Protect and Improve Your Business Credit Score

Protect and Improve Your Business Credit Score

When you own a business, there will inevitably come a time when you need to access credit. Whether it’s because you need to invest in new equipment or you want to expand, being able to borrow money can mean the difference between reaching your goals or struggling to get by.

While there are several additional options for getting the necessary funds for your business, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about your business credit history and score.

In fact, protecting and improving your business’ credit report should be a top priority. Even if you are just operating a small enterprise out of a spare bedroom, the way you manage credit is still important. In fact, even just an average score can cost your business thousands of dollars over time. To ensure you not only qualify for loans and credit when you need them – and that you get the best possible rates – consider these strategies.

1. Establish Your Business Officially

By incorporating your business as an LLC or C-Corp, and then setting up all accounts in that name, is smart business for several reasons. Establishing yourself as an “official” business entity via an LLC gives you more flexibility with your taxes (although not necessarily tax breaks) and does limit your own liability should the business be sued or go bankrupt.

In terms of getting credit, establishing your business as an LLC or C-Corp allows the business to stand on its own (meaning that your personal credit history is not considered when you apply for a loan) and tells lenders that you are a “serious” business.

It seems like a small thing, but lenders want to know that you are a real business. Therefore, establishing your enterprise as a legal business entity with its own tax ID number – as well as creating a professional image with a descriptive and thorough website – presents an image of credibility and stability.

2. Pay Your Bills

It seems simple, but paying your bills on time, every time, is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score. In fact, paying bills early is even more beneficial, as it indicates that you don’t carry balances and have good money management skills – not to mention it can save your business money in excess fees and interest.

That being said, if you rely on customers to pay invoices to maintain cash flow, paying your bills can be challenging. If cash flow is an issue, consider using alternative forms of financing such as factoring receivables to ensure that your bills are paid on time and in full. You don’t need a long credit history to qualify for factoring, and the upfront cash can help maintain your company’s good standing with the credit bureaus.

3. Manage Accounts Well

Paying on time is an important factor in your credit score, but it’s not the only factor. Credit utilization is also important. Ideally, you should aim to use less than 30 percent of your available credit. The more credit you use – and the higher your balances – the lower your credit score.

Again, factoring your invoices can help reduce utilization and keep your score high. It’s also helpful to keep all your accounts open, even if you don’t use them. Closing accounts that you don’t use reduces the overall amount of available credit, and subsequently increases your overall utilization. Instead, keep accounts open – and consider using them occasionally and paying off balances immediately – to boost your score.

business credit score

4. Be Diligent About Monitoring Your Report

Studies show that an inordinate number of credit reports – nearly 80 percent – contain errors, with almost a quarter of all errors severe enough to render you ineligible for credit entirely.

Carefully monitor your credit report by requesting copies annually, and subscribing to a credit monitoring service that will alert you to any changes. Correcting inaccurate information is the fastest way to improve a score, so if your report contains errors, fix them immediately.

5. Run a Tight Ship

The best way to keep your business afloat – and avoid credit problems – is to run a tight ship. When lenders look at your application for a loan, your credit report is only part of the story. If you operate a lean business and avoid overspending by using your resources wisely, lenders are not only more likely to view you as less of a risk, but you’ll also need to borrow less and use less credit.

Maintaining good credit is an important part of running a healthy business. It might take time, but with diligence and good decisions, you can have a great score and access to the money you need, when you need it.

QR Codes and What They Could Mean for Your Ecommerce Store

QR Codes and What They Could Mean for Your Ecommerce Store

There’s little doubt you’ve seen a QR code, and maybe even used one before on some piece of advertising, whether for a local plumber or a giant retailer. Short for ‘Quick Response,’ QR codes are being used by businesses big and small, and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

This article is going to go over what a QR code is and how you can use one to the benefit of your ecommerce page.

What is a QR Code?

A QR code is a 2D image made up of lines, dots and other designs that can be read by smartphones and other devices. You use your camera to scan them and then will be linked directly to a targeted website, a phone number or text.

They originally caught on in Southeast Asia and Japan, where they were initially designed to be an elaborate version of the barcode. However, they are able to contain much more information than barcodes, storing up to just over 7,000 numbers as opposed to the barcodes capacity of 30.

Why Should I Care?

As we move further into the future, we are depending more on our devices and less on traditional methods. According to Pew Research Center, 68 percent of adults have a smartphone, which is up from 35 percent in 2011. That is a sharp increase that is going to continue trending as more and more services become available online-only.

There is also a ton of unlocked marketing potential inside QR codes. When you see them, they are kind of a mystery — where will one take you? Most likely it’ll take you to a page with some coupons and some ad copy, but there is a lot of untapped possibility there.

How Do I Make a QR Code?

Thankfully, you don’t actually have to design a code yourself to have one for your ecommerce store. There are a number of places online that will create one for you:

You can usually have them made in different sizes or use alternate formats, like HTML code, TIFF files, PNG, SVG and EPS.

Where Should I Put Them Now That I Have One?

They are best utilized in print media or a similar format. Somewhere analogue that will pull the user into the digital place—like your ecommerce page. For example, you could put one on a clothes tag and it will link to a group of people modelling that outfit (which is only available through your ecommerce store).

All ecommerce website builders will have a function for you to upload pictures or videos that the QR code will be able to direct them towards.

If you are currently employing a print advertising strategy, try throwing a QR code on to the advertisement and have it link to some coupons or other deals related to your service.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to think of them as ‘fancy barcodes’ since they haven’t quite caught on everywhere yet. Like all fresh ideas in the world, they need some pioneering, time and creativity to make sure they have a successful deployment at your organization.

If used effectively, a well-coordinated QR campaign can help raise awareness of your brand and build traffic to your ecommerce store. To get you started or optimize your existing QR code campaign, here are 8 tips for using QR codes in marketing.

Image Credit: Bert Kimura

Why Is Choosing a Web Designer So Important?

Why Is Choosing a Web Designer So Important?

Startup owners have a big responsibility because they are forced to make decisions that will impact their new business. Making the wrong decisions during the development of the startup could ruin the new company before it ever has a chance to get underway.

Probably one the biggest decisions that a startup owner will need to make concerns the web designer that will be hired to create the startup’s website. Hiring the wrong person for this critical assignment will basically eliminate any chance the startup has of being successful. Here are some of the primary reasons why a web designer is so vital to a startup’s long-term success.

1. Your web designer will be responsible for the first impression that your site provides about your business.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is true in many aspects of life. It is definitely the case when you are talking about new online businesses that have not established their brands yet. You need to impress people who are visiting your site for the first time. You will not do this if your site looks like it was designed 15 years ago.

You will also not impress people if your site looks like many of the other competing sites. The look and feel of your site will go a long way to helping you establish your brand. This is why you need to hire a web designer with the creativity to design a site for your startup that stands out from the crowd. This is why you should take a close look at the previous work of all web designers you are thinking about hiring. This will allow you to see how creative they can be.

2. A web designer will help address problems quickly if they should arise.

You are bound to have a few technical problems with your site every now and then. Most startups encounter this sort of situation as the site gets closer to launching. The pressure is not that great to fix these issues quickly before the launch.

However, all glitches and other technical problems need to be sorted out as quickly as possible after your site is officially online. The public will not put up with a site that doesn’t work properly for very long. This is why the web designer you hire will need to act quickly and solve any problems without delay. Another important task that startup owners have to do is buy a domain name.

3. Your web designer will help you to make immediate changes when you request them.

You most likely have a specific vision of how you want your startup site to look and function. Your web designer’s job is to turn your vision into a reality. This means that he needs to follow your instructions to the letter. You might change your mind about something that your web designer has already started to work on. He will need to be able to change gears quickly.

Image Credit: jdxyw

Various Payment Processes in Today’s Online Marketplace

Various Payment Processes in Today's Online Marketplace

The Internet has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the late 1990s. Nearly any kind of transaction can occur online with the proper payment type. There’s no need to mail in a payment when it can be instantly pulled from your account with the product shipped to your address in a heartbeat. Explore the various payment processes used in today’s online marketplace so that your next transaction can be as smooth as possible.

