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Final Steps To Launching Your Online Store

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This article shares the final and the most exciting steps to launching your own online store. At this point you have already evaluated your product idea and found the right product to sell online. You have searched and found the right supplier and reviewed the samples. Finally you have placed an order for your initial inventory and you are just waiting for it to come in. The next question you ask yourself is “What now?”

The reality is that you’ve still got a lot of work to do, you are still in your pre-launch phase. It is the most critical time for your online store as will set the tone for your business going forward.

Launching your business without being prepared can be a recipe for disaster. These 9 simple steps we have put together will ensure that you launch your online business and guarantee its success.

  1. Prepare your social networks.

In building an online business, social media forms the lifeboard that brings consistent flow of traffic and customers. It forms an audience of people who are interested in your product and your brand. As an entrepreneur, there are a few thing that you need to know before you prepare your social media channels:

  1. Claim your name

Your first order of business should be to open social media accounts with the largest social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. You are likely to cover a large customer base. The worse mistake you will make is to have different user names for each network. Decide on a consistent name to use before you open your social media networks.

  1. Choose your social networks wisely

Determine the network which will work best for your products. If you have a visual array of products or a brand that celebrates a certain lifestyle, visual and photo-centric networks like Pinterest and instagram would be the most ideal for your business.

  1. Get your email marketing ready

Email has proven to be the most important communication channel. Since email marketing is the most effective form of marketing, get things ready by setting up your templates, crafting a welcoming email and preparing your email marketing campaigns.

  1. Launch a landing page

This will be your brand’s temporary home until you launch your full website. Your landing page will showcase your brand and tease your pre-launch audience as to what is to come.

  1. Install Google Analytics

It is important to set up analytics right from day one. Analytics will give you valuable insights into who visits your website. In a physical store, you are able to see who comes into your shop and talk with them. However in an online store you are blind without google analytics.

  1. Do a keyword research.

Keywords are important aspects of search engine optimization (SEO).  The underlying value of choosing the right keywords is to help google and other search engines understand what your e-commerce is about and the products you sell. This increases you visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results when potential customers are looking for the product you sell.

  1. Build the store

At this stage you have already finalized most of the essentials. It is time to finally begin working on your actual store. It is the biggest task so make sure you give yourself enough time. The things you need to put into consideration are:

  • Choosing the right store theme.
  • The overall store design.
  • Product photography.
  • Product descriptions.
  1. Determine your shipping strategy

This is an integral part of your e-commerce business. Consider the following:

  • Packaging option and materials.
  • Which shipping carriers to use.
  • Shipping costs.
  1. Finalize your launch promotion strategy.

Finally you are ready to launch your e-commerce business. Ask yourself how you plan to launch your business. Will you launch by offering a 20% discount for all the products, offer free delivery? What communication channels will you use to tell your audience about the launch? You may consider reaching out to relevant publications to have your new store featured for launch.

Now that you have followed the 10-step launch plan, it is time to launch your store to an excited and expecting audience. If you do everything right you should have a healthy following on social media and people ready to line up and purchase from your new store.

Building a business requires hard work and commitment. It is a long road but with the help of these simple steps, you will be able to set the right tone for your business from the start.

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Why Design Is Fundamental To Success Fort Startups

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Companies like Apple are making design impossible for startups to ignore. Startups like GitHub, Airbnb, Square, and Fitbit have design at the core of their business, and they’re doing phenomenal work. But what is ‘design’ actually? Is it a logo? A word press theme?

It’s so much more than that. It’s a state of mind. It’s an approach to a problem. It’s how you’re going to be ahead of your competitor and win customers.

Take one step back and review your work as if it wasn’t your own, let others go over it, experience your product as if you were the one buying it, not the one who made it.

Detaching yourself from something that you have put so much sweat and hard work in is not easy, but product design is an essential tool on your way to perfecting your product and with it ultimately your brand and business success. After all, if your product doesn’t deliver on the promises you make, customers will not return.

There is a gap in the business industry, that often don’t take into account the user experience and due to the lack of options, the market has been flooded with products that at best are not user-friendly. As an entrepreneur always keep in mind that your product is only as good as it makes the customer feel.

The challenge is to be open and actively court feedback. If you continue making tweaks to your product as you go along, every negative comment your product receives could be what will set you apart from your competitors in the future.

Simply put, product design involves coming up with a product the market needs and wants, and the more the product is tailored to a smooth user experience, the more successful the product will be. All entrepreneurs want to create products which will have traction in the market. Taking user experience into account will more likely attract consumers.

