5 Cost-Effective Ways to Prevent Burglary in Your Shop/Office

As the world is growing more and more, businesses are improving their reach and scope, generating better revenues and bringing in more money. This money is quite often noticed by unwanted people who might want to break into your shop/office when you don’t suspect and take away something valuable, causing you losses.

Burglary is a big issue in many places of the world, especially busy marketplaces with lots of shops. The notion that there is safety in numbers is an illusion; it only lets burglars blend in with the crowd to stalk a shop/gather information. Also, many small and medium shops may not have enough bandwidth to install expensive CCTV camera systems with 24/7 surveillance. Also, employing a security guard is not risk-free.

Here are 5 cheap, but effective ways to reduce the chances of thieves/burglars from targeting your workplace

  1. Install Dummy Cameras

While a full-fledged CCTV system may not be a very cost-effective method, a dummy camera surely is. All you need to do is bolt-up a few dummy cameras at various points in your shop and put-up a board saying, “You Are Under Surveillance.” Most burglars stalk from a distance and occasionally visit the shop a couple of times, but never do they try to pry into the owners’ monitors. A dummy camera costs about 1/10th the actual price of a system and looks pretty much the same – enough to deter the burglar from targeting your shop.

2. Active Socialization with Neighbours

This is especially effective when you’re new to the area. Most burglaries happen in newly opened shops where the owners don’t know the people around them and where trust-factor is low. It goes without saying a friendly neighbour can come to the rescue when you are not around. Surprisingly, more than half of burglaries are committed in broad daylight, in shops where people don’t bother looking after each other’s backs.

3. Change Locks – Install Deadbolts

As far as nights are concerned where most shops are closed and no one would be able to come to your rescue, an age-old technology comes into the picture – locks. The only difference we suggest making here is to change the traditional locks and install deadbolt locks which cannot be pried open since there are no springs. They don’t cost much and installing an entrance door behind the shutter would also cause a delay in the burglary – and most thieves are not patient while stealing. Chances are, they will choose to leave instead of wasting time.

4. Add Shatter-proof films to windows/glass walls

Most modern shop-décor themes involve use of glass to give a glimpse of what’s inside to passers-by. This, however also becomes a risk for attempts to theft as a simple brick can shatter the glass, saving time for the thief and creating an easy entry-way. Glass-break sensors and alarms are reliable but expensive. On the other hand, shatter-proof films are easy to procure and applying them can be a very easy DIY project. These films do not let the shattered glass pieces fall down keeps the structure intact. Your burglar will have to throw in extra efforts while breaking in, causing a very uncomfortable delay.

5. Motion Sensor Lights

Motion sensors have become increasingly cheap over the last decade and are fairly easy to come by. Many shop owners are seen installing them in their shops to make automatic doors. Well, the same technology can come to your rescue someday. Just install lights outside your shop, attach them to a motion sensor to light up accordingly, and you have a credible deterrent to keep unwanted hands at bay. Couple it with your dummy cameras, and the thieves would think twice before going ahead with the robbery.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

While great deterrents, these methods are only meant to ensure a potential threat decides to skip your shop while attempting a robbery and a determined thief will do whatever is possible to get their hands on your valuable assets. Also, most crimes involve the perpetrators taking mostly cash since that is easiest to take and make a run. Not keeping cash in the shop’s drawer and instead of keeping it in a bolted safe/putting the money in the bank is again a great idea

Also, taking time to remove expensive show-pieces/merchandise from the view while closing for the day is an additional precaution you could take if you have glass windows/walls.

In a Nutshell

Being alert and smart can go a long way to protect your shop from intruders and having your hard-earned money and valuables taken away. While thieves are getting smarter day-by-day, they also know better than to target a shop that could get them caught. More often than not, simply letting a potential criminal know that committing a particular crime may not be worth it is sufficient and prevents the crime from happening altogether. 

Also, if your entire marketplace neighborhood starts being actively involved in preventing such incidents, burglars would either be forced to leave or find a bit more honorable professions to earn their livelihood. Either way, it is always a good start for a safer and happier marketplace for both shoppers and shopkeepers.

Dealing in Cash Beats Offering Credit to Customers

In this largely growing world with better opportunities to target and acquire customers, a large question bugs the budding and established businessmen alike – “Should I work with customers who ask for credits?” 

Well, the answer to this question may not be straight, however, as a rule of thumb for businessmen, cash beats credit. Let us take you through the top reasons why asking for compensation upfront is a better idea than letting your customers stack up dues.

Customers Want Credit – But Probably Will Not Write it Up

It is a common tendency among all humans on Earth – to try to keep liability as far away as possible. One thing to be noted with care is that in cases where credit becomes stretched or extends too long, or the amount owed becomes too high, people tend to bail when payment is not possible right away. You stand the risk of losing not just the money you’re owed, but also the customer. Unless you trust your customer completely, extending credit may not be a very good idea. While extending credit, if you must, due diligence and paperwork might help you save time and frustration should a bitter situation arise.

No Credit-Giving Helps Avoid Bad Taste

It is true that once you ask a credit taker for your money, they are going to keep a distance going forward. Also, giving your customers the power to purchase more without having to pay for it upfront may backfire as a bad debt. Coming up with firm credit policy and then sticking to it should help you protect your coveted business from running into losses.

Credit Hampers Your Cash Flow

Speaking of losses, every business finds itself in jeopardy when funds are running low. Extending credit to customers for periods even as short as 4 weeks is still enough to show a red spot in your balance sheet. A thriving business depends largely upon a smooth flow of money, where all dues are cleared by the end of your cycle.

How to Change From Credit-based Structure to Cash Based One

The natural question that comes to the mind is then, “How do I make the switch? I have many dues already.” The answer is straight-forward. Creating a credit policy and letting your customers know is an easy-to-do passive methodology to ensure your customers know you mean business and are serious about it. This creates an environment where customers may do business with you on credit, but would also be liable to pay up on time. Also, having to do paperwork would deter a customer from asking for credits and it is more likely they would eventually start making payments upfront.

Also, limiting the amount of credit a customer can stack up will help you curb the dents in your financial plans. Keeping the limit to what you can handle for a month should be okay. This way, the moment your customer stacks up enough dues, you can ask them for payments. Once again, a written credit policy can come to the rescue.

Slowly filtering out customers who keep asking for credit without making regular payments is the next step businessmen can take once they have set up a structured credit extension system. Once you stop working with people who ask for too much credit, your red marks will automatically diminish giving you better numbers and ensuring the business will continue smoothly.

Once these steps are followed, a business is left with only those select few patrons who are trustworthy and to whom limited credit can be extended without fears of losing money. Ideally, putting 1-2% of your billables in credits can also help your business gain hold in the market and retain the best customers.


For more reasons in favor of cash than credit, it can be said that a business which deals in upfront payments has better chances of growth and survival than the ones which let customers ‘borrow’ frequently. Also, with the advent of new technology, it has become easier for even buyers to make payments right away, courtesy of multiple payment options. Removing bad debts and moving towards a cash-based structure can be safely called out to be a way to keep moving with minimal hurdles.

How to Be More Responsive to Customers

The speed of customer responsiveness can make or break your business. Here’s how to be more responsive to customers—and boost your customer loyalty.

It’s no secret that consumers and businesses customers are like are becoming more impatient and more demanding. Customers expect businesses to respond to them quickly, if not immediately, and it’s putting pressure on small businesses.

Here’s a closer look at what customers expect from businesses, customer responsiveness trends, and ways you can be more responsive to customers.

Customer expectations are rising

Business owners that Broadly surveyed in The State of the American Small Business 2019 are feeling pressed to deliver rapid service and customer support. The majority (55%) reported feeling like they had an hour or less to respond to a potential customer before the prospect moves on to a competitor.

In fact, they’re right: One-third of consumers in the study expect small businesses to respond to them within an hour to earn their business. And over half of customers (51%) will definitely go elsewhere if your business takes six hours or more to respond.

In a survey by Zingle, the number-one thing customers say would improve the customer experience is, “Faster response times.”

