Author Archives: Dawn

Starting Your Own Business After a Career Setback: Why the Decision is a Great Idea and How to Get Started

By Larry Mager

Common career setbacks include being fired or laid off, being demoted, being stagnant (no way to move up in current position or career), or becoming bored with your current position or career. Any of these situations can cause you to feel upset, angry, or full of self-doubt. Instead of moping about, focus on moving forward and consider making a change. While you can dive back into the same career in which you’ve been working, you can also take a leap and start your own business.

Coming Up with a Business Idea

Coming up with a business idea

Many successful entrepreneurs found a way to turn a hobby, side job, or passion into a career.

One of the most important (if not the most important) decisions involved in starting a business is coming up with a business idea and choosing the type of business to run. There are several ways you can come up with a business idea. For example, think of your biggest frustration and find a solution for it. You can also think bigger and try to imagine what the world’s biggest challenge will be in 15 years.

On the flipside, people who offer career advice often say to find something you enjoy doing and something that you’re good at doing. Your business is much more likely to succeed if you follow this advice. Think about what gives you fulfillment and satisfaction. Many successful entrepreneurs found a way to turn a hobby, side job, or passion into a career. Find a way to monetize what you love. For example, if you love dogs, start a dog walking business.

Don’t give up hope if your first brainstorming attempt yields no results. You may have to try several times. Sometimes you need a spark in creativity. Try to take a vacation or just take a day to do something new like hiking on a new trail or attending an art show. These new experiences can spark new ideas.

Planning and Financing

Now that you have your idea in place, you need to create a well-written business plan, which will serve as a guide through each stage of starting and managing your business. Think of it as a manual for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. Business plans are also important because they show investors and potential business partners why they should believe in your ideas.

When you start a business, it comes at a price. While many entrepreneurs put their own money into starting their business, they also typically need financial assistance. Although hard to obtain, you can get a commercial loan through a bank or a small business loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) or an alternative lender. If you require a large amount of funding up front, you may want to consider an investor or a crowdfunding campaign.

Handling Legalities

Handling the legalities is critical. You must register with the government to become incorporated and trademark your company’s name, and you’ll need to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Some businesses may also require federal or state licenses and permits in order to operate. Also, before you open your doors, you should purchase insurance for your business. “Dealing with incidents like property damage, theft or even a customer lawsuit can be costly, and you need to be sure that you’re properly protected,” says Business News Daily.

You’ll also need to build up your brand and get people intrigued about your product or service before you open your doors. For starters, create a logo so people can easily identify your brand. Social media is a vital promotional tool that can spread the word about your new business. Use it to offer coupons and discounts to your first customers, to share your story, to draw people to your site, and more. Be sure to keep social media pages up to date with relevant and interesting content about your business and industry.

Starting your own business requires a lot of time, effort, and hard work. But putting in the time to properly prepare helps increase your chance of success, and once you’ve experienced the rewards of being your own boss, you’ll see the effort was well worth it. Take your career setback and turn into a positive by becoming an entrepreneur.

Author Bio:  Larry Mager created ReadyBrain.net to help give people the mental workout they need to have a healthy brain.

Back to School Technology Tips to Save you Time and Money

Preparing to go back to school can be very costly.  Whether you’re just getting started with your Office Administration courses or simply need supplies and resources for any field of study, software, books and other supplies can really set you back.  While many courses do require you to use certain software or have required books, others may allow you to choose which software you work on and how you wish to learn it.  This is where you will be able to really utilize all the amazing free resources right at your fingertips on the web.  The following are just some of the ways you can save yourself and your classmates lots of time and money.

 1.  Use Free Office Software

Apache Open Office is a free, open-source office suite used for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.  Apache Open Office comes with a full suite of products including Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for creating presentations, Base for database management, Math, an equation editor and Draw for creating graphics.  The software is easy to download and install from the OpenOffice website.

LibreOffice is another great free Office Suite with a super clean interface and lots of feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity.  LibreOffice also includes several applications suitable for any project including Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).

Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and OneNote that let you create, view, edit, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes.  You do not need an Office 365 subscription to collaborate and work together on class projects or group assignments.   This free version of Office is perfect if you need an office suite for creating just basic documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases.   If you need more advanced features such as mail merge, you will need to purchase the full suite of software.  To access and use Office Online, you will need to create a Microsoft Account login.  Once logged in, you will be able to begin creating your office documents right away.

2.  Save Your Files in the Cloud :

Saving your files in the cloud is definitely the way to go and best of all it’s free.  The cloud is nothing more than the Internet or more specifically, a network of servers that allow you to store and access data remotely versus locally on your own computer hard drive. By connecting with computers in the cloud, you can store your files in the cloud to easily share with others. You can also access most online storage solutions from any device you own which makes storing and accessing your files easy and convenient.  While there are many, many cloud storage and file sharing services to choose from, here are a few of the most popular ones that are used in businesses today:

OneDrive:  OneDrive allows you to easily store and share photos, videos and documents for free.  There are currently two types of OneDrive solutions – one for personal use and one for business use.  The personal OneDrive storage gives you 5 GB for free but if you need more space you can currently get 50 GB for just $1.99 a month.   If you happen to have an Office 365 subscription, you’ll automatically get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage.

Google Drive starts you with 15 GB of free Google online storage, so you can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings and videos.  You can also invite others to view, download, and collaborate with you on any of your files if you want, making it great for classroom use.

Dropbox Basic – A Dropbox Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can download free apps to access Dropbox from your computer and mobile device.  Like all popular products, there are paid options if you need more space and you can also earn more space on your Dropbox Basic account by referring others and linking to their social media accounts.

3.  Buy a Subscription of Office

Office 365 University:  If your course requires you to use Office 365 and you’re a student or faculty member at an approved school, you can purchase Office 365 for just $79.99 USD for a four-year subscription.  This will get you the latest Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook) for two devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads, or Windows tablets.

4.  Access Free Online Tutorials

Now that you’ve learned how to obtain or access a version of Office software for free, take advantage of some of the readily available free tutorials to get started using your software.  The free Microsoft online documentation center for all Microsoft Office Applications is a great resource especially if you don’t use a product yet but would like to find out more about it. These courses are freely available and can be found alongside the hundreds of courses and videos in the Office Training Center that covers all major Office applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, OneNote and even OneDrive.  Training is available for all major releases on Windows, Mac, iphone and ipad.  It’s also possible to get training for past versions of Office if so desired.

Microsoft  also recently partnered with LinkedIn to provide some amazing high quality LinkedIn Learning training courses that focus on Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook 2016 and Excel 2016. Here are just some of the free training courses available

  • Getting Started with Outlook” video series that consists of over 41 videos that covers multiple Outlook tasks including how to add and remove email accounts;  how to import gmail into Outlook; sending, receiving and organizing messages; how to add a signature; manage contacts and calendars; manage meetings; and collaborate and share with others
  • Getting Started with Excel 2016 series which consists of over 37 separate videos, you’ll learn how to enter and organize data, create formulas and functions, build charts and PivotTables, and use other time-saving features.
  • Getting Started with Word 2016: In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a blank document or one based on a template, select and format text, create bulleted and numbered lists, change text alignment, and change line spacing. You’ll also learn how to add headers and footers, change page numbers in headers and footers and add pictures and tables to a document.
  • Getting Started with PowerPoint 2016. In this course, you’ll learn the lay of the land including types of slides, design elements, and what’s new Inserting text and images. You’ll also learn how to saving your presentation and how to share it.
  • Free Microsoft Office Tutorials can also be found on officeskills.org at http://officeskills.org/microsoft-office-tutorials.html.   

5.  Use Online Notetaking Software

There are many note taking apps on the market all offering different levels of features and capabilities.  Below are some of the best note taking applications although some of the completely free versions are somewhat limited in features.

OneNote is a free digital notebook from Microsoft that you can use on your PC, Mac, phone or tablet.  You’ll find it’s very easy to type, handwrite or sketch your thoughts into OneNote.   In addition, you can also embed tables, attach files, insert links, webpages, photos and videos into your notes.   OneNote also allows you to organize and save your notes in notebooks and sections for easy retrieval and sharing with classmates, colleagues or co-workers.

Evernote Basic – This popular software allows you to capture, organize, and share notes with other students or your instructor from anywhere. For instance, you can clip pages from the web, pdfs or images and keep them all in Evernote so you’ll never lose track of your data. Evernote also has a good help and learning center where you’ll find access to tips and tutorials, articles and troubleshooting tips.

