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Some thoughts on growing a business

If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next.

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If a business stands still for too long then it ends up in a rut. Perhaps you’ve already achieved some level of success in your company, whether it’s a small business or a large organization. However, success can only be maintained if a company is willing to “change with the times”. Nothing remains the same in the world of business. The entire concept of selling commercialized goods to a consumer market is based on the idea of growth. People want newer and better versions of the things they already own if they’re going to part with their money. That’s why the businesses which remain on top have mastered the art of reinventing themselves over and over again. They might be selling identical or near-identical products to the things they were selling ten years ago, but the important thing is that they repackaged their service. They evolved.

You need to grow, in other words. If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next. Your goal is to find a gap in the market and then find the next one. Once you’ve found a profitable solution to a consumer problem, every other company in your industry is going to copy what you did so that they can emulate your success. You might have some loyal clients who become accustomed to your goods and services, but your customers in the wider target market might simply choose whichever business is offering the cheapest or newest deal in your industry. That’s why you’ve got to stay on top of your game. Continuous growth is the key. And if you want to make that an integral part of your business then here are some thoughts on expanding your company.

Start investing to improve your business.

Your business can’t grow until you put something back into it. Maybe you started your company from the comfort of your home, or maybe you got a few friends together because you had a great idea. Whatever the case, your humble beginnings may have served you well in the early days, but there’s only so far you can get with limited resources and limited people. At some point, you’re going to need more employees, a bigger office, and other improvements that all cost money if you want your company to grow. You want to deliver a more extensive service to a wider client base, but that’s going to require some investment on your part.

However, if your company is still small and its profits can’t quite stretch to cover the necessary improvements you had in mind then perhaps you could look into alternative means of financing your next big business venture. You might even want to look into the property market to open up a new source of income that would fund the necessary business investments you had planned. You might want to check out this new launch property as a good place to start when trying to turn over a healthy profit outside your business. Property is a smart way to invest your excess funds. The point is that you need to find some way of funding business improvements. Investments are a necessary risk if your company is going to grow.

Become a more productive company.

One of the best ways to grow as a company is to increase your levels of productivity. And you can do that by putting the focus on your employees. Motivated people work harder, so you need to keep your workforce happy. You could give them incentives such as a bonus or a free lunch for working hard. You could even spruce up the office so as to create a more pleasant working environment. Above all else, you need to remember that your employees are people and they want to work for people. You create a much more loyal workforce when you demonstrate that you care about your workers as more than statistics or machines that keep your business running. You need to humanize yourself as the boss. That doesn’t mean you need to be friends with everybody in the office, as a professional relationship is still important if you want to ensure that you’re respected in the office. However, respect is a two-way street; you need to recognize the value of your workers. Your members of staff will be far more productive if they feel that they’re valued as individuals in a personal and a professional sense. The more productive they are, the great your company’s growth.

Of course, happy workers might still struggle to be as productive as possible if you don’t optimize the way in which they work. If you’re overloading your members of staff with too many different tasks to complete then you’re not putting their work hours to good use. You might want to make things easier for your employees by automating certain processes in the workplace. Repetitive tasks only waste precious hours of the day, but such tasks are also irritating for your members of staff. You can both make lives easier for members of your workforce and create a more productive work environment by automating certain administrative tasks that take up time during the day. If you let technology take control of generating invoices and other tasks then your workers will have more time to devote to the more technical aspects of their job roles. Your company will be more productive, and your employees will be happier.

Get ambitious with your marketing techniques.

You need to get ambitious with your marketing style if you want your business to grow. Use the internet to help you out; if you advertise a good enough deal then people will spread the word online for you. You could offer coupons and discounts to people who refer your business to your friends. You could also target new markets by offering incentives and deals to certain demographics. Perhaps you could offer 20% off your products to students in order to reel in a younger audience, for example. It all depends on the nature of your business, of course. The point is that incentivizing consumers with deals is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you use social media properly then people should share your posts and spread the word for you. And if they get discounts for doing so then they definitely will.

Connect with existing and potential customers.

We briefly discussed this in the point above. Impressing customers can be a marketing technique to spread the word about your business and increase your client base, but it can also be a way of making a direct connection with the target audience. This will help your business to grow because it’ll improve the reputation of your brand name. Excellent customer service is a good way to start with this, of course, but you can go deeper than that. You could send handwritten letters to clients as a way of thanking them; this requires more time and effort than an automated response. It’ll show your customers that you really value them.

You could even give away something valuable on your business’ website in order to entice people to try out your business before they spend any money. Again, it’s all about making a connection with the customer. The best way to do that is to give them something that you can afford to give away for free but which is very valuable to them. This will make them feel as if your business really cares about rewarding its clients. Plus, they’ll return to your business to buy more goods and services if they liked the initial freebie. If you make a real connection with your clients then your business will naturally start to grow.

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Montenegro legalizes same-sex civil partnerships

Montenegro legalized same-sex civil partnerships, in a 42-5 vote among the country’s lawmakers. With this move, it becomes the first European country outside of Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognize same-sex couples.

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Photo by roemi62 at Pixabay.com

Montenegro legalized same-sex civil partnerships, in a 42-5 vote among the country’s lawmakers. With this move, it becomes the first European country outside of Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognize same-sex couples.

This is not a complete win, by any means.

While the new law will give same-sex couples the same legal rights as mixed-sex couples, same-sex couples will not have the right to adopt.

The country’s president, Milo Đukanović, tweeted that they were now “one step closer to joining the most developed world democracies.”

The law will come into effect next year, with details yet to be finalized, as well as government clerks needing to undergo training.

Montenegro’s pro-LGBTQIA move is only one of the country’s moves largely driven by its attempt to join the European Union. Another move includes anti-discrimination training for police services and health workers.

Photo by falco at Pixabay.com

Still in the Balkans, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina are also set to start a consultation that could mean the government starts recognizing same-sex relationships. Now this is worth highlighting: The country is divided into two self-governing entities, and only the Federation is considering the move. The conservative Republika Srpska, which covers less than the Federation, is not considering it.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Three crucial steps for a thriving business

If your business is surviving, but not thriving, take these three crucial steps to get the most out of your company.

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If you’re a business owner, you may think that simply surviving the COVID-19 crisis, and the financial impacts it has had, is enough. Think again.

If your business is surviving, but not thriving, take these three crucial steps to get the most out of your company. 

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Provide excellent customer service

While you likely set out to solve a problem that a customer was facing or provide a product that someone was in search of, it may have been lost somewhere along the road. It’s time to remember that. So, instead of just offering middling service at best, make sure your customer service is optimal.

Go the extra mile when you can; if a customer has a question that you don’t have the direct answer to, point them to an expert that might. Is your customer asking for an upgrade, a product, or something that you don’t offer yet but might? Don’t forget to reach out directly to them as soon as you do have it available, whether that means salted chocolate chip cookies if you own a bakery, or a new way to track receipts if you offer a SaaS solution to finances.

Offer the type of customer service that you want when you frequent a business. Each customer you interact with has their own unique customer experience, so remember that when providing them your solution or product. 

Do not cut prices even during a crisis

Don’t underestimate your company’s worth. Many start-up businesses under value their product, solution, or service. When this happens, they don’t charge enough. And do you know what happens? People don’t think they’re getting a great deal when they work with you. They just expect that you are providing them the price that you see necessary to charge them.  Investigate your pricing strategy and make sure it aligns with your product. 

There is evidence that shows when two identical services are offered at different prices, people will often go with the higher price. Why? They simply assume it’s better. If your product is good, do not cut prices, offer coupons, or boast that you’re the cheapest in the area. Not only are you attracting the wrong customers by doing this, but you’re also likely to lose customers when you raise prices that weer previously unsustainable. 

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Stop overpromising and under-delivering

If a car mechanic tells you that they can fix your car by that evening, you expect it to be finished by the end of the day, right? When you go to pick it up, only to find that it actually won’t be done for three more days, you’re probably more than a little miffed. What would happen though if the mechanic initially told you they’d let you know a timeframe, but expected it to be finished in about three days, and actually had it done in two? You’d think, “Wow, that was fast!”

Instead of overpromising and under-delivering, be honest with your customers. If you are planning to have an update for your app by the end of the month, be realistic. Don’t promise them more than you can actually deliver on in the allotted amount of time, and your customers will learn to trust you. 

Growing your business takes work

Growing a business isn’t all rainbows and cupcakes. It takes years of hard work and dedication, but if you want your company to thrive, not just survive, it’s time to kick it up a notch. 

