such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Pop Art, or Impressionism. The client will have an idea of your approach to design.

2. Define Your UVP

UVP stands for Unique Value Proposition. Put simply, it’s the answer to the question in the minds of potential clients who come across your profile:

“Why should I hire you as my freelancer?”

You’re not the only freelancer applying for that job. HR Officers and business owners will be browsing through proposals and online profiles to hire the freelancer who can do the job according to their expectations.

What makes you different – and the best candidate over everyone else?

List down your hard and soft skills. 

Hard skills are the technical skills or the ones acquired through formal education, training, and experience. Soft skills refer to the personality or behavioral attributes that best define your approach to work. 

Review your hard and soft skills carefully. Then, come up with a phrase that best sums up your value to the potential client. This phrase is your UVP and it should appear in your online profiles and applications. 

3. Establish Your Service Offerings

What services can you offer potential clients? 

For example, if you’re a Digital Marketer, you might be able to offer the following services:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Social Media Marketing/Management (SMM)
  • Content Writing
  • Keyword Research

You can also include a list of your core competencies:

  • Project Management
  • Hiring and Recruitment of Remote Employees
  • Quality Assurance
  • Planning and Strategy Design
  • Analytics and Process Improvement

Be as detailed as possible but don’t offer more than what you can provide. If you offer services that you’re not capable of doing and then fail to deliver results, you might compromise your career as a freelancer.

4. Set Up a Business Website

Having a website will professionalize your freelancing business. There are many benefits to having a website as a freelancer:

  • The About Me page will give potential clients an idea of who you are as a person. The client will know if he can work with you.
  • The Home page will highlight your UVP and inform the client what you can do for him.
  • The Portfolio page will shine the spotlight on your past work or examples of hard skills. 
  • The Services page will summarize the list of services that you can offer to interested clients.
  • The Contact Me page will inform interested parties how to get in touch with you. 
  • Add a Blog page so you can share your expertise and knowledge to potential clients.

With a website, you can be reached by potential clients through search. You won’t be limited by social media or by freelancing websites. 

5. Create an Online Profile

An online profile is your resume on the Internet. You have to create an online profile in social media networks and freelancing platforms. 

Here are important things to keep in mind when creating an online profile:

  • Write a short and concise introduction that’s easy to read. 
  • Make sure your information is updated regularly.
  • Use a professional email address.
  • If required, upload a professionally done headshot. 
  • Summarize your work experience, educational attainment, and career achievements in bullet point format.

Lastly, make sure your online profiles are consistent on all platforms. You don’t want a social media profile that reads differently from your profile at UpWork.

6. Network for Clients

Successful networking is a numbers game. The more often you network, the higher the probability of getting noticed. That said, landing a client comes down to finding qualified prospects or those who are genuinely interested in hiring your services as a freelancer. 

How do you find qualified prospects?

First, you have to create a Client or Buyer Profile. 

  • Who do you think will most likely hire your services? 
  • Where do they come from? 
  • What is the size of their business?
  • What is their industry?
  • What is their budget for remote employees?
  • What type of services or skills do they need?
  • How much work will they require per freelancer?

Second, you have to be selective about where to look for open positions or available projects. 

Similar to social media sites, there are many freelancer platforms on the Internet. Some platforms cater to specific skills. 

For example:

  • UpWork – Content writers, web designers, software developers, and virtual assistants
  • Fiverr – Graphic designers, content writers, and social media marketers.
  • Guru – Website designers, software developers, and virtual assistants.
  • Odesk – Content writers, customer service specialists, and virtual assistants.
  • PeoplePerHour – Graphic designers, web developers, software developers, research specialists, and video editors.

Once you’ve identified the best platform to market and promote your skills, then it’s time to go networking!

  • Be conservative with your goals. To land your first client, assume a success rate of only 2%. Therefore, to get your first sign-up, you must apply to at least 50 job openings or projects.
  • Set a time for networking activity. In order to apply to 50 job openings or projects in one month, you only have to target 1-2 prospective clients per day. Two hours per day will be more than enough time to be selective about your choices.
  • Go Old School. Who says online is the only way to go? You can attend networking events or conferences for small businesses. There are local businesses that are constantly on the lookout for freelancers. 

Even if you’ve signed up a client – don’t stop networking. Continue to look for good opportunities on select freelancer platforms and stay active in social media. 

7. Focus on Quality of Work

It’s great to be in demand. However, freelancers are not immune to the Law of Diminishing Quality of Work. 

Sure, you can make more money by accepting more freelance work. The downside is the more projects you accept, the more deadlines you have to meet, and thus, the higher the probability of work quality getting compromised. 

You might think otherwise, but no one is Superman. You have to rest and relax your mind. Also, ask yourself why you became a freelancer in the first place. Is it because you want to have more time for yourself and your family? 

As a freelancer, always focus on maintaining – or exceeding – the quality of work. If clients are happy with your service, they will stay with you. More so, they might even recommend you to their associates and friends. 

8. Get Testimonials From Clients

Testimonials from happy clients are more powerful than paying for micro or macro influencers for their endorsements. Why? For the reason that testimonials are organic, natural, and appear more sincere than paid endorsements. 

If a potential client wants to know if the testimonial is genuine, all he has to do is to contact the person who gave the testimony. 

Having multiple testimonials can be greatly capitalized if you have a website. Place them on your homepage so that website visitors can see them right away.

9. Build Up Your Online Presence

The key to be seen and noticed by potential clients is to stay active on the Internet:

  • Join interest/focus groups on social media and actively participate in the discussions.
  • Post at least once a day on social media. If you don’t have a blog, curate relevant content or post regular status updates. 
  • Share your opinions but be mindful – and respectful – of those who don’t share your views. 
  • Another option you can consider if you don’t have a blog page is to blog from your LinkedIn account. 

Don’t hesitate to give advice on the Internet even if you won’t get paid for it. The important thing is to let potential clients know that you are competent and highly knowledgeable about your profession and industry.

Conclusion


We saved the best for last! 

“As a freelancer, how much should I charge clients for my services?”

When you’re starting your career as a freelancer, don’t charge potential clients what you believe you’re worth. Let your success eventually determine your fees.

If you have no experience as a freelancer and your online profile shows that you haven’t landed many clients, if any at all, don’t charge a rate that’s much higher than what other freelancers are charging. 

Your first objective as a freelancer is to get the ball rolling by signing up your first client. Contrary to popular belief, many companies that are looking for freelancers are less concerned about costs than the quality of work. 

Hiring freelancers carry other cost-saving benefits for companies such as paying only for productive hours and setting the work schedule according to a fixed budget. These companies want to be sure they get what they pay for.  

Sign up a client first and then prove your worth by performing well and above expectations.

If you’ve been consistent with the quality of your work, garnered great feedback from your clients, and have built a steady reputation as an amazing freelancer who can deliver results – then, by all means, raise your fees!

Your skills shouldn’t be commoditized. If you’re really good at what you do, then clients won’t mind paying a premium. 

If you’re thinking about setting up a personal website for your freelance business, give us a call and we’ll build one for you. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

While many people welcomed 2021 as the year to start over fresh and recover from the difficulties of 2021, there are those who believe that the new year is just a continuation of the events of the previous year. 

To an extent these people are correct. We should anticipate a residual effect from the damage the lockdowns wrought on economies worldwide. It will take time for industries to recover and get back on track to profitability. 

And that’s the question you must ask yourself: 

“How long will it take for things to go back to normal so I can earn a regular income again?”

There’s no clear answer to that question because the new normal has made the business environment more uncertain and ambiguous. And for that reason, you should not wait and assume the new normal is just “normal”.

It’s business as usual in 2021!

Take control of your financial independence and make money this year by setting up a home-based business.

Step 1 – Come Up with a Business Idea

Here’s a question that always stirs debate – or an argument:

“Should you follow your passion or should you find a business that makes money?”