Electronic Fund Transfer

A tried-but-true process to pay for your online items is by electronic transfer. You type in your checking-account information, including the routing and account number, so that the funds are simply swapped between financial institutions. If you don’t have a credit or debit card, this transaction is a safe and simple way to keep up with the modern age. Websites use a lot of security software in order to keep your information safe from any unwanted attention.

The one downside to this payment method is that it usually takes three to five business days to clear, depending on the applicable rules from the financial institutions involved. However, most financial institutions and merchants compensate for that small inconvenience by waiving any “convenience” fees.

Credit Card

The majority of consumers have credit cards because they’re used to spread costs over a month or longer. They also have safeguards in case of fraudulent charges. In essence, the consumer doesn’t have to pay for an item that wasn’t authorized by the holder. Regardless of its size, any merchant accepting credit card payments must abide to the appropriate Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to prevent fines from credit card companies in case of a data breach.

For these reasons, you can use credit cards online for most purchases. You have the option of saving the information on the website’s server too. This option makes your next purchase easier because typing in the information isn’t necessary. Merchants storing your credit card data must also follow PCI DSS guidelines to protect it against malicious hackers.

Debit Card

Your bank usually issues a debit card along with your checks so that you can charge items to your checking account. Use this card in the same manner as the credit card, and the funds are simply taken out of your checking account the same day.

You’ll still need to type in the number and expiration date so that the transaction can move forward. In most cases, you won’t want to save the account number on the website’s server. Because it’s directly linked to your checking account, any misappropriation of the card number might compromise your funds.

One disadvantage of using a debit card for payments is that some financial institutions may put a hold on your funds larger than the payment that you’re trying to complete. You may have run into this situation when renting a car or filling up gas. These rules vary per financial institution so contact yours to learn what rules apply to your debit card.

Electronic Alternative

Many consumers are turning to third parties to charge their online goods. PayPal, Venmo, and other companies create a middleman for transactions. These companies secure your debit or credit-card information as you charge a purchase to your third-party account. All of the transactions are protected by extra software as a result.

To boost time spent on apps, some social networks have jumped on board to allow their users to exchange payments. Snapcash allows first-time users of its Snapcash service to send up to $250 per week and receive up to $1,000 per month. Not to be left behind, Facebook allows its users to send and receive even higher amounts from the start through Facebook Messenger.

Both Snapcash and Facebook charge no fees to process payments funded with debit cards.

Smartphone or Watch

One of the newest ways to buy online items is through your smartphone or advanced watch. Program your payment information (generally a checking account or credit card) into your device, and you can quickly check out without typing in a long number. Online purchases have never been easier to buy.

Some credit card companies are going the extra mile to add extra security when linking your credit card to your smartphone. For example, Mastercard is rolling out a “selfie payment” option in which you take a selfie, instead of typing a password or entering a CVV, to verify your identity. The Mastercard selfie payment software requires users to blink before they take the picture to prevent people from just holding up a picture. So, the next time that you see somebody winking at their phones a couple of times, you know that they might be buying something online!

The Bottom Line

Virtual retailers are always updating their online shopping cart software so that your experience has no hiccups. As you work through a transaction, be sure that the website has an “https” before the URL. This designation means that the transaction is secure. Avoiding online theft is a daily battle, but most consumers will have no problems as they pick and choose favorite items to buy.

4 Reasons to Study an MBA in 2017

4 Reasons to Study an MBA in 2017

Whether you are currently working your way up as an employee, are in a management position, or work for yourself in some shape or form, it is necessary to keep on building your knowledge about your industry and developing new skills as a business person.

While there are a number of things you can do to help with this, it’s worth considering enrolling in a relevant degree, such as the best online MBA you can find, to really help you stand out from others in your field and to tick off all the career goals you want to over the coming years. If you’re ready to enhance your knowledge and skills today, read on for four key reasons to study an MBA.