Google Keep is a simple note taking app allows you to create, edit and share notes, make lists, save drawings as a note, label, color and pin notes and more.  While limited in functionality, it is a great free option, especially for those who enjoy working with Google applications.

10 Ways To Make Your Office Environment Greener & Healthier

An increasing number of businesses around the world are beginning to change the way they work, placing a much bigger emphasis on the health and wellbeing of their employees. The general consensus is that a healthy employee is a happier employee, and therefore likely to be much more productive in the workplace; and the bigger picture is that this ultimately benefits the profit margins of the business.

Companies of all sizes are establishing health and wellbeing programmes for their staff, promoting everything from healthy eating and exercise, to mindfulness and meditation. However, one of the key ways in which a business can improve employee wellbeing is to make the working environment greener and more eco-friendly. Adopting a greener approach to business operations also helps the environment, and can even save the company money too, so it’s a no-brainer really!

In recent years there’s been a trend within the corporate world for investors to actively seek to be involved with greener companies; a company with a strong environmentally friendly policy is also a much more attractive option for many candidates when it comes to applying for roles.

Making greener changes within the working environment not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint of your company, it can also lower your overhead, thus increasing your profits. Going green in the workplace doesn’t have to cost employers a fortune; there are small, yet significant, changes that can be made over the course of time which all add up to a healthier working environment.

This infographic from Sovereign Planned Services Ltd details ten simple and effective ways that you can make your office environment a greener and better place to work. From simply turning off computer equipment and switching off lights when not in use, to setting up a carpooling scheme or allowing staff to telecommute, small changes can really make a difference.

6 Tips for Managing the Work-Life Balance

By Harper Brenning

To many people, it may seem like a challenge to properly manage a work-life balance, especially with everything that occurs in our everyday life. Managing a well-balanced work-life situation includes doing your best at your job while still taking time for yourself, your family, and friends.

Experiencing complete happiness all at once may seem far-fetched for many. But, if you know how to balance your job and personal life correctly, you will have no problem achieving the fulfilling life you desire. In order to help you reach the goal of balancing both work and life, we have 6 great tips for you to follow.

1.  Prioritize Your Time

If you work in finance you already know how to budget money and how to spend what you earn. But do you know how to budget your time in order to be able to spend more time with you loved ones after work? A proper work-life management will allow you to spend more time with the people that matter most in life – your family.  Try going to work sooner (be it just an hour earlier) and you’ll soon realize you will have much time in the evening to spend with your family or friends.

2.  Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Get Neglected

It’s important that you take care of your personal life while working full time.  In order to have a fulfilling career, you’ll need to make sure you are happy with your personal life too, as the two of them go hand in hand towards a good work/life balance.  One way to achieve this would be via telecommuting if your job allows it. Telecommuting will enable you to work from home allowing you to more easily get the job completed in a timely manner. Spending more time at home will also put less constraints on your relationship or marriage.

3.  Try to Avoid Staying Late at Work

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time when you think of what might happen if you have to stay late at work.  The truth is,  you may not necessarily have to. Of course, if it is critical to your job, then you should definitely stay a little late.   One saving grace is that staying late may allow you to leave work early on another day during the week.  If you decide to take off early, be sure you to get permission from your boss and don’t be surprised if he or she agrees. A majority of businesses don’t like to pay for overtime if it’s not truly necessary. So why would you worry about taking off early?

4.  Decide What Matters the Most

If you don’t know what is the most important thing in your life, maybe it’s time to start thinking about it. Would you choose work over your personal life? Being bogged down with work can take a toll on your personal life and in the long run may even tear a family apart. At the same time, if you’re unable to provide for your family, this could lower your self-esteem and consequently,  you will not be able to work properly. Either way, remember that you should choose what matters the most for you. So, if you choose family, when your wife asks you to pick something up from the Kroger deli and you promise to do so, make sure that you know what the Kroger deli hours of operation are. At the same time, if work takes priority, when your boss asks you to solve an urgent task, make sure you take care of it promptly.

5. Give More by Working Less Hours

Nobody likes to feel stressed, and working more than being at home can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Your personal life may be sacrificed because of the work stress. But, if you give higher-quality work in a shorter amount of time during your 8-hour shift, you will probably be less stressed when at home. Avoid distractions at work and focus on getting the job done in a more timely and efficient manner.  Plus, your boss might even take notice and allow you to leave work early because of completing a project more efficiently.

6.  Utilize the Open-door Policy

Maintaining a strong relationship with your employer can play a big role in balancing your work and life outside of work. There’s nothing wrong with approaching your boss to have your hours lowered or having your workload shared among co-workers. He might agree once you tell him you are afraid of feeling burned-out.

Author bio: Harper Brenning is a Customer Support Specialist with a two-year experience in coordinating internal and external parties. She provides the user with up-to-date working hours information about different companies.

Useful ways to use SmartArt Graphics in your presentations

SmartArt is a diagramming tool in Powerpoint that allows you to create visual representations of information.  Your SmartArt graphics can be designed to match the look and feel of your presentations and can be used to create process flows, cycle diagrams, pryamids and orgazational charts. SmartArt is also created from the Insert tab > Illustrations Group on the Ribbon.

SmartArt graphics can be created from scratch by choosing from several different types of layouts and the one you choose will depend on what information you want to convey and in what way.  For example, the Process layout shows the steps to complete a particular task whereas the Hierarchy layout illustrates the structure of an organization such as an organizational chart.

Requirements:  PowerPoint 2013 or 2016.  To follow this tutorial, open up the Hiking Adventures Begin PowerPoint presentation and follow the directions below:

Insert a SmartArt Graphic in PowerPoint

  1. Click on slide 3 to select it and then click on the Insert tab > Illustrations Group > SmartArt button on the Ribbon. The Choose a SmartArt dialog box will appear.
    Add a SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint
  2. Click the List category
  3. Scroll down and choose Vertical Block List in the fifth row. Notice the description in the right hand pane.  Click the OK button.
    List layout in SmartArt graphic
  4. The SmartArt image will be inserted in your document and the text pane should now be visible as shown in the image below. If not, click the tab on the left side of the graphic.
    Tip!  When entering text in the SmartArt graphic, you will need to press the down arrow on your keyboard and not the ENTER key as pressing the ENTER key will add a new bullet point.
    SmartArt text pane
  5. With the first bullet in the Text Pane selected, type Bone Density and then press the down arrow on your keyboard to move to the next bullet. The text will appear in your graphic.
  6. Type Weight Bearing  then press the down arrow key again to move to the next bullet and type Strenghens Core.  Your graphic should now look like the following:
    SmartArt text pane
  7. You can also type directly in the text boxes.  Click in the second text box and type Heart. Click in the text boxes next to Heart and type Lowers risk of heart disease and Improves Blood pressure.
    Smartart Text Boxes in PowerPoint
  8.  Click in the third text box and type Weight. Click in the text boxes next to Weight and type Burns about 250+ calories/hour and Helps control weight.  Your SmartArt graphic should look like the following:
    SmartArt bullets

Converting Bullet Lists to SmartArt

You can also convert text already typed in your presentations, such as a bulleted list, into a SmartArt graphic.  Once converted, you can then style the SmartArt graphic by adding colors, fills, outlines and other effects as desired.  Depending on the SmartArt graphic layout you choose, you can also add pictures and additional text and change the layout type at any time.

  1. Click on Slide 4 to display it and then select the bulleted list or click anywhere in the list. Click the Home tab > Paragraph group and click the Convert to SmartArt Graphic button.  You can also click More to open the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box.
    Convert bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint
  2. Choose the Vertical Picture Accent List layout.  Your slide should look like the following.
    Convert bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint

Style your SmartArt Graphic

When working with SmartArt graphics, the SmartArt Contextual tab will appear. Here you will see two new tabs, the SmartArt Design tab and the SmartArt Layout tab.

  1. Make sure your SmartArt graphic is still selected. Then, under the Design Tab, click the more button to display SmartArt styles.  Choose the 3D Polished Style.
    Styling SmartArt in PowerPoint
  2. Click the Design tab > SmartArt Styles Group and click the Change Colors button on the Ribbon 2. Select the Gradient Loop Accent 1 style.
    Styling SmartArt in PowerPoint
  3. If you have a picture SmartArt, you can click on the pictures and choose an image to go into each section.  Browse to the location where your images are located and add one picture for each bullet as shown below.  See Adding images to your PowerPoint presentations.
    Add a picture to a SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint

There are several other options that you can try out for your SmartArt diagrams.  It’s a good idea to experiment with these options to customize your presentation as needed.