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Finnegan Pierson - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 13

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The Makings of a Successful Business Owner

What does it take to be a successful business owner? Is passion enough, or is there something more to it? While it’s not uncommon for people to dream of starting their own business there are some traits that separate those who dream about it and those who succeed.

Persevere Through the Hard Stuff

It’s not easy starting a business. It is very rarely the cakewalk people who have never tried it seem to think it is. Most business owners don’t start with tons of capital and a great team working alongside them, which means they are responsible for everything from marketing to administration, organization to insurance quotes, sales to website development. That’s a lot of work, and odds are, the vast majority of that work is not where their skillsets, passion, or interests lay.

This is important to remember. If you’re going to start your own business, a lot of your time, in the beginning, will be spent doing stuff or learning to do stuff that you don’t like or enjoy. Not exactly what new business owners want to hear, but knowing in advance allows you to mentally prepare to persevere until you can start bringing on employees to help with those things so you can do more of what you love. This is where you see the grit and tenacity of a successful business owner.

Let Go of an Employee Mentality

Many people spend most of their lives working for someone else. The transition from employee to business owner is a big step. As an employee, odds are, you have a set schedule, a reliable wage, set pay periods, time off, a distinct job description, and sick pay. As a business owner, the job description is simply, “whatever needs to be done.” There is not a reliable wage. If you’re not working the business is likely not making money, so sick time and vacation time must be taken strategically, if at all. As a business owner, you work as many hours as you need to.  Often you have regular hours that coincide with your customer's workday and then after hours, you do all the administrative and support tasks necessary to keep the business running.

Depending on the type of business you are building and how you go about it, the first few years can be a grind and if you stay stuck in the employee mentality, you’re likely to end up a statistic. Changing that mindset is important. Understanding that your time is not just trading hours for dollars, but every minute, regardless of whether you love or hate the task at hand, is a minute you are investing into your own dream and vision. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but focusing on why you’re doing what you’re doing, can help take the edge off those hard moments when you’d like to just have a reliable paycheck.

Refuse to Go It Alone

Starting and building a successful business can feel like a lonely road, and often it is. However, by seeking out networking opportunities available through your local Chamber of Commerce or trade associations, you can often find help and support from others who are further down the road than you are. The comradery can be just the encouragement you need when your own determination is failing. In addition, you’ll likely begin meeting professionals in service industries you are going to need, such as CPAs, attorneys and bookkeepers and often these types of businesses will offer significant discounts to association or networking members. So, while getting to know others in your industry may not be your thing, the connections with those whose services you will likely need can prove to be invaluable.

So much goes into building a successful business. Perseverance, intentionally shifting your approach to work and a willingness to network with others are just a few of the traits that separate successful business owners from the statistics.

Publish Date: October 7, 2021 6:20 PM


How To Cut on Your Monthly Bills

Are your monthly bills too high for you to handle? Consider the following ways to cut down on your spending.

Get a Roommate

The first way you can cut down on your monthly spending is to get a roommate. Even if you love living alone, it can be expensive. You have to pay for everything, so you might not be able to spend money on anything else.

Having a roommate means you can split the costs with someone else. And you may be able to get a better place to live since you'll have more money to combine with a roommate. Plus, you'll have someone to talk to after a long day, so you don't have to feel alone.

Move Somewhere Cheaper

Whether you decide to get a roommate or not, try moving. You can move to a new apartment or house in your area or a different area. Look for a place that doesn't cost as much but is still safe and comfortable for you.

Then, you'll be able to save the money you used to spend on rent or a mortgage. You can use that for other expenses or save the cash for a rainy day. Either way, moving to a cheaper place may not sound glamorous, but it can be worth the savings.

Look for Amenities

If you know you want to use a gym or a pool, look for apartments or condos that offer those or other amenities. Then, you won't have to spend money on a gym membership in addition to your rent. As long as the apartment doesn't cost significantly more, it may be a better deal.

And even if you only break even on paper, you might still save overall. You won't have to spend money on gas or a bus ticket to get to the gym. All you have to do is walk across the complex or down the stairs to get to your gym.

Change Insurance

Another way to cut down on your monthly bills is to look at your insurance. You might be spending a lot on insurance for your car, home, or apartment. Look for a few insurance quotes from different companies to see if you can get a better deal.

When you find a good quote, switch to that company to take advantage of the savings. Then, you'll be able to pocket the cash and get the protection you need for your valuables. And you can save or spend the money however you please. You won't have to worry about paying too much for basic coverage.

Review Your Subscriptions

You should also go through your monthly bank statement and look for any subscriptions. Of course, you may want to keep a few subscriptions that you use. But if you haven't accessed an account in a few months, cancel the subscription. It can be hard to give up a subscription.

After all, a lot of them only cost $5 or $10 a month. But that money can add up fast, especially if you have multiple subscriptions you don't use and a few months pass by. For every $10 you spend each month, that's $120 a year that you waste. So think long-term to make it easier to quit spending that money.

Make a Budget

Perhaps you struggle with spending too much money on eating out or entertainment. To cut those monthly bills, make a budget and stick to it. Think about how much you can afford to spend on meals or movies each month or week.

Do your best to follow the budget, and get back on track if you do ever go over budget. That way, you won't have spent hundreds of dollars on food you didn't need or shows you didn't like. Plus, it will feel more special when you do spend that money.

Saving money each month isn't easy. But you can try a few things to cut your monthly bills. Be sure to try a couple of options to see what works for you.

Publish Date: October 7, 2021 6:19 PM


5 Ways To Upgrade Your Cooking

Cooking can be both fun and rewarding. If you are tired of ordering takeout and microwaving frozen dinners every week, now is a good time to start cooking more often. Once you have the basics of cooking down, you may want to know how to take your cooking prowess to the next level. Stepping up your cooking can be attained by making some upgrades to your kitchen and the recipes you learn and practice. With the right upgrades and tips in mind, soon you will be confident enough to take your cooking skills up a notch. Read on to see five ways of upgrading your food and cooking game.

  1. Replace Your Refrigerator and Freezer

The freshness of your ingredients depends on the quality of your refrigerator and freezer units. If you find your refrigerator is lacking in any way, it's time for an upgrade. True refrigeration units should provide you with enough space for many ingredients, as well as enough efficiency to last for a long time.  

Freezing leftover food is also a great way to stretch out your recipes and keep your kitchen stocked for substantial periods of time. If the freezer door in your refrigerator is smaller than what you would like, consider buying a separate freezer unit. Another freezer will provide you with even more space for storing ingredients and for keeping already prepared meals accessible for months.

  1. Reorganize Your Kitchen

If your kitchen is overly cluttered or unorganized, staying on task while cooking may become more difficult than it needs to be. A good way to start reorganizing your kitchen is to sort items and appliances into designated areas. Rather than having every appliance and utensil strewn about the kitchen, put each category of item together.

Sorting your items based on what is most convenient is important as well. For instance, keep your oven mitts near the stove for easy access. When you are done using whichever item you need at the moment, return it to the spot you picked out for it so that you know where it is every time.

With a clean and organized kitchen, the cooking process can become much smoother. If it's been a while since you've used certain appliances, consider disposing of them or giving them away to clear up space for more efficiency.

  1. Get Better Cookware

While you're getting rid of your old appliances and cookware, this is a perfect time to replace them with newer items that you will use regularly. Getting a whole new set of cookware can make a big difference in the quality of your food. For instance, if your old pots and pans weren't doing the trick before, consider upgrading to a cast-iron skillet for a sturdier and more versatile item. The higher the quality of the cookware, the better your cooking experience will be.

4. Get Better Cutlery

The utensils you use for cooking and for eating could be upgraded as well. Different knives do different jobs when cutting ingredients, so having a wide variety of knives allows for more versatility. Purchase a knife block as well as a sharpening tool to keep your knives sharp and ready to use.

5. Learn More Recipes

Have you found yourself stuck in a rut in terms of what you cook? Thankfully, there is a near-endless supply of recipes both on the internet and in books. Follow cooking channels online and look up recipe books to broaden your horizons. Get adventurous and look up different kinds of food you have never tried before. By expanding your palate and stretching outside of your comfort zone in the world of recipes you make, your passion for cooking may find a whole new life.

With these ideas in mind, you may just get that push you need to take your cooking to the next level. By trying new things, you may be surprised by how much fun you end up having in the kitchen.

Publish Date: October 7, 2021 6:18 PM


How You Can Become Financially Stable

Are you looking for ways that you can become financially stable? It might seem daunting since the economy is ever-changing, and it might be difficult to figure out the best tactics to help yourself become financially sound if you didn't grow up with those types of values. It's always possible to better your future no matter where you are in life. Check out these suggestions that can help you move toward stability money-wise for you and your family. 

Start Emergency Funds

Having emergency funding set up can save you from dipping into your regular savings account when disaster strikes. Let's say you run into problems with your car or your beloved pet needs to visit the veterinarian after eating something they shouldn't have. Your problem needs to be fixed, and quickly. It's likely it won't be a cheap solution, either. When you have an emergency funding account set up, you can use that money without guilt or worry, knowing that you have budgeted for these types of situations. Most experts suggest having emergency funding of at least $1,000, but that can vary depending on where you live or the size of your family. 

Have a Savings Account Set Up

A savings account is a little different from your emergency funds in that it is meant for more long-term actions. Your savings account can help you purchase a home, a new car, or any other big goals you have in store for your life. Even if you aren't sure what exactly you want to save up for, putting aside money from your paycheck every time you get paid and having it sit in a savings account is something you should do, no matter what situation you find yourself in. 

Create a Diverse Portfolio

After you establish your savings account, it's important to think about how you want to spread out some of the money you save. Many people invest in stocks, bonds, or other forms that allow them to store and save money. When using funds to create and build wealth, don't forget about using participating whole life insurance. This can help sustain your family upon your death, giving everyone peace of mind and ensuring that even if a disaster occurs, your family will be able to manage. 

Find Ways to Cut Back

Cutting back might sound boring, but it can help ensure that you have enough money to go into savings or paying down debts when necessary. Start by making a budget and account for everything you buy or otherwise spend money on. Once you've done that, step back and look at areas you could cut back on. Do you spend too much on clothing? Meals out? Travel and entertainment? You don't have to eliminate these areas completely, you just need to find ways to reduce spending and ensure that you are making the most of the money you have while cutting back spending in areas that you truly don't need to. 

Consider No-Spend Months

Just as the name implies, no-spend months are months where you do not spend money on unnecessary purchases. Obviously, you cannot stop spending any money whatsoever. You still need to buy groceries, pay your rent or mortgage, and take care of your utility bills. But no-spend can help you eliminate purchases such as online shopping or eating out altogether. Think of it as a stricter version of cutting back. Don't try to attempt this around the holidays or other times when you might need to spend money. Try cutting back first, and then challenge yourself to do a no-spend month. 

Becoming financially sound might be a challenge at first, but it is worth it. You can find ways to cut back and have no-spend months. Make sure to save for an emergency fund and then build upon a savings account. You can even stretch out and include a diverse portfolio that allows you to have plenty of savings for the future. 

 

 

Publish Date: October 7, 2021 6:17 PM


6 Strategies for Optimizing B2B Sales

Optimizing your sales is a crucial aspect of doing business and there are several different ways you can do that. Here are six strategies for optimizing B2B sales.

  1. Choose Software That Is Compatible With Your Needs

There are many programs and software solutions that you can leverage to assist with your B2B sales processes, including EDI software, CRM software and data analytics tools. To make decisions regarding your software options, consider what programs you're already using and whether they meet your needs appropriately. If they don't you can switch to another, similar program. You may also need to add new programs or get rid of extraneous software. EDI software is a vital tool for any B2B sales process, but you may find you don't gain enough benefits from a CRM program to make it work retaining, for example.

  1. Maintain Your Pipeline's Quality

You should conduct regular reviews and maintenance of your B2B sales pipeline, process and procedures. If you aren't seeing the kinds of results you expect from your B2B sales, your pipeline, process or procedures, or all three may have some issues that need to be worked on. If you're reviewing regularly, for example, once annually, you're more likely to find these issues before they cause large problems. Regular review also ensures you remain abreast of changes and advancements in B2B and in your industry, and can adjust your processes accordingly to keep up.

  1. Practice Granular Prospecting and Targeting

If you utilize practices and concepts such as lead nurturing, sales funnels, marketing content testing, marget segmentation and targeted marketing, you'll be better prepared to turn prospects into active customers. PrYospect targeting is generally performed at the beginning of your B2B sales process. Nurturing, testing and segmentation can be incorporated across your whole B2B sales pipeline or into specific procedures within the pipeline. The more granular you can get following leads and nurturing them, the more you'll understand about prospective customers needs and the better you'll be able to respond to those needs and appeal to prospects and customers alike.

  1. Personalize Marketing and Customer Communications

Personalization is a key factor for success in all aspectes of sales, including B2B. Customers respond much more positively to personalized communications and content than they do to generic advertising and notices. This strategy helps you show your customers that you're interested in them as individuals or as organizations, rather than just as faceless consumers. You can personalize all sorts of marketing tools, including emails, phone calls, web and landing page design, packaging and rewards programs.

  1. Leverage Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing isn't only useful for individual customers. You just need to target it more specifically. Instead of using as many platforms to reach as many prospects as possible, focus on the social media platforms customers in your target market use. LinkedIn is the most commonly used professional social media platform, but if the companies in your target market also used something like Instagram, then you should leverage your social media marketing to work on both LinkedIn and Instagram.

  1. Create Customer Personas

B2B sales are rarely made to an individual. Instead, they're made to an entire organization or to an entire department within an organization. Customer personas are particularly useful in B2B sales for this reason. You can use personas to determine which individuals at any given organization will be collaborating to make a B2B purchase and create content that appeals to those individuals and answers any questions or concerns they have. Generally, you can create basic personas for each product you can sell B2B and make adjustments for each new organization that is a potential customer. Creating individual personas for each B2B client may defeat the purpose of the personas.

You can use any of these or other B2B sales optimization strategies alone or in conjunction with each other. Look at your current sales processes and determine what new strategies would be the best options for you to implement, then come up with a plan to integrate them smoothly into your processes.

Publish Date: October 2, 2021 12:05 AM


5 Quick Changes for a More Uplifting Work Environment

The vibes in a work environment can make or break the job experience for all employees. A little positivity can go a long way. The work environment can impact retention, mood, productivity and satisfaction. A lot is riding on creating an uplifting workplace. As a manager, you may not be able to make large-scale changes to the building or office. However, here are some changes you can make today to create a positive environment for yourself and your employees. 

  1. Comfortability

While not all work environments can have comfy or calming décor due to safety, implementing comfortable and soothing pieces where you are able to can make a huge difference. An option for employees to have standing desks could help with pain associated with sitting at a desk all day. The workplace should be kept within a comfortable temperature range with noise controlled as best as possible. Limiting distractions and uncomfortable things in the work environment can improve efficiency. Work to provide the necessary equipment to create a safe, reliable, comfortable environment, such as a generator transfer switch.

  1. Break Spaces

If space allows, create a small outdoor area where employees can get some fresh air and sunshine on their breaks throughout the day. Sunshine releases serotonin in our bodies which enhances mood. Vitamin D from the sun’s rays also positively affects mental health, happiness and immune system function. Taking a break outside can improve brain function and concentration, yielding increased productivity afterward and even prompt creativity due to the change in scenery.

  1. Check-in

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more productive and overall happier than employees who feel like they are just one of many and that their employers do not care about them as an individual. Make time to check in with each employee on a personal and professional level. Use this time to establish individual goals, talk about performance, encourage them to set new goals and ask questions about the individual and their family or personal life. Making a connection shows you care and value your employees. It can also make them feel special while at work. Be a good listener during this time so your employees know they can come to you with issues, concerns and ideas. An established feeling of support can raise job satisfaction and personal confidence.

  1. Train

Provide resources, training and educational materials for your employees. If you notice an employee struggling or not performing well, offer them extra training or help instead of cutting them down with negativity. When you get new employees, spend enough time during the onboarding process to ensure they are not overwhelmed. Help set your employees up for success by facilitating learning, growth and development. Some employees may be eager to learn more. Complement this drive by offering mentor or shadowing opportunities and access to a variety of additional learning options, including webinars and online courses.

