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How to Ensure Your Website Will Actually Work

Many companies start the year by planning new strategies and different tactics for increasing their customer base. Regardless how your business is planning on winning over new customers, it is critical that your company’s site is running well and capable of handling the increased traffic load before you start a new campaign. After all, the last thing that you want is for your website to crash when it is overloaded with viewers. Generally, customers are put off by struggling websites and are likely to go somewhere else.

Brainstorm Your Website’s Peak Load

Start by testing your website’s capacity to handle a high volume of users. You will want to make sure the site stands up to the anticipated peak load, and even going beyond that is testing to determine the breaking point. Testing breaking points will also allow you to determine how effectively it recovers from glitches. To determine an estimated peak load, use visitor and analytics figures compared to your growth and business plan.

Run a Simulation

Once your company has determined a load capacity number to use as a benchmark, testers who watch load, will build up scenarios based on those numbers. They have the ability to use software to act like users from different devices and locations who are following the same paths a customer would typically take through your site. This enables testers to try performance loads of each page and also allows them to see how your website performs under a range of conditions.

Run Real Tests

After the simulations are completed, the analytical load technicians should then run the site through tests in a real environment. With this testing, they should test everything at once. The test should range from replicating how others find your site, through submitting the confirmation email they receive for registering, to making a purchase.

Analyze Results

Luckily, the testing process is completed quite quickly. Once it is complete, the load testers should share the information with everyone involved in website development; such as you, any website designers and service providers. When the information is shared between plenty of people, you are able to address problems that have been identified. You will soon discover that a lot of issues with load testing are due to insufficient infrastructure or bandwidth. The great news is that those are relatively easy fixes. Should there be a problem with the website’s code, you will have the opportunity to make changes before the marketing begins.

Implement Findings

One of the biggest things you can learn when doing load testing, is to make the findings a part of your maintenance cycle. Any time that changes are made to the website that will affect traffic, you should consider doing more testing.

Conclusion

Like any other element of a successful business, a website should be running at tip top shape at all times. People do not tolerate websites who are slow to load, and with good reason. If you spend time and money investing into making your website efficient, you will see it pay dividends and your customers will increase.

What tips do you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments!

 

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10 Smart And Easy Productivity Hacks

In this fast-paced world, everyone needs tips on how to be more productive. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to be more efficient, then consider these 10 tips on how to be more productive.

 

  • Briefly check in on Sunday. Monday is typically the most overwhelming day of the week. While you should definitely rest on Sundays, checking in on your day of rest may give you the jump-start that you need for the week. Just taking a few minutes to see what work lies ahead and laying out a game plan will help you be more prepared for the week.

 

  • Increase accountability to yourself. It’s easy to break promises to yourself, but harder to break promises with other people. If you make plans and commitments with colleagues, you will find that it is easier to keep commitments. Ask them to keep you accountable.

 

  • Follow the two-minute rule. Many of us have small tasks that we allow to snowball into an overwhelming pile. However, if a task takes you less than two minutes to complete, then try to finish it immediately. Getting ahead on these small tasks quickly and not putting them off can help you be more productive.

 

  • De-clutter your space. One easily overlooked cause of stress is clutter. Having a messy workspace can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. Sort papers, throw away trash and send off any mail. You will instantly feel better.

 

  • Replace to-do lists with schedules. If you feel like you have a few “to-do” items that simply won’t appear from your list, then try making a set schedule. Scheduling requires you to be realistic about what you can accomplish. It requires attention from you to sit down and designate time for completing specific tasks. Scheduling is more specific and a game plan. While you’re at it, schedule yourself some free time, too.

 

  • Turn off smartphone notifications when working. It’s hard to stay focused when your phone is constantly sending you notifications. If you are struggling with productivity, then turn off your phone notifications. You will immediately see your productivity skyrocket.
  • Stand while working. While there are some tasks that must be done at your desk, there are some things you can do while standing. Standing while you are working can help you revive some energy and help you feel more productive.

 

  • Choose Positive Influences in your life working with productive people to help keep you accountable for staying on task. Seeing other people be productive with their time, can influence you to get your stuff done.
  • Be an intentional e-mailer. Before you open an email, make sure you have enough time to respond. If you read an email and decide to respond later, you will have to reread the email which is an inefficient way to spend your time.

 

  • Evaluate Yourself. We need to constantly observe ourselves and our productivity. Always ask yourself if there is a way to improve your processes and behaviors.