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Lifestyle & Culture

Surviving COVID-19: 5 Strategies hotels should implement ASAP

Even when the pandemic ends, the practice of social distancing, fear of large crowds, and quarantining may continue to linger for months or even years. This means that business owners need to keep up with this drastic shift in consumer behavior.

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The coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China has spread like wildfire throughout the world. With the world on hold, global travel has been put to a stop, causing a huge blow to the hospitality industry, particularly hotels. Travel bans mean less tourists, and less tourists mean lesser hotel guests.  

Even when it ends, the practice of social distancing, fear of large crowds, and quarantining may continue to linger for months or even years. This means that business owners need to keep up with this drastic shift in consumer behavior. Keep in mind that many of your potential guests may develop a lasting stigma against crowded places, including hotel lobbies, busy restaurants, schools, offices, and more. 

According to the STR and Tourism Economics, the hotel industry is projected to suffer a 50.6% decline in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2020 due to COVID-19. In another research from CBRE, since the outbreak began in January 2020, it will take approximately 6-10 months for hotel demand to increase and 12 to 16 months for average daily rate (ADR) and RevPAR to gain footing. 

With that said, hoteliers need to take proactive measures to prepare for recovery once this dies down. Here are five strategies hotels should implement to survive the effects of COVID-19. 

1. Inform Your Customers of Critical COVID-19 Information

Be sure your customers know of the changes in hotel operations due to COVID-19. Inform them whether your hotel is open, as well as cancellation policies for reservations made before the outbreak. Also, don’t forget to let them know that you have a prevention plan in place. 

You can connect with your customers via website, social media, emails, and local listings. Your website and social media platforms should contain the following necessary information in which to put your customers at ease:

  • Cancellation Policy – the best route is to waive cancellation fees or allow guests to rebook.
  • Address Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
  • Comprehensive Prevention Plan
  • How Your Hotel is Helping the Community
  • Contact Information

2. Recognize the Efforts of Front liners

Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, security guards, cashiers, garbage collectors, medical technicians – these are just some of the people who work in the frontlines to fight the war against COVID-19. Recognizing their efforts is the least we can do to repay their service. 

For hoteliers, you might consider offering discounted rates for front-liners and first responders. Some hotels are now offering complimentary rooms for healthcare professionals with the help of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Hospitality for Hope. 

If you want to give a little something to the first responders, you can donate food from your restaurant to local hospitals, offer more affordable rates, offer complimentary rooms, or donate to relief and recovery funds. 

3. Connect with Existing and Potential Guests on Social Media

Since everyone is quarantining, the use of social media has drastically increased over the past few weeks. It’s a great opportunity for business owners, especially hoteliers, to stay connected with your guests and engage with them through posting travel and destination content. 

You can ask previous hotel guests to share a picture from their past stay, share photos of your hotels, post pictures of your area, share virtual tours of tourist spots, or ask your clients to share their favorite touristy activity in your city. 

If your hotel has a gym, you can post at-home workout videos. You can create videos or instructional guides to keep your guests fit while they’re confined to their home. These are just some of the ways to stay connected amid a global pandemic. 

4. Try Upselling

As travel and dine-in demands are being put on hold, every hotelier’s strategy should include looking for strategies to build additional revenue. For it to be effective, you need to figure out what your customers need and want. 

You can encourage guests to book in advance by offering them premium rooms at a discount. You can also offer longer stays for a lower price. For example, book a four-night stay and get the fifth at 50% off. 

This inspires business travelers to extend their stay and encourages potential guests to enjoy a relaxing stay post-pandemic. If your hotel has a dining area or a wellness spa, you can maximize your revenue by offering gift cards. For your restaurant, you can offer delivery or pickup orders. 

5. Personalize Your Marketing Campaigns

Pandemic or no pandemic, personalizing your marketing campaigns is vital to your success. By doing this, your customers will feel important. Whether you want to reach out to business travelers or encourage advance bookings, it always helps to send personalized messages to potential guests. 

With so much on your plate, it can be tempting to generate an automated marketing message. However, you can use this time to get to know your audience and connect with them. You can also try using campaign management software to schedule posts in advance, which will keep your messages aligned. 

Combat the Effects of COVID-19 with These Hotel Financing Options

The effects of COVID-19 in the hotel industry are inevitable. However, as the saying goes: “Those who fail to plan – plan to fail.” 

If you need financial assistance, there are different hotel financing options you can choose from. Taking out a loan may seem counterintuitive, but fortunately there are lending companies that offer flexible repayment terms. 

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Technology

Know thy history; revisit the first 10 years of San Francisco’s Pride

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

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Third World Gay Caucus contingent, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1977; photograph by Marie Ueda, Marie Ueda Collection (2006-12), GLBT Historical Society.

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? Should events highlight the not-that-pretty/sexy yet still ongoing struggles, or just focus on the glamour (and while at it, earn organizers big bucks)? And part of this confusion stems from the lack of awareness, if not appreciation of Pride’s history.

A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

Organized by the GLBT Historical Society, with the support of San Francisco Pride, “Labor of Love: The Birth of San Francisco Pride, 1970–1980” showcases how San Francisco’s LGBTQIA community in the 1970s forged the annual celebration that would come to be known as the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade.

On June 27, 1970, a small group marched down Polk Street, and the following day staged a “gay-in” picnic in Golden Gate Park. Over the course of the decade, Pride became an annual San Francisco event, growing by leaps and bounds. Initially referred to as Christopher Street West — to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riot on that street in New York City — and then as Gay Freedom Day, Pride drew some 250,000 participants and spectators in 1980. 

“Labor of Love” revisits the first 10 years of San Francisco Pride using historic photographs, ephemera, artifacts, and film and sound recordings from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society and from community members. The exhibition explores the goals, the controversies, the hard work, the desires and the sometimes-competing spirits of struggle and celebration that laid the foundation for one of the city’s best-known public festivals. 

The exhibition is co-curated by Gerard Koskovich, a public historian and rare book dealer; Don Romesburg, professor of gender and women’s studies at Sonoma State University; and Amy Sueyoshi, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. They emphasize that Pride has traditionally deployed both frivolity and protest to promote a positive cultural shift in how society views LGBTQ people. 

The exhibition is organized around four themes.

“Why Pride?” considers how organizers and community members explained the purpose of the annual gathering.

“The Work of Pride” explores the ever-increasing commitment to planning, fundraising, volunteer support and governance that the event required.

“Pride Fights” grapples with the debates over what Pride should be, who should be included, who should make the decisions and how they should be made.

Finally, “Big Gay Family” highlights how the creation of San Francisco Pride brought diverse people into a collective, yet often contested kinship. 

POSTER 1: “Christopher Street Liberation Day Gay-In,” offset flyer, 1970; Charles Thorpe Papers (1987-02), GLBT Historical Society.
POSTER 2: San Francisco Gay Pride program, 1972; Ephemera Collection, GLBT Historical Society.

The interactive final section of the show, “Pride: From Past to Future,” invites visitors to reflect on the history, then look ahead by submitting their responses to two questions: “How will the future of Pride be shaped? How should it be shaped?” The answers will be posted in the online gallery to spark an ongoing dialog about the heritage of Pride.

“Labor of Love” will also be installed as a physical exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum at 4127 18th Street in San Francisco’s Castro district at a future date.

For more information, visit the GLBT Historical Society website at www.glbthistory.org.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Skin pigmentations: Types and treatment options

You should seek medical advice from experts to manage hyperpigmentation conditions. It is advisable to seek skin protective measures for a healthy and happy lifestyle.

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Skin pigmentation is a health disorder that affects the normal appearance of your skin. It is easily noticeable because of the change in color in the area with the disorder. The melanin gives your skin its color. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the color pigment cells of the melanin get damaged or when the cells are unhealthy.

In this article, we take a quick review of some of the hyperpigmentation conditions, treatment options, among other related issues.

Let’s begin…

Types of skin pigmentation

Some skin pigmentation like birthmarks act as beauty spots for some people, while for others it affects their self-esteem or poses health risks.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are abnormal skin colorations that appear at birth or a few days after birth. Most of the birthmarks are normal while others are cancerous and may pose serious health risks for individuals.

Pigmented birthmarks

Nevus of Ota

They are gray or blue discolorations on the skin which appear on the face or in the eyes. They result from excessive production of melanin on the skin causing discoloration. Many people with the disorder are prone to conditions of skin cancer such as melanoma cancer of the eye, cancer of the central nervous system, and others. They may also cause glaucoma on the individuals.