It should be considered early on because it will ensure that the product has the characteristics and performance the customer’s desire, thus reducing the risk of creating a product that does not reflect the customers’ demands, while cutting the costs and helping establish a reliable and respectable brand.

How will users understand your product? How does it feel in their hands and how do they feel about using it? These are just a few questions that product design evaluations will aim to answer.

Tips on product design.

Having all this in mind, now let’s go through several steps offered by Growth Africa, on how to now practically go about it, especially, if you don’t have a design yet.

  1. Empathize- Use empathy to understand your client’s rational and emotional needs. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and objectively evaluate the service or product your offering.
  2. Be user oriented– Don’t make your products appearance your main concern, it’s the product usability that will create traction in the market, so ensure a user oriented design
  3. Test and Try- Don’t rush to the market without proper prototypes as these demonstrates the functionality of the product and ensure your product is ready for manufacture
  4. Observe- Pay close attention to how people interact with the product in its natural context (home, workplace) to understand and improve their experience with it.
  5. Humanize- Always keep in mind that customers are not just data; they are real people with real needs and desires, it’s important to take them into account.

 

Let’s look at some handy guide will help you understand design and provide resources to help you find awesome design talent.

Design is a method of problem solving.

Design is so many things, executed in many different ways, but the function is always the same. Whether its blueprints, a clever UI, a brochure, or a chair, design can help solve a visual or physical problem.

So what is “good design”?

This definition is not so simple. The best designs are notorious for seeming not designed at all – or ‘un designed’. It’s easier if we break things down a bit. If you know what to look for, it’s easier to identify good design when you see it; or perhaps when you can’t see it at all.

Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and functionalist industrial design. Aware that his design was a significant contributor to the world, he asked himself an important question:

“Is my design good design?” Since good design can’t be measured in a finite way, he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)

Good design is; Innovative makes a product useful, aesthetic, makes a product understandable, unobtrusive, honest, long lasting, thorough, environmental friendly and as little design as possible.

Good design can’t be achieved with glossy buttons or masterful wireframes alone. It’s a merger of all these principles into something that is meaningful and deliberate.

Just like a great business plan is nothing without expert execution, a great Photoshop mockup is nothing, for example, without careful consideration to UI or the user’s needs.

Objectified

Take a look at your current product – is design contributing in an innovative way? Does it make the product useful, understandable, and aesthetic? Is it long-lasting, or will it look outdated or break in a few years?

These are really hard questions to answer. Having a designer will enable you to work within these constraints and enable you in creating a product customers will fall in love with. Love is a really strong emotion.

Design has always been a strongly valued aspect of business, even 60 years ago. It’s totally a proven method even in business today.

How important is product design?

Product design includes both digital and physical products. It represents not only the aesthetic qualities, but what it does, how well a user thinks it’s going to do it, and how easily & quickly they can complete a task.

Think for a moment. How important is product design to you? How important do you think aesthetics and ease-of-use are to your customers?

How deep does design go?

Now we’re getting somewhere. Great design is taking root in startup culture, and it seems like many people are open to change. Not only do many entrepreneurs and engineers see substantial room to improve their own products, they overwhelmingly believe that designers belong on a founding team.

Startups + designers =?

For a long time, a pair of co-founders consisted of an executive and an engineer. It worked for Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, just to name a few.

These companies have excellent designers today, because it’s a necessity they can’t afford to ignore. It seems like design is becoming more and more prevalent in new startups as well and more are pushing the envelope.

Design has become a key differentiator for startup companies to acquire funding, press coverage, and loyal users. So think through your product design carefully.

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Business

The Importance of Mental Health in The Workplace

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Mental health is something that everyone has. It is the way we think, feel and also our ability to deal with ups and downs in our lives. It is just the same as physical health in that we need to keep ourselves fit and seek appropriate help as early as possible in case of any problem. Your mental health can fluctuate with changes in circumstances and as you move through different phases in your life.

Therefore, it is important that we all take the necessary steps to improve it and build resilience through self-care.

Mental health at work

For many people, work forms a large part of their lives. That adults spend roughly one-third of their lives at work is a fact. During this time, it is very likely that they experience a spectrum of mental and physical health.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people globally suffer from depression and many of these are also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. While work is considered good for mental health, a negative working environment may lead to mental and physical health problems.

WHO notes that harassment and bullying at the workplace are commonly reported causes of work-related stress that can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health.

Statistics

Although it can often be a taboo topic, especially at work, employees seem to want their employer to champion mental health and well-being. In a survey carried out on office workers in July 2018 by Peldon Rose:

  • 72% of employees want employers to champion mental health and well-being.
  • Nearly three-quarters of workers say they want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace. This is rated as more important than equality (48%), sustainability (38%) and diversity (31%).
  • This is the case for all generations, who prioritize mental health and well-being above all other causes – Gen Z (76%), Millennials (73%), Gen X (75%), Baby Boomer (56%).