And here’s a diplomatic way to answer this question:

Find a business that makes you happy and motivated every day and has the POTENTIAL to make money in the future. 

Sometimes your passions can limit you. At the same time, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t like winning a lottery. You’re not guaranteed financial success. 

The guiding rule when starting a business is to find a product or service that creates value or gives benefits to a target market. 

Conduct preliminary research and identify products and services that are in high demand in your area. The product or service must be relevant, useful, and practical given today’s conditions. 

For example, according to Criteo, these products have been selling well since 2020:

  • Exercise Bands
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Pet Products
  • Gaming Equipment
  • Baking Items
  • Sleep/Lounge Wear
  • Shaving/Grooming Kit
  • Webcams

Should you sell these products as well? 

You could – or use the list as a basis for selling other products that are similar but cater to a specialized niche. A case in point would be to capitalize on the home gym trend and sell adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells instead of resistance bands.

Step 2 – Prepare a Business Plan

Once you’ve identified a product or service to sell, prepare a business plan. A standard business plan consists of 5 sections:

  1. The Executive Summary – Summarizes details about the ownership and the products and services to be offered.
  1. Business Overview – Discloses information about your company such as business type, office address, and contact details plus your mission statement.
  1. Products and Services – Discusses the types of products and services you’re selling and identifies factors that prove there’s market demand. 
  1. Market Analysis and Strategy – Presents an empirical, data-based analysis of market demand, a breakdown of market demographics, and outlines the strategy for attracting potential customers/end-users.
  1. Financial Projections – Includes sales projections, projected cash flow, and loss/income statements, and cash disbursement schedules.

Don’t put this off! A business plan acts as your blueprint for building your business. It keeps you on-course if you find yourself veering away because things aren’t going as planned. 

Step 3 – Register Your Business

Registering your business legitimizes your enterprise. Clients and customers prefer to deal with entities that are registered with the state and local government and have acquired the necessary permits to operate. 

Find out if your home-based business should be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a government agency such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

From there, you’ll have to acquire licenses to allow you to operate a business from home. There are 5 types of licenses that you might need for your home-based business:

  1. General Business License – Authorization to conduct business within your local jurisdiction.
  1. Professional License – Some states require certain types of home-based businesses such as a daycare center, hairstyling salon, and financial services to secure a professional license. Check with your local government office if the type of business you plan to set up at home needs a professional license. 
  1. Health and Safety Permits – If your business sells products that are flammable or if you receive clients and customers to your home, then you have to secure health and safety permits.
  1. Sign Permit – If you plan to advertise your home-based business by posting signs, you’ll first have to get the requirements from your local government. There will be guidelines on the size, location, and whether the use of lights will be allowed.
  1. Sales Tax License – The sales tax license may be part of your General Business License. If it’s not, you’ll have to secure one for your business from your local government.

Step 4 – Put up a Website

Now that your business is registered and authorized to operate – let’s get to work!

And the first order of the day is to put up a website. 

Your business license will state your residence as the address for your business. But your business address is the URL that potential clients and customers will click on when they run a search on the Internet. 

If the URL is the business address then your website is your office or retail store on the Internet. The website is where people go to:

  • Learn more about your business
  • Find out the products and services you sell
  • Read valuable content for personal information or research purposes. 
  • Field a question or address a concern
  • Buy products and services

According to a survey made by the National Retail Federation (NRF), while brick-and-mortar stores enjoyed a higher-than-expected 8.3% increase in holiday sales, online sales grew faster at 45.3% on a year-to-year basis.  

Research firm Digital Commerce 360 believes that the comparatively higher increase in sales for online retailers confirms the change in consumers’ buying behavior because of continued fears about contracting the virus. 

Therefore, to improve your chances of becoming successful, you must have a website for your home-based business.

We’ve helped many home-based businesses get started with their website. Give us a call and we’ll show you how Mountaintop Web Design can develop a website for your business that’s mobile-responsive, fast, functional, optimized for search, and very easy to use. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

Step 5 – Organize Your Business

Even though your business runs from home, it still needs different departments to function properly.

Here are the 6 essential functions of a business:

  1. Accounting 
  2. Sales
  3. Marketing
  4. Human Resources
  5. Information Technology
  6. Customer Service

When you’re starting out, it might be possible to oversee these functions yourself. However, if the business starts to pick up, you’ll have less time handling these tasks in favor of running the core functions of the enterprise. 

You might want to consider outsourcing the functions to a qualified third party such as an outsourcing company, specialized freelancers, and virtual assistants. 

Outsourcing saves you money because you only pay for productive hours or actual hours worked. If you outsource to a remote location outside the United States, you can reduce costs further because the labor cost is much lower. 

Thus, by outsourcing services, you can reduce costs and increase productivity at the same time because you can allocate more hours to handling the tasks that add more dollars and cents to your business’ bank account. 

Step 6 – Build an Online Presence

To drive more traffic to your website, you have to build an online presence. Some home-based businesses open a Facebook business page plus another social media platform to widen their reach. 

A more effective way to build an online presence is to invest in Digital Marketing by hiring an experienced Digital Marketer or an agency.

Digital marketing is the process of using digital technology – Internet-based platforms and apps – to accomplish a specific goal such as to drive traffic to a website, build the brand, establish the reputation of the business as a valuable resource, or generate sales. 

The digital marketing toolbox consists of the following:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Paid Ads

An experienced Digital Marketer can send up a team to run the DM campaign. The team may consist of the following skills:

  • Digital Marketer (Project Manager)
  • Content Writer
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Graphic Designer/Artist

The Digital Marketing team can put together a campaign strategy that can help you meet your business goals. To run a successful campaign takes consistency. 

For example, you must post content on social media from Monday to Friday:

  • What type of content should you post? Will it be a blog, an infographic, curated content, or a video? 
  • Who will create the content? A 1,600-word, optimized, and well-researched blog will take approximately 4 hours to complete.
  • Who will engage with your followers?
  • Who will answer the inquiries posted on your chat support platform?

As you will see, managing a Digital Marketing campaign can take up a lot of time. We recommend outsourcing it to a qualified agency. At Mountaintop, we’ve done Digital Marketing for clients with great results. 

If you’re interested, give us a call, and let’s discuss how we can package web design services with digital marketing.

Step 7 – Set Up Your Home Office

While your website and Digital Marketing are being set up, let’s shift our focus to setting up your home office. 

Your home may be your castle – but it’s now your place of work. Similar to a castle, the home office must be fortified against distractions and enhanced for maximum productivity. 

  • Buy a new PC or laptop – Yes, you can always upgrade your computer but consider a new one an investment in your business. The PC or laptop must be dedicated to your business and not be used for anything else. 
  • Secure your Internet speed. Your bandwidth would depend on the type of business you plan to run. To give you an idea, it will take 2 minutes to download large files with 1.5mbps and only 10 seconds with 20mbps. 

If you’ll be downloading large files or regularly accessing videos, you need at least 3mbps. It would be great if you can strike a deal with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where you can get 10-20mbps without added cost.

  • Download all the necessary software. To run a home-based business efficiently, you’ll have to download software to carry out different functions. For example, you can use Asana as a project management tool and Slack to communicate with your team. 
  • Buy ergonomic furniture. You’ll be spending most of your time in the office. You might as well make yourself comfortable. 

Ergonomic furniture is designed to reduce stress on your lower back, shoulders, neck, and joints. It can be considered an investment to keep you healthy so you can stay productive.

  • Remove all distractions. Put your mobile phone away while working. You can keep it inside a safe or locked drawer. Inform your family about your working hours so that they’ll know when they can’t disturb you. 

As much as possible, have everything you need in the office before you start working on the day’s agenda. That includes coffee, water, and healthy snacks.

You can always check up on your phone messages and your family’s needs during your intermittent breaks.

Step 8 – Network!

Regardless of the type of home-based business you’re running, networking should be a constant activity. 

