Category Archives: Careers

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.

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.

Making Every Second Count: Explaining Away Unemployment History

By Jenny Holt

According to a study conducted by online job-matching service, The Ladders, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. During this short-time, eye-tracking software determined that 80 percent of these six seconds are spent looking at your name, education, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, and previous position start and end dates. This means that recruiters spend a lot of time on your recent employment history. But what if you’ve been out of the game for a while? A gap in unemployment to a recruiter may come off as a candidate that may have a problem keeping a job, or a candidate that is hiding something. Your resume should gain the recruiters trust in six seconds and therefore these gaps must be addressed.  Here’s how to explain away any recent unemployment history, and make your resume a six-second success.

  • Be Honest.Many people will tell you to mask unemployment periods by faking dates. However, it is important that you don’t lie on your resume. This information can easily be verified and will automatically disqualify you from a job. Instead, be straight-forward, confident, and positive through your resume. This will show the recruiter you have two characteristics every employer searches for: integrity and confidence.
  • Find Value in Your Unemployment History: You can always find value in any time off from work. If you have been out of the job force for a while prior to applying to a position, it is important that you write what you have been doing instead. Maybe you were doing relevant volunteer work or harnessing your skills through a certificate program or graduate courses. Either way, how does the time you spent unemployedcontribute to this job opportunity? Even if you took time off to take care of your kids, write “Full-time parent” as your role and write any skills you obtained that may be relevant to your job, like managing schedules or event planning. Since recruiters are looking at your most recent job almost immediately, it is important to explain away any period of unemployment and supplement it with any relevant activities. Make sure to write how this shaped the relevant skills you need for the current job. You can do any additional explaining during your interview.
  • Add a Cover Letter: When you have gaps in employment it might be useful to include a cover letter to explain your situation. However, make sure you keep it positive. Be honest in the letter, but don’t overshare unimportant details and refrain from making any apologies. Unemployment happens to all of us, and you simply just need to put a positive spin on it. Focus on your strengths and don’t let the gap distract the entire cover letter.
  • Include an Opening Statement:Your resume should be a story, and just like any book, it should start with a thrilling hook. An opening statement can be used in the beginning of the resume to help recruiters target skills you may have acquired in roles prior to your most recent role. Once they read this, they will be more likely to look through the rest of your resume to find these skills. It is used to direct the recruiter to other roles that may lie past the unemployment gap in your resume. This statement should be powerful and tailored specifically to the job you’re applying for. It should provide your objectives as well as communicate an overview of who you are, what you can do, and why they should hire you. This is your elevator pitch that makes the recruiter want to read for more than six seconds.

Expert Advice for Assessment Centers

Employers want to know as much about their potential candidates as possible so they can feel confident making the right hire. When you’re applying for a job, companies may invite you to an assessment centre as part of the hiring process. This is typically the case for roles in technical fields (such as engineering) or when applying for positions at large, competitive companies. Rather than a single interview, assessment centres can take several days and are used to see how prospects react to simulated scenarios and perform in aptitude tests.

The biggest difference compared to standard interviews is that assessment centers will deal with groups of candidates throughout the day, rather than everything being one-on-one. Working with other people who are also looking to be hired for the same role can seem daunting, but group scenarios are used so employers can see how well you cope with unfamiliar situations. You should take a balanced approach to your assessment centre performance – speaking up when you have a good idea without dominating at every opportunity. Employers want to see diplomacy and communication, as well as leadership skills and decision-making.

Attending an assessment centre can be a stressful experience as everything you say and do will contribute towards your chances of success – sometimes even how you spend your breaks! A strong performance shows employers how well you’ll integrate yourself in their company, so check out the infographic below to learn what to expect, how to physically and mentally prepare yourself, and how to make sure you stand out from the other prospects.

 

interview skills

Infographic courtesy of Viking

Improving Your Business Writing Skills in the Workplace

Guest post by Sophia Anderson

With all the wonders of technology, most of us have forgotten what our handwriting used to look like. The problem is: we have also stopped trying to write strong, meaningful sentences with no shortcuts and grammatical errors. We are under the impression that, in the world of the Internet, writing skills no longer matter. Let other people write; we will read only what we need to read.

That impression that writing skills don’t matter changes as soon as our boss asks us to write a report or take part in a social media campaign. Even if you’re only writing emails to workplace peers, they should be really good. Eventually you come to realize that you can write your way to the top.

Why Business Writing Skills Are Important for Career Progress

It’s strange to see how much convincing some people need before they start working on improving their writing skills. You need reasons? No problem! Here are a few of them:

  • Proper business writing skills help you land a job. Start out with a great LinkedIn profile and an outstanding resume. You’ll also have to write personalized cover letters for each position you apply for. You’ll need to present yourself as an authoritative online persona; one way you can do this is through blogging and related social media updates.
  • When you know how to communicate properly in written form, you leave a good first impression on potential employers and business partners.  You only have one chance at making a good first impression.
  • How can you convince someone to become your customer? Through an effective marketing message, which you need to write. Every ambitious person in business needs to learn persuasive writing skills.
  • Once you acheive success, people will expect you to share your wisdom through a book. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Eric Ries… all these names mean something in the world of business. Their books only cement their authority as experts.

Writing a Business Document Is Easier than You Think

Each business document or important official letter goes through three stages:

  1. Business writing skillsDefining the purpose and audience:  Exactly who are you writing for? What goal are you trying to acheive? You need to ask yourself those two questions before generating any content. It’s important to address the right people and convey a clear message to your intended audience.
  2. Achieving proper structure and style:  It’s important to write in clean sentences using simple words. No reader will use a dictionary to understand what you’re trying to say! Your style will benefit from a personal touch, which presents you as a unique individual whose perspective is important.
  3. Editing and proofreading:  This is the stage most often neglected. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a business report, an official document, a presentation, or a simple email – your work always needs critique and proofreading.  Editing should always focus on the style and logical flow. If you notice any information gaps, make sure to cover them.  Eliminate useless words, sentences or paragraphs. Finally, you’ll need to proofread the draft to make sure there are no remaining grammatical and spelling errors.

If you doubt that you’ve achieved effective format, style and language, you can always get professional writing help that will improve the quality of the overall text.

Tips on Improving Your Business Writing Skills in the Workplace

Imagine a world where you’ve already graduated from college and you no longer have professors giving you assignments.  How do you work on your writing skills when you don’t have such guidance and control? We’ll give you a few tips to follow:

  1. Start with a plan:  Outline what you want to achieve with this message.  What main points do you need to cover? Your plan should help you maintain a clean writing structure.
  2. Always get straight to the point:  Next time you’re writing an email to someone important, start with “I am writing to…” right after the greeting. In business writing, it’s important to state the purpose right at the beginning. You can then elaborate on the main points from your outline.
  3. Take an online course:  If your employer doesn’t provide training, you can always gain skills through an online course. High-Impact Business Writing from Coursera is a nice place to start.
  4. Support everything with facts:  You’re not writing a personal essay. If you want to gain authority through your written messages, you have to provide proper support. Find up-to-date statistics, case studies, and other authoritative information to use as a reference when making your points.
  5. Get some feedback:  If you’re doing this all by yourself, you should notice some progress. There will be an improvement, but you never know how good your work is unless you get substantial feedback.
    Find a mentor who knows what great writing is all about; someone who understands your industry and the effect you want to achieve. Such a mentor could be your boss, a coworker, or an important contact from your industry. If you have an important business presentation to give, make sure to get key feedback before editing your work down to its publishing form.

Now you know: business writing skills are important and there are simple ways to improve them. With enough practice and feedback from the right people, you’ll begin to notice a huge difference in the way you express yourself in written form, and reap the financial rewards as well.

Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, a freelance writer and a blogger. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Get in touch on Facebook.