Risk factors

Many workplaces present a number of risk factors for mental health. Most of these relate to the support available for employees to work, the skills and competencies of employees, and the interactions between type of work, the organization, and the managerial environment. These risks as listed by WHO include:

  • Low levels of support for employees
  • Poor communication and management practices
  • Inflexible working hours
  • Inadequate health and safety policies
  • Unclear tasks or organizational objectives
  • Limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work

Warning signs

The Shaw Mind Foundation, which is a supporter of mental health in the workplace, lists some behavioral changes that may be warning signs for employers to look out for in their employees:

  • Unexpected and sudden changes in mood
  • A decrease in work rate, missing deadlines, and deliverables
  • Inability to focus
  • Anxious and fidgety behavior
  • A sudden reduction in the quality of work produced
  • Repetitive questions

While the above behaviors may point to someone struggling with their mental health, they can also be signs that they are dealing with other issues. Therefore, it is important to have an honest conversation with an employee with respect to their privacy boundaries to avoid wrong assumptions.

Supporting mental health at work

In lieu of this information, there are changes that organizations and businesses can implement to support mental health and well-being at work. Here are some suggestions from the foundation for employers:

  • Provide support services and staff members that are trained to deal with in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure employees are aware of the availability of this support
  • Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and out-of-hours email access
  • Set attainable deadlines and spread workloads equally and fairly across teams
  • Promote healthy eating and regular exercise
  • Where possible, avoid isolated work. If they are working from home, make sure to check in regularly

Conclusion

It is very important for organizations to ensure their employees are educated about mental health to avoid cases of mental breakdowns, reduce suicide risk and prevent burnout. Companies need to effort to invest in their employees’ mental health to establish a positive work environment where people will want to work.

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Features

Reasons Why You Should Be Reading More Books

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Can you recall the last time you read a book or a meaningful magazine? What do your daily reading habits center around? While reading is an activity that is very often taken for granted, it has many benefits to those who indulge in it. Books have retained their importance through the years regardless of how long they have been in existence.

Below are some excellent reasons for you to pick up a good book and lose yourself in it.

  1. Cognitive mental stimulation and mental health

Research has shown that reading books is an activity that engages all the major parts of the brain. Staying mentally stimulated can slow the progression of (or possibly even prevent) Dementia and Alzheimer’s. it is important to keep your brain engaged as just like any other muscle in the body, it requires exercise to keep it healthy and strong.

  1. Stress reduction and tension relief

Losing yourself in a great story transports you into other worlds away from stressful issues in your personal and professional lives. A well-written, substantial article, on the other hand, distracts you and keeps you in the present, allowing you to relax.

  1. Knowledge

Reading transforms you into a well-rounded individual capable of being an interesting conversation on a variety of topics. Since every piece of literature you read fills your head with new information, the more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to face many of life’s challenges.

  1. Vocabulary expansion

Reading more improves your vocabulary and this, in turn, helps you to better express your thoughts and feelings. It is possible that you may not immediately realize the increase in your vocabulary, but the new words will begin integrating themselves into your everyday speech.

  1. Better memory and focus

Reading a little bit each day stimulates the part of the brain that helps with memory and function and it pushes them to the limits like with physical exercise. Focus improves because you need it to read and understand a book or an article. Read for at least 15-20 minutes at the start of your day to increase your focusing ability and therefore improve productivity.

  1. Benefits your business

Reading often can actively benefit your professional life.

This is because it encourages curiosity, with curious people more often than not being high achievers. With this understanding, you can challenge yourself to become more curious and acquire more knowledge. This new awareness can also be utilized to hone your hiring practices. Reading habits are an apt barometer in measuring a person’s level of discipline, curiosity, and zeal for learning.

Conclusion

Books are an amazing source of not only entertainment but also personal, professional and health benefits. Whatever your reading preference; be it fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles or even textbooks, you can always count on the multiple benefits to both your mind and your body.

Books can be found anywhere, from bookshops to libraries and even supermarkets. This makes them easily accessible and should you wonder which to read, a simple google search will help. With the advent of technology, getting books to read and reading them has become more convenient. This is because books are now digitally available as e-books that come in different formats such as PDF, EPUB, and MOBI. They can also be read on digital devices such as smartphones, laptops and Kindle devices.

While reading may seem boring to most, cultivating a reading habit will make you an avid reader with time. So if you have not started, give it a shot.

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