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Six Reasons Why Your Business Meetings Are Not Productive

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Business meetings - most employees dread them, yet they are an essential part of the business world. Many expected that technological advances like videocalling or teleconferencing would to improve the situation, but the truth is that the average office worker still spends too much of their time in meetings, which are considered the biggest time wasters of office life. Recent statistics show that the average US worker still spends more than 5 hours a week in meetings, plus another 4 hours preparing for them. In the case of managers, the figures go up to 12 hours a week.

The problem isn’t only that we spend too much time in meetings, but also that they’re not effective. One of the main reasons why meetings are disliked is because they are generally perceived as unproductive. And this is more than just an opinion, as there is a wealth of data that confirms that most businesses aren’t maximizing the time allocated to meetings:  37 percent of business meetings are labeled as unproductive, and nearly 40 percent of employees admit to having dozed off during a meeting.

So why are your business meetings unproductive? In this article we explore the top 6 reasons, as well as what can you do to change that.

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Seven Simple Steps To Start Your Own Business

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Small businesses are an essential part of the UK’s economy: in 2018, there were more than 5.5 million SMEs across the country, which accounted for over 99 per cent of private sector companies. On the whole, the UK is considered one of the leading business ecosystems in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of new companies are established every year.

More encouraging statistics come from the data released in early 2019, which listed the UK as one of the best countries to start a business in when factoring ease of start up procedures and tax structure. If you are considering setting up a business in the UK, read through this guide to find out how to get started and turn your idea into a successful reality.

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Four Ways To Improve Employee Morale That Don’t Include Giving Them A Raise

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It’s no secret that employee morale is important to the overall success of a business. A positive and healthy work atmosphere is not only more pleasant, but also can have a direct effect on performance, productivity, and ultimately on your business bottom line.

There are many reasons why good employee morale is important in the business context: First, it can help improve employee retention and reduce turnover levels. This is especially important in industry sectors or geographic areas where there are talent shortages. Linked to this, good morale has been linked to lower absenteeism levels. Third, these two factors have a direct impact on business performance and productivity, which is especially noticeable in small businesses. And fourth, high morale does impact customer satisfaction and helps build a stronger business reputation.

Many firms offer financial rewards to boost employee morale, but does this approach always work? The problem with financial incentives like stock options and annual bonuses is that they fail to generate genuine interest and engagement in work. Employees can be fairly compensated and still feel disengaged. This is not to say financial rewards should be scrapped, but rather complemented with other ways of boosting staff morale, such as the ones described below.

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The Secret to Business Survival is Constant Innovation

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Although all entrepreneurs have their own recipe for success, there is one element that seems to be common to all prosperous business ventures. That element is constant innovation, and in this article we are going to describe the reasons why constant innovation is a pre-condition to success, along with some examples that attest to that fact.

Old Problems Require New Solutions

Einstein’s famous phrase “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” sums up one of the main reasons behind the need for constant innovation. The concept of innovation itself is closely linked to problem solving, and for many successful entrepreneurs, they are in fact one and the same. It must be noted that in the business world, the link between innovation and problem solving can be seen in practice at four different levels:

- Problem or challenge solving

- Problem prevention or risk management

- Continuous improvement or incremental innovation, and

- Future creation or the development of solutions that represent a breakthrough

In all instances, only business owners who engage their visionary ability with a focus on constant innovation are the most likely to survive in a sea of ever-increasing competition.

A Constantly Evolving World

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Guide to Building a Business Reputation

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The importance of reputation is such that a business and its stature are often indistinguishable. Companies of all sizes have paid a high price for failing to manage their reputation: from the Royal Bank of Scotland (which lost more than £5m due to reputation mismanagement) to recent incidents with United Airlines, which costed the company $1.4bn in the stock market, it is clear that a building and maintaining flawless reputation is essential to business success.

Reputation building is a complex process that takes time, but can cover your bases by working on five of the most important things you can do to build a fine business reputation.

1. Develop a Sense of Community

No business can survive in isolation. This is especially true in the digital era, where interconnectedness and a sense of community are strong drivers of growth and success. For business owners looking to build a great reputation, this means you must do things in the community and for the community. This could include everything from attending networking events relevant to your sector to getting your name out into the local community by sponsoring sports or charitable events.

2. Get the Press on Your Side

A positive relationship with the media will give your business more exposure. To achieve this, you will have to find out which journalists have a special interest in your field and be proactive when contacting them, having a wealth of material and engaging information ready. You can start with local newspapers or radio stations, write relevant press releases when your company reaches a significant milestone, or share positive stories about your business and its involvement with the local community.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Networking Events

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For the vast majority of business owners, attending professional networking events is an integral aspect of business management. The benefits of business networking are well established and include increased opportunities to acquire new clients, enter new markets, make valuable business connections, and generate sales leads and referrals. But despite the clear advantages, many business owners have a love-hate relationship with networking. And believe it or not, it is not only introverts who have a hard time mingling and socialising at this type of event.

If this sounds familiar, you will find it useful to read the following five pieces of advice on how to get the most out of networking events.

1. Don’t Anticipate What May Happen

It is human nature to show uneasiness about uncertainty, and in all honesty, networking events are surrounded by a great deal of unpredictability. Trying to anticipate or predict what will happen is a common coping mechanism, but it is not always the best strategy. Worrying excessively about hypothetical situations only causes increased anxiety levels and can stop you from acting naturally and spontaneously when you need it the most. Instead of becoming stressed by assuming that you will make a faux pas, remember that other attendees will also feel nervous or uncomfortable at the event. Just be yourself and admit that you are not the best at networking – this can help you find common ground with other participants!.

2. Be Selective

Business networking is about quality, not quantity. Do some research in advance and if possible try to find out who else will be attending. Once you have a few names, think about who you’d really like to meet and why. The key is to avoid trawling the room, trying to approach everyone, or handing business cards indiscriminately, but rather to focus on making a meaningful connection with a few select people. This should ease your anxiety and help you make networking beneficial for your business.

3. The Art Of Conversation

Much to the dismay of introverts, successful networking involves making conversation with strangers. It is normal to worry about not having anything to talk about, but finding a subject of conversation is not as difficult as you may imagine. Most psychologists agree that the trick is to get other people to talk about themselves, so there is no need to come up with a long list of potential conversation topics. As you encourage other attendees to tell you more about themselves and their work and show appreciation for it, revealing more information about yourself will become second nature. If you’re still struggling to strike a conversation, have a look at this list of effective conversation starters.

4. Watch Out For Body Language

When it comes to human relationships, unspoken signals are just as important as the things we say. Always make sure you have a positive body language that encourages trust: don’t cross your arms or hold them behind your back, avoid holding plates, glasses or other objects as “barriers” between you and others, don’t stand with your back to the group, and make sure your feet point towards the people you are talking to.

5. Follow Up

Often, the success of a networking event cannot be determined until it is over. The event itself is only the starting point of a potential business relationship, which means you must work on cultivating any connections you made with a follow-up email, phone call, or LinkedIn invite. Ideally, you want to get in touch within a week of the event, and your follow-up message should always be personalised and specific.

A last piece of advice: few people are natural-born networkers, so remember that it takes time to feel comfortable at these events and to learn how to make the most out of them. By using the tips listed above, you will be on your way to reaping the full benefits of networking events and turning them into fruitful business opportunities.







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The Top Lessons You Can Learn From Failing In Business

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Avoiding business failure is a top priority among entrepreneurs and business owners, irrespective of experience levels or how long their company has been established. However, business failure statistics in the US have barely changed over the past few decades. According to a recent Business Employment Dynamics report compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 80 percent of new businesses make it during their first year. However, failure rates increase sharply and reach 50 percent at the end of the first five-year period, and after 10 years, only 30 percent of businesses are still operational.

These figures have remained remarkably unchanged over the years, which suggests that the root causes of failure are not being addressed consistently and systematically. Here are five important lessons that can be learnt from business failure.

1. The Importance of Research

Half of all businesses that fail discontinue operations because of lack of profits or financial funding. Other reasons behind failure include relying on an inadequate team, poor planning, limited or insufficient product offer, pricing issues, bad location, and poor product timing and marketing strategies. This suggests that research is essential and that it needs to be ongoing and cover more than just product development, funding, or marketing. Valuable data and information are now easily available online, so there really is no reason to overlook this factor.

2. Never Lose Focus

A Business Employment Dynamics report noted that 13 percent of businesses failed because their founders lost focus, and a further 9 percent did so due to a lack of passion. Many expert advisors and motivational speakers claim that focus is the most important factor in business success, and they recommend to regularly ask questions that will help clarify business direction and help bring projects and strategies into focus. Questions should address issues like the specific behavior you want to drive, the reasons you are doing what you are doing, the steps taking to drive your business further, and whether those steps are coherent with your mission and values.

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Tax Incentives for Businesses in Texas

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The state of Texas has the second largest GDP in the United States, and at $1.6 trillion it accounts for nearly 9 percent of the US total. A Forbes report listed the Lone Star state in fourth place along a number of crucial rankings, including Best Place for Business and Best in Business Costs. Other key metrics like business density, start-up activity, and business survival rates are also among the top 5 of all 50 states. More importantly, the state is known for its favorable tax climate, which ranked 10th in the 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index. Overall Texas spends a total of $19b per year on incentive schemes, of which $743 million are devoted to corporate rebates or reduction programs, such as the ones listed below.

Enterprise Zone Program

This program was created to promote job creation and attract private investment in designated distressed counties. The program offers businesses involved in qualifying projects a sales tax refund whose amount depends on capital investment and the number of jobs created. Total refunds go from $25,000 up to a maximum of $3.75 million.

Texas Enterprise Fund

This Fund was created in 2004 to favor the creation of high paying jobs and to promote Texas as a top destination for business. The incentive involves the award of a cash grant whose specific dollar amount varies depending on scope of the project, but can go anywhere from $194,000 to $50 million. So far, cash grants have been awarded to businesses of all sizes and sectors, from JPMorgan Chase to Tyson Foods, Jamba Juice, and Petco.

Data Center Exemption

Under this incentive scheme, exemptions are applied to use and state sale taxes (which amount to 6.25 percent) for the purchase of cooling and or electrical systems, electricity, hardware, software, peripherals, emergency generators, and any other equipment needed to operate personal property within the building. To qualify, data centers must employ a minimum of 20 people and make an initial capital investment of $200 million.

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How Much Does Facebook Use Cost The UK Economy?

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The UK ranks sixth in the world in terms of its number of Facebook users. Facebook use is widespread across genders and age groups, and approximately 70 per cent of UK citizens have a Facebook account, spending on average 2.5 hours a day using this social network. The total number of active users has been steadily growing and is expected to reach 37.7 million by the end of 2017 and more than 41 million by 2021.

This popular platform is able to generate more than just social interaction, but also economic activity by reducing barriers to commerce and networking activities. However, there is a downside to Facebook use, which is often quantified in terms of productivity losses. So what is the real cost of such large-scale use of this social media platform? This article looks at various types of data to assess the economic impact of Facebook use in the United Kingdom.

Facebook Use and Workplace Productivity

In 2015, a Deloitte study evaluated the economic impact of Facebook use at global level. Researchers found in the UK, Facebook generated $11 billion (nearly £9 billion) and created 154,000 new jobs in areas like marketing, software development, and e-commerce. However, these figures were offset by other statistics that point at the negative impact of social network use. This impact is often quantified by looking at the time spent on social media platforms during what otherwise would be working hours.

Productivity decreases were reported as far back as 2007, three years after the social network was founded. In autumn 2007, the BBC reported on a survey carried out by an employment law firm, which interviewed more than 3,500 British firms and concluded that Facebook use in the workplace resulted in 233 million hours of work lost every month.

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How To Improve Productivity In The Workplace

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Productivity remains a thorny issue in many US workplaces. With the exception of the 1995-2003 period, annual productivity rates have declined by 36 percent since the late 1940′s, going from 2.2 percent to the current rate of 1.4 percent. Some years, productivity rate increases can be as low as 0.8 percent, a figure that has led many to affirm that America has a productivity problem. Low productivity has far-reaching repercussions, going from diminished economic output to a slow increase in living standards. So what can US employers do to improve productivity in the workplace?

In the first place, it is important to understand that productivity growth is closely linked to worker output (whether this output is measured on an hourly basis or otherwise). This means that identifying the reasons behind low employee productivity is a crucial step when it comes to defining a productivity strategy. To that end, business owners should critically assess how their company is performing along the following dimensions:


Inadequate resources are one of the main causes behind low workplace productivity. When staff lack resources to do their job, their performance is unsatisfactory and their stress levels are high, and these factors will eventually lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and employee burnout.

It is worth noting that resources can be tangible (equipment, technology) and intangible (training, systems, and procedures). On this note, most modern businesses can benefit from investing in technological resources that automate processes and therefore liberate employees from having to perform redundant and unnecessarily time-consuming tasks.


No matter how many resources you may put at the disposal of your employees, if they lack training their productivity will be severely affected. Adequate training helps staff make efficient use of the resources available, bolsters their confidence, and strengthens their motivation to get the job well done.

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