Networking has many benefits that can grow your business:

  • Find clients
  • Establish connections with people who can help with different areas of your business
  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Generate important leads
  • Gain valuable knowledge from experts in various fields
  • Get first-hand information on trends, developments, and upcoming events
  • Be referred to other people or companies that need your products or services

Even if your home-based business has become successful, keep networking. You can network via social media channels such as LinkedIn and more industry-specific platforms or do it the old-fashioned way by attending trade shows, networking events, and business forums.

Step 9 – Track Your Business Performance

Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, keep track of your performance. 

  • How is your digital marketing campaign performing?
  • Has your website received significantly more traffic?
  • Are you generating a lot of leads?
  • What is your sales conversion rate?
  • Where is the bulk of your traffic coming from?
  • What types of content are generating the highest amount of engagement? 

The advantage of managing a home-based business in the age of digital is that you can easily track performance simply by accessing data analytics from your website and social media pages. 

With analytics, you can pinpoint which strategies and processes are working or yielding the highest ROI and which ones are not. Using these numbers, you can review your budget with more certainty and determine how you should allocate your resources. 

Conclusion

Why wait for things to go back to normal when it can be business as usual? You can start earning good money in 2021 by setting up a home-based business right now.

Not only will you do yourself a favor by creating new streams of revenue but you’ll be helping other people who cannot access your products and services. 

It’s never too late to start. All you have to do is take the first step. In time and with persistence, you can have a financially rewarding career as an online entrepreneur.

Before taking that all-important first step, let your fingers do the tapping and give us a call. We can help you set up a website for your home business and get your digital marketing campaign started.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

For sure you’ve read all the stories about the number of businesses around the world that have closed down because of the economic effects of the global pandemic. 

The media tends to report more “gloom and doom” because it sells. The truth is, there were a good number of businesses that made money – even generated record-setting profits during the lockdown.

What was the common denominator among these businesses? They all invested in building an online presence and the foundation of their Internet-based model is the website. 

How The Pandemic Highlighted The Need For A Website 

If there’s a lesson that can be learned from the global pandemic that put even the world’s most powerful economies on lockdown, it’s the importance of having a presence on the Internet for your business. 

While many brick and mortar businesses closed down, those that invested in e-commerce and simple business websites continued to ring in the cash registers. 

Think about it. When you needed food and supplies delivered to your home, all you had to do was place your orders at an e-commerce website or arrange for home delivery via a courier app. 

And when economies opened – it didn’t change anything. 

Many people still preferred to stay at home to work or run errands through the Internet. People discovered that working from home was not just more convenient – it was also more productive.

Of course, the threat of getting infected remains real. More so now that the virus has mutated into 2 strains as of this writing: the United Kingdom and South African variants.

The combination of these factors has led to a surge in online spending. Here‘s a shortlist of countries that experienced an increase in e-commerce transactions at the time of the new normal:

  • United States – 18%
  • Russia – 45%
  • Brazil – 66%
  • Mexico – 79%

Analysts expect a significant increase in the volume of online traffic in the United States as the rate of infections continues to climb. 

If you don’t have a website, the good news is – it’s not too late to set up one for your business. Consumer behavior has changed. Your business has to accommodate changes in consumer behavior to survive the new normal.

10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs A Website In 2021

A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management COVID-19 response revealed the following results on how the pandemic has changed the business environment:

  • 43% of respondents started to rethink their business strategies.
  • 32% of respondents focused on finding new ways to deliver products and services.
  • 22% of respondents have asked their employees to learn new skills that are transferable to the business.

Having a website ticks off all the boxes. 

It’s a new business strategy that gives you another avenue for delivering products and services to your customers and generate income. To maximize the benefits of having a website, you’ll have to learn new skills such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, email marketing, and content writing.

Sure, engaging in social media marketing is great for promoting your business. However, when it comes to running an online business, the website should be the cornerstone of your strategy.

Here are 10 reasons why your small business should have a website in 2021.

1. Hedge Your Business Versus Uncertainty

The threat of a lockdown is still there despite the availability of vaccines. The virus can still mutate and more study needs to be done on the effectiveness of the vaccines that are currently being used. 

If you don’t have a website, what will you do if another lockdown happens because COVID-19 mutated into a deadlier, more infectious strain? 

With a website, your business is protected versus uncertainty. If another lockdown is mandated by the government, you can get a good night’s sleep knowing that your business has another address on the Internet. 

2. Keep Your Business Open 24/7

The mall and commercial office spaces have closing hours. The Internet doesn’t. Long after you’ve locked up the doors of your establishment, your website remains open to attend to the needs of your customers. 

Your website can still accept and process orders for your merchandise. Are you a consultant or a service provider? Your potential customers can still book appointments on your website. 

Lockdowns, weekends, and holidays won’t matter either because your website will remain open 24/7. 

If customers place their orders on a Sunday, you’re already assured of business on Monday. All you have to do is to deliver the goods first thing Monday morning!

3. Accommodate the Needs of Your Customers

According to a study conducted by Omdia, Internet usage has increased by 70% since the pandemic. Omdia which is the research arm of Informa Tech believes that the surge in Internet usage is clear proof that consumer behavior has changed.

Consumers preferring to transact online is no longer a trend – it’s the current reality. 

And having a website is not only for people who want to buy. People have different reasons for clicking on a URL:

  • Request for customer assistance or support
  • Learn more about the company
  • Read your blogs
  • Research relevant information to address a specific need
  • Find out the products and services that you offer
  • Conduct competitor research
  • Find out the location of your store(s)
  • Find out your contact information

A website will make work and life easier for your customer. It will accommodate the changing behavior of consumers. 

4. Competition Has Gone Online

With so many businesses closing down, you might think there’s less competition. On the contrary, competition has become tighter. 

Customers have become more discerning about their choices in order to get more value out of their money. You’ll need to have every advantage over your competitor. And if you don’t have a website, your competitors have a big advantage over you!

Given the increased amount of time spent by consumers online, you can be assured that more small businesses are realigning their budgets to fund their websites. 

Your potential end-users are all searching for information on the Internet from their mobile devices. If you don’t have a URL, you’ll never be found. 

5. Level the Playing Field With the Big Boys

The Big Boys in Business – Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba – all made money during the pandemic. Likewise, other big companies that were in struggling industries such as Fender and Gibson guitars, earned record-setting revenues. 

They survived and made money because the Big Boys invested in e-commerce websites. Their customers were able to place orders safely and conveniently from their homes while on lockdown. 

A website will level the playing field with the Big Boys. If you’re a retailer of guitars but your products are priced competitively, you might drive customers away from Fender and toward your e-commerce website. 

If you’re a retailer of consumer goods and electronics of the same brands sold by Walmart or Amazon but have a wider selection of budget brands, more people may prefer to do business with you. 

Keep in mind that with the continued innovations in digital technology, more consumers will be dependent on their mobile devices to conduct research before purchasing. 

It’s no longer automatic for the Big Boys to generate a sale. In the end, consumers want more value for their money.

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6. Capitalize on Opportunities

Think about this scenario.

You’re in the business of making homemade jam, jellies, honey, and condiments that are sourced from local, indigenous materials. Someone comes across your website and sends you an inquiry – if you can export to the European market. 

These are opportunities that happen every day on the Internet because the businesses are discovered through their website. 

When you’re operating 24/7 in a market where close to 5 Billion people are constantly searching for information, engaging with businesses, and sharing opinions, opportunities will always exist. 

7. Find New Customers

If your business is located inside a mall or a commercial building, the bulk of your market will consist of consumers residing within a 5-mile radius. 

But if you’re on the Internet, there are no jurisdictions to worry about. Any consumer or business that has access to the Internet and has a need for your products and services can become your new customer.

On the  Internet, there are no barriers or walls or closing hours. Your marketing efforts will not be limited to a locality. Your digital marketing campaigns can reach a wider audience. 

You can reach customers who have not heard of your products. If they like what they’ve read or heard about your products, you have the potential of creating new customers in different markets. 

8. Professionalize Your Business

If you think having social media pages is enough to properly represent your business, the majority of your customers will disagree with you.

A survey by Verisign showed that 84% of consumers shared the opinion that a business with a website is more credible than a business with just social media. 

A website is a one-stop-shop for consumers who want to know more about your business and the products or services that you offer. The standard website has 5 web pages with each one having a specific function.

  • Home – Contains the Brand Value Proposition; “Why we offer the best solutions for your needs/concerns/problems”
  • About Us – Gives the visitor unique insights about the people behind the company; builds familiarity and confidence that there are real people running the business.
  • Products and Services – A virtual showroom of the products and services offered by the company. 
  • Blog – Provides the visitor with fresh, unique, and engaging content developed to highlight the expertise and value of the company.
  • Contact Us – Provides all the information needed to reach out and connect with the company. Your website will be fitted with buttons that can improve sales conversion and generate valuable leads you can use email marketing:
  • CTA Button – What do you want the visitor to do? “Buy Now – Click Here!”
  • Sign Up Button – Capture leads by enticing visitors to sign up for monthly newsletters in exchange for their email addresses. 
  • Social Sharing Buttons – Make it easier for site visitors to share your blogs on their social media pages.

9. Increase Customer Engagement

A website can also be used to increase customer engagement. Oftentimes, a customer might visit a website to address a particular issue. 

The customer will go to the “Contact Us” page which provides him with various means to get in touch with the company:

  • Phone Number
  • Fill-Out Form
  • Email Address
  • Chat Support

With a website, customers no longer have to be “put on hold”. They have different ways to relay their problem or concern.  If both phone and chat support have a queue, the customer can opt to send an email or fill out a form.

This is a great way of mollifying an irate customer! 

The next step is to address the concern within 24 to 48 hours. Even if you can’t arrive at a resolution, at the very least keep the customer informed and updated.

 10. Support Your Brick-and-Mortar Business

Another way to view the website is that it’s like having a second branch of your brick-and-mortar business. Only this time, it’s located on the Internet and not inside a commercial establishment. 

With a website, you have a second source of revenue. Customers who are located far from your business will have the option of buying online rather than be inconvenienced by the long drive. 

Your business website will remain open whether it’s snowing hard outside or if your city is experiencing inclement weather. 

In fact, if weather conditions are too risky to go out, you can keep your brick-and-mortar store closed and just direct customers to your website via multiple high traffic social media channels.

Conclusion

We can all agree on one thing.

Business today is more uncertain than ever. 

When faced with uncertainty, you need to have more options. A website will give your business multiple options that you can use to overcome the various challenges coming your way.

If there’s another lockdown or if people continue to prefer working from home, your website will give them the most convenient and easiest way to reach you. On your part, you continue to generate income for your business.

Promote your products via social media but give your followers a venue they can visit to learn more about your business – the website – where you can generate leads, build an audience, and potentially convert interest into sales. 

Assure your customers that you’re concerned about their satisfaction and value their opinions by creating multiple points of contact between you and them through your website. 

If 2020 was a disappointing year for you, let 2021 be the turnaround year. 

Get a website for your business right now!

Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll set up a mobile-responsive and optimized website for your business. We can do different types of websites to suit your business needs. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

Many people couldn’t wait for the year 2020 to be over. 2021 seemed like a breath of fresh air; as if everyone had woken up after the nightmare that was 2020. The reality is January 1, 2021, was just 24 hours removed from December 31, 2020. The situation has not changed. The world is still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. And it’s for that reason, that 2021 is a good – no, great year – to start a business. 

From Pandemic To Endemic?

Toward the end of 2020, pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to have their proprietary vaccines available in the market. The vaccines represent some measure of hope that life could go back to normal once people are inoculated. 

However, early reports from scientists appear to hint that there’s no going back to the “Old Normal”. 

Even after you’ve been vaccinated, you still have to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and observe good hygiene when in public places. Offices will not run in full capacity. The threat of lockdowns will always be there. 

Scientists from the UK believe the pandemic will eventually become endemic or a part of life much like the flu.  

If the new normal will just become “The Normal” – then there’s no reason to stop and not pursue your dream of starting a business. You will just have to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior. 

People will continue to have needs. And consumer needs will open up new markets of opportunity. 

Our Fearless Forecast For 2021

“In the midst of every great crisis, lies great opportunity.”

  • Albert Einstein

The lockdowns that ensued after the COVID-19 spread was declared a global pandemic triggered recessions all over the world. Several businesses closed down and never recovered after the economy reopened. Billions of people around the world lost their jobs. 

As we discussed earlier, having the vaccines available will not significantly change how we live or work. Life, as we knew it in the New Normal, will continue. 

And so should your pursuit of your entrepreneurial dreams!

Rather than give up or wait for a more opportune time – we recommend integrating digital technology into your business model. 

The importance of a business having a digital component was highlighted by the pandemic. The businesses that survived and even thrived during the lockdown period were the ones that already had digital systems in place and an online presence. 

Businesses going digital is a phenomenon that won’t stop anytime soon – not in the next 4-5 years. The world was trending toward digital as far back as 2015, the pandemic just accelerated it. 

Digital is the way to go and it forms the backbone of our fearless forecasts for 2021:

1. Greater Demand for Mobile Responsive Websites

Mobile devices accounted for 60% of online traffic in 2014. Yet, as of 2019, only 36% of small businesses had a website. 

We believe there will be greater demand for mobile responsive websites because the pandemic has significantly changed the online behavior of consumers.

A report from Statista on the effects of the pandemic on online traffic revealed the following:

  • A month-to-month increase in online traffic of 7%.
  • An 8.3% increase in the number of online transactions.
  • A 1% increase in the number of sales conversions.

The numbers may not sound impressive – but take note – this is on a global scale. A 1% increase in sales conversions could mean billions of dollars for a country. 

The data was corroborated by the following tech companies that experienced increases in usage:

  • Verizon – 75%
  • T-Mobile – 45%
  • Facebook – 70%
  • Marqeta – 82%

The website is your business address on the Internet. That’s where people will go to find your products and services. The website becomes your one-stop destination for people who are looking for information and solutions. 

But it has to be mobile-responsive. If you don’t have one or if your current website is not mobile-responsive, give us a call and we’ll get you started.

2. Digital Marketing Will Be the Difference-Maker

A study by global advisory company FTI Consulting Incorporated estimated that U.S. e-commerce retail enjoyed a US$71 Billion windfall in 2020 as more consumers shifted toward Internet-based shopping. 

Of course, the shift in shopping behavior was greatly influenced by fears of contracting COVID-19. 

We expect the upward trend to continue as COVID-19 remains a health concern for consumers over the next few years. 

With more businesses expected to integrate Internet-based systems, the battle for market share may come down to which company has a more effective digital marketing strategy. 

The reason for the strong shift toward digital marketing is the process’s ability to target an audience. With targeted marketing, you’re able to maximize your budget by attracting segments with the highest probability of buying your products and services.

Digital marketing also provides you with analytics – real-time data that measures how your strategies are working. Through analytics, you can identify the strategies that are delivering consistent results so you can allocate more resources and maximize the return on investment. 

When COVID-19 hit, many businesses cut down budgets for paid advertising and traditional marketing strategies such as TV ads and print ads.  

As the economy slowly opens up to life under the new normal, businesses will prefer to utilize more cost-effective processes such as Digital Marketing. This viewpoint is echoed by the consulting agency, Kantar. 

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3. Demand for e-Commerce Services and Apps Will Increase

As we mentioned in the previous section, the U.S. e-commerce industry benefited from the lockdown measures. 

In our opinion, the availability of the vaccine will not significantly affect the upward trajectory of the e-commerce industry. There might be a slowdown but consumers have adapted to the home-based lifestyle. 

The continued increase in the number of mobile users, as well as patronage for mobile services, supports our contention that demand for e-commerce platforms and apps will grow over the next few years.