1. Relationship Building

For many people, one of the top benefits of completing an MBA is the opportunity that comes from studying a course with like-minded people. When you enroll in an MBA you are sure to network and build relationships with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Some of these individuals may very well turn out to be friends for life, and if not, will at least become great contacts for the future.

Over the course of your career, it is always very beneficial to have a variety of people you know who can be “in your corner” when you need them. The other graduates you connect with during your career might end up becoming your clients, referrers, sounding boards, investors, or even business partners as the years go on. You can turn to them for advice, consolation, ideas, testimonials, and more as required.

Another plus when it comes to networking and relationship building is that most online MBA degrees are populated by people who come from all over the globe, not just your local area. As a result, studying this type of program means that you get access to individuals from other cultures, who can help you learn about different business practices and international points of view. This can become a really handy advantage over the years, particularly if your career involves dealing with international markets at any stage.

2. Generate More Interest

Another great reason to complete an MBA is that doing so can typically increase your job prospects. By having this degree listed on your CV you will tend to stand out from other candidates for a role, particularly when you’re looking to move into leadership positions. Most employers like to see MBA qualifications on resumes because they know that graduates usually have more business acumen, knowledge, skills, and contacts than those who haven’t completed such a higher degree.

Having an MBA qualification can also give you more security throughout your career. If things are tight within a company or just generally within your industry, you will find that your degree can stand you in good stead when it comes to keeping your job, over unqualified co-workers. After all, companies often feel that business school graduates can bring more to an organization and their role, due to their broader business knowledge; ability to problem solve, adapt, innovate, handle complex situations, and be flexible; and training in spotting inefficiencies and opportunities.

If you end up running your own business, having an MBA behind you can also help to generate more interest in yourself personally and in your venture. The qualification can help to increase your profile and make you more desirable to banks and investors, journalists, and potential employees. Having the piece of paper helps you to be seen as more experienced, knowledgeable, connected, and “solid.”

reasons to study mba in 2017

3. Learn Beneficial Skills

Of course, you don’t want to forget the many beneficial practical skills that you can take away from an MBA degree either. Upon completing this type of program you will likely find yourself in possession of fantastic communication skills (after working on group projects, individual presentations, work placements and the like during your studies), and strong time-management skills, particularly if you worked full-time while also completing your studies.

From an MBA degree you will typically also find that you hone your leadership, negotiation, and management skills. When working in teams to complete projects during your course, you will often have to wrangle a group of strong personalities to get everyone working in the same direction.

In addition, you are sure to come away from your studies with other handy, transferable skills, such as a proficiency in computer programs, and abilities in critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

4. Examine the Bigger Picture

Lastly, many graduates of an MBA program finish their degree with a much better understanding of the bigger business picture. Taking some time away from your usual job to complete an MBA will give you a chance to look at the global economy and to examine how the trading markets work around the world.

You will be able to see how things happening on one side of the globe can affect the other, on both a micro and macro level, and get a clearer picture on how your own business or job fits into things. Having this broader understanding and clarity will assist you throughout your career, particularly if you work up to a top leadership position or end up running your own firm.

Meeting Manufacturing Quotas with ERP

Meeting Manufacturing Quotas with ERP

There are dozens of metrics that can be used to identify success or failure within a manufacturing process. But as refined and granulated as these metrics are capable of being, it is often the simplest indicators that reveal the most.

Take something as basic as quotas. You are supposed to produce X number of a product, but you fall short of that by 10,000 units. It is possible to attribute that failure to many factors, but trying to identify every little thing doesn’t offer much of a solution.

The better strategy is to realize that falling short of quotas on a regular basis, or even just once, indicates a dysfunctional supply chain and manufacturing operation. Luckily, by implementing ERP software for manufacturing, it is possible to correct the kinds of minor faults and systemic failures that will always inhibit your manufacturing efforts.

Here are some examples illustrating how:

Anticipate Orders Farther in Advance

Preparation is key if you’re going to meet a big quota. But how can you prepare if you’re not given adequate advanced notice? ERP provides a shared platform for data from different departments like sales, marketing, and manufacturing. Once you have access to this platform, you can see when the efforts of customer-facing departments will increase your future quotas. Whatever preparations you need to make can be completed early rather than after it’s too late.