Treatment:

You can use prescribed bleaching agents for this kind of discoloration, such as laser, hydroquinone, and others.

Hemangiomas

They are birthmarks that appear as growths on the face, arms, trunk, and legs. They are a bunch of tiny blood vessels concentrated on one spot. Some hemangiomas are easily visible on the skin, while others appear bluish since they are deep in the body. The level of severity of this condition depends on if it reduces as your child grows up. Treatment is recommendable to avoid consequential health issues such as bleeding, ulcers, and others.

Treatment:

Use of corticosteroid medication, laser treatment, surgery, use of topical or oral beta-blocker medications. You should first consult an expert on the treatment required to avoid various serious side effects of these treatment methods.

Other pigmented birthmarks include Macular stains, Port-wine stains, and others.

Skin pigmentation disorders

Albinism

Albinism results from a lack of melanin in the skin, hair, or eyes. The condition is inheritable because of the presence of a gene that prevents the production of the pigment melanin.

Treatment:

The condition has no cure. The people with the condition should use sunscreen to prevent them from skin cancer. A visit to an ophthalmologist is recommendable to avoid eye problems.

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition caused by pigment loss. The body’s immune system attacks color pigment cells which cause white patches on the skin. It can cause other health issues such as anemia, diabetes, and others.

Treatment:

There is no cure, but you can get treatments such as the use of topical steroid preparations, topical immunomodulators, excimer laser, and others.

Other pigmentation disorders include; Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, Ashy dermatosis, Melasma, Lentigo Solaris, among others.

You should seek medical advice from experts to manage hyperpigmentation conditions. It is advisable to seek skin protective measures for a healthy and happy lifestyle. Hyperpigmentation may bring about other health issues, hence it is crucial to ensure that your condition gets checked by a health expert.

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Health & Wellness

Covid-19 affects adolescent and young adults sexual and reproductive health

LGBTQ youth have also been impacted. And for some youth whose families are less accepting, being quarantined for months can lead to significant tensions and confidentiality concerns, which could make LGBTQ youth more isolated.

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Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography from Unsplash.com

Social distancing and limited access to contraceptive and abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Rutgers University. The researchers address how these challenges, as well as peer and romantic relationships, are being navigated.

The finding are published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Huge changes for adolescents and young adults, include school closures, potentially much more time with family, the interruption of the normal trajectory toward increased independence and, for many, very limited or no physical proximity to sexual and romantic partners.

Even though the pandemic may lead to less opportunities for sex for some young people, disruptions in access to contraception and abortion can be extremely problematic for adolescents and young adults who are still able to be physically close to their partners during the pandemic, note the authors. “The good news is that some services, including obtaining many forms of contraception and receiving testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases can be handled through telemedicine,” said Leslie Kantor, a professor and chair of the Rutgers Department of Urban Global Public Health. “If telemedicine remains as widely available as it has been during the coronavirus pandemic, access to sexual and reproductive health care may actually improve for young people.” However, Kantor and colleagues say that lack of privacy and confidentiality, which many adolescents and young adults are experiencing while living at home with family, can also hinder the ability to get necessary sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In terms of testing for sexually transmitted infections or seeking abortion care, there is not a lot of data specifically on young people. But many states have tried to restrict abortion access by arguing it is not an essential service despite the fact that abortion clearly is essential and needs to be timely. There also have been very concerning declines in vaccinations for all children older than age 2 and the use of the HPV vaccine, which prevents cancer-causing infections and pre-cancers, has plummeted.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

LGBTQ youth have also been impacted, although fortunately, many LGBTQ centers quickly moved support groups and other services online. And for some youth whose families are less accepting, being quarantined for months can lead to significant tensions and confidentiality concerns, which could make LGBTQ youth more isolated.

While social disruption resulting from the pandemic affects young adults’ sense of health and well-being, one positive aspect is that young adults are digital natives familiar with online platforms and social media. “Young people are supposed to be gaining independence at this time in life, so for those who have had to return home after a period of being away, maintaining relationships with friends and romantic partners at a distance may be particularly challenging. Our view that their constant digital connection was negative is now a positive for them at this time,” said David Bell, MD, MPH, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health associate professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics.

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