Sensor Tower, an app intelligence and data collection company forecast that global spending for apps will hit US$171 Billion in 2024 or more than twice the US$85 Billion spent on apps in 2019 – worldwide.

What this tells us is that businesses are evolving and adapting to COVID-19 by using digital technology as its new environment.

4. The Freelance Economy Will Boom

Offices and businesses are slowly opening for business and this has given people some semblance of normalcy. However, it’s still widely mandated for offices and businesses to observe social distancing by operating their physical locations at only 30% capacity.

Businesses cannot function properly with manpower down to only 30%. The best option has been for businesses to tap into the freelance economy – remote workers who are contracted to manage select tasks and functions. 

Freelancers are individuals who have decided to monetize their specific skill sets by offering their services to companies that prefer to hire talent on a contractual basis or those who are amenable to flexible scheduling. 

Under a contractual work or flexible scheduling arrangement, companies can reduce labor costs and increase productive hours. 

A report by the largest online freelance platform, UpWork, confirmed that many businesses have recognized the value of freelancers. 

According to UpWork, the freelancers contributed US$1.2 Trillion to the U.S. economy during the pandemic. The demand for freelancers has led to more young, qualified, and highly-skilled professionals changing careers from 9-to-5 office workers to remote workers. 

Hiring freelancers isn’t the only remote option for businesses. 

You can set up your own team of remote workers composed of your current employees. Instead of calling them freelancers, office employees who work from home are called telecommuters. 

The advantage of setting up a telecommuting arrangement in your company is that you don’t have to spend time and resources training them. 

As current employees, they know their job and have already been indoctrinated into your company culture. Generally, employees are happier working from home and are more productive. 

5. Products and Services That Improve Home Life Will Be in Demand

Now that many people work from home, they want to make sure the environment is conducive for productivity. Since they’re spending more time at home, they start to notice things that could affect work from home lifestyle. 

For example, pests. 

If the home is infested with pests such as cockroaches, ants, flies, and mosquitos it makes working from home very difficult. Of course, disinfection remains a top priority. If you frequently receive guests, you want to be sure your home is COVID-19 free when they leave. 

For these reasons, the pest control and disinfection industry have been booming since the lockdowns. More homes – and offices – are having their areas disinfected and sanitized by professional service providers. 

Delivery services will continue to thrive over the next few years as people remain wary of their safety. Expect more food retailers and supermarkets to invest heavily in arranging for home delivery services.

Conclusion – How To Approach Business Planning For 2021

Our fearless forecast for 2021 didn’t just give you a snapshot of what we believe are business trends this year. We presented business ideas where there might be opportunities for you to start an enterprise. 

The global pandemic changed life and work as we know it. To survive, you have to acknowledge that despite the promise of a vaccine, the future still remains uncertain. To thrive, you have to change your perspective about uncertainty. 

Instead of viewing uncertainty as risky, view it as an opportunity. After all, there’s no such business that carries no risk. 

How should you approach business planning for 2021?

  • Conduct Research. In addition to our inputs, conduct research and try to uncover other trends that are developing at the time of the new normal.
  • Learn To Work Past Your Comfort Zone. If the idea of running an online or Internet-based business makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. But you have to work past your comfort zone because digital is the current reality. Build up your knowledge about technology and test a number of apps that you can use for your business.
  • Measure Risk and Reward. Truthfully, there’s no difference between business planning for an online model and a brick-and-mortar model. You still have to measure the risks and the rewards to come up with courses of action and entry/exit strategies. 
  • Be Open to Outsourcing. As your business grows, you’ll have to scale up in order to accommodate increasing demand. The best option for online businesses is to outsource work to remote employees such as freelancers and virtual assistants. For sure, you’ll save more money but you have to take time when it comes to selecting and hiring remote talent. 

Let’s move past calling the time we live in as the “new normal” and just accept it as the normal. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. Having a fresh perspective on the present will help you build a successful future. 

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Like everyone else around the world, you’re probably reading this article while quarantined at home to keep you safe from the coronavirus. It’s great to have more time with the family but work stoppages and businesses shutting down during the quarantine period is not good for your financial health.

Even if the quarantine period is lifted, there’s a possibility it might get imposed again. Until such time that a cure or a vaccine is found, getting quarantined periodically might be the new normal.

That means more interruptions in the flow of your income. 

Now, that doesn’t have to be the new normal! Just because you’re quarantined doesn’t mean your ability to earn money is. 

If you’ve always dreamt about starting a business while staring outside the window of your office cubicle, now is the best time to turn that dream into reality. 

Here are 10 online businesses that you can start from home RIGHT NOW!

1. E-Commerce/Online Retail

E-commerce is a growing industry

From a US $1.3 Trillion industry, e-Commerce has boomed into a US $4.2 Trillion industry and is expected to hit US $6.5 Trillion in 2023.

We’re talking global numbers here. 

In the United States, e-Commerce now accounts for 11.2% of total retail sales. Six years ago, the number was only 4.2%.

As more people continue to depend on mobile technology to manage their needs for work and life, e-commerce will continue to grow. 

Certainly, it is not too late for you to start an e-commerce business!

Of course, you’ll need products or services to sell. The most purchased products online include fashion apparel, smartwatches, jewelry, exercise equipment, and things for your pet. 

You’ll need to source suppliers or vendors. Another option is to get into dropshipping where you offer to sell the products of the manufacturer and earn a commission. The manufacturer will take care of the shipping.

For sure, you will need an e-commerce website to showcase the products you will be selling. 

The benefits of having an e-commerce website for your business will be the subject of another blog. For now, if you want to learn more about an e-commerce website, give us a call. 

Let’s schedule an online meeting and we’ll take you through the process!

2. Online Tutorial

“How to play guitar”

“How to speak Spanish”

“How to make your own video game”

People are constantly searching online for courses on how to learn new skills or how to get better at their hobbies and interests. 

If you are considered an expert or certified to teach a specific skill, why not monetize your passion and create a course about it online? 

Promote your courses on social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Give examples of what you can do or offer limited-time only free lessons so people can get an idea of what your courses are about. 

For example, on YouTube, musicians give free lessons. If you want more in-depth instruction, click on the link and sign up for personalized courses on the website. 

3. Consultancy Services

As you know, the global quarantine period affected many businesses. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the month-long quarantine could cost the global economy $1 to $2 Trillion. 

Business owners, CEOs, and top-level executives are thinking of ways to recover and get back on the road to profitability once the quarantine period is lifted. However, unless a vaccine or cure is found, the business sector will remain at risk of undergoing periodic quarantine. 

If you’ve accumulated decades of business success, maybe it’s time for you to leverage your work experience and help these industries recover by starting an online consultancy business. 

You need to put up a website with a powerful and compelling BVP or Brand Value Proposition on the Home Page. Your BVP should hook the interest of the visitor within 6 seconds.

Get testimonials from clients who benefited from your expertise. You can display the testimonials on the Home Page or the Services Page. 

Finally, blog eight to 12 times a month to improve your visibility. In fact, before going live, your blog page should have 4 to 6 articles published.

Then, heavily promote your business consultancy website on social media. Reach out to your network and let them know you have a consultancy business that can help them get back on track. 

4. Affiliate Marketing

Another way to start an e-commerce business is to simply promote and sell the products of other businesses on your website. This is called Affiliate Marketing and if you’re good, you can expect to receive checks worth thousands of dollars in the mail every month!

Let’s say you decided to offer guitar lessons online. It will take time to create high-quality videos on learning basic chord shapes and progressions. 

In the meantime, you can reach out to other online music businesses and ask if you can sell their products – string cleaners, strings, picks – on your website. You can mention the products in blogs such as “How to Choose the Best Strings for Your Guitar” or “Flatpick or Fingerstyle – Which One is For You?”

Many online businesses start out as affiliate marketers because it takes time to create their own products and services. Meanwhile, they continue to blog to improve their reputation and attract more followers. Affiliate marketing gives them an opportunity to make money while the products are being produced. 

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5. Membership Site

A Membership Site is a website that gives subscribers – your members – access to unique content, training tools, and other materials of value every month for a fee. 

This is a wonderful feature that you can include on your website if you are offering online instruction or business consulting services. 

For example, if you are a business consultant, the membership fee can include one-on-one consultation once-a-week for the entire month. You can offer the same benefit if you offer online instruction. 

If you provide good service that delivers results for your clients, the membership site can generate months of recurring income for your business. 

6. Digital Marketing

With the quarantine, people are cooped up in their homes where the daily commute has been replaced by trips to the kitchen from the bedroom. To stave off boredom, many are resorting to Netflix, Facebook or YouTube.

Whatever you decide to do to waste away the time, you will notice the undeniable presence of digital marketing. 

Online content is everywhere!

If you did not catch on then, hopefully, the quarantine period has made you realize the value of digital marketing. Consumers will see your marketing content and ads whenever they are online, which is estimated to be 6 hours per day!

Starting a digital marketing website is perfect for those with experience in this field. Certification is a big plus but not necessary. What is important is to have good knowledge of the following processes:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Writing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Link Building
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

As a Digital Marketer, you don’t have to do everything. Assemble a team of remote workers who have these skills. Network for clients via social media and online platforms such as UpWork and Freelancer or go through your contacts list. You could also find lists similar to this that include Web Design Companies.

7. Freelance Services

Similar to Digital Marketing, if you have a specific skill that you are really proficient at, monetize it by offering freelance services.

All you have to do is create an online profile on a freelancer website. Upwork, Freelancer, Guru, Fiverr, People Per Hour, and Toptal are among the most popularly used. 

Once your online profile is set, you can start bidding on projects that are posted by clients. 

As a first-time freelancer, it might take some time before you can sign up your first client. Look at it as a numbers-game but take a conservative position.

For example, if you want to sign up 1 client, assume that your success rate will be a low 2%. Therefore, to sign up 1 client you have to bid for 50 projects per month or:

1 client / 0.02 success rate = 50 project bids per month or 2 project bids per day

It’s not easy to bid for projects! Read the job ad very carefully and bid only on those projects where you are confident of your qualifications.

8. Personal Training Services

An estimated 23% of the United States’ population gets regular exercise according to a report published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We expect more people to exercise regularly once the quarantine is lifted.

Without a cure or a vaccine, doctors and scientists have suggested that a strong immune system will help give you a better chance of fighting off the coronavirus. Exercise is one of the most effective ways of strengthening your immune system. 

Even if gyms and fitness centers reopen, people will remain wary of patronizing establishments where social distancing is improbable. Also, gym equipment has been known to harbor different types of bacteria.

If you are a certified Personal Trainer or someone who is particularly skilled in an activity or sport, you may want to consider starting an online Personal Training business. 

It will take some time to have high-quality video content produced for your personal training website. In the meantime, why not take videos of your home quarantine workouts and post them on social media? 

Let your community know that you can provide online fitness consultation and create personalized exercise programs for them. 

9. Homemade Products

Are you an amazing cook? Do people know of your ability to bake delicious cakes and cookies? Can you make elegant jewelry or design unique, eye-catching t-shirts? 

Now, is the time to fully-explore your talents!

You have a captive market – the community where you are quarantined. In some areas, you cannot travel past your town or city. People can only leave home at certain hours to replenish supplies. 

Having special treats once in a while will help them bring a sense of normalcy. 

Post your delivery service on social media. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are excellent social media networks to use for image-heavy products. 

If possible, distribute samples door-to-door. Don’t forget to include information about your contact number and delivery hours.

Who knows? Maybe after the quarantine period, your sideline can become a good source of income. 

10. Graphic Design 

If you have an eye for design and a good feel for software programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, and Affinity Designer, start an online business offering graphic design services. 

Every day, entrepreneurs are working on new business ideas. They will need logos for branding purposes and images for their websites and social media presence. 

Put up a website with a portfolio page or “Showroom” that highlights your designs. Promote your services through social media and reach out directly to your business contacts. 

You can also bid for projects at online freelance platforms that cater specifically to graphic designers such as Fiverr, 99Designs, UpWork, Freelancer.com, and Behance.

Conclusion

We believe that you should only worry about the things you can control. You can’t control the coronavirus or the onset of other unforeseen events. However, you can control or at least manage, your financial well-being. 

If the quarantine taught us anything, it is to value what we have – family, health, and our jobs. Hopefully, the newfound appreciation will help us realize that nothing is set in stone. Work and life remain intertwined in that what affects one affects the other.

To protect life, we must ensure that our work or means of livelihood is covered. If you’re employed, your stream of earnings will be affected by work stoppages. 

By starting your home-based online business, you open another stream where new revenues can flow through. 

While there is no vaccine to protect you from the coronavirus, an online business will immunize your finances from future periods of quarantine. 

Do you have other ideas for an online business that you can start now? Please share in the comments section. 

And if you need help in getting a website up for your online business, give us a call or an email. We’ll set up a video conference call and take you through the process of web design. 

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community!

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As the old saying goes, “a man’s home is his castle” but what if the castle is about to house a place for work? 

Working from home is a great opportunity to build a career that affords you work-life balance. However, if you’re not careful, the balance could be tipped in favor of work and disrupt home life. 

Here are 10 tips that will allow you to productively work from home without turning the roof under your head into your old brick-and-mortar office.                                            

1. Don’t Work From Your Bed

Just because you are working from home does not mean you can work anywhere. There are areas in your home that can and will inhibit productivity. One of them is the bedroom. This isn’t just an opinion; the reason is supported by research.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University believes that working from the bed will weaken the mental association between sleep and your bedroom. 

According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, working with computers before bedtime will reduce the amount of melatonin that you produce. Melatonin is a hormone that influences your Circadian or sleep/wake cycle. 

The bedroom is for sleep and relaxation. To ensure a good night’s sleep, keep computers and other devices off the bedroom’s premises.

2. Stay On A Consistent Schedule

One of the perks of working from home is that you get to set your work schedule. You don’t have to follow a 9-to-5 or a 6 – 8-hour work schedule because you have the benefit of having flexible hours. 

Plan your schedule one week ahead. If you have family obligations – your daughter’s piano recital, your son’s soccer game, picking up a relative from the airport – mark them on the calendar. Then, plan your work schedule around them. 

Another option is to find the hours of the day where you are most productive. Oftentimes, these are the hours after you have taken care of the day’s other activities such as taking the kids to school or attending to banking duties.

The most important thing is to stay on a consistent schedule whether it is 9-to-5, 6 am to 12 pm or 1 pm to 7 pm. 

By doing so, you are dedicating time to get actual work done. You will be more focused and committed to accomplishing the day’s tasks. 

3. A Home Is Still A Home – Dedicate A Space For Work

The bedroom is not the only area in the house that you shouldn’t work from. 

Here are a few more areas that you should not set up office:

  • Living Room – You might get tempted to lounge around your comfortable sofa or watch the latest Netflix movie.
  • Kitchen – The refrigerator, oven, microwave, and cupboards are just a step away. Not only will you lose productive hours but you will gain excess weight.
  • The Family or Recreation Room – Ping-pong table? Dartboard? Billiards table? Pinball machine? Video games? These are great activities to do with the family but 100% detrimental to work.

If you are committed to building a work from home business, then dedicate a space for work.

  • Buy high-quality furniture
  • Buy a computer that is set up only for work.
  • Give it the look and feel of an office – wall clock, filing cabinet, and whiteboard. More on the whiteboard later!

Keep the home office off-limits to everyone during work hours. 

4. Use A Task Management Software

To be more productive, embrace technology. Integrate a few digital tools into the workflow to help organize tasks and stay on top of deadlines. 

You can find many wonderful software programs on the Internet that are very effective and come with a free version. At Mountaintop, Asana is our preferred task management software. 

Asana is easy to use and has features that make it the ideal tool for collaborating with remote teams. Every time a project is posted or completed, an email notification is sent to designated team members.

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5. Install A Whiteboard In The Office

The whiteboard is an old school office fixture that is simple, basic, and yet, continues to significantly contribute to productivity in this day and age of apps and smart technology.

Research has proven that writing with pen on paper improves cognition and helps establish a stronger connection between you and the task compared to typing on a keypad. The same can be said when writing on a whiteboard. 

Before ending the workday, write your goals for the following day on the whiteboard. There will be no guesswork. When the alarm goes off and after you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you know exactly what you’re going to do. 

Upon entering the home office, the whiteboard will be the first thing you’ll see. It will seem that your built-in laser sight has been triggered and you can’t wait to zero in and complete your targeted goal.

6. Remove All Forms Of Distraction

Once you’ve set up your home office with the right furniture, a spacious workstation, and the latest computer, there is still one thing left to do.

Remove all forms of distraction which include your mobile phone, video game portable console, social media, and other websites that have no relevance to your work. 

Unless there is a scheduled audio-visual call, we suggest closing Skype. Oftentimes, your contacts will send you messages. Most of these messages could just be personal in nature.

The constant blinking that notifies you of these messages can be a source of distraction. 

As we suggested earlier, the home office should be a no-entry zone during work hours. Unless it is an emergency, ask your family and friends to refrain from knocking on the door. 

7. Update Your Tasks As Needed

Even if you’ve written down the day’s goals the night before, don’t hesitate to change or update your tasks as needed. 

Business is unpredictable. 

For example, a client may request that you prioritize a project because he has a very tight schedule. It is also possible that a client whose project you designated as “Priority Number One” will ask you to put off additional work until further notice. 

Remember that one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you don’t have a boss because you are the boss. You call the shots and that means you have full control over your work schedule. 

Yes, write down your tasks/goals the night before but adapt a flexible work schedule.

8. Don’t Work In Your Pajamas

It may feel nice to get out of bed and go straight to your home office but what you wear can affect how you work.

For one, dressing in office clothes will set the tone for the day. Similar to why you should not work from your bed, dressing up creates the proper mental association – pajamas are for sleeping, office clothes are for working. 

You don’t have to put on a tie or a dress suit. Wear something informal but appropriate enough for a Skype audio-visual call with a client or your remote team.

9. Exercise During Breaktime

Sitting for long periods may lead to chronic pain or discomfort on your back, shoulders, and neck. Working on the computer for long stretches can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. 

You need to get the blood circulation moving from time-to-time. If you spend 90 minutes working on a task, take a 30-minute break after and use the time to do some light exercise and stretching. 

You don’t have to go to the gym or change into your workout clothes. Perform sets of 10 repetitions of squats, pushups, and situps. Get in a quick 10-minute yoga or Pilates session. 

10. Use An Alarm Clock Or A Timer

Sometimes we get so engrossed in what we’re doing that we lose track of time. An alarm clock will be your constant reminder that “time’s up!”

Productivity is all about quality work. It’s not about the number of hours spent but how you spend those hours. 

You should also remember a very important reason why you made the decision to work from home – so you can spend more time with your family. 

Once the day’s work hours have been completed, shut off the home office PC then change from your office clothes to your stay-at-home clothes. 

Conclusion

Over the next few years, expect more people to work from home. As an entrepreneur, you save up on rent, avoid the inconvenience of the daily commute, and become more productive. However, your home should still feel like home. 

Think back to the time when you worked 9-to-5 in a traditional office. When work became stressful, you couldn’t wait for the clock to strike five so you can head out the door and drive to the waiting and loving arms of your home. 

You wouldn’t want your home to be a place for stress. It will affect your relationships with family and defeat the purpose of working from home. 

Do you have other tips that will improve productivity for those who work from home? Please share them in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to have similar content for your website, please give us a call or an email. We’re more than just a website design and development company. Our digital marketing program can help bring your business to the next level.

And feel free to share this article with your community!

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The idea of working from home is very appealing. Imagine not having to deal with the inconveniences of the commute – the traffic, looking for a parking space, errant drivers, just to name a few. 

You get to manage your work schedule and streamline your expenses. All of that plus the opportunity to become financially independent.

The transition from a 9-to-5 office environment to a work from home lifestyle is not as easy as you might think.

There are days that you wake up to an empty home and the silence can be deafening. Not having co-workers around or experiencing the hustle and bustle of a busy office will take some time to adjust.

Then, there are the unforeseen events that can disrupt the natural flow of work and life such as the coronavirus pandemic. 

10 Ways To Stay Productive And Remain Positive While Working From Home

Although the coronavirus or Covid-19 had been under the microscope of many leading scientists around the world, the outbreak happened faster than expected and spread far and wide.

It seemed that overnight, our lives were turned upside down. Across the world, people had to practice social distancing and were mandated  by their respective governments to self-quarantine. 

Even if you were working from home at the time the quarantine took effect, you, like many around the world, must have been thinking, “life will never be the same again.”

In addition to the usual challenges of managing projects while working at home and dealing with disruptors such as technical latency issues, now with the virus, we had something new – something we’ve never dealt with –  to worry about. 

Work and life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean you should allow the situation to affect your productivity and positivity. 

It’s a global pandemic – yes – but not the end of the world!

Here are 10 ways you can stay productive and remain positive while working from home.

1. Remain Optimistic, Search for Opportunities

If you own a business that was affected by the lockdown, use the month-long quarantine period to search for opportunities. Perhaps the quarantine is a sign for you to adapt to an Internet-based business model. 

Think about it. The businesses that continued to operate during the lockdown were the ones with an online presence. 

These businesses either had a telecommuting program in place or set up a global remote team composed of virtual assistants and freelancers.  

Despite the situation, remain optimistic. Visionaries are those who find opportunities during times of chaos. 

2. Focus on the Solution – Not the Problem

Did you experience a power outage while in the middle of an important Skype call with a client?

Send an email to the client from your smartphone. Explain what just happened and inform him that you will be heading out to the nearest Internet shop to continue the Skype call.

The client may get back to you and suggest that the call be rescheduled tomorrow. At any rate, the client will appreciate your immediate attention to the problem.

When we’re in a difficult situation, we tend to spend more time focusing on the problem instead of finding solutions. Problems trigger powerful emotions such as despair, frustration, and anger, all of which drain us of much-needed energy.

That’s why the more you dwell on problems the worse they become because you are feeding them with your energy. 

To get out of a difficult situation, focus your energies toward finding solutions. The more time you spend formulating, testing, and evaluating courses of action, the sooner you can find resolution and move on to more productive endeavors.

3. Practice Effective Time Management

It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home. There are so many distractions – the couch, TV, social media, the kitchen, and your pet. Put them all aside by creating – and committing – to a work schedule.

Effective time management starts the night before. Summarize your tasks and arrange them according to the degree of importance. Pick out no more than 3 key tasks and prioritize them for the following day.

Dedicate 90 minutes of 100%, full and undivided attention to each task. Once the time period has been completed, take a 20-30 minute break to recharge. 

Managing your hours in a day will help you become productive. And when you’re able to accomplish many tasks, you develop a positive attitude. 

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4. Create a Productive and Positive Workspace

Your workplace does not have to be your “Happy Place” but it should be conducive to productivity and encourage a positive attitude. 

Here are 6 tips to help you create a productive and positive workplace:

  • Keep your workplace clean and organized.
  • Buy a comfortable chair. 
  • Use a spacious table.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Post positive and inspiring messages in select areas.
  • Make sure you have a nice view of the outdoors. 

Lastly, dress for work! Nothing too formal – a neat dress shirt and slacks will be fine. Wearing office clothes will put you in the right mood and frame of mind for work. 

5. Stay in Touch with Your Value Chain

Are you working with a remote team? Stay in touch with them from time to time. Don’t just talk about work. Find out how things are going at home and with the family. 

Touch base with your clients. How are they coping with the quarantine? Is everyone in their household in good health? 

The success of a home-based business isn’t just measured by dollars and cents. For the greater part, success is measured by the number of long-term relationships you were able to build. 

It’s great having a reputation for being productive and a consistent provider of high-quality products and services. But being remembered as someone who constantly exuded a positive attitude will help you maintain clients for the rest of your career.

6. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good. That’s why exercise is popularly recommended by doctors to people who are suffering from depression.

Regular exercise strengthens your body and its immune system. It keeps your energy levels up and gives you the confidence to overcome difficult situations. 

It will be great to work out in a gym but you can get good exercise at home:

  • Do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, and sit-ups.
  • If you have stairs, walk up and down the steps for 10 minutes. 
  • Take a 10-minute walk outside your house. 
  • Lay down a mat and do Yoga or Pilates.

You can set up a small home gym with a jump rope, resistance bands, a yoga mat, a few dumbbells, and a stability ball. 

You don’t have to train like “The Rock” to get fit – just keep moving!

7. Eat Healthy and Well

Eating pizza “with the works” might make you feel good but as soon as the food settles, you’ll regret having that extra slice. 

Starchy carbohydrates will get your blood sugar levels hitting highs and lows throughout the day that will make you feel sluggish. As your body struggles to digest all that fat from the cheese and processed meat, you’ll feel tired. 

Instead of choosing processed food, opt for natural sources of macronutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. They have fewer calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and easier to digest. 

You will have fewer mood swings and more energy throughout the day. Likewise, eating vitamin-rich foods will help strengthen your immune system. 

8. Get Enough Sleep

If you’ve been exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, the third component of a fit lifestyle is to get enough sleep – at least seven hours every night. 

Recall the last time you got poor quality sleep. 

  • How did you perform at work? 
  • Were you sluggish? 
  • Were you able to focus on your tasks? 
  • How many tasks were you able to finish?

The health benefits of a good night’s sleep have been well studied and documented. Getting less than the recommended hours of sleep will affect all aspects of your health – physical, mental, and emotional. 

Here are a few tips on how to get good quality sleep every night:

  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime
  • Shut off all computer devices including your smartphone two hours before bedtime
  • Don’t work on tasks one hour before bedtime
  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach

As much as possible, avoid taking sleeping pills and other types of sleep medication. Try meditation or going through deep breathing exercises.

9. Avoid Contact with Toxic People

Toxic people will complain about anything and everything. They bring negative energy wherever they go. Being around toxic people will stress you out and drain you of positive energy.

Can you encounter toxic people while working from home? Yes! Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. No one’s perfect; some of your family members may have acquired the toxic gene. 

Another place where toxic people thrive is social media. How many of your “friends” on Facebook rant on a daily – or hourly – basis? 

To stay productive and positive, avoid contact with toxic people. Follow our earlier advice – practice effective time management. Let’s add a corollary to that one – keep your office locked during work hours.

Limit your time on social media. These networks can be a great source of information but they can be powerful productivity and positivity disruptors as well. 

10. Look for Inspiration

Sometimes a moment of inspiration can give you a better jolt than a double espresso. 

There will be days when you feel that you’re not up to the task. Distractions may have gotten the best of you or perhaps all the white noise has drowned out the remaining voice of reason. 

When you start questioning the purpose – the “why” of working from home – look for a source of inspiration that can get you back on the straight and narrow. 

You can find inspiration anywhere – a book, a song, a phrase, the great outdoors or from your family. Use that inspiration to reconnect with your purpose and serve as a reminder of what makes you get up every morning to seize the day.

Conclusion

The coronavirus added another layer in our quest to achieve work and life balance. 

  • “Are quarantines and lockdowns the ‘new normal’?”
  • “How will this affect my family and work and for how long?”
  • “Can we ever go back to normal – the ‘old normal’?”

Such negative thoughts become the white noise that keep us awake at night and affect our performance at work. Many go through periods of mental stress and emotional distress. 

Collectively, these are conditions that cultivate an environment of negativity,  pessimism, and unproductivity. 

You don’t want that.

Your family doesn’t want that.

Your customers and clients don’t want that.

You should only focus on the things you can manage – work, family, and your health. You remain accountable to them and thus, should find ways to stay productive at work and remain positive for your family and yourself.

Do you have any tips to share about staying productive and positive that were not covered by this article? Please share them in our comments section. 

And if you need assistance in getting your online business off and running, give us a call or drop us an email. We offer web design and digital marketing services that will help grow your business.

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There was a time when we were obsessed with getting as little sleep as possible.

We’d brag with “I only slept five hours last night” or “I only got four hours on Monday” like it was something to be proud of: a genuine achievement we could boast about to our peers. We’d wear it as proudly as any other badge of honor.

Luckily for our collective sanity, we are slowly starting to realize the importance of sleep. Not only that, but we’re also shifting our focus to living a balanced life, as opposed to killing ourselves on the job and sacrificing as much as we humanly can. Finally, we’re putting our wellbeing if not first, at least in the top three.

Let’s explore why sleep is so intricately tied to success, and how you can work on yours.

Sleep Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Not that bouncing back from a heart attack wouldn’t be a great achievement – but clearly, forgoing the emergency room is simply common sense.

A major risk factor of heart disease and stroke is high blood pressure. Sleep helps our bodies keep it in check and regulate it better, lowering the risk of heart disease and its unpleasant complications.

Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

Getting enough sleep is a prerequisite to fighting off all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to major inflammations and more serious diseases.

When our bodies are under constant strain, they will not be as good at preventing diseases and injuries as they otherwise would. Each night, we have to give them the time they need to repair and recover from what we have inflicted on them during the day.

Considering the fact that illness-related productivity drops have cost US businesses $530 billion a couple of years ago, the link between health, productivity, and success are clear to see.

Sleep and Mental Health are Profoundly Connected

Depression and anxiety are more prevalent today than ever before in the history of humankind. And while we have yet to understand either of these mental challenges fully, what we do know is that not getting enough sleep can intensify their symptoms and make coping all that more difficult.

When we are under constant stress (as we are), exposed to countless stimuli, and when our minds don’t have enough time to process everything that’s going on around them, we start to get more irritable, we lose our focus, and our moods tend to suffer.

Sleep Boosts Productivity

How much sleep you get is in direct proportion with how productive and focused you can be during the day.

Of course, it’s not the only factor that plays a key role, but it is among the more important ones.

Losing just a single night’s sleep will make your response rates 50% lower than someone who has a 0.1% blood alcohol level.

And thus begins a vicious circle. If you are less productive, you’ll want to make up for the unfinished tasks by staying at work longer. That will, in turn, mean you don’t get enough sleep again, and so on.

This will lead to all kinds of unpleasant consequences. Your mood will deteriorate, you will begin to worry more, your attention spans will shorten, and you won’t be able to rest even when you do get to bed.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

Sleeping well is not just about sleeping for a certain number of hours. Sleep quality is also very important, as our brains truly get to rest only when we fall into deep sleep.

Here’s what you can do to help it get there:

  • Invest in a quality mattress that will help your body rest better.  
  • Maintain a sleep schedule. Regardless of what day of the week dit is, sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time.
  • Stop looking at a screen (including your phone) at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Read a book or meditate before going to bed, as opposed to engaging with technology.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-aired at all times, as temperatures and air quality have a large influence on how you sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed if you can help it.
  • Listen to relaxing music or sleep stories if you need help falling asleep.

While it may take some time to get used to, practicing good sleep hygiene will slowly get you into the right rhythm, and you will fall asleep more easily.

Wrap Up

Instead of trying to do more and sleep less, focus on getting enough sleep so that you will be able to do more. A well-rested and relaxed mind will be much better at performing all kinds of tasks. It will be more creative, more productive, and a much more pleasant space to occupy.