Gain Perspective Over the Supply Chain

No matter how well your operations run internally, you are wholly dependent on your supply chain to deliver the materials and resources you require to meet your quotas. And it only takes a minor delay or disruption in a far corner of your supply chain to cause your forecasts to fall short. ERP enables a more productive form of supply chain management by giving you a top-down perspective over all of the input points. That way, if there is an issue you need to be aware of, it is immediately apparent rather than an unexpected and unwelcome surprise later on.

Root Out Inefficiencies

The smallest inefficiency repeated thousands of times contributes into the kind of major delays that make it impossible to meet manufacturing quotas. But when you are already struggling to keep pace and then have to work even harder to keep up, it is not easy to find the kind of minute corrections that need to be made to get you back on track. ERP takes much of the guess work out of manufacturing by putting the up-to-date information you need the most in one place. Instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, you have a real means to solve persistent problems.

Take Advantage of Optimizations

In order to reliably meet quotas into the foreseeable future, you can’t just eliminate mistakes. You also need to making enhancements, refinements and upgrades that improve on whatever your peak capacity is now. After all, if your company is successful, growth is assured, which only means that today’s quotas are a fraction of tomorrow’s. ERP is a data management tool, but once you take control of your data you can use it to make exciting and unexpected optimizations across the board. By relying on communication, collaboration, and analytics, you’re empowered to make the kind of improvements that are necessary for continued competitiveness.

The reason that ERP is so uniquely positioned to help with manufacturing quotas is because this resource provides a lot of new capabilities without drastically altering your workflows. In fact, the best tools for ERP manufacturing conform to the way you already do things, not the other way around. If falling short is unacceptable, ERP is essential.

Image Credit: TheLeadSA

3 Reasons You Should Consider Ukraine Companies for Your Software Development Needs

3 Reasons You Should Consider Ukraine Companies for Your Software Development Needs

In the past, it has been common for businesses to run to India with their software development needs. However, this is changing because a new country has entered the field that offers some advantages over just going with the old standby.

The Ukraine has come onto the scene and made a big splash, grabbing attention from many companies in the United States. Using companies within the U.S. has long been an issue due to budget constraints. Local companies simply charge too much for the exact same services that can be outsourced. Now with Ukraine companies in the mix, there is even more of a reason to outsource software development.

1. A Growing Number of Specialists

The number of individuals in the Ukraine that are technology specialists just keeps rising. They have the ability to handle many software related needs and have become experts in this field. They provide the same or better service that you can get domestically for much more competitive prices. In addition, because there is a huge focus in this country on technology, they are on the cutting edge of new developments and know what is happening in the industry. This makes it much easier for your business to get the services you need when you need them.

2. A Commitment to the Customer

One thing about outsourcing is that the companies you hire are going to try harder. They know that there are a lot of myths and rumors associated with outsourcing, and they will do everything possible to ensure they prove those negative ideas are wrong. These companies are dedicated to what they do. They are focused on providing service that goes above and beyond your expectations.

What you will likely find is that they are more willing to work with you in a collaborative effort to ensure you get exactly what you want. In addition, they have superior skills, so they will be able to explain things to you and won’t mind taking the time to do so. In the U.S. one major issue in business is that everyone is in such a hurry. You don’t get that when you work with a company in the Ukraine.

Companies, like Redwerk for example at, strive to ensure they can get a job done even if others have failed at it. They will do whatever it takes to ensure projects stay on schedule and that you are satisfied. This level of customer service is not often seen, but it is the hardworking, dedicated nature of Ukrainian workers that push these companies to the forefront when it comes to customer satisfaction and making them the ideal choice for U.S companies to partner with.

3. A Large Pool of Talent

Due to the fact the Ukraine had to rebuild after the collapse of the USSR, its people have been pushing to create a country that is strong and independent. This has fostered the growth of the IT industry in the country. Young people are getting educated and are able to speak fluent English. They have been taking over this industry and are the backbone of those companies that offer software development services.