How small businesses respond to customers

What tools are small business owners using to communicate with customers? According to Broadly:

  • Phone calls: 89%
  • Email: 86%
  • Text messaging: 54%
  • Social media: 49%

Overall, consumers in the survey prefer to communicate with businesses by email (57%), followed by phone (50%) and text (27%). Although consumers age 18 to 34 also prefer email, fewer of them prefer phone (42%) and more of them prefer text (34%) compared to consumers in general. Clearly, as millennials and Generation Z come to the forefront of society, mobile communications will become more important for small businesses.

But companies often fall short when it comes to customer communication. More than six in 10 companies do not respond to customer service emails, according to a recent study. A whopping 90% of companies do not acknowledge to the customer that their email has been received. Even if they do respond, 97% of companies never follow up to see if the customer was satisfied with the response.

7 ways to be more responsive to customers

When it comes to how quickly you need to respond to customers and potential customers, there’s only one answer: As fast as possible. How can you be more responsive to customers? Try these tips.

  1. Ask your customers what they want. A survey of your existing customers can show you which customer service channels they prefer. For example, do they want the ability to make appointments on your website for your plumbing services? Would they be happy to deal with a chatbot if they got a faster answer? Your customers’ preferences may surprise you.
  2. Manage customer expectations. While you should strive to be as responsive as possible on each communication channel, you can also guide customers to the channel that will best serve them. For example, my hairdresser recently told me that a lot of people contact him via Yelp. Since he is frequently busy with clients and not able to check his phone for this type of communication, his website social media accounts alert customers that for a faster response, they should call the salon by phone.
  3. Develop procedures. Set benchmarks for how quickly your team needs to respond to customer inquiries or customer service questions, and make sure everyone knows these goals. Benchmarks may vary from channel to channel; customers may expect a faster response on Twitter, for instance, then they would on email.
  4. Educate your employees. Make sure your team knows how to answer customer service questions. You can create an online knowledge base with answers to common questions. This also helps ensure that your employees are being consistent in what they tell your customers.
  5. Provide self-service options. Something as simple as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) a section on your website can answer many of your customers’ questions without the need to contact you directly. A company that sells to business customers could offer regular customers the option to re-order products online instead of having to speak to their sales representative.
  6. Use technology. This can be as simple as setting up your Facebook Page to send instant replies or using a social media management app to track all of your social media channels in one place and get alerts of customer comments or questions. You can also implement customer service software to automate and streamline customer service. Zendesk, Freshdesk and Zoho Desk are among popular apps that can handle tasks such as prioritizing customer calls, answering customer questions via chatbots, and enabling customer self-service.
  7. Stay human. While speed is of the essence, rushing too quickly to help a customer can also cause problems. You and your employees must remember to listen to customer complaints and make sure you really hear what customers are saying. No matter how much technology and automation you implement, it’s the human touch that really makes the difference in being truly responsive to your customers.

Surviving the First 3 Years in Business

Year 1 is really an exploration. You may not realize it at the time, especially if your business is an extension of what you’re already doing as an employee. “It’s not actually different,” you tell yourself. “It’s the same thing but in a new format.” You spend much of year 1 determining if this is, in fact, a business. Every small win feels enormous. If you survive year 1, you walk into year 2 feeling somewhat confident.

We call Year 2 the terrible twos. You have some idea that running a business is unlike anything you’ve ever done, but now you also have expectations, and what felt like a win last year, when you expected nothing (and no one else expected anything from you), now feels like barely scraping by. Yes, it’s a business. But everything—everything—is hard.

Did you make it to year 3? You may not feel like you won, but you did. Your business is about to hit its stride, building on those foundations that could not be knocked down last year. You may have reduced your expectations, reduced your offering, and reduced your self-esteem. But you clarified what you’re really doing, you understand yourself and your business better, and you are now building the business you didn’t know you were building when you got started.

