4 Team-Building Activities Your Employees Will Love

Many companies have embraced the team-building methods for the sole purpose of increasing the productivity and efficiency of their teams. Looking at this activity as a mere investment is what makes it, right from the start, a complete fail and something all employees understand just like any other work-related obligation.

Yes, the purpose of team building is to raise morale, improve collaboration, build a team spirit and in the end increase productivity and efficiency, but if you want to get it right you really need to drop the legacy team building mindset and change it for one that is more open to new opportunities and experimentation.

People are constantly changing and what used to be fun 10 years ago is not necessarily fun today. This is why I’ve put together this list of activities your employees will adore.

Go on a Concert

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Concerts present an excellent opportunity for your team members to unwind and raise their spirits after a busy week. It can boost all the positive emotions and shed a new light on how your employees perceive one another. Also when you compare this team building activity with traditional ones it is quite cost-effective. Look for the cheap concert tickets online and you might stumble upon a perfect deal.

All that excitement of preparing for the show, meeting with colleagues and traveling to a concert provide numerous opportunities for your employees to chat and to exchange something personal that was otherwise impossible to do. Sharing this new and positive experience will bring the team members close to each other.

Go Camping

Corporate and team building retreats are usually planned so that employees participate in team building activities somewhere else then their hometown or workplace. But why not make the whole trip a team building activity, right from the start and all the way to end. This type of team building endeavor will be happily embraced by employees with a more adventurous spirit.

Camping, for instance, is a great opportunity to involve all team members into all steps of organizing an activity, from planning to execution. This is a unique chance to put team collaboration to test and identify any hidden issues. You can provide them with a budget and several locations and let them do all the work.

Experience the Thrills of Whitewater Rafting

This is also an excellent opportunity for team building. Spending time in nature is a good way to disconnect from the city life and to forget about everyday obligations. On top of that, rafting has several health benefits. The fun and adrenaline will make this activity a memory everyone will talk about days after it is finished. You can choose to go standard rafting or decide to spice things up a bit.

For instance, the team can be briefed that they have to build their own raft and use it to get across the water. This type of activity develops teamwork, improves co-ordination and co-operation and above all, foster communication skills.

Volunteer Together

Volunteering is a unique way for your team to work together on something they really care about and it is an opportunity for them to form deeper and stronger bonds. Ask your employees what local non-profit organizations they like so you can plan these activities that usually take place around the holidays. Doing something meaningful for others will provide your employees a much needed break from their typical work routine.

Another idea you might consider when you plan volunteering activities for your team is helping the animal shelters in your vicinity. Your team members get a sense of satisfaction for helping others. Volunteering lowers stress, makes participants feel needed and appreciated and increases happiness. After your team members find out how helping makes them feel they will be ready to be more helpful back at work whenever a colleague is in distress.

As you can see, these activities are not that uncommon, generally speaking. What makes them unique is the complete change of your employees’ everyday setting, which provides them with an opportunity to see each other under a completely different light. If all this sparked up your interest, feel free to go online and expand your knowledge about other “unusual” activities that can be used as a form of team building.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/vladzivanovic/4-team-building-activities-your-employees-will-love/

4 Things to do to Successfully Launch a Business

Starting a new enterprise can be very complicated for anyone who doesn’t have any experience in the field. Harsh competition and exponential saturation of markets around the globe certainly don’t make things easier. These factors are making things even harder when you want to identify a target market that will have an interest of buying your products or services.

Fortunately there are many more factors that determine your success and that are under your control. Having a plan and knowing how to position yourself become things of utmost importance, especially at the beginning, when the business is still fragile. This is why I have compiled this list of steps for you to undergo to ensure your business gets up on steady legs.

Make a Pristine Business Plan

Another major mistake that young entrepreneurs have a tendency to make is starting the business without having a detailed business plan. Let me bring this closer to you. Without a pristine business plan it would be like walking through an endless maze in complete darkness.

A good business plan should provide answers to any question that may arise during the first stages of starting your business. For instance, how many people will you have to hire and what is your budget for salaries and projects, and what are the details of your marketing strategy? What will happen if your business starts to grow? Will you invest in sustaining further business growth or will you make a safe move and invest into real estate? All these are important questions that you will have to find answers to before you start any legal processes.

Monetize Your Idea

In most cases,  small businesses start with so little capital that they barely manage to survive after the first product or service launch and are forced to drive on the fumes until the money starts to “arrive”. Also, you are entering a world where leaders in the industry you want to position yourself in have way bigger capital ready for investments in marketing campaigns and business processes.

This is why it is a good idea to consider your options. Especially if you are starting an IT business. There are many investors, including individuals, institutions, high-net-worth investors etc., looking for the opportunities to invest their money. If your idea is worth investing in, there is a great chance that you can start a business with capital that will provide you the much-needed advantage.

Do as Much Research as You Can

The leading startup killer is failure to offer people what they want to buy instead of what you want to sell. There are already many products and services that have a market. If you try to build your business around something only you think will be successful, there is a great chance that it won’t actually attain success.

Gather as much information as you possibly can about the industry you are interested in. Read the news and blogs of your competitors. If you manage to bring a specific audience to something that already has a market, you have successfully paved your way to success.

Keep your Eyes on Marketing

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Good marketing will help you get seen and recognized in the products and services jungle that is out there. You know that nothing happens until the sale is made. That’s when money starts to flow and when your creativity and motivation can spark up like never before. This is why you should always keep your focus on getting leads, converting those into sales and making sure to provide excellent customer experience that will help you get repeat sales.

At this stage it is important for you to be aware of the fact that your brand is not something that’s carved in stone. Invest in making customers happy. Talk to them. See what motivated them to make purchase in your establishment. You can build your brand around this information and use it to shape your future marketing strategy.

These are just some of the steps you shouldn’t skip if you plan on entering the big game. Keep in mind that starting a business will require a lot of time, effort and energy. Make sure you know your dos and don’ts before it is too late.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/ivandseo/4-things-to-do-to-successfully-launch-a-business/

Buying a House: 6 Steps You Need to Take

Buying a house can be quite a difficult process, especially if you have no idea where to start and what you actually need to do. It takes a lot of time, effort and knowing how huge of an investment it is can put even more pressure on you. Well, you can say goodbye to stress and confusion, as the following steps will introduce you to everything you need to do regarding your home buying process.

Get Your Finances in Order

 

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First of all, you should research particular houses to get an insight into how long they remained on the market, as well as learn about potential pricing changes. When you get a sense of the housing trends, you need to determine how much you can actually afford to pay for a house.

Experts recommend that anyone buying a house should choose one that costs no more than 3 to 5 times their annual income, if they are to make a 20% down payment. However, you should make your decision based on your own financial situation and your needs.

What’s important is to pull your credit report, since it can say a lot about your financial history and it is crucial for approving your mortgage application, as well as for determining the interest rate. Getting your credit report will also help you make sure that you are not being penalized for certain old and paid debts, since mistakes are common.

Find a Real Estate Agent

 

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Real estate agents can guide you through your home buying process, as they can provide you with valuable information on the housing market. That is why it is crucial that you find just the right one to help you choose a house according to your needs and the best part about it is that it wouldn’t cost you anything, since real estate agents are compensated from the commission that the house seller pays.

Begin Your House Hunt

 

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When you start shopping for a house, you need to check the details of each and every house you go to in order to make sure everything is working as it should, from the electrical system and the plumbing to all the other details, including whether the doors and windows are closing properly – everything is important and it will affect the price.

When you find your perfect house, your real estate agent will make an offer and, after you reach an agreement with the seller, the house will go into escrow, which represents the time necessary for the completion of all the other steps in the home buying process.

Get a Home Inspection

 

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Home inspection is very important, as it will help you check for potential structural damage or anything else that may need to be fixed. It protects you in that you can renegotiate or withdraw your offer if there is certain material damage to the house.

Once you and the seller get a home inspector’s report, you can ask for any potential damage to be fixed before closing the sale, after which you can visit the house again to ensure everything works smoothly.

Get a Mortgage

 

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There are a lot of different loans you can choose from, but you need to find one that will meet your personal needs. The same goes for lenders, so make sure you research them thoroughly and determine which one is the best for you.

When choosing a mortgage plan, knowing only the basics is definitely not enough, so make sure you learn everything there is to know about mortgages. Knowing exactly how to get a mortgage will help you make the best decision and apply for the best loan.

Close the Sale

 

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As you might have guessed, buying a house comes with a lot of paperwork, but you don’t need to worry about that, since your lender will make sure that a particular title company handles all of it. The most important part is that they will make sure that the house seller is the rightful owner of the house you’re buying, so that you can proceed to the settlement quickly and without any hassle.

At the settlement, or closing, you will sign all the paperwork, including all the documents regarding your loan, which can take several days to be funded. After that process is complete, the seller will receive a check and you can move into your new dream house.

Final Words

Don’t take the process of buying a house lightly, since you are making a long-term commitment, not to mention that you are spending a lot of money. Therefore, make sure you gather all the necessary information and understand every step you need to take along the way. Happy house hunting!

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/alexf/buying-a-house-6-steps-you-need-to-take/

4 Things You Need to Take Care of Before Buying a Used Car

The number of consumers looking for used cars is on a constant rise. The reasons behind this may be mass production of new models and the high price tag of new cars.

One thing is certain, everyone wants to go home and park a trouble-free vehicle, but getting one of those has nothing to do with random luck. Getting a reliable used car requires extensive research and the mindset of a detective.

This is why I have compiled this list of things you need to know before making a purchase. By following these tips, you will minimize the chances of having to pay for extra expenses down the road.

Research Like a Pro

Research is basically the one thing that could set you off in the right direction. You should start with a broad approach and then narrow it down to inspecting the few remaining options.

To successfully reduce the risk of ending up with a car that will drain your pockets, you have to start by identifying the models with a great reliability record. This is the moment when search engines should become your best friend. Search for “used car reliability”, “best used cars” and “worst used cars”.

If you are interested in a specific car, search for common troubles related to that model. This will help you determine which car component to inspect when you get the chance to test-drive and inspect a car. In some models it can be the suspension system in others you will have to check for safety features.

Locating the Used Cars for Sale

After you have narrowed down your options you should start locating used cars for sale in your area. There are many websites built for this purpose that allow users to search through cars by using many different factors. Such as, the mileage on the car’s odometer, price and features. After you write down the locations and price range you are ready to go and inspect the cars.

Inspect the Car

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This is the critical stage of entire process and it should govern your purchasing decision. Buying a car from a close friend or family member is one thing, but getting it from a complete stranger is something completely different. There are two red flags that should raise an alarm:

  • The odometer being rolled back
  • The car you are looking at has a salvage title put there by the insurance company (declared total loss)

In case there are no red flags, you may proceed with having it inspected by a mechanic. In most cases you won’t have any problems with a dealership or a private-party seller to have this done. If you are dealing with a private-party seller, ask him/her why he/she decided to sell it. In case they already have a recent mechanic report, insist on taking the car to an independent one of your own choosing.

If you don’t have the time or the money to spend on an independent mechanic, make sure to get familiar with the official DMV’s Used Car Work Sheet and cover the bases as much as you can.

Give it a Test-Drive

If you haven’t already gotten a chance to drive that car model, this is the best chance for you to find out if that model is the one that suits you best. Also, a test-drive is the only way to check out the condition the car is in.

Besides having a look at the car’s service records, here are some other things you can check while you are at it:

  • Is it comfortable to seat in the front seat/back seat? Is the position of the seats adjustable? Are all the handles and buttons working? Don’t forget to check the front passenger seat.
  • Check the dashboard for any lit lights. If there are any, make sure to have that checked before you purchase the car.
  • How does it feel when you have a seat? Is it comfy? Do you smell any gas, or burning oil?
  • Check out the brakes. Is there a squeaky noise when you hit the brakes?
  • How does the engine sound in idle mode? Are there any weird noises?

As you can see it’s not that hard to pick the right used car for yourself. Spend a bit of time examining the car before you buy it as an investment. The more things you cross of the list, the greater the chances are that you won’t end up with a vehicle that keeps causing you trouble and breaking down.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/nmanojlovic/4-things-you-need-to-take-care-of-before-buying-a-used-car/

4 Benefits of Real Estate Crowdfunding You Need to Know

Trends are constantly changing, but it seems like crowdfunding has made its way into every real estate investor’s dictionary. But not everyone is so eager to embrace it, because this trend is here to stay, or it is just temporary? Even though crowdfunding is still something new, it is rapidly reshaping the way real estate investors can invest in properties. To have a better understanding of how it works, we have prepared a quick guide and some of the benefits that come with real estate crowdfunding.

So, real estate crowdfunding is a method of real estate investing that involves the pooling of funds by several investors when dealing with a certain investment project. You can choose from two main types of investments:

  • Equity Investments – Where investors make investments in residential or commercial properties and, in exchange, they hold an equity stake in the property. Every investor will be sharing a portion of the rental income the property will generate.
  • Debt Investments – This means that you will be investing in a mortgage loan that is associated with a particular property, and as the loan is repaid, the investor will receive a share of the interest.

Between these two, equity investments have the potential for bigger returns because the profitability of debt investments is limited by the interest rate of the loan. But, equity investments are riskier and in many cases require a longer holding period.

There is no doubt that real estate crowdfunding has a lot of benefits for investors who are seeking access to private real estate investments. When compared to investing in a REIT or purchasing an investment property in a traditional way, crowdfunding has several benefits, so continue reading to find out what those are.

Increased Transparency

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One of the major benefits of real estate crowdfunding platforms is that no other type of real estate investment offers this amount of transparency. For instance, with REIT, investors only have a limited amount of information about the access shared with them and they also have limited knowledge of where their investment dollars are really going.

But, when it comes to real estate crowdfunding, crowdfunding platforms allow to carefully vet each deal and at the exact moment when they are available, the investors have the opportunity to see some finer details before they commit to their final investment decision.

Flexibility

Investors have a ton of options when it comes to real estate crowdfunding, mainly because the investors are not restricted to a single project or a real estate company. They can spread a couple of smaller investments across several projects or companies, and this way, reduce any underlying risks. This is great because, if one real estate investment project fails and does not meet your expectations, you will still have other investments that have the potential to be successful.

Diversity

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For real estate investors who are looking to increase the diversity of their portfolio, real estate crowdfunding is one of the best ways to achieve this. This is because they have the luxury of gaining more exposure to a broader range of property types and opportunities, and they can enter an entirely new asset class.

Deal Flow

The company that operates the real estate crowdfunding platform will be doing all the dirty work for you. For instance, scouting out all of the hottest properties that are on the market and deals that will otherwise be unseen by an individual. These crowdfunding platforms have operators that are bringing the deals to them, and the company running them underwrites to ensure that only quality deals are being brought to the table.

Real estate crowdfunding also allows the investors to benefit from certain tax deductions, like depreciation, which normally applies to owning an investment property. Every real estate crowdfunding platform is different and some are a better fit than others. Research and check for marketplace reviews to identify the weaknesses and strengths, because this is an important first step for every real estate investor.

All in all, real estate crowdfunding represents a perfect opportunity for investors to get otherwise unknown deals and still expect reduced risk and increased benefits.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/aleksandarilic/4-benefits-of-real-estate-crowdfunding-you-need-to-know/

Millennial Workforce: the Wind of Change Shifting the Workplace Design

Baby boomers are no longer the largest segment of the working population. Now, they are making way to another group determined to change the face of the business world – the millennials. They move into leadership positions, flock to innovative startups, and endorse a different work philosophy.

You could say that they possess a distinctive outlook of what they expect from the career and have distinctive priorities in life. In fact, they seek meaningful employment experience, not just a satisfying paycheck at the end of the month.

The powers that be

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Image 2 source: pixabay.com (free to use and share)

The rules that used to be set in stone are now perceived as something that stands in the way of collaboration and transparency. Office design of today reflects the aspiration for dismantling old corporate hierarchies and assembling a horizontally-aligned workspace. Millennials endorse a democratic approach and crave to immerse in a work environment which offers a flat organizational structure.

Larger, more rigid companies have more trouble adapting to these developments or are simply unwilling to “delayer” their business framework. Thus, it comes as a no surprise that the millennials lean towards dynamic start-ups and small businesses.

Success by design

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Image 3 source: pixabay.com (free to use and share)

The aforementioned principles serve as centerpieces of the corporate culture and ethics. Hence, office design is right at the core of new engagement and retention policies. It encompasses everything from ergonomic chairs and customizable desks to architectural features and photovoltaic windows. Personalized, multi-purpose, and flexible design solutions are gaining traction.

Also, an open-office plan is millennials’ darling, a way to bring down the obstacles to interaction and promote visibility. These young professionals are more partial to working in teams, not isolated in cubicles. In order to bring vigor to the workplace, they must be treated with an uplifting environment.

Free flow

Millennials want their bosses to encourage free access to meetings and information. What is more, autonomy and freedom in handling day-to-day obligations are in the spotlight. Instead of walls, they rather see dividers and floor-to-ceiling glass installations as an appropriate separating feature. They advocate closeness, information sharing, and accountability across the board.

Hence, companies should try to make the entirety of space available to workers. Some of them might like to carry out meeting in a lounge area, and others prefer to work in a reception room. In general, when they are presented with different methods of accomplishing assignments, and allowed to multitask, millennials are at their best.

Digital trends

Furthermore, millennials can be considered to be digital natives born with a gadget in hand. Even those who are not particularly tech-savvy are certainly tech-dependant. They want to be empowered by technology, a force which is expected to cut through bureaucratic levels. So, the company aspiring to harness the potential of a millennial workforce must invest in top-of-the-line computers.

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Image 4 source: pixabay.com (free to use and share)

Apart from that, it should mount lightning-fast internet capacity, employ digital communication tools, and integrate cutting-edge tech in other amenities.  Another item high on the list of priorities is comfort, a quality which can be summoned with high-quality office furniture and versatile workstations. Such well-designed spaces also offer them a chance to rewind and keep up the good work.

Environmental concerns

A state-of-the-art office does wonders for worker’s motivation and productivity, and it also helps companies attract and retain top talent. When an office becomes more than just a place for performing tedious tasks, employees are inclined to display peak performance and unleash their creativity. Now, millennials do care for the company’s bottom line, but this is not something that preoccupies them, unlike community and environmental concerns.

Namely, apart from the tech-fueled teamwork, millennials desire environment-friendly policies and practical solutions. That is why forward-thinking enterprises take advantage of energy-saving office appliances, renewable energy sources, long-lasting LED lighting, and other means of lowering the carbon footprint.

Millennial revolution

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Image 5 source: pexels.com (free to use and share)

Millennials do not derive their strength from numbers, but the power of belief. The profit is no longer the sole lodestar of the business world because people and the natural habitat come into focus. This authentic group brought a striking change in the corporate world, and already poses an invaluable asset.

The traditional top-down corporate structure is dead, and this shows in office design, as well as engagement and retention policies. As a result, companies with traditional hierarchy heavily ingrained in their office layout struggle to hire millennials and stay ahead of the curve.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/marcusjensen/millennial-workforce-the-wind-of-change-shifting-the-workplace-design/

7‭ ‬Steps For Servicing And Maintaining Your Car‭

When it comes to cars,for the most part people focus too much on acquiring the perfect vehicle and not enough on maintaining it once the purchase has been completed.That can partly be explained by the complexity of modern cars,which can have as many as75,000different parts.But many people also lack the knowledge to perform even the most basic maintenance tasks,which can leave the car vulnerable to costly and possibly even dangerous malfunctions.So take the time to familiarize yourself with the following seven steps,all of which are instrumental forkeeping your car in good shape over the long run:

1.Tires

Begin your car check-up by inspecting its tires using a regular tire gauge.All four of them should be inflated to the manufacturer’s specified pressure.What’s more,they shouldn’t have any indicators of tread wear.Tires that feature such indicators are much more likely to break,so take steps to replace them when they become worn beyond acceptable limits.In cases when such an accident does happen,make sure you have a spare tire in the trunk of your car at all times.

2.Oil

Oil is the lifeblood of your car,so you’ll definitely need to keep an eye on it on a regular basis.A mechanic can show you how to check your oil properly,but as a rule of thumb it generally needs to be replaced every5000kilometres or so.Some manufacturers may claim thresholds way higher than that,but it’s always better to prioritize your engine’s reliability and efficiency above all and have your oil changed before it starts getting all black and gritty.

3.Fluids

Aside from oil,there are plenty of other fluids that need to be in good condition in order for the car to be considered fully operational.Things like transmission fluid,brake fluid and coolant all have to be verified from time to time.Ask a professional how to check these things and then proceed to do so at least once per week.

4.Brakes

There is perhaps no single more important car part than your vehicle’s brakes,which is why they should to be checked as often as possible.Modern cars are equipped with braking systems that need to be replaced from time to time in order to maintain maximum efficiency,so make sure you take your vehicle to the car service for this most important check-up.

5.Lights

Despite their apparent simplicity,car lights are essential for safe driving.Ask a friend to assist you in making sure that all lights function correctly,including taillights,headlights,brake lights and turn signals.Pay special attention to their tilt,as lights should always be pointing high enough to allow you to see the road,but not too high so as to distract oncoming vehicles.

6.Windows and windshield wipers

More than just a cosmetic adornment,windows can be instrumental in keeping you safe while on the road.To give just one example,a poorly placed windshield crack can make it that much more difficult to see the cars in your immediate vicinity,which can obviously hamper your decision-making process while driving.Additionally,worn windshield wipers do a much poorer job of wiping out water or snow,and should be replaced once a year before the start of the rainy season.

7.The interior

Finally,no car check-up would be complete without a thorough inspection of the vehicle’s interior.Everything from the car’s dashboard to its seats should be kept as spotless as possible,especially if you intend on selling the vehicle at a later date.All the buttons on the dashboard should be operational,while the air conditioning system needs to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that it is working properly.

In conclusion,checking all the aforementioned items on a regular basis will do much to protect your car against the wear and tear that inevitably comes with the passage of time.Of course,it also helps to take your vehicle to a licensed auto-mechanic at least once per year,someone who can perform more advanced tests to see if your car is running smoothly.Keep in mind that most freshly purchased cars have warranties that cover repairs for a certain amount of time,and that reputable providers such as Zooper Carsoffer great deals on servicing even after your warranty expires.

from Feedster http://www.feedster.com/blog/twitter-epicninjadaboss/7%e2%80%ad-%e2%80%acsteps-for-servicing-and-maintaining-your-car%e2%80%ad/