March 9, 2018

Hiring The Right People: It’s Not Just About Qualifications

This post has been contributed.
File:Virgo (11).jpg
It's a time-tested theory that has been long proven- it's the people that make the business. And, specifically, your employees. For all the entrepreneurial skills you have to get people on board, it's your employees that you will lean on during tough times, and it is their motivation as individuals that will see you through to the end. This is why you need to get your hiring chops up to speed. The hiring process, for many people, is the best way to find the best person for the job. But, various factors can go against a potential employee in an interview, nerves, for example. So what can you do to hire the right people for your business?
Make Your Job Descriptions Detailed
If you are hoping to nail down a specific roster of duties, you need to make sure that this is represented in the job description. Lots of people apply for jobs because of the vagueness of the main details, meaning that you have to wade through piles of pointless resumes. Instead, make it crystal clear, itemize every single duty the job entails, and what you expect from the candidate.
Structure The Interviews
Many interviews can be informal affairs, but are you going to get a good impression of who the potential employee is through this method? Instead, if you can structure the interviews in a certain way so you can evaluate their personality, skills, and if they fit into the company culture, this is going to benefit you and the person being interviewed. If you aren't used to interviewing people, it can feel like a bit of trial and error to get it right. But this is why you need to know exactly what you want out of your employee.
Check Their Background
It's not just about finding the right person on paper, it's about assessing their trustworthiness. This requires a bit of rooting around in their past, you can either assess their compatibility with the job via their LinkedIn profile, social media, and so forth. But you can also dig even deeper, and hire a private investigator. There are private investigator services like John Cutter Investigations that provide pre-employment screenings. Essentially, they would do the equivalent of rooting around through the metaphorical trash. And if you're looking for someone who is inherently trustworthy, but you have niggling doubts, this process should help to alleviate any concerns. It's part and parcel of the research process nowadays, going via their LinkedIn profile or social media accounts, and it's a process you should integrate into your employment strategy.
Don't Just Look At Their Resume
Yes, qualifications are all well and good, though you could get a good feeling about someone, but they don't have the necessary skills on paper. Maybe they're covering letter stood out to you, or they feel like they would be a perfect fit. Skills are something you can train people up in anyway! Yes, qualifications are handy, but if you're looking to hire people who will go the distance, and will progress further up the ladder, and maybe be business partners with you in the future, hiring the right person isn't just about qualifications. Look beyond the resume!

March 9, 2018

An Environmental Business: Should Companies Care More About Our Planet?

This post has been contributed.
When it comes to the environment, we make an effort to do what we can. The picture is, after all, looking increasingly bleak. Global warming has done enough to prove it definitely isn’t a myth. Our energy resources are fast running out, and our oceans are in a sorry state, too. But, we all have a vested interest to make a change and, for the most part, we’re stepping up to the responsibility. It’s now thought, for instance, that a massive 4.6 million American homes have solar panels. What’s more, we all try to switch off lights and reduce the waste we produce.
No one can deny that these are all moves for the better. The risk we were taking before these alterations was just too high a price to pay. After all, the state of the planet impacts future generations as much as it does us. But, should the buck fall at households? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that large corporations do much more damage to the environment. Yet, for the most part, businesses fall under the environmental radar. The efforts of individual households have been a drop in the ecological crisis. But, the same alterations from firms could make real ripples.
Of course, not all companies are guilty of turning a blind eye. Many make efforts to recycle and use naturally sourced energy. But there are companies out there who short of what we might expect. Even those who do make efforts may not be doing as much as we’d hope.
So, what changes could we realistically expect such companies to make? For the most part, these aren’t dissimilar to those we make in our homes, but on a larger scale. For instance, waste in our oceans is a significant issue. While we try to counter that by reducing the plastic we throw away, companies could do the same and also install something like these oil water separators. Then, they can make sure all harmful chemicals are removed from anything going back into the ocean. What’s more, businesses could make our job easier by using alternative packaging. Paper options which are biodegradable would remove the chance of getting waste disposal wrong.
And, of course, businesses should step up when it comes to the energy they use. A large company is sure to use more energy than, say, a family home. What’s more, many companies leave lights on overnight, whether to light storefronts or assist overnight workers. This behavior needs addressing. Indeed, those who leave lights on unnecessarily may want to reconsider that action. After all, few homes would now leave a landing light on. For companies who rely on overnight workers, it may be more realistic to suggest a change in energy source. Instead of using limited resources, such companies would do better to use solar energy.
If changes like these become widespread, perhaps we would see much more of a positive impact. One thing’s sure; it’s past time we held large corporations more accountable.