We recommend you have, at a minimum, the below in place as soon as possible in order to survive those inevitable, terrifying ups and downs:

Your Team: As the saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” You will need to rely on your partners, coaches, advisors, therapist, and staff members to keep you motivated—and vice versa. The initial excitement will wear off and you may be bored of the endeavour before you start making any real money, unless you have the right people in place. You will fall in and out of love with your business. Make sure there’s one person (or several people) by your side who can keep you going.

Constant Review: Entrepreneurs are famous for being forward thinking, but you need to pair that with a regular look in the rearview mirror. What worked? What didn’t? What will you do differently? There’s no point in going through the terrible twos if you don’t learn anything from them.

Process & Systems: Free up your brain time by mapping your processes, and updating them regularly as you, your business, and the world around you change. Having systems in place will give your customers the consistency they deeply desire from you, as this communicates your reliability. These processes and systems make it possible for you to delegate chunks of your work as your business grows. On top of that, the fewer decisions you have to make about what to do next, and when, will allow you greater freedom to explore, learn, and innovate.

Business is not as easy or glamorous as media often portrays, but rest assured you are not alone! For many business owners, the first years are often the most challenging, but they can also be the best, because they’re the years that changed you so deeply that you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Reasons Why You Should Prototype Your Idea Before Developing It

Starting a new business is always challenging. Therefore, the entrepreneurs should make all the efforts to decrease risks and guarantee the success of the product. The creation of a prototype is one of the factors that define the success of your business ideas. Although some business people consider that prototyping is a waste of time, they should try this method to understand the benefits of it. If you still do not know the reasons why you should prototype, let us explore them. Ten reasons why you should prototype your idea before developing it demonstrate the benefits of the creation of a version of the product that might contribute to your success.

The creation of a prototype might help you understand the values and benefits of your product. Since the competitive ability plays a crucial role in the market, the development of the product that differs from the other items and can satisfy the specific needs of the customers becomes the decisive factor in the success of a business. As a result, the creation of a model helps you determine the strong points of your idea to enhance them further and contribute to the improvement of the product.

The prototype provides the chance to notice what shortcomings and drawbacks your product has before you spend a lot of time and money for the development. In business, understanding what weak points might impede the success of the product influences the ability of it to attract the attention of the target audience. Consequently, you should focus on the disadvantages to guarantee that you considered all the possible cases before launching the product. Thus, prototyping helps you save costs that you might have spent on the readjustment and the development of your idea.

You should prototype your idea before developing it because this method might help you save money. The process of launching the new product is complicated and expensive. Therefore, you should not put your idea under risk and start the process before trying your concept in the form of a model. Since this sample helps you determine the problems and drawbacks before the introduction of the final product, it saves your costs. Mainly, the visualization plays a significant role in the evaluation of different factors that influence the interest of the audience. Consequently, having visualized the product, you may use it to avoid the problems in the development of your idea.

The introduction of a prototype might help you save time. The central claim that influences the benefit of this method is the understanding that the creation of a prototype requires less time than the creation of the final product. The additional proof concerns the fact that the prototype might help you remove the defects before you launch your product. All these components show that the creation of a sample saves a lot of time and helps you to promote your idea faster because it is polished and improved.

Prototyping helps you to convince the stakeholders to invest in your business idea. Funding is an essential element of the introduction of a new product. However, recently, with the emergence of a large number of inventors, finding and gaining the confidence of the investors becomes more and more difficult. Thus, visualization becomes the instrument of persuasion and demonstration of the uniqueness of your product. When the stakeholders try your product themselves and judge its benefits by their own senses, they start trusting it more and feel freer to invest.

The other reason why you should prototype your idea before developing it concerns the ability to use the model for testing, getting feedback, and improvements. The introduction of a new product is always challenging because the inventor might know little about the ability of it to win the loyalty of the target audience. Therefore, in this case, the prototype becomes a valuable tool that helps to test the product to define its specifics and issues to avoid them in future development.

The creation of a prototype provides the chance to compare your product with that of the competitors to allow you to understand how to exceed them. The visualization offers the chance to “touch” and “feel” your product. Besides, you may compare it with the other items according to different criteria. The identification of these differences is a significant contribution to the ability of the creators to modify the product according to the information that they get during the process of comparison.