  1. Communication

Strive for effective, open communication within the workplace. This is one small change that can have a tremendous effect on the work environment, employee satisfaction and overall productivity. Transparent communication makes employees feel in the know. Open lines of communication add to the employees feeling valued and heard. By encouraging two-way communication, you will be surprised by the ideas and input your employees can give you. Suggestions could be used to improve the workplace, the flow of work projects, and improve your product, service line, company, or workplace.

Your employees look to you for guidance and leadership. You can set the tone of the work environment. No one has a good day every day, but it is important to remember your employees see your reactions. If you dread going into work, they are going to sense that dread. You don’t need to be overly bubbly, but you should make the efforts to create a work environment that uplifts yourself and your employees. As a manager, work to practice effective communication, active listening, regular check-ins and establishing a well-developed onboarding and continual training protocol. Above all, remember that your employees are people and want to be valued and appreciated.

Publish Date: October 2, 2021 12:03 AM


4 Steps for Effective Machine Learning Data Direction

Machine learning is an exciting and advanced area of data science. It uses models powered by data that are refined over time, mimicking the way that humans learn, in order to deliver progressively more accurate data analyses. The data is guided through a process from collection to analysis by a director. This is a very important task, as including the wrong data in the models could lead to incorrect results. Here are four steps that you'll need to follow when directing machine learning data.

Step One: Gather Your Data

The process of getting data into the models is called the machine learning pipeline, which is often abbreviated as the ML pipeline. The first step in the pipeline is to gather together the data that you plan to analyze. This means identifying your sources, pulling the data from those sources, and then saving it to a common location. Data can come from one source or multiple ones. For example, if you're trying to determine customers' reactions to a new product announcement, you'll want to pull data from various online sources that all reference that product. Keep this raw data saved in a secure location to aid in the next steps.

Step Two: Prepare Your Data

In this step, you'll perform data cleaning. This involves filtering out any data that you don't want to be considered by the model. Start by listing out the parameters for the data that you do want to include. For example, you may only want to look at data that originates from a certain country or state, or that doesn't contain certain words or phrases, or that comes from reputable sites or verified purchasers. Once you've determined your parameters, then you just need to filter out all of the data points that don't meet those. Your newly-cleaned data is then ready for the next step in the pipeline.

Step Three: Standardize Your Data

In this third step, you'll standardize your data so that your model knows how to read it. This is different than cleaning, as you're not eliminating any more data at this point. Instead, you are standardizing your data through tasks such as grouping related words together based on their dictionary form. This is known as lemmatization. You'll also perform tokenization, or marking where individual words begin and end in text strings so computers can parse them correctly. The good news is that a lot of this work can be automated through the use of software, saving you and your time a lot of time and effort.

Test Model With Data

The last step is to take all your cleaned and prepared data and start plugging it into your model. You'll need three data sets for this: your training, validation, and testing sets. The training set is used first. This set teaches the model how to behave. Based on the results, you may need to adjust your model's parameters before moving on. The second data set is the validation set. This set is used to match the predictions made by the model with the actual data to ensure that the model is producing valid results. Finally, the testing set is, as the name implies, used to test out how well your model is analyzing real data. Once all three data sets have been plugged in and the necessary adjustments made, the final analysis can begin.

Machine learning in data science is an extremely powerful tool. The process of directing data through the pipeline from collection to full analysis is pivotal to ensuring that your results are valid and reliable. Identify your data sources carefully. Screen out the data that doesn't fit your identified parameters. Lemmatize, tokenize, and standardize your remaining data. Teach your model how to perform via the use of training, validation, and testing sets. And once all of that work is done, then you can sit back and enjoy the results of having successfully directed your data through the machine learning pipeline.

Publish Date: September 17, 2021 7:20 PM


Tips for Offering Great Customer Service

When it comes to running a business, there are a few aspects that are particularly important to pay attention to, and one of those is customer service. Now more than ever, the quality of customer service you offer can impact your business in a big way.

With the availability of so many platforms online, customers can post their thoughts about your business in a variety of places. Because of this, making sure that you are offering great customer service can make a significant difference in your business's overall success. If you are looking for some ways to help stay on top of your customer service game, here are some things to think about. 

Do Research To Better Understand Your Customers

One of the first things you should do when working to improve your customer service overall is make sure that you are doing plenty of research to better understand your customers. The more that you know who your target audience is, the easier that it will be to provide them with the kind of service that will best suit them.

Not only that, but it will also help you to better define your target audience in general, which can be great for developing effective marketing strategies. This can be true whether you are offering probiotics for adults or legal services. No matter what you sell or offer, the more that you know your customer, the easier it is to serve them properly. 

Be Quick and Friendly When Dealing With Customers

Besides doing your research, another thing that should be a priority when finding ways to offer the best customer service is to make sure that you are being quick and friendly. Promptness is important when it comes to helping customers and addressing their issues. Not only does it show them that you respect them and their time, but it also shows that addressing their concerns is a priority for you.

Along with being prompt, it is also important to make sure that you are maintaining a friendly demeanor with your customers no matter what the issue is. This shows them that you value them, and helps create a smoother and more positive customer experience overall. 

Use Social Media To Keep In Touch

Another way to help give your customer service a boost is to use social media to keep in touch with your customers. Some may think that social media is a chore, or simply another platform to maintain. However, it can be great not only for offering better customer service, but for learning more about your customers, as well. 

With social media, you can quickly reach out to customers that have posted on your page, and answer their questions about your products. This can help you to address small customer service tasks in a timely manner. Additionally, by sparking conversations and posting questions on your social media platforms you can gain more understanding of what your customers are truly interested in, and use this knowledge to strengthen your business. 

Reeducate Your Customer Service Team Regularly

If you truly want to offer great customer service, then it can be beneficial to help your customer service team brush up on the basics from time to time. This can be helpful even if your team is experienced or excellent at their jobs. Even the best customer service representative may forget basic procedures from time to time, or need a refresher on what is the most important to focus on. By taking the time to help them brush up on old skills and also learn some new ones, you can help ensure that your team is strong and functioning at the highest possible level. 

Some Last Considerations

Offering quality customer service is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business, especially in the age of the internet. While some may not know where to start when it comes to doing this, the reality is that it is often as simple as doing some research and keeping in touch with your customers. 

 

Publish Date: September 17, 2021 7:18 PM


6 Aspects of Machine Learning

People in a multitude of industries are beginning to see how beneficial machine learning is to their respective fields. Machine learning involves computer algorithms. These algorithms can enhance specific learning processes without the need for human intervention. Some of the most notable machine learning applications include self-driving cars, neurocomputers, digital assistants, embedded systems, and expert systems. Individuals are using machine learning to improve e-commerce systems, better their banking and investment decisions, build robots and drones, create effective advertising and marketing campaigns, and streamline certain medical processes. Check out this list of six aspects of machine learning.

  1. Neural Networks

Neural networks are a set of algorithms that behave like the human brain. These networks yield neuron-like structures that signal one another. Neural networks are ideal for image recognition because they can manage complex processes incredibly well. Note that these networks do indeed have their drawbacks. It takes time to train them since a plethora of layers are involved. Also, they need a great deal of power to function. Pieces of neural network hardware, also known as neural network chips, are ideal for artificial intelligence and deep learning processes.

  1. Linear Algorithms

One sort of machine learning algorithm is the linear algorithm. There are two kinds of linear algorithms. One kind is linear regression. It results in a line that produces an optimal fit through a set of data points. Linear regression is fairly easy to comprehend, but it has its limitations; it oversimplifies things, and it does not bring to light the complicated relationships many variables have. Logistic regression is another kind of linear algorithm. It represents a modification of linear regression since it applies linear regression to areas of classification, such as groups. Like linear regression, logistic regression is pretty easy to understand yet prone to oversimplification.

  1. Tree-Based Algorithms

Tree-based algorithms represent another kind of machine learning algorithm. There are three kinds of tree-based algorithms. One kind is a decision tree. It is used to match all applicable decision outcomes. It is not difficult to deploy, but it is not potent enough to handle complex data sets. Another kind is random forest. It averages out multiple decision trees. Random forests often create first-rate models, but they are not as easy to understand as decision trees; plus, they do not push out predictions very quickly. The final kind of tree-based algorithm is gradient boosting. It utilizes weak decisions trees for hard conditions. It performs exceptionally well; however, small changes can drastically alter its models. 

  1. Supervised Learning

Supervised learning is one branch of machine learning. It involves the use of labeled datasets for classification and prediction purposes. There are two elements of supervised learning. The first is regression; it is a technique used to determine continuous values. It yields an algorithm for forecasting, predictions, new insights, and process optimization. The second element is classification; it is employed to place novel observations into specific categories. Individuals will use a classification algorithm for image classification, fraud detection, customer retention, and diagnostics.

  1. Unsupervised Learning

Another branch of machine learning is unsupervised learning. It consists of learning algorithms that do not have labels. There are two notable components of unsupervised learning. Dimensionally reduction is one component; it facilitates big data visualization, meaningful compression, structure discovery, and feature elicitation. The other component is clustering. It yields targeted marketing, customer segmentation, and recommended systems.

  1. Reinforcement Learning

The last branch of machine learning is reinforcement learning. It prompts learning models to make a series of decisions based on trial and error. Just like in any reinforcement system, the models are rewarded for positive behaviors and punished for negative ones. People use reinforcement learning to cultivate real-time decisions, game AI, robot navigation, skill acquisition, and learning tasks. 

Machine learning has helped many people in several industries unlock the potential of their tools and systems. People will likely utilize machine learning in more fields as time goes by.

Publish Date: September 15, 2021 12:01 AM


How To Use IT To Improve Your Business Operations

Constantly striving to improve your business is one of the best ways to ensure that it stays viable. The good news is that IT can help you improve your company in a lot of ways. Here is a handy checklist you can follow that will help you give your business the extra boost it needs. 

Keep Financial Score

Very few small business owners know exactly how much money goes in and out of their business monthly, weekly, or daily. However, you must monitor this cash flow and keep track of your financial score. IT can help with this because cloud-based software that uses Kubernetes architecture is available to help you monitor your cash flow easily. 

Set Goals

Another crucial part of keeping your business alive is setting goals. You can use goals to help you plan new strategies for how you are going to move your business forward. IT can be helpful for this by increasing things, such as your cybersecurity. Better security means that your website is more secure, so people will stop by to visit, which means increased customer loyalty. 

Use High-Impact Marketing

It's easy to waste money on ineffective marketing. Fortunately, IT can help you find high-impact marketing techniques at a low cost. Start by testing out one or two marketing options, deciding if they fit your needs, and incorporating the good ones into your toolkit. One of the best low-cost, high-impact options that IT can help with is social media marketing. To reap the benefits of this, be sure to get your company on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

Master Business Presentations

Giving the perfect business presentation is one way to improve the performance of your small business. The key is to start by learning everything you need to know about good business presentations. Often, this involves opening with some wisdom that will captivate your audience and attract them to your business.

Additionally, IT can help you design the perfect presentation slides that aren't overloaded with information. That lets you keep everything relevant so you can seem professional while presenting. 

Monitor Trends

As you know, your business doesn't operate in a vacuum. What happens on a global scale can impact even the smallest businesses. Fortunately, IT can help you stay current on what is trending in both your industry and community. It is your job to see these trends, decide if they are relevant, and how you will respond to the situation. 

Sharpen Your Selling Skills

Obviously, sales are an important part of your business. That means you need to focus on improving your selling skills, whether you are the owner of a large corporation or a one-person shop. The key to doing this successfully is to clarify your business mission. IT can help you accomplish this task by showing what areas of your business excel and improve the ones that need work to help you meet your mission. 

Find Best Practices

Staying transparent is crucial in today's society. In this case, IT is often useful because it can help you test, monitor, and approve your processes, communicate with customers, and break down any silos. It's also great for helping you document your processes, so you don't have to worry about misunderstandings or miscommunication. 

Motivate Staff

Having motivated and talented employees is the biggest thing that can help you improve your business. Therefore, you need to determine what can help motivate your employees to do their best. Part of that means finding insights into your staff members and the problems they see with your company. While most managers and business owners prefer to communicate with their staff in person, some choose to monitor their staff via IT, providing unbiased insights. 

At the end of the day, IT can help you improve your business in many ways. By following these tips, you'll see noticeable benefits that can help you grow your company and stay viable in the world of business. 

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:45 AM


6 Tips to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

It may be daunting to tackle the three R's but focusing on reducing, reusing, and recycling, can minimize humanity's negative influence on the environment. But how can it positively affect the environment? What does it mean to reduce, reuse, and recycle? And how can you personally reduce, reuse, and recycle? Well, read on to have all your questions answered. 

Why Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?

Reducing, reusing, and recycling can prevent pollution, reduce waste that ends up in landfills, and saves energy. Working to make changes in your life that are more environmentally friendly can actually save you money and make your carbon footprint smaller therefore prioritizing the carbon cycle. But why is the carbon cycle important? The carbon cycle is the system in which all carbon is exchanged between all living things on earth. This means if the carbon cycle breaks down, all life will start to fail to exist. So making even the smallest changes in your life to prioritize the environment and the carbon cycle has a big impact on the world around you. 

What Does it Mean to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?

To reduce is to try to minimize the amount of materials you use that cannot be reused or recycled. This can pertain to batteries and certain kinds of plastics. It is also important to cut down on use of all disposable products even if they can be recycled. That means you want to focus on using items that can be reused. Even if the item can be recycled, it is important to use it as long as you can to prevent the need for another. You can also invest in items that are made to be reused indefinitely in place of disposable items. Finally, recycling is taking items that can be broken down to make something else and making them useful again. Like recycling old plastic bottles to make toothbrush handles. 

Tips to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

  1. Try not to purchase any disposable items especially if you can find reuable versions. You can use a reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one or use silverware instead of plastic forks, spoons, and knives. 
  2. In times when you are not able to avoid using disposable items, make sure they are recyclable. You can also find items that are made from recycled materials. Always try to avoid plastic when you can. 
  3. When you go shopping, opt to bring your own bags. In a lot of areas of the world, it may even cost you extra to use bags that are provided by the store. If you do forget your bags and have to get paper or plastic ones, many stores have areas that you can return your bags to be recycled. 
  4. Try to replace paper products with items that can be washed and reused instead. Rather than using paper towels or napkins, invest in cloth napkins and towels. These can be more cost effective as well as good for the environment
  5. Try composting at home by investing in a compost bin. You throw your leftover food like orange peels, strawberry tops, or kale stems into the bin and through a process called vermicomposting, worms will eat your old food and turn it into a great fertilizer for your plants. Not only does it save a ton in gardening supplies, composting also minimizes the amount of waste you dispose of on a regular basis. 
  6. Thrifting your clothes, furniture, and appliances can save you money and reduce your consumption. You can also donate your items when you are finished with them so other people can get use from them rather than trashing your stuff. You can also update your electronics rather than buying the newest upgrade. 

Reducing, reusing, and recycling can make a huge difference in the environment while simultaneously saving you money. You can start with small changes in your everyday life and build up to larger investments. Even if it is just choosing to cut plastic bags or bottles out of your life, reducing, reusing, and recycling can change your life. 

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:44 AM


5 Small Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

All around the world, governments, corporations and other powerful organizations are putting their weight behind tackling the global warming crisis. So much of this change is coming from the top that many people wonder how or even if changing their own habits will make any impact. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, being part of that change gives you a powerful voice in how progress is made.  Here are five very simple steps anyone can take to reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably. 

  1. Educate Yourself

The most important thing you can do to make a difference is to learn. It's hard to find a workable solution for a problem you don't understand. Start with the basics: Get objective facts about how the global ecosystem actually works. You may wonder "why is the carbon cycle important?" Well, read some good free biology articles on Wikipedia to find out how everything we do has repercussions for the rest of the world. Think of yourself as standing on an island in the middle of outer space...because you are! Above all else, stick to the science and forget the hype surrounding these issues; this crisis will be solved by gaining critical thinking skills, not abandoning them. 

  1. Change Your Lighting Habits

Even though renewable energy, especially solar power, has made great strides over the past few years, the overwhelming majority of our energy is still generated by fossil fuels. Lighting our homes takes up a lot of that energy. Incandescent lights are attractive, but they're the worst offenders when it comes to efficiency, with 90% of their initial power going into generating heat, not light. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) produce the same amount of light for 1/4 of the energy input, so consider them as an option, along with halogen lighting. Simply turning off the lights when you leave the room can save enormous amounts of energy over the long term too. Remember, natural light is always best for your health, so whenever possible, open the curtains instead of switching on those bulbs. 

  1. Rethink Your Drive

According to government research, the transportation sector accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, accounting for 29% of America's total output. If you live in the city, it's easy to grab public transportation or ride a bike, but for the rest of us, it's time to think smart about our commute. Laying off the gas and brakes is a big fuel-saver. So is not using air conditioning when you don't need to. Remember not to weigh your car down with too many items, because every added pound of mass means more energy needed to move the vehicle. Keep these things in mind and your wallet and your world will thank you. 

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle

You might not think that throwing away old items has an impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but it definitely does. New things have to be manufactured, and the industrial sector produces almost a quarter of our country's greenhouse gases. Go beyond just recycling and learn to find creative new uses for items you were planning to throw away. Take the Marie Kondo approach and don't buy things in the first place if they don't bring you joy or have a legitimate use. 

  1. Practice Sustainable Shopping

A grocery store is a place where you can make some of the greatest impacts of all.  Bringing your own bag instead of using paper or plastic is a good start. When you're shopping, look for products that have labels indicating a commitment to sustainability by the producer. These products will usually be noticeable for what they lack: extra packaging that does no good and creates plastic pollution. If you're shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star seal. The federal government even offers tax credits for efficient home appliances, so shop around for them. 

It's tempting to see yourself as only a small part of the solution to our environmental issues, but in this case, the small things are the big things. Learn all the simple steps that you can take to make the world a better place. 

 

 

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:43 AM


7 Things to Do Before the End of the Year to Make the Most of it

It can feel all too easy to fall into habits. Becoming a creature of habit can feel a transition that happens without any warning or notice; however, you may suddenly notice that you have been doing the same thing every day. It may be time to add some change or variety to your life. If you are tired of your routine, here are seven things that range from massive change to small improvements that you can do to shake things up.

Pack up and Embark on an Adventure

If you are tired of your life and your home, you might need an adventure. For those needing a drastic change and the addition of thrill and excitement to your life, it may be time to ask yourself the key question, “Is it time to sell my house?” While owning a home can feel like roots that you cannot easily pull up, if you feel that you are ready to completely start over and embrace adventure, take the leap.

Take Charge of Your Finances

If you have felt overburdened and overwhelmed by your finances, this is the time to take back control. Sit down and write out all of your expenses and sources of income. Once you have this, set a budget and then you can start establishing goals. While it will take time and commitment to make lasting, positive change, this is the year to start that change.

Start a Daily Writing Practice

One of the things that may be getting in your way of living your best life is a lack of connection to what is happening around you. If you feel like life is happening to and around you, rather than with you, it is time to slow down and take stock. Slow down the pace of your daily routine with a daily writing practice. Whether you start journaling with prompts, start a creative writing project, write with no purpose or take time to write and reflect, this can be a powerful and easy way to invigorate your life.

Embrace and Embody Gratitude

A powerful tool that is often overlooked is gratitude. Learning to be grateful can help you appreciate what is around you and be more observant in your days. If you find that the days are flashing by, spending time appreciating your life and its daily activities can slow that feeling down. You can vastly improve your mental and emotional health, while also improving the lives of those around you when you start practicing gratitude.

Make a Concerted Effort to Help Others

Another great way to improve your life can also impact others. When you engage in work that supports and helps other people, it has a profound and immense impact on your life. Helping others can give you the perspective and clarity that you are missing in your everyday life. If you want to take back your life and relinquish the mundanity, consider lending a helping hand.

Prioritize Your Own Needs and Establish Boundaries

While helping others is an admirable and valuable practice, it cannot come as a sacrifice of your wellbeing. You may unknowingly be causing that draining, blasé feeling because you have sucked up all of your energy serving others. It is time to set some boundaries and stop putting other people’s needs above your own needs. You need to commit to the long journey that this change will bring but ultimately will leave you with a happier and healthier life.

Sit With Silence

In a world that is constantly bustling and buzzing, you can take back control of your energy and time by unplugging. This may feel like a drastic shift to your routine, but you can do it. Whether you go for a walk in nature without your phone or smartwatch or sit outside breathing fresh air without the disruptions of notifications, sitting in silence can give you the stillness you need to find perspective.

While changing your life may sound intimidating, you too can improve your outlook and experience. Whether you choose to completely change your life or take small steps toward living a happier and healthier life, it is time to make a change.

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:39 AM


Five Ways To Sell Your House in 2021

Selling your home can be stressful and an emotional experience, especially if you’ve lived in it for some time. But 2021 is a sellers’ market, and if you've been thinking of selling, now is a good time. Today with the internet and social media, you have a variety of methods to choose from to sell your home. Each process has good points and some not so good. Some methods will save you work, and others will save you money. It takes research to discover what is the best method for you. Here are four ways you can sell your house in 2021.

Contact a Licensed Realtor

Selling with a realtor is still the most common method. There are many benefits to working with a licensed realtor. Realtors will do a market analysis of your home and discuss what price point will work best for you. They’ll do the advertising and photography. Studies show that sellers using a realtor typically sell their homes for more than those without. Also, realtors manage the showings, negotiate any offers and help with the paperwork. The best agents will offer suggestions on how to prepare your home for sale.

Using a licensed agent may not be the right method of sale for you. Though there are many advantages to selling with a realtor, the downside, of course, is the cost. Sellers pay the listing agent a percentage of the sale price. They also pay the buyer's agent a commission. Depending on the home's sale price, these fees can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. To decide how to sell your house, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses and do a little research. If you are comfortable doing some of the work yourself, a different selling method may pay off. 

Know that if you choose to hire an agent, you are, in essence, hiring an expensive service. Always Interview several agents before signing a listing agreement and make sure you are comfortable with the agent you choose.

Use a Discount Broker

Do an online search for discounted brokers, and you may be able to hire a qualified full-service listing agent at a discounted price. Your agent choices will be limited, but they will handle the advertising, paperwork, and negotiations. The services state they can do this because they get an abundance of leads online. If you contact a discount broker, you will most likely still have to pay the buyer's real estate commission.

For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

Selling a home on your own will save you the real estate commissions, but you will be responsible for arranging everything. You are responsible for presenting to buyers, completing the paperwork, setting the price, negotiating offers, and hiring a title company to complete the closing. Potential buyers will contact you directly to arrange showings and discuss the property. You’ll do your own marketing, photographs, and property descriptions.

In some ways, FSBO is easier today since several internet home sale sites will advertise your property. But if you want your property to be available on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the service real estate agents use, you will have to pay for a Flat Fee MLS. 

Sell As-Is for Cash

There are circumstances where this can be a sound option. If you need to sell fast and need the cash,  you can contact one of these buyers. The downside is, you usually get less than you could by offering your home for sale with a realtor or FSBO.

Negotiate a Private Sale

You can also sell your home to a friend or relative. This will be a version of FSBO. It is best to hire a real estate attorney to handle the paperwork.

Today there are several ways that you can sell your home. The method you choose depends on your personality. If you are a hands-on person who enjoys meeting new people and can handle negotiations, you can go without a licensed real estate agent. Even if you’re more introverted with today's online services, it's easier than ever to sell your own home. Whatever method you choose, 2021 is a seller's market. 

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:37 AM


7 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Daytime sleepiness can be the easiest way to ruin a day; however, many adults struggle to get the quality and quantity of rest they need. This can lead to a lack of energy, mood disturbances and cycles of sleepiness, among other things. While this is a common hindrance to having a good day, you can do something about it. If you want to improve your sleep and feel more alert throughout the day, here are a few essential tips.

The Right Mattress

One key reason why many adults struggle to get a good night’s rest is a direct result of their mattress. Whether your mattress is old and has lost its support or you don’t have the right mattress sizes, it may be time for an upgrade. If you want to improve your sleep, start with your mattress and look for a better option for your sleep circumstances.

Comfortable Bedding

Another aspect of your bed that may need an update is your bedding. If you find yourself getting overheated at night or uncomfortable, it may be time to replace your bedding, Whether you need a cooling fabric like bamboo or additional weight without trapping heat like a weighted blanket, there are plenty of options available to all different types of sleepers.

Cool Bedroom Temperature

Another reason why you may struggle to get a good night’s sleep is the temperature in your bedroom. The ideal temperature for sleep is in the sixties. This cool temperature triggers the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you regulate your sleep and wake cycles. Reduce your temperature in your bedroom and enjoy the coziness of your new bedding and enjoy the benefits of idyllic sleep conditions.

Melatonin

While melatonin is a natural hormone produced by your pineal gland, there are times that your body may need some help. If you are struggling to regulate your sleep cycles or suffering from mild sleep disturbances, taking a melatonin supplement can help get you back on track. If your sleep cycle feels off, don’t feel like you need to grin and bear it when melatonin may be exactly what you needed.

Time Outside During the Day

Another way that your body naturally regulates itself is with exposure to the sun, nature and fresh air. Getting outside every day, even if it is just for a few minutes per day can vastly improve your sleep. Exposure to the natural cycles of light can help regulate your body’s natural cycles and set you up to achieve a better night’s rest and a more consistent schedule.

Late-Night Treats

For those who enjoy the occasional late-night treats, the indulgence can feel like a great way to wind down at the end of the day; however, this can disrupt your slumbers. Whether you are consuming sugary desserts or acidic, savory foods, food consumption before bed should be avoided. Not only does your metabolism slow down, making it harder to digest food, but it can also disturb your natural cycles. If you want to sleep through the night, cut back on late-night treats and stop any food consumption at least two hours before bed.

Liquid Consumption

Many people find themselves drinking water before bed to stay hydrated throughout the night. With an increased liquid intake comes a need to urinate. While this sleep disruption may be short, it can throw off your natural sleep cycle. In the worst-case scenario, it can leave you awake for hours after. While it is true that your body can become dehydrated overnight, you don’t need to chug water before bed. Scheduling water consumption throughout the day and monitoring your daytime water consumption can keep you hydrated all day and all night long.

For those who struggle with sleep, this can feel like a never-ending battle. While it can be frustrating, you can set yourself up for sleep success. Don’t let sleepy days and restless nights get in the way of you living a happy and healthy life when you can take charge of your sleep.

Publish Date: September 11, 2021 1:33 AM

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