How much do consumers spend online? According to a 2018 Omnichannel Buying Report, consumers spend a third ($1 in every $3) of their discretionary income online. While Amazon steals the show for the top seller, there are thousands upon thousands of home-based entrepreneurs behind those Amazon numbers. From skincare to books to clothing and other consumer goods, sellers and resellers are not only in the sales game they’re also in the inventory shipping and storage game.
The fact of the matter is, adding storage for an eCommerce business is a common problem that many online entrepreneurs face. Are you facing this issue? If so, don’t stress about renting storage units or renting commercial space if you don’t have the budget right now. If you take the time to make a plan for adding the right type of storage space to your home, you’ll avoid facing hefty storage fees month after month.
Storage Containers, and Lots of Them
The most affordable way to add additional storage to your home is also, thankfully, the easiest: DIY storage containers. If you have a closet that you’re not utilizing, you’d be surprised by how much room you can squeeze out of it just by A) organizing everything, and B) putting everything into a large, multi-tiered plastic storage container. You can find these both on the Internet and at any home supply or container store.
Organized storage containers will enable you to fit more items in the same-sized area, and you’ll also have easier access to inventory whenever you need it. This is the perfect choice for small eCommerce products that have high turnover rates, such as make-up, crafts, or other small niche products.
Convert and Enclose a Patio
Do you have a patio area on the exterior of your home that you don’t utilize? Perfect, you’ve got the makings of a storage room right outside your door.
Get quotes from a few local construction partners to convert and enclose the patio into a usable space. If the temperature for storing your inventory is important, be sure to get a quote for adding heat and AC. If you’re concerned about aesthetics or future use of the room, add windows to give the room a bit of additional lighting.
Once the patio is enclosed, you can follow traditional inventory storage advice or treat it as a garage space and organize accordingly. If you’re keeping resale value in mind as you make changes, Forbes offers a few tips to keep in mind for home improvements that boost value. Although the article doesn’t mention storage, the Mud Room and Smart Features concepts will ensure your investment yields a return.
No Basement? Look Up
Most homes have an attic or a crawl space that is accessible through pull-down stairs or an opening with a ladder. Before you consider this option, call in a handyman or contractor to evaluate the strength of the flooring.
You may have to reinforce the attic floor before you can use it to walk around or store items. There are two main reinforcement techniques available: sistering and engineered floor joists. Sistering involves installing newer, larger floor joists side by side with your existing ones. Engineered floor joists offer an increased level of structural reliability and as a bonus, you won’t have to worry about crowning, bowing or other related problems. When in doubt, call in a professional, as attic storage without proper reinforcement can be a hazard.
If you’re going to be converting your attic into storage, it’s probably best to use it for items that aren’t temperature sensitive. If the space is too good to pass up, you can look into adding extra insulation and heating/cooling options.
Invest in a Separate Building
If you absolutely need additional storage onsite but lack the space in your home, pre-engineered metal buildings are the most affordable way to go.
Even if you’ve only got a limited amount of land, you may still have room for this option. Steel buildings come in a variety of shapes and sizes with many custom options. Prefabricated metal buildings are erected very quickly and can solve your inventory storage problems right away. As an aside, if you require storage for large items, you can also experiment with triple roof structures, carports for covered outdoor work areas, or combinations of the two, depending on your needs.
Regardless of which onsite storage option you choose to explore, it’s clear that you have many options to help you manage growing inventory without paying storage fees to a third party facility. All of these options will add value to your home should you decide to move in the future.
Is Social Entrepreneurism Right For Your Business?
Social entrepreneurism is used by for profit entrepreneurs and also not for profit startups. It’s popular and a considerable number of ‘for profit’ companies are also incorporating social entrepreneurship into their business strategies as a way of giving back to society.
However, social entrepreneurship isn’t clearly defined and thus it’s meaning mis-interpreted, and misused particularly in marketing initiatives.
Let’s look at it in more detail and examine the advantages or disadvantages of launching a social enterprise.
What Is A Social Enterprise?
A basic definition of social entrepreneurship is an organization which operates in order to identify, create and implement solutions to social problems. Of course, the wide-ranging nature of social problems means that social enterprises can be focused on hundreds of areas.
Whether it focuses on poverty, homelessness, health or the environment, a social enterprise typically aims to promote a cause, alleviate suffering and/or resolve serious problems which are affecting communities, countries or the population as a whole.
Why It’s Popular
Social entrepreneurship has really taken off in recent years and companies which align themselves with positive values appeal to customers. Those among us who are more discerning about where we chose to shop and what we buy, will chose the ‘feel good’ that comes with knowing our purchase can indirectly improve the conditions of those less fortunate.
If you’re a purchaser who often feels guilty for buying for yourself, then knowing your purchase is not solely about you is all you need for guilt free pleasure. Plus the feel good experience, motivates you to share it with friends, family and followers in social media. It’s a reason to buy from the same company, time and time again, and every business wants a repeat customer.
Should It Be Where I Focus My Business?
Labelling yourself a social entrepreneur can be a savvy business decision. However it’s also a responsibility that you must fully commit to, as it requires a bonafide desire to make a difference.
Commit To It
Dedicating resources and some of your business profit to social causes is not for everyone. A halfhearted approach may backfire too if your business fails to follow through in any way.
We know how fast a business can be destroyed through carelessness. Who doesn’t remember Ratner’s fall from grace and it’s reputation irreparable.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to a whole host of organizations identifying as social enterprises and the media spotlight means self-proclaimed social enterprises do need to back-up their claims with clear goals, actions, and results.
Positives Of A Social Enterprise
Becoming a social entrepreneur can have many benefits and it can be extremely rewarding.
By identifying a worthy cause which needs exposure so it receives the support to make a difference to people’s lives, your business can help to alleviate a genuine social, culture or environmental problem.
Regardless of the size of your organization, knowing you’re helping to resolve a harmful issue can be rewarding on a personal and professional level.
Free PR, Discounted Marketing & Advertising
Perhaps more cynically, incorporate a social enterprise objective into your organization can garner positive PR.
Aligning yourself with a worthwhile cause can lead to free or reduced-cost advertising, and it can certainly help to gain support from similarly-minded individuals.
In some cases, social enterprises can benefit from tax breaks too so there could be a financial incentive to take a professional interest in social issues.
If your organization operates as a non-profit or eco-friendly enterprise, there may be certain grants you’re entitled too as well, not to mention PR-friendly awards you could be eligible for.
With so many benefits surrounding social entrepreneurship, declaring your organization a social enterprise may seem like a no-brainer. However, there are some disadvantages which can arise from social entrepreneurship.
As well as meeting your legal obligations as a company director or owner, you may need to fulfil additional requirements if you’re operating as a social enterprise. There are often strict guidelines which must be adhered to if you claim to operate for the benefit of cause and you’ll be expected to back up your claims with evidence.
Are There Conflicts Of Interest Between A Social Enterprise Versus A For Profit Business?
Not necessarily. A non-profit organization may run as a social enterprise but this doesn’t prevent for-profit businesses from incorporating social entrepreneurship into their for-profit business strategy.
Inevitably, a percentage of your revenue will need to go towards a particular cause if you claim to be supporting it but this doesn’t prevent your company from continuing to make a profit as well.
As the number of social entrepreneurs continues to grow, the definition of social entrepreneurism continues to evolve. Whilst there are a number of considerations to take into account before declaring yourself a social entrepreneur, adding a social enterprise element to your business or launching or non-profit organization can be beneficial for you, your business and your chosen cause.
What You Should Know Before Hiring an Independent Contractor
Are you thinking of hiring independent contractors?
Hiring contractors is a budget-friendly way to help support your small business. They allow you to get your business done and grow your company, without the legal and financial hassle of bringing on full-time, salaried employees.
Freelancing is taking off as more and more people want freedom in their work schedules. So there is plenty of talent out there to help your business succeed.
But hiring an independent contractor can be tricky, so don’t make any offers before you do some research and know what you’re getting into. Keep reading to learn more about what you need to do before hiring an independent contractor.
Five Steps to Hiring an Independent Contractor
Independent contractors and freelancers can help your business thrive, but you shouldn’t hire just anyone. Certain forms need to be filled out, and there are unique rules when tax time comes around.
If you’re new to working with contractors, here are five steps you’ll need to take before bringing on independent contractors:
1. Always Check Credentials
There are a lot of great contractors out there, but make sure you always vet your candidates before you make any official offers. A lousy contractor could cause some legal trouble down the road.
Always ask for a copy of their resume and to see past examples of their work. You likely wouldn’t hire a full-time employee without meeting them, checking their references and making sure they’re legitimate.
2. Fill Out The Proper New Hire Paperwork
Just like full-time employees, contractors have paperwork that needs to be filled out before they can start legally working for your business. Make sure you have a W-9 form filled out for them. This form is the contractor’s equivalent to a W-4.
3. Make Sure You Sign a Contract
Before your contractor does any work for you, you should have some form of contract or work agreement in place. This will keep you safe legally and hopefully prevent any disputes later on.
4. Paying the Contractor
Paying your independent contractor isn’t that complicated. You can either have them charge you hourly or agree on a flat rate per project. The exact price and method of payment should be agreed upon before the project starts and laid out explicitly in your contract that you both sign.
All you have to do is make sure that you accurately record every payment that you send to your contractors, and pay stubs is an easy way to do this. You can generate pay stubs online by going to a website like https://www.thepaystubs.com.
5. Give Them Proper Tax Documents
If you pay your independent contractors more than $600 in a year, you’ll need to give them a 1099-MISC form and include the total amount that they were paid. They will need this form and information to properly file their taxes.
Learn More About Running a Small Business
Hiring an independent contractor might seem complicated, but it’s easy to do if you remember a few simple things. The extra help will mean that you can focus on doing other things and helping your business succeed.
Check out the rest of our website for more helpful business tips. We have articles ranging from finance to marketing and sales!
Contributing to a Healthier Planet Through Event Sustainability
Have you ever thought about the waste that big events leave behind? When there is a concert, a big game in town, or even a corporate event, like an expo, have you ever thought about all the plastic used, like drink bottles, eating utensils, plates etc. You’d be forgiven for not considering it, however, now more than ever, it’s a question being asked.
Society is putting some thinking on the environmental impacts of events, alongside their societal, economic and sometimes – depending on the type of the event – political impacts, and the development of standards such as ISO 20121 proves precisely that.
Even though events planning and management might sound like a fairly contemporary idea and business activity, it is in fact very old. Since early humans started to get organized into groups, the idea of rituals was born, and thus the organization of “events” took place. Then, when the society started to get hierarchized, royalty would have extravagant weddings, birthdays, celebrations, funerals and so on.
In other words, even though perhaps the nomenclature did not exist as such, events were planned and organized from a long time ago.
With the evolution and the sophistication of societies, events planning took a whole new dimension and it got more complex.
One of these dimensions is also the environmental footprint that events, especially big ones leave behind. This matter was materialized in all its seriousness in 2012, during the London Olympics, when the Organizing Committee implemented the freshly developed ISO 20121 – the first international standard on sustainable events.
The standard was developed by ISO during the time of the London Olympics because sustainability was a central idea in London 2012.
While the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has a myriad of standards concerning the environment and environmental management, such as:
– ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System;
– ISO 50001 – Energy Management System;
– ISO 14015 – Environmental Assessment of Sites and Organizations;
– ISO 14063 – Environmental Communication;
– ISO 14031 – Environmental Performance Evaluation and many more.
However, ISO 20121 is very specific to events, and offers guidance on how to organize an event with a minimum environmental footprint while enhancing productivity and efficiency, saving costs and increasing profit.
While being aligned with other management systems standards, such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, ISO 20121 is also a very good management tool to show social responsibility, or the “People” bottom line of the “Triple Bottom Lines”, famously known as the “three P’s of Sustainability”.
It is a very interesting approach to sustainability, because it does not undermine the importance of profitability, while putting the same weight on sustainability and social responsibility.
The TBL or “Triple Bottom Line”, or “Three P’s” stand for three bottom lines that a company should take into account, and which measure a company’s success: Profit, People and the Planet.
In an article on ISO 20121, the three P’s and the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle, it is argued that an events management company can integrate these three and tackle a number of issues with one solution: implementing and maintaining ISO 20121.
Some of the more general benefits of implementing ISO 20121 for sustainable events include:
- Reduced environmental footprint
- Cost Reduction
- Increased efficiency
- Reduced energy consumption
- Increase labor productivity and motivation
- Improved image by proving to be socially reliable
- Possibility to integrate several management systems
Moreover, while the urgency and imminence of the effects of global warming and climate change are the main reason of investing in the implementation and maintenance of the ISO 20121, the latter is also a very good PR tool which can be used to display how responsible an organization that organizes events is towards the future of the planet and the future generations.
As environmental issues have never been paid more attention to, people all over the world, both in developed and developing countries are being careful and increasingly showing interest towards doing their part to contribute to the global effort of saving the planet.
In this sense, a company which showcases interest, to the point of investing time and resources in being environmentally responsible, to interjecting their input in this matter of cardinal importance, shows alignment with the contemporary values and principles of their clientele.
If we look at it closely, a company or organization which organizes big events implements a standard like ISO 20121 and commits to not polluting the environment through their business operations, is not committing to “clean” the environment, but rather to leave it as it is. It is rather a matter of balanced principle of non-interference than a heroic act of salvation.
About the Author
Julian Kuci is the Marketing Quality Assurance Manager at PECB. He is a graduate of RIT in Economics & Statistics and Public Policy & Governance. Julian holds a diploma in Transitional Justice from the Regional School of Transitional Justice and is certified against ISO 9001 – Quality Management and ISO/IEC 27001- Information Security Management.
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