Time is precious and if you want to be productive, then try these ten tips. Hopefully you will have your most productive year yet!

Have a tip of your own? Tell us in the comments below!

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FAA Regulations on Drones and the Impact on Small Business

Many small businesses are anxiously awaiting the FAA’s incoming rules for drones and small unmanned aircraft systems. Some businesses are scared that the new rules will force them to abandon plans to enter the market, or force them to leave the market altogether. A survey conducted with small businesses showed that these small businesses feared these upcoming FAA regulations.

Unfortunately, many businesses are uninformed when it comes to the operations and use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for commercial purposes according to FAA policies. Almost half of those businesses surveyed (44%) have the idea that they need an FAA Certificate of Authorization or Waiver. An estimated 30% think that the FAA is not in charge of regulating Class G air space and 25% have the impression that they can operate sUAS if they are allowed a 21.25 Restricted Category certificate.

In spite of all this lack of clarity, almost one half of businesses surveyed say they operate their sUAS in airspace. In fact, 64% of those businesses have been operating for more than two years. The fact of the matter is that there is chance for revenue in this market. For businesses, 13% said their business exceeded one million dollars.

The survey also showed that video and aerial photography dominated both future and current services at a rate of 41%. The next group is UAS technology and aircraft, coming in at 11%. Only about eight percent of those surveyed conveyed that they wanted to use their sUAS for farming and agriculture services. The largest group who are interested in using drones, the aerial photography group, also has the largest span in income ranging from zero to over one million dollars.

The report also concluded that almost two-thirds of businesses are operating without commercial liability insurance for sUAS. One reason for this is the possible difficulty in acquiring insurance for operating an unmanned aircraft. The use of sUAS is relatively new and the amount of users may be too small for insurance carriers to take notice.

When it comes to regulations, most of those surveyed were in agreement that there was a need for rules. In fact, 90% of those surveyed, chose two regulations that were considered favorable for business. They are in agreement for operational guidelines for self-regulation and self-declaration of aircraft, general location, intent and use. All other regulations were deemed unfavorable.

Another element that the survey agreed upon was the impact of unfavorable future regulations. Those surveyed agreed that types of FAA regulations on commercial operations would be unfavorable for their businesses. One example of unpopular regulations were requirements for pilot licenses. In fact, 61% of those that responded said that these types of regulations would prevent them from starting or expanding their current business operations.

The report concluded that the overall market for sUAS would essentially disintegrate if unfavorable regulations were enacted. All the positive elements of starting a business such as job creation, revenue and tax base creation would be impacted.

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Small Business Makes A Comeback

For what seems like an eternity we’ve been hearing about how successful small business is an endangered species. With the advent of big retailers, ecommerce and the death of the shopping mall, one would expect these stories to continue.  One would think the successful small business would become extinct.

However, according to the research, it’s clear that small business is staging a comeback and that many are actually thriving. This is good news for everyone because when small business does well, there are more profits, more jobs and more benefits for consumers.

It would seem that that the economy is not an either-or environment; it’s not all about big business at the expense of the little guy or vice versa.  Rather, in the modern economy, there is a fluid balance which exists between these two entities, and it’s an interesting situation.

Dispelling the Myths

One of the most popular case studies in recent history used to highlight the rise of the corporation, at the expense of local small business, is one which examined the downfall of local bookstores. With companies such as Borders being a memory, and Barnes & Noble struggling to survive, it seemed clear that consumers had spoken. It started to appear as though companies like Amazon had won—but this wasn’t entirely true.

If you looks at the numbers, independent bookstores have managed to achieve growth of around 20% since 2009, which is encouraging news, given the state of the marketplace where online retailers and electronic books are seeking increased market share.

Looking deeper, the full picture shows promise. According to a US Small Business Administration report, since 1990, small businesses (defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees) have created 8 million new jobs in the American economy. Large corporations, on the other hand, have been responsible for axing around 4 million jobs. Furthermore, the report reveals that 23 million US small businesses account for 54% of all US sales and have contributed 66% to job creation since the 1970’s.

The most important take-away from this report is not that the American economy has entered a new age, but that the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels commerce is alive and well. It shows small business has the power to endure, survive and rebound from economic downturns.

The Rise of Differentiation

While it is true that many of the largest corporations operate inefficiently, they’re not going anywhere because the market will always have a demand for mass-produced products which are sold cheaply. Currently the move in business is not away from mass scale production, but toward differentiation. True differentiation is a situation where companies can position their product as not only different from the competition, but as superior thanks to a more personal approach to smaller production operations, which allow for more attention to detail.

The judgement of quality is ultimately only a decision which can be made by the consumer. But as corporations have flourished over these last few decades, the inefficiencies have opened the door to differentiation in a very big way. Local bookstores are now offering thoughtfully curated selections and personal service to compete with the likes of Amazon. Similarly, artisanal products such as craft beers, are managing to hold their own against the big brands on the merits of taste and quality alone. Convenience can sometimes take a backseat when there’s quality on offer, and that’s where small business can get into the game.

Community Economics

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships. It’s not only consumers which are benefiting from differentiation, there’s a certain ‘community’ aspect to small business which allows them to capitalize on each other successes. This community aspect of the small business economy, has made it possible for coalitions and partnerships to flourish and create even more opportunities for other local businesses and consumers to benefit.

Conclusion

It’s become evident that the success of small business does not come at the expense of the corporation, or despite it. Small businesses provide different products, to different people, in different ways. The true distinguishing factor here is personalization, quality of products and services which offer a unique selling proposition which consumers find attractive. So, it’s clear that US small businesses are back and are here to stay, but depending on who you ask, you may get told that they never left.

What do you think, are small businesses making a come back in your eyes? Let us know in the comments!

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How-to Be a Resilient Business Owner

Have you or your business taken a hit where you thought you just couldn’t recover?

To be successful in business in the long-run, one has to accept that failing and getting knocked down are part of the game and that what really matters is how one deals with these temporary setbacks. Some business owners shut-down completely when things go wrong, while others seem to have the superhuman ability to remain seemingly unaffected and display a resilience which is truly admirable.

What is it that makes some business owners able to bounce back from just about anything? Let’s examine some common attributes which are shared amongst these special people and which enable them to deal so admirably with adversity.

Focus on the Positive

When things don’t go according to script, many people take it personally and view a cause as lost. Resilient people don’t look at failure the same way. Failure is not viewed as a final result, but rather as a necessary step in the learning curve. Resilient people develop a mental attitude which views setbacks as opportunities to learn valuable lessons and mentally prepare themselves to deal with setbacks when they occur.

Look at the Big Picture

Resilient business owners also have the ability to remain focused on the big picture, rather than get lost zooming in on details. They are aware that achieving success will take a great deal of time, effort and determination. When setbacks occur, or progress is slow, resilient individuals retain a clear mental picture of where they want to be and take whatever actions are required to move them towards that goal.

Develop Confidence in Yourself

Self-confidence is also a common attribute amongst resilient individuals. Individuals with self-confidence, believe in their abilities. They know that with a clear list of priorities,they are more likely reach their full potential while avoiding distractions, negative external influences and setbacks.

Find Your Purpose

Whether it is a cause, a purpose, or a higher power, resilient people always seem to have gas in the tank. These individuals follow their own vision and remain intrinsically motivated. Having a purpose allows them to see beyond the everyday routine in order to remain inspired by a bigger picture.

Accept Ambiguity

For many people, not knowing how to do something and not being able to do something, are the same thing. Resilient people don’t let not knowing how to do something stand in the way of getting it done, they find a way. Resilient individuals accept ambiguity, overcome obstacles and remain confident in their ability to figure things out along the way.

Choose Mentors Carefully

Highly successful people don’t follow blindly, they’re very selective about who they look to as role models for guidance and direction.  The key is to select inspirational and successful people to model your behavior on, as so doing will increase your chance of success when pursuing your goals.

Take Time for Yourself

Just because people are resilient, doesn’t mean they’re superhuman. Resilient people also experience stress; the difference is that they’ve developed healthy coping mechanisms. Whether it is exercise, meditation, or an engaging hobby, resilient people relax in order to recharge before continuing their pursuits. Personal growth and self-development is a way of life, not a passing fad.

Conclusion

While it may seem that some people have superhuman powers when it comes to dealing with setbacks, they really don’t. The truth is that these individuals have developed a set of skills, techniques and tactics which allow them to deal with adversity, see things in perspective and remain focused on forging ahead towards success. If you want to do business in the modern economy, it’s worth spending time on cultivating some of these skills which will definitely serve you well in the long-run.

Would you add anything else to these tips? Let us know below in the comments!

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