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Friday, April 4, 2014

Efficient warehousing tips

Storing inventory and managing warehousing has a substantial influence on businesses that rely on product sales and logistics as a source of revenue. Properly managing merchandising operations is key in keeping operations lean and costs low. Efficient warehousing is one way to help accomplish that goal. The infographic below details what efficient warehousing is and offers steps on how to achieve the goal of fluid and adaptable process that changes as company inventory requirements change.

Efficient warehousing
Source: Adattsi

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hands off the wheel: The future of the driverless car

Driverless vehicles
Hands free parallel parking is a driverless techonology
By Melissa William

Imagine a world where people sit back and read e-mails or eat breakfast in the driver's seat during the morning commute. A world where accidents are exceptionally rare, where traffic jams are equally infrequent and where the daily commute is enjoyable.

This idealized world with safe, hyper-efficient driverless cars might sound fantastic - at least to everyone besides insurance companies. But most people view it as a pie in the sky dream, unlikely to be realized in this lifetime.
That view is probably wrong.

"The autonomous car isn't a pipe dream - it's real technology that's being refined and improved on a daily basis," according to Jason Hope. "But there are major, non-technological obstacles ahead. Legal questions about liability have to answered, infrastructure has to be built, and the political will has to exist to make it a reality."

Will those things occur? Some observers are confident that's the case.
According to a study recently released by automobile industry consultant IHS Automotive, driverless cars will comprise nine percent of worldwide auto sales by 2035. That same study predicted the cars would be commercially available by 2025.

Studies undertaken to examine the issue have listed a wide range of potential benefits offered by the technology. Driverless cars may dramatically reduce collisions, increase efficiency, allow the elderly and disabled greater mobility, make commute time far more productive and eliminate intoxicated driving. The technology could also confer more minor benefits, such as eliminating the need for road signs, improving traffic flow and reducing the need for parking space.

The picture isn't entirely rosy, however. Skeptics have pointed to a variety of possible obstacles to this autonomous car utopia. Along with financial, political and infrastructure questions, the technology itself has a long way to go. Questions have been raised about the potential for driverless cars to be hacked. Software failures -- something that is a mere annoyance at home but would be far graver when traveling at 70 miles per hour -- are another concern.

Along with technological hiccups, it's hard to understate the radical change driverless cars would have on industries that depend on the current system. Millions of jobs, everything from taxi drivers to long haul truckers, could be lost. The insurance industry could be devastated. Questions of liability could be extremely thorny.

Finally, it's hard to imagine that such as ingrained habit as driving could be easily cast aside by everyone. Significant numbers of people would likely resist the technology, either out of mistrust, safety concerns, questions about privacy or a simple dislike of losing control over personal movements. Price, too, could be obstacle. Driverless cars will almost certainly be more expensive, making the technology out of reach for millions of people, particularly in developing nations.

While many of these objections are undoubtedly valid, backers of the autonomous car would dismiss many of them. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.2 million people die in car accidents on a yearly basis. That's an absolutely staggering number. If driverless technology can drastically reduce that death toll, many of the arguments against the technology will seem trivial in comparison.

Skeptics also often fail to take into account the inevitable technological progress that will occur over the next few decades in parallel to driverless technology. It may be hard to visualize drivers surrendering their sense of control to machines, or trusting machines to safely transport their families. But we grow more and more connected with our phones, tablets and other networked devices with every passing year. The psychology of the typical driver in 2035 will likely be far different that the driver of 2014. The comfort level with machines and automation is likely to be far higher, making the idea of ceding control mush less intimidating.

Any disruptive social change of this magnitude would require hurdles to be cleared, but the lure of revolutionary technology will be too great to resist. In short, if this is where technology is heading, it's taking us with it whether we want to go or not.

About the author: Melissa William is a philanthropy and business writer. Melissa began her career as a small business owner in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has taken that knowledge and experience and brought that to her unique writing capabilities. She really enjoys new business related issues that are tied directly to philanthropy.

Image license: Jurvestson, CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Vacation expenses - Stick to your budget

Holiday budgeting tips
Tourist prices differ from local prices
By Harry Price

Are you planning a summer holiday this year? Budgeting for airfares and hotels is the easy part. It’s the daily expenses that catch people off guard. It’s pretty easy to get caught in the holiday spirit and lose track of what you’re spending. Here’s some top tips to plan your finances during a holiday in the sun:

Pack smart

These days, most budget airlines charge for checked luggage. If you forget to check a bag and wait until you get to the airport, it’ll cost even more. You can save a considerable amount by simply taking a single carry on bag. If your the type of person that insists on a whole new wardrobe before going on holiday, the carry on bag approach will force you to think about how many outfits you take with you. 

A daily cash allowance

Credit cards are good for emergencies, but a pre-loaded cash card is a great way of budgeting on holiday. You can load it with cash at home, or even set up a daily direct debit so that you can never overspend. You’ll often get a better exchange rate at ATM machines too, and you won’t have to worry about the security issues of carrying large wedges of cash.

Shop like a local

Eating and drinking is a massive holiday expense. If you seek out local supermarkets you’ll save a fortune by eating one or two meals a day in a self catered apartment. If you’re in a city,the local street food vendors often offer some really tasty food options that are vastly cheaper than touristy restaurants.

Check your phone settings

It’s one thing to make sure you’ve got overseas coverage on your iPhone insurance, but the biggest expense with a monthly phone contract when you go abroad is the dreaded data roaming charges. Be absolutely sure your 3G or 4G connection is switched off and stick to WiFi at the hotel.

Avoiding expensive rides

That taxi ride might look tempting when you’re queueing for a bus in the midday sun, but you’re probably best sticking it out. Foreign taxis can be extortionate in tourist traps. Most airports have really good transport links including trains and regular coaches. If you do a search before you leave, you should be able to plan some of the longer routes and save some cash.

Skipping souvenirs

You really need to avoid those Eiffel Tower key rings and boxes of authentic Swiss chocolates. Really. No one is particularly concerned if they miss out on a gift when you return home. If you’re really concerned with gifting you’re entire family with tacky gifts, get them on eBay when you get back! They’ll never know the difference, and you’ll save a fortune.

Don’t skimp too much

If you’re planning a holiday getaway and you’re thinking of umpteen ways of stretching your funds to cover the costs, maybe you’d have a much better time taking a short break closer to home. Your wallet will thank you!

Harry Price is an entrepreneur and author. He is an unashamed technology nerd and enjoys the opportunities to test and review the latest technology.

Image license: 1. Tax Credits, CC BY 2.0; 2. Author owned and licensed

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5 smart money tips for new startups

By Kelli Cooper

New start ups may have difficulties handling money responsibly. Just because you have a vision and serious drive doesn’t guarantee that you can handle money. Many focused, hungry entrepreneurs go belly up by mismanaging their cash.

Use these tips to build your startup on a stable financial foundation.

Pay yourself

Bootstrapping entrepreneurs make the common mistake of cutting their own costs to finance their cash strapped business. You cannot live on bread and water for months and expect to attack your startup with vim and vigor each day. Figure out a way to pay yourself as you grow your venture. If you find yourself in desperate situations financially because you are spending all of your money on your start up you’re bound to make foolish, irrational business decisions. Pay yourself a salary to avoid this risk.

Manage your cash flow responsibly

Cash drives your new startup. Learn how to manage your cash flow to fuel business growth. Going heavily into debt or using complex financial instruments to raise capital are risky ventures for a bootstrapping startup. Be fiscally responsible. Create a strict budget. Increase the amount of money you’re generating through sales and make sure each business dollar you spend works to expand your venture. Sticking to your budget can help you build your startup on solid ground.

Be cautiously optimistic

Being optimistic yet preparing for the worst helps you to maintain a healthy view of your startup’s prospects. You are bound to run into big obstacles early on as a new entrepreneur. If you can rein in your enthusiasm you are less likely to crash and burn as a start up. Expect the best things to happen for your business. When the road does not seem as smooth as anticipated fall back on the idea of learning how to embrace opportunities amid the appearance of chaos.

Time is your most valuable asset

Spend time wisely because time is ultimately all you have as an entrepreneur. Instead of spending days or even weeks shuttling from country to country for business meetings focus your energies on developing your product and building stronger connections online. Leveraging the power of the internet helps you to create the groundwork for solid and prospering offline relationships. You can talk on Skype or via Google Hangouts with a business associate from halfway around the world without spending serious money on airfare or serious time in traveling to the locale.

Setting clear goals gives you a definite target

Stop over thinking your new, innovative concept. Focus instead of setting clear, actionable, targeted goals to build an effective plan and use your start up funding as wisely as possible. Aiming at something creates a sense of certainty about your entrepreneurial venture. Most startups lack direction. If you move forward without a goal in mind you are unlikely to attract guidance from your intuition or from mentors. Get clear on what goals you want to reach. Stop dreaming and start testing your concept with real world customers. Gain valuable experience. Tweak your plans if necessary but hold your goals front and center or you’re bound to steer off course.

About the author: Kelli Cooper has blogged about all things businss, and particlarly enjoys sharing tips on just starting out.

Image license: FreeDigitalPhotos.net