You may create multiple prototypes to choose the best one for future development. The low prices of the models enable the creators to produce several samples to test them all and choose the most appropriate variant. The inventor may define the advantages and disadvantages of all of them, compare and contrast them, ask the colleagues and other users to try the product to eventually decide which one of them deserves to enter the market.

Everyone knows that experience plays a significant role in business. The design of a prototype might become the contribution to your experience. Mainly, the more samples you produce, the more skilled you will be in the development of the product. Indeed, you gain a lot of new knowledge and understand your concept better when you try something rather than just think about it. You should prototype your idea before developing it because this practical knowledge might add to your experience.

Finally, your attempt might demonstrate the others the seriousness of your intentions and convince the investors that you are a serious entrepreneur and approach the idea with responsibility. The creation of a version of your product might show that you are determined to achieve success and apply all the possible measures to reach your goals. Besides, the prototype makes the others understand that you definitely know how business works and what steps to take before risking the money.

The creation of a prototype is an essential step in your business. It determines how effective your strategy will be and what results it will yield. Ten reasons why you should prototype your idea before developing it explain the most significant aspects that might contribute to the value of your product. In particular, the creation of a version of your product might save your time and money, show the investors the benefits of your product, and convince them in the success of your ideas. Besides, it might help you determine the problems, shortcomings, and advantages of your product before you launch its development. In addition, it might allow you to improve the product, get feedback, and test it. Therefore, before developing your idea, you should always design a model that might become the instrument of your success.

7 Tips on How To Build Your Personal Brand

Maybe you hear the phrase “personal brand” and think it doesn’t apply to you; however, in today’s ever-connected, cached-forever world, your personal brand affects who hires you, who fires you, who follows you, and who trolls you, which is particularly important to remember as you enter the job market.

The good news is that there are some simple steps that can help you create a personal brand to be proud of that reflects who you are and where you’re going.

Understand the term ‘brand.’

Since we work with hundreds of thousands, we often refer to Jeff Bezos’ illustrative definition when we talk about it: “Brand is how people describe you when you are not in the room.” Truer words were never spoken and are a critical reminder for what to think about when it comes to your personal branding.

Get to know your brand.

You’ve likely been around 20-odd years so you already have a personal brand (what you might call your “identity”). But, what is it? Take the Jeff Bezos statement to heart and ask friends and family what adjectives they’d use to describe you. Suffices to say, these adjectives are likely your best personal traits. It is difficult to replicate the “not in the room” effect, but this is a start. Maybe you found you are described as “fun” and “fearless.” Or, maybe “introspective” and “helpful.” These traits serve as the foundation of your brand.

Determine your brand direction.

If you like the attributes you’ve identified and want these written on your tombstone (personal brands can last forever), great! If not, determine what other adjectives you’d like people to use when describing you. For example, if you are planning a career in investigative journalism, “fearless” likely works. But, fun? Not-so-much. You likely want to be building a personal brand around “serious.”

Build your brand and be consistent.

Now the fun begins! Having a personal brand does not mean getting a logo designed. But, it wouldn’t hurt to borrow some tactics from successful brand builders. What do they do? They build consistent interactions with their audience that support their brand attributes – and you should do the same.

Get a website.

Nowadays, you can launch one in 24 hours with the likes of WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace. Update your website on an ongoing basis by blogging or posting content that supports your personal brand.

Invest in your brand.

Social media sites are an inexpensive and effective way to invest in your brand. Choose the network that best represents your brand and focus there. For example, if you’re a “serious sales associate” for a software company, LinkedIn is likely your best choice. If you are an artist or maker, Instagram may be your network of choice to increase your followers. You’ll want to engage in like-minded groups on these networks consistently to further support your personal brand.

Choose your associations wisely.

Whether you like, post, comment, tweet, or pin, your engagement online is a reflection of your personal brand. Don’t be fooled into thinking anything is private on the internet. Avoid questionable online activities that might negatively affect your personal brand.

Remember, your personal brand can ultimately make or break opportunities for you in the workplace, so it behooves everyone at every age to take the time and energy to manage it.