March 6, 2018

5 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

This post has been contributed.
The best entrepreneurs are multi-talented. They are able to put into practice the various skills that they have to further their companies. Though there are plenty of skills which could be useful, we are going to talk about five of the most fundamental ones in this article.
Of course, there are plenty of ways that you can refine and develop including internet sources such as Training Connection's business skills resource. But here are just a few of the areas which you can focus on.
Your sales skills are what you will use to get people buying your product or service in the first place. While marketing may get people into your store in the first place, your sales acumen is what will ensure that they walk away with something under their arm. Of course, in an internet-driven world, face-to-face selling isn’t as necessary as it once was, but if you want to grow your business, you need to be able to present it positively to potential partners and investors.
You need to have a clear idea of where you are heading and what you want your company to achieve. When you are making your business plan, you need to make it as detailed as possible including information about every risk, benefit, and cost of the decisions that you make. While you want to be able to stick to the plan where possible, you also need to be prepared to make adjustments and improvements where necessary. 
Good communication skills will come in handy in various aspects of your business. First of all, they will help you to gain loyal employees who stand the test of time at your company. They will also play a big role in ensuring that you get clients coming back time and time again, as well as forming crucial relationships with suppliers and other companies. And as new methods of communication are created and used, you need to be adept at using all of them.
Attention to Detail
It is the little improvements that you make to a company which can make all the difference. Noticing what your competitors are doing and working out ways that you can get the better of them. Listening to your customers and tailoring your business to suit their needs rather than providing what you think is best. Improving conditions for your staff members to make it more likely that they will stay with your company in the long-term.
The best businesses have always been built on a level of curiosity. This desire to keep learning and finding out new things will keep you at the top of your game and will ensure that your company stays ahead of your competitors. 
Though there are plenty of skills which will come in handy in the world of entrepreneurship, these are just a few of the fundamentals. If you think that you have them already, there are always improvements to be made, and if not, learning new skills is something that you can do at any stage of life.

March 1, 2018

The Role Of Exploration In Your Child’s Education

Note: This post has been contributed.
It’s the great paradox of our time. We live in the information age, yet so many of us are misinformed. We have access to the sum total of all human knowledge, yet many people cling to their prejudices and preconceptions like a talisman. We are subjected to perspectives and opinions from around the world, yet all too many people uncritically see their own as the most important. Raising children in the digital age can often be a daunting prospect for parents. With so much out there yet such emerging critical faculties it can feel like you’re encouraging them to imbibe an ocean with a sippy cup. Aside from guarding them against content that is just plain inappropriate we worry about how the opinions and views they are exposed to online might shape (or indeed warp) their world view. Let’s face it, we know that not everyone conducts themselves with manners and decorum in the digital realm and we want to protect them from toxic attitudes, mentalities and modes of communication. Exposure to the internet is like a new best friend that we’re increasingly concerned might turn out to be a bad influence.
Our anxieties, however, go beyond the realms of the digital. It seems like there’s a threat lurking around every corner. Even when our kids aren’t in physical danger they’re in danger of their worldview becoming warped. As a parent, this is the point where your protective instinct may kick in. You feel an overwhelming urge to insulate your kids from the world and all its problems. But while this instinct is a biologically programmed imperative, it’s rarely the most helpful or beneficial attitude.
The dangers of an echo chamber and the value of exploration
Whether we like it or not we form the template for adulthood for our kids. They learn about what an adult is and their role in society through the way we behave. While they may criticize and disagree with us as they develop their own sensibilities, their expectations of what a human being does are formed by us. When our kids are young and influential, our word is gospel. They listen to us uncritically and accept what we say as rote. You may even notice them copying our mannerisms or turns of phrase. 
While we may consider this flattering, we must also recognize the potential dangers of living in an ideological echo chamber. We don’t want to raise our kids to parrot our beliefs or (if we’re honest with ourselves) inherit our prejudices. As informed as we are, we’re not always right and spoon feeding our children our political, religious or social beliefs can potentially impede our kids’ growth. While we may want our children to learn and embrace attitudes that we consider positive such as an appreciation and respect of others, an aversion to prejudice or a love of nature, for example, it’s vital that we encourage our children to find these values out for themselves. We can lead the horse to water but we can’t dunk their heads under that water until they drink.
Informations vs dogma
Let’s say you’re a vegan. The idea of your children eating meat or dairy products is anathema to you and you feel that they can be raised perfectly healthily on a vegan diet. You take great care to prepare delicious and nutritious plant based meals for them every day but you know that you can’t control what they eat at school or their friends’ homes. Do you outright ban them from eating meat? Or do you simply explain to them the reasons why you don’t advocate the consumption of meat and dairy in your household. Do you outline the issues with animal cruelty, environmental damage and impact on health that drove you to veganism and leave them to make their own decisions? Guess which of those approaches will have the most meaningful impact for your child.
There are many areas in their lives in which you should encourage exploration while defining clear parameters to keep them safe.
Combined with a genuine love of learning, the internet is a wonderful resource for parents. When we were kids, if we didn’t know the meaning of a word, our parents wouldn’t tell us… They’d send us over to grab the dictionary from the bookshelf to look it up for ourselves. The internet allows you to do this for more or less anything. While you should teach your kids to take everything they read online with a pinch of salt (since there’s so much information out there that is unproven or not properly cited) and employ their own critical faculties to what they read, kids should be encouraged to explore the world around them through online means. That should not, however, preclude them from...
In the natural world
From the wonderful outdoor plains you can check out today at to the bay yard, there’s a lot that kids can learn by engaging with the natural world. They can test and explore their physical capabilities and limitations by climbing trees and rocks. They can learn more about the flora surrounding your home and the marvels of nature that take place right under their noses. While you may not want to take your kids hunting, you can give them the same experience without pulling the trigger. As edifying and educational as a trip to the zoo can be there’s no substitute for seeing animals in their natural habitat (just be safe). 
In creativity
Reading text online or in books and journals may not be the most efficient ways for them to get to grips with an important issue. For kids of many ages, creative outlets are often far more meaningful ways of engaging with and exploring a subject. Art and drama teachers often encourage kids to use creativity as a means to explore an issue. Creativity not only helps young people utilise creative problem solving skills, research skills, teamwork and cooperative skills and simply a deeper level of engagement than they would reading about it. There are many creative outlets that will encourage exploratory learning strategies while also applying the introspective and self analytical skills that will make them more self aware. 
Exploration, in whatever sense you choose to apply it, can enrich your child’s education inside and outside of school. 

February 8, 2018

Encouraging Your Kids to Vote When They’re Older

This post has been contributed.

Voting and elections are the cornerstone of our democracy through the way they give us all a voice. And, you should seek to encourage the spirit of this voice to live on in the future by encouraging your children to embrace it. Yes, especially if you are somebody that is passionate about voting, you should be encoring your children to vote when they’re adults. And, this encouragement can start at any time, no matter the age of your children.

To see just how you would go about encouraging your children to vote in a world where voting is no longer a high priority for the young masses, make sure to read on.

First of all, talk to your kids about politics
If you want your children to feel encouraged to vote when they are older, then you have to get them comfortable with the idea of politics. You have to get them to see that it is okay to take an interest in politics and that it is certainly okay to talk about it. But, what do you say? Well, first of all it is a good idea to see what they already know or feel about the world of politics or specific politicians, especially if it is election season. Ask them just what all the signs they see and all the people they see vying for office on their TV mean to them. Ask them questions to see if anything they witness during the election season has resonated with them. Ask them questions about the larger than life president that they must have some sort of inkling about or knowledge of. Basically, as long as you don’t probe them and make them feel uncomfortable, it is okay to talk to your kids about politics.

Make sure you are embracing the future of votingYour children will be voting in the future, but they're not going to want to vote in this future if the system they use to do so is outdated. So, make sure you are, yourself, embracing the future of voting whenever you can and make sure that you are doing all you can to advocate a change in the way voting is done. One way to do this is to become a supporter of a initiative such as Smartmatic, an initiative that is seeking to make voting far more accessible by making it electronic, meaning it would be able to take place in the comfort of one’s own home. And, whether you think this would specifically benefit your children or not, you need to be embracing any sort of future voting initiative that seeks to protect the process of voting from never becoming outdated.

Encouraging your kids to vote when they become an adult is increasingly becoming a tough task, what with the way the world of politics and the world in general is going, but it can be done. It can be done if you are open with them about the voting system, and if you are open to embracing new ways of voting.

If you also want to encourage your children to fall in love with learning, make sure to click here.


January 25, 2018

Can You Make Your Kids Fall In Love With Learning?

This post has been contributed.
Sometimes, it seems like all kids can do to resist learning. This is normal at first, however, there are ways you can encourage your kids to fall in love with learning so that they thrive at school and in life in general! Here are a few ideas:
Read To Them Regularly
Make sure you read to your kids from a young age, and when they’re old enough, get them to read to you too. Surround them with books and get them into the reading habits, and they’ll learn naturally. They’ll have better grammar skills, listening skills, and communication skills to name a few. 
Help Them If They Need It
If your kids need help with homework or grasping a concept, help them. Don’t be a helicopter parent, but be aware in the background if they need you. Don’t make them depend on you, however. There is a difference! 
Educate Them At Home
Find fun ways you can educate your kids at home. Maybe you could get them a telescope to look at the stars, or even find some great fossils for sale. They could grow their own crystals with a kit, or if they’re artsy, they could learn about different mediums for art. 
Use Positive Language
Using positive language around learning is important. It can’t sound like they don’t have a choice - like an ‘or else’ mindset. Make sure you tell them how great learning is and what it could do for them. 
Share A Passion Of Yours
Sharing a passion of yours could encourage them to get into it, or at least find a passion of their own. When you show how excited and eager you are to share something, they will realise how fun it can be. What do you love to do? Whether you love to solve math problems, do cross words, or make clothes, sharing a passion with your kids is a great start. 
Build On Your Kids Natural Interests
Some kids have natural interests already - you can kind of see them peeking through when they’re young. Maybe they’re interested in stars, rocks, drawing, or something else. Do your best to build on their natural interests. If you’re not sure what they are, then sign them up to try out a few different hobbies and after school activities. 
Avoid Rewards 
Rewarding your kids for learning will make them reluctant to learn when they’re not being bribed. You don’t want them to get into the mindset of thinking they should be rewarded for doing something as important and beneficial as learning. They should want to do it naturally. Over time, if you use these tips, they should enjoy it. They might not enjoy every single subject at school, but they’ll be doing their best. 
The answer is yes; you can absolutely make your kids fall in love with learning. However, you need to make sure you’re taking the right approach, with just the right amount of encouragement for it to feel right to them. Good luck!

January 25, 2018

Loans: When Is It Acceptable To Borrow Money?

This post has been contributed.
The importance of staying out of debt wherever possible cannot be stressed enough. However, that being said, there are times in life when staying out of debt is not an option, when you are in desperate need of funds and borrowing money is your only option, debt doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The key to getting into debt is how you get into that debt - there is good debt and bad debt, and it is important to understand that. With that in mind, the question is: when is it acceptable to borrow money and get yourself into debt?
You need to understand good debt and bad debt 
When it comes to borrowing money, it is crucial that you understand the difference between good debt and bad debt. The fact is that not all debt is bad, believe it or not. 
Bad debt is the kind of debt that comes from failing to make your bills payments or falling behind with your credit card repayments. It is the kind of debt that leads to debt collectors knocking on your door, court orders, and black marks on your credit record. This is not the kind of debt that you want. 
Whereas, good debt is taking out a loan, like a working capital turnover loan for your business, that will help you in the short-term and can be paid back over a set period of time. There are some loans, such as payday loans, for instance, that come with very high rates of interest, and thus are not a type of good debt. However, bank loans, mortgages and credit cards, as long as they come with low rates of interest, are good loans. 
When is it okay to borrow money?
There are two main instances when it is acceptable to borrow money, these are discussed below. 
1. It’s okay to borrow money if times are tight. When times are tight, and funds are running low, it is okay to borrow money. However, that being said, it is only okay to borrow money if it is an affordable amount to pay back - it is crucial that you also take into account any interest. The fact is that when you borrow money and can’t pay it back on time, that is where problems arise. So it pays to consider whether a loan is truly affordable before choosing to take it out. 
2. It’s an investment for the future. Should a loan be an investment for the future, such as being used to set up a small business or buy a home of your own, then borrowing money for this purpose is acceptable. Presuming of course, that the amount is affordable to repay within the set repayment period. 
You may not like the concept of borrowing money - few people do - but if it is necessary and the money that you are borrowing constitutes a ‘good’ loan, then there is no reason not to do so, if the funds are needed, that is.

January 2, 2018

How to Stay Safe during a Hurricane

This post has been contributed.
If you live in a hurricane zone, it is important that you are aware of what to do if the worst happens. While there are specific safety bulletins that are applied during specific catastrophes, it is vital that you know about general safety tips for hurricanes. In this post, we will provide you with some background information on hurricanes, as well as some crucial safety tips you need to follow.
Background information
There have been a number of high profile hurricanes across the globe over the past decade. Most recently, hurricane Irma churned across the Atlantic Ocean, causing devastation. When it hit the Caribbean, it was classed as a category five storm. Residents are still feeling the impact of this powerful storm. Of course, other storms that have caused devastation include Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which reached winds up to 175 mph. This was also classed as a category five storm. Other hurricanes that have caused devastation include Andrew, Camille, Mitch, Rita, and Gilbert, which ripped through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean in 1988.
The devastation that occurs after a storm like the ones mentioned above is something that cannot be done justice with mere words. People return to the place they once called home to find that there is nothing left of their house and business. Luckily, the world comes together to try and help those people. There are a number of non-profit organisations that have been set up to assist, providing canned goods, water, and any other supplies that are required. Cane Bay Partners VI, which was founded by Kirk Chewning and David Johnson, is a good example of this. With the donations and assistance from these organisations, there would be no way back for the areas devastated by hurricanes.
Staying safe during a hurricane
So, what happens if you find yourself in the middle of a hurricane? If you do not evacuate the area, there are some key steps you need to follow while staying in your home:
  • Do not take a bath or shower during the storm. Do not use your phone and stay away from electrical equipment. This is important because of the risk of lighting during a hurricane.
  • Do not go outside. This may sound obvious, but you should not go outside until the storm has completely passed. There have been many cases whereby there is a period of calm and people assume the storm is over, only to find that it isn’t. At the other side of the eye, the wind speed increases at a rapid pace, and the hurricane force comes from another direction. No matter how curious you are, don’t go outside!
  • Turn off major appliances if your home loses power so that you can minimise damage.
  • Do not use electrical appliances.
  • Turn off electricity at the main breaker if flooding threatens your home.
  • Find a safe area in the home, for example, a closet or bathroom on the lower level. You need to stay away from glass doors, skylights, and windows.