Peripheral Visions

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Archive for the ‘Business Tips’ Category

Save $$ Using Compatible Ink and Toner

Business is all about increasing your bottom line. One simple, but often overlooked, way to do this is to use ink and toner that is compatible with your printer. Toner is required for printing with laser printers and copiers, while ink is used for traditional printers and copiers. While toner is usually more expensive than ink, replacing either toner or ink with compatible toner and ink from vendors other than the printer’s manufacturer can help your business save a substantial amount of money.

Printers often come equipped with starter ink and toner made by the manufacturer; however, when it is time to replace the ink and toner, you may want to opt for compatible ink or compatible toner that may not be made by the manufacturer of the printer, but can still deliver the same high-quality results. Ink and toner cartridges are not cheap, and typically account for a significant percentage of the overall cost of a printer. In fact, some toner cartridges are so expensive that it is actually cheaper to purchase a new printer when the starter toner runs out than to purchase replacement toner. Rather than purchasing a new printer, there is a more feasible alternative. Making a simple change to compatible ink or toner can save money in the short run and over the life of the printer. But how do you know what ink or toner is compatible with your printer?

Compatible ink and toner is just like name-brand ink and toner. They are manufactured according to the OEM cartridge specifications, which will enable you to easily find which ink or toner is right for your printer. The main reason why the compatible ink and toner can be purchased at a reduced cost is simply because they do not have the brand name that is attached to the much more expensive toner and ink—that’s it. Many compatible ink and toner refills are also manufactured in certified facilities to ensure the consumer receives products of the highest quality. Contrary to popular belief, using compatible ink and toner for your printer will also not void any warranty that comes with your printer. Start saving money today. Opt for compatible ink and toner!

Categories: Business Tips

How to Keep Focused During your Work Day

It’s one of the most common dilemmas when at work, staying focused and on task to complete the job you set out to do. Staying focused can also have a lot to do with your immediate environment, not being challenged at your job, or simply not getting enough sleep. With a small shift in your thinking, staying focused may be easier than you once thought. Follow these helpful tips to make your day more productive, and to keep you on track and focused throughout your workday.

  • Make a goal list before the day starts: Throughout your day make a running list of goals and tasks that you haven’t gotten to. This will help you form a list for the next day. Goal lists are helpful for keeping focused during the day, when you are bombarded with coworkers asking you questions, and bosses keeping you from tasks that you started off to do.  For those that have too long of lists, prioritize what parts of your goals are realistic, and which that are not.
  • Make your immediate environment conducive for work: While many think that a cluttered desk is a sign of being busy, it can also be a sign of disorganization and lack of productivity.  Consider creating an environment in your office, desk or work area to be able to find what you need quickly, as opposed to being taken off your tasks every time you search for a pad of paper.  Organize your office with colorful file folders, periodical organizers, and pleasurable mementos around your area to keep you feeling great while working. You will be surprised how much easier it is to stay on task when you love your surroundings.
  • Plan your distractions time: If you know your most unproductive times of the day are when you check your email, take walks to the vending machine, or surf the internet, plan these times as goals after you finish your assigned tasks and goals. Planning distraction time into your day will help you stay motivated to complete your dull work, and will make your distractions feel more enjoyable as opposed to full of guilt. If possible, use smart phones, or other electronic devices to check in on email and social media at other times, such as lunch breaks and before/after work to make the most of your work time, and to keep you focused.

Keeping focused during the day will help you complete your workday on time, and help you go home happier. Consider getting more rest the night before and consider laying off of sugary snacks and highly caffeinated drinks. Also consider light music played in your office, or through headphones on your MP3 player to block out distractions in your office. Before you know it, your unproductive days will be a distant memory, and coming to work will be much more enjoyable.

Categories: Business Tips

3 Ways to Ensure a Productive Staff Meeting

Whether you manage a group of people, or you are part of an organization that is managed, productivity is always at the root of making effective collaborations. Staff meetings are one of the few times when managers and employees can get together and communicate about the goals and objectives of the weekly workload. Unfortunately, many staff meetings are wasted, or poorly run due to lack of organization or preparation. Here are tips to help you prepare for your staff meeting more effectively to benefit you and your staff’s time.

  • Collaborate about meeting objectives in advance: When possible, meet with employees, managers, and administrative personnel well before the meeting. Many managers make the mistake of waiting until the last minute before the staff meeting to ask if anyone has information, issues or content to add to the meeting. This makes for lack of complete information for the meeting, as well as ill-prepared staff members that feel put on the spot. Consider sending out an email a few days before the staff meeting, asking all parties involved if they have content to add to this week’s staff meeting.

  • Prepare an agenda: While this seems like a simple no-brainer tip, in fact, many managers don’t do this and it results in staff meetings that run over time, off topic, and in general use the collaboration time ineffectively. Plan you agenda with highlights of what you’d like to speak about, what was discussed at the last meeting, and what will carry over to the next meeting. This will help the meeting stay on topic, and will help buffer in time to go longer on more important topics, and less on minor ones.  If needed, ask an administrative person to help you prepare the agenda in conjunction with the meeting objectives in the first tip.
  • Use the staff meetings to talk and listen: Many employees dread staff meetings because they feel like it’s only an opportunity for management to tell them information, and to be “scolded”. Staff meetings should be looked at as a mini team building time, when management and employees alike are able to talk freely back and forth. Exchanging ideas, as well as voicing concerns, and coming up with remedies should be the goal and objective for all parties involved.  Consider setting aside a portion of the staff meeting for an open discussion time, or provide office hours in which management will freely listen to employees who may want to address concerns in private.

The next staff meeting should be regarded as valuable and necessary time, set aside to “get current” on the management and employees alike. Consider asking staff members outside of the meetings, what they would like to see added or detracted from the meetings to make them more effective. Staff meetings don’t have to be dreaded, they just need to be respectful of the time of all parties involved.

Categories: Business Tips

Small Business Survival: How to Make it Through a Recession

Being a small business during a recession is tough; ask any small business owner, your business decisions and strategies impact the future of your business immensely during a recession.  Every business tries to deal with the recession in their own way, some may cut back on employees and work more hours themselves, others will shorten their store hours to decrease costs, and even some other businesses cut back on advertising and marketing expenses.  I would like to share with you my tips on how to keep your small business afloat during a recession.

Add value to your customers: As a small business it is nearly impossible to win a price war with big conglomerates, e.g. Walmart, but one thing small businesses can always do that these big guys can’t quite offer is great customer service.  Being able to spend time with your customers, and understand their needs to help them make the right decision is definitely going to keep people shopping at their local store rather than these large conglomerates.  Having a knowledgeable and friendly staff keeps people coming in because they know they can rely on you for the right answers to their questions.

Cut back on overhead and operating costs: There are many expenses businesses incur which can be reduced.  One expense many businesses don’t plan on, are the expenses tied to printers.  Once a business owner buys that printer they never really think about the cost of toner per month, plus maintenance.  So when you purchase new toner for your printer, make sure to purchase the compatible toners, not only will you save up to 70% on some cartridges, you will not have to worry about voiding your printer’s warranty.  Although many people believe that using compatible toner cartridges on their printers voids the warranty, it is not the case according to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, so don’t be afraid to save yourself a ton of money by using compatible toner cartridges.

For those businesses that do not use printers as often, you can rely on creating a more effective inventory management system.  Product that sits out on the shelf for a long period of time costs you money.  Although, it does not directly cost you money, but there’s an opportunity cost of that stagnant product.  By opportunity cost I mean the amount of money you are missing out on by not having a product on the shelf that sells a lot quicker.  Say your store sells CDs, DVDs, and VHS, typically your store sells 10 DVDs for every 1 VHS, you would want to make sure that your DVD section is a lot bigger than your VHS section, giving the customers more options to buy DVDs as opposed to VHS.  Not only will you sell more products, you can also purchase DVDs in larger quantities considering you have more space to store them, and therefore lessening your cost of shipping, and potentially creating a discounted price per DVD if buying in a big enough bulk.

Other ways to cut back on overhead and operating costs is to shorten the business hours of your store.  Although it may inconvenience a small portion of your customers, you typically won’t see a huge drop in sales, as long as you put a good amount of thought into your store hours.  Say if your store barely has any sales on Weekday mornings, it would make sense to open the store at noon everyday as opposed to 8 am, not only will you save the 4 hours a day worth of salary you typically pay an employee to open the store, you will also save a ton of money on utilities.  It would be around an extra 80 hours a month of no power being used, and well that can incrementally add up to a large sum of money.

Another operating cost that can easily be cut back on is office supplies.  If you are a small business and have a pretty large need for office supplies, it sometimes makes more sense to go through an online office supply retailer.  These online retailers do not need to pay for a big place of business and typically save money that way, inevitably they will be able to provide your business with cheaper supplies since these discounts then are passed down to their customers to provide their customers the greatest value for their office supplies.

Increase marketing expenses: Many people may disagree with this, but before you decide it’s a terrible idea and skip over this section, give me a few seconds of your time to explain why marketing during a recession is such a great idea.  During a recession, many customers are looking for the lowest cost possible, which as stated before, will typically not be the small business provider.  But say you are a small family owned deli and since your products only have a certain lifespan, and typically Wednesdays are really slow days for you so, to help increase your business you can start a special for half price sandwiches on Wednesdays to help drive traffic to your store.  Although you won’t be making nearly as much money per sandwich, but you will be at least gaining a larger customer base.  With more and more people coming, and as long as you treat your customers with the utmost respect and care, they will be more inclined to go there even though it’s not a Wednesday.  Also, less of your products will go to waste.  Another example similar to the previous one is customer loyalty cards, more and more places are creating these customer loyalty cards, for example one place I go to quite often gives you a free coffee after you buy 5 coffees there.  So once every other week I am able to get a free coffee and now I go there every morning.

Hopefully with these examples I am able to help you think of how you can implement these to your business plans in the future, to help keep your small business flourishing during a recession.  We can all use a little help here and there, so please feel free to comment with any other tips you have to help small businesses stay afloat during a recession.

Categories: Business Tips

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