Even in the past, the Ukraine was known for having people with great minds who were technical experts. The USSR pulled many Ukrainians into top spots to help as it worked to accomplish great things, like space travel. Little has changed when it comes to the people of this nation. They are still brilliant and hard working. They have now turned their sites on the IT industry. Having this large pool of talent at your fingertips enables you to get the services you need at a price that fits your budget.

In addition, the Ukraine is very similar to the U.S. in terms of culture. It is becoming very European. This makes it much easier to work with these companies because they are relatable. It is almost like working with a local company because you can easily talk to the people you are working with and they understand the challenges you face in your business. In fact, the Ukraine and the U.S. have a very comfortable relationship, which makes it simple to work with these companies.

The Bottom Line: Consider All of Your Options

Outsourcing your software development needs is something well worth considering. If you are looking to outsource, you should consider Ukrainian companies. These companies offer excellent services by staffs that are highly trained and knowledgeable. They are easy to work with and will provide you with affordable services that met your needs.

Image Credit: Jürg Vollmer

The Best Online Courses for Entrepreneurship

The Best Online Courses for Entrepreneurship

Ideally, a business leader hires experienced employees to perform tasks that require skill, but since the economy has recovered, most entrepreneurs are finding that available talent is rare on the ground. Today, skilled workers are being snatched up by established businesses and firms that have the profits and power to offer sizeable salaries and appealing benefits, leaving many startups without the talent they need to accomplish essential goals.

However, few aspiring business owners are willing to let lack of skill prevent them from achieving their business dreams. Thanks to the explosive growth of e-learning, online courses are helping entrepreneurs gain the skills they need to build their business on their own. Here are the online courses entrepreneurs should take to succeed in their entrepreneurial dreams without wasting time, money, and energy chasing down outside talent.


Tech is indispensable in today’s business world, and understanding the language of tech gives entrepreneurs more control over their business. Even businesses ostensibly not tech-related, like retail shops or health care facilities, rely on technologies like point-of-sale software and monitoring equipment to do business safely and effectively. By taking a few coding courses, entrepreneurs can supervise their tech teams or develop their own rudimentary tech projects to benefit their business.


Though coding and programming are often used interchangeably, the truth is programmers have a much deeper knowledge of computer languages and are better prepared to build complex programs from the ground-up. Those entrepreneurs looking to enter the tech industry must master programming. Without a programming background, tech entrepreneurs will lack the ability to comprehend their products’ functionality and potential, putting them at a disadvantage in a market full of tech geniuses. Therefore, those with a tech-focused business plan must grasp programming before building their business.


On the outside, marketing seems like a simple skill and one you might be able to sort of improvise, but history shows that businesses that invest in strong marketing strategies tend to succeed. Visibility is a primary goal of new businesses, which means entrepreneurs should have marketing ideas built into their initial plans, and to do that effectively, they need to have some understanding of marketing concepts. Most MBA programs require a few classes on marketing – as well as other courses covering critical knowledge and experience for entrepreneurs – so aspiring business leaders would do well to obtain an MBA degree online before starting their business.

Online Marketing

Since the rise of social media, online marketing has become more and more important to a business’s success. Surprisingly divergent from traditional marketing strategies, online marketing requires knowledge of the internet, especially the functionality of search engines, the habits of social media users, and the most popular digital trends. Entrepreneurs who have some experience with traditional marketing tactics might be better prepared to learn about online marketing strategy, but taking targeted courses for online marketing is advantageous.

online courses entrepreneurship


Finance means many things to entrepreneurs. Primarily, it brings to mind the money they desperately need to get their business ideas in motion, but finance also relates to the careful management of cash that keeps businesses healthy and alive. Finance courses can teach entrepreneurs how to master both skills: the attainment of capital as well as the balance of it. Then, entrepreneurs will never feel pressed for cash.

Growth Hacking

A relatively new concept – but one that is especially appealing to startup entrepreneurs – growth hacking is the process of expanding a business as quickly as possible by experimenting with different business tactics. Traditional business leaders often see growth hacking as unnecessarily risky, but the rise of disruptive technologies has proven that hacking growth can by a wildly profitable practice. Experienced growth hackers are few and far between, but it doesn’t take much for an entrepreneur to grasp the fundamentals of growth hacking by taking online courses on the subject.


More than anyone else in business, entrepreneurs spend inordinate amounts of time daydreaming. Brainstorming courses help entrepreneurs guide their fantasies, so they might pull feasible ideas and constructive plans from their brain space. Brainstorming courses also help entrepreneurs learn how to think with a team, so ideas can merge to create solid strategies that ensure business success.


In a world where consumers are retaking control of the market and using their buying power for the greater good, entrepreneurs must be more conscious than ever of the ethics of their business practices. Ethics is a dense field, and business ethics can be confusing and disheartening. Still, aspiring business leaders should take some responsibility for the state of society and learn proper business policies and practices that protect everyone, from leaders to workers to customers.

4 Body Language Blunders Beginner Videocasters Tend to Miss

4 Body Language Blunders Beginner Videocasters Tend to Miss

You could have the best outfit in town and the most well-rehearsed script in the country, but there are so many factors that go into a successful videocast that many people tend to miss. It could be the videocasting system they chose, the internet connection they’ve invested in, or even the very topic of the event itself. But did you know your body language could have a huge effect on how successful your presentation could be?

If you’ve never given this any thought before, it’s time you started becoming more aware of some negative physical signals you may have been giving out all this time. In this article, we’re going to give you a rundown of the most common body language blunders that newbie videocasters tend to make.

1. Avoiding Eye Contact

This is one of the most common mistakes that beginners make. You may be nervous because of stage fright, but you’ve got to resist the urge to avert your eyes from your audience. Looking away from them implies that you are trying to hide something, according to an article by Forbes. It also makes you look like you aren’t confident about what you’re saying. If you look down while speaking, you end up looking self-conscious, too. If you can manage to maintain eye contact with your audience, you’ll instantly be able to make a connection with them.

Though you don’t have to stare at your audience the entire time, try your best to at least look into some of your audience members’ eyes once in a while. In terms of a videocasting session, you’ll need to learn to look directly into your camera rather than on your screen to replicate the effect. It’ll help your audience feel more engaged with your presentation.

2. Keeping Track of the Time

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at a clock on the wall or a watch on your wrist. Glancing at the time while you’re talking to somebody (or, even worse, listening to somebody) makes you look impatient and rude. It sends people the impression that you feel like the conversation or event is a waste of time, and that you can’t wait until it’s all over. If you’re trying to keep track of how long your videocast is going, do so in a very subtle way.

Better yet, practice your presentation and time it so that you know exactly how long you’ll be speaking. That way, you won’t have to worry about going over your allotted time, and you won’t accidentally watch the clock and turn your audience off. Another way to check the time more subtly is to keep a timer on your screen close to where your camera is located. It’ll be much less obvious, and can even help you ‘lock eyes’ with your audience.

3. Crossing Your Arms or Legs

These may seem like innocuous gestures, but simply crossing your arms could already give your audience the feeling that you’re closing yourself off from them. Even if you’re doing corporate videocasting using tools like BlueJeans, people will notice how tense you look on the screen. It makes it look like you are guarding yourself, or that you don’t want to be open or vulnerable around other people.

The same idea applies to when you cross your legs. No matter how much you smile or nod your head, the rest of your body will send them the signal that you don’t really trust the other people in the conversation. Try to keep yourself from crossing your arms, no matter how much of a habit it’s become for you. Get your friends or co-workers to watch you while you practice, and have these people point out any instance where you close yourself off using your body language.

4. Slouching Around

Whether you’re just sitting down or standing up, slouching is one of the most common ways to show people that you’re disinterested in them. It can make your audience feel like you are disrespecting them, too, according to an article on LinkedIn.

Instead, try your best to keep yourself standing straight with your shoulders back. These types of poses are called power stances, and they can help you exude an aura of confidence. On the other hand, slouching makes you take up much less space, which then makes you project much less power in the end. Yes, your audience will be able to tell if you’re sitting up straight in a videocast, too, so make sure you mind your posture while you’re presenting online.

The Takeaway: Be More Conscious of Your Body Language in Order to Succeed

Don’t let your videocast be ruined just because of a few badly timed gestures or expressions. Being aware of these mistakes is the first step, but you need to actually act on eliminating these bad habits completely. Remember: practice makes perfect, so the sooner you start practicing your presentation, the better. Good luck on your next live interactive event!

Image Credit: Stefan Erschwendner

The Most Affordable Communication Tools for Small Businesses

The Most Affordable Communication Tools for Small Businesses

Small businesses and start-ups are taking over the world of modern business, with Forbes reporting over 28 million small businesses in the U.S alone, with many more overseas. Many of these companies are in the IT sector and can make millions of dollars each year.

Even so, companies which are just starting out need the most affordable tools they can find, and even established companies need the smartest investments they can find in order to decrease their overheads. Let’s review what are the most affordable communication tools small business owners can use and how those tools can be of great benefit to budding entrepreneurs.

1. Online Calendars

The diary or file-o-fax was, and still is, commonly used to keep businesses organized and to arrange appointments, but online calendars and organizers make it even easier. First of all, it means that people can check and update their schedules from wherever they are, frequently through use of their smartphones. Secondly, there are collaborative programmes which are accessible for every member of the team, or which customers can use to see your availability and make appointments without having to call you personally.

2. Video Conferencing Software

More and more companies are relying upon remote workers and are using online video to keep in touch with each other and find new clients. Business video conferencing for IT companies such as BlueJeans typically require a monthly subscription fee which allows access to online meetings, cloud storage, and group seminars. This can come in useful in numerous areas from creating marketing content to hiring remote workers, so it is a fee which pays for itself easily with the opportunities it opens up.

The best advantage is that modern systems don’t require expensive hardware upgrades and are accessed through the internet, meaning they can be used on any compatible device including mobile devices. So long as your company’s building, or wherever you will be working from, has a good internet connection, you can use it to open up many new lines of communication that wouldn’t have been possible before.

3. Collaborative Text Editing

Once upon a time, collaborating on a document together meant constant e-mailing files back and forth to each other. Before that, it sometimes even meant physically mailing floppy disks, waiting days or even weeks to read the other person’s edits. The only other option was making long and expensive phone calls, which according to this article in the BBC magazine, is how authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett worked together to write Good Omens.

Thankfully, advances to technology have made these a thing of the past. Not only has video conferencing replaced phone calls as a cheap alternative, online file sharing and text editors such as Google Docs mean that files can be easily shared securely and edited by two or more people, with the edits visible in real time. Comments can be left to address certain issues and previous edits can be made visible and brought back if necessary. It can greatly cut down the amount of time it takes to complete a collaborative document with minimum stress.

4. E-Mail

With so many recent technology upgrades, even e-mail is starting to feel somewhat archaic, with many companies choosing to not even sign up for e-mail, preferring to use online conferencing instead.

But this option isn’t for everyone and even the most technologically advanced company may find it useful to log into their e-mail regularly. Sometimes it is essential for reaching more old fashioned clients who still prefer e-mail over other communication methods, or haven’t yet upgraded to video conferencing. At other times you may find it a more ideal way to send out documents such as invoices or sending short messages without the pressure of making formalities during a call.

Most job seekers also use e-mail to make contact with potential new employers, as unsolicited calls are rarely welcome. If you do decide you want to use e-mail to at least some capacity, find a provider which works for you, perhaps even creating your own domain name to impress potential clients.

5. Website

Considering this will be the first place potential new customers or clients go to find information about you, a properly designed website is essential as a way to introduce yourself, make your pitch, and give an idea of what you do and can provide to others. Be sure to make your contact details clear on every page and to include all of the communication methods your target audience prefers to use.

The Bottom Line

Communication is more important than ever in business, be it communication between colleagues or between a company and its customers. Thankfully, there are many tools at your disposal which can be used for low prices, and often for free. Make the most out of your communication tool investments and your new start-up will thrive.

Image Credit: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation