2017-03-28T15:26:37ZIt’s not always easy to keep your workers motivated, especially if you don’t have pots of money for big bonuses. When the orders are flying in and there’s work to be done, it’s easy to get caught in the flow. Sometimes you forget that your team may not be as excited at the prospect of extra work as you are. After all, what benefits do they see if you take on more clients? If they don’t own shares in your company or get paid on commission, you’ll need to make sure they’re properly motivated. Find out how you can do this in 5 simple steps.How to Motivate Your Workers in 5 Simple Steps It’s not always easy to keep your workers motivated, especially if you can’t hold one-on-one meetings as often as you’d like. When the orders are flying in and there’s work to be done, it’s easy to get caught in the flow. Sometimes you forget that your team may not be as excited at the prospect of extra work as you are. After all, what benefits do they see if you take on more clients? If they don’t own shares in your company or get paid on commission, you’ll need to make sure they’re properly motivated. Find out how you can do this in five simple steps. Give Them a Challenge One problem faced by most small businesses is that they don’t have the budget to offer large salaries or bonuses. While a little pay raise goes a long way, money isn’t everyone’s motivator. If you’re working with limited funds, there are other ways you can incentivize your staff. The workforce is dominated by millennials. By 2025, they’ll account for more than 75 percent of all workers. Why is this important? Millennials have different expectations when it comes to their working environment and diverse motivators that drive them. Far from looking for their paycheck at the end of the day, millennials thrive on challenge. Instead of worrying about signing off on fat bonuses, show them you trust them to take on extra responsibility. Just about the least motivating thing you can do with this demographic is to give them a regular list of repetitive tasks. Give them responsibility, let them manage a project and watch them rise to the challenge. Offer Them Room to Grow Opportunities for long-term growth will keep your workers invested. After all, no one wants to stay in a dead-end position on the road to nowhere, least of all inquisitive young minds who want to develop and thrive. While job stability might not be top of the list for this group, the opportunity to flourish certainly is. Make it clear from the start how and where they can grow in your company. Ongoing training is a great motivator, as it shows your employees that you’re invested in them. It’s also good for your business as they bring their new skills to their position. Ana J. Pana, Human Resources Manager at Day Translations, explains: “One of the first things we say to new hires is that we offer long-term positions with plenty of room for growth. It’s a great way to keep our employees invested.” Get Behind a Cause Social responsibility can be a great motivator to your workers, so think about donating to charities or working around a cause. A study at the University of Oslo, Norway, discovered that many employees prefer to work for a socially responsible employer. As a matter of fact, they would even accept a lower wage to do so. Social responsibility is more than just a great way of motivating your team and giving back to the community. It also makes great business sense and will give you a ton of organic public relations and customer support. Give Them a Vacation If you’re like most US companies, you probably provide 10 days of vacation a year, and you probably feel pretty good about doing that. After all, you aren’t required to by law. But other countries around the world are more progressive when it comes to the work-life balance. In the EU, every country must provide a minimum of four weeks’ vacation time. Smart companies understand that if they can’t motivate their employees with money, they can do so with[...]
2017-03-27T02:02:37ZAs a business owner you probably wonder how to successfully market your company, your products, or your services without breaking the bank. A quick search on the internet for “marketing” will leave you dizzy from the number of options available. In addition, marketing is a creative skill, one that can take a lifetime to master. Here are a few tips to simplify things while you’re developing your marketing strategy.6 Tips for a Successful Marketing Strategy As a business owner you probably wonder how to successfully market your company, your products, or your services without breaking the bank. You’re not alone. This is a question small entrepreneurs all over the world ask themselves on a daily basis. A quick search on the internet for “marketing” will leave you dizzy from the number of options available. In addition, marketing is a creative skill, one that can take a lifetime to master. Here are a few tips to simplify things while you’re developing your marketing strategy. Target Your Audience To begin with, get to know your target market. Who are the people who buy from you? Where do they hang out? For instance, if your target market consists of young people who love hanging out online and playing video games, you might try offering some free games online to draw them in. On the other hand, if you sell handbags your target audience is quite different and would require another approach. Educate Yourself About Online Basics For online marketing, you need to take SEO, or search engine optimization, into account. How does SEO work? A very simple explanation is that search engines like Bing and Google scour the internet for words and phrases they find in online postings. Then they index those words and phrases, called keywords, and present them in an organized way to users who are looking for them. What this means to you when you’re marketing your business online is that you need to try to imagine what words and phrases the people who are looking for what you’re offering will use. And then you need to place those words and phrases strategically in the online posts you make about your business. Various analytical tools can help you to refine your SEO strategy. Look to Direct Sales if that’s Right for Your Product Does your product lend itself to direct sales? With direct sales, the customer and the seller meet, and the sale is transacted right then and there. Think of automobile sales from a car lot or door-to-door sales in which the salesperson brings the product to the customer’s home. Big companies that sell by way of party plans are also in the direct sales category. Can You Earn Some Publicity? Earned publicity is unsolicited media coverage about your business, your service, or your product. It carries more weight than any other kind of media coverage, and if it’s positive, it can really help to boost your sales and your business. An example of earned publicity is a positive news story about your product, your service, or your company that brings welcome attention your way. Close kin to earned publicity are online ratings. Think of ratings for Amazon products, Yelp and Google reviews of businesses, and sellers’ ratings on sites such as eBay and Craigslist. While earned publicity may be out of your power to produce on your own, you can encourage it by ensuring that each and every product you place in customers’ hands is a good one, by making sure that the services you provide are impeccable, and by taking good care of your customers in every way you can. Go Social Large numbers of smart consumers search for products online before they purchase, so it just makes sense to advertise to them on social media sites. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter make paid advertising pretty simple and even easy to analyze, but you can also get and hold your target audience’s attention by building a following on social media and regularly updating your fans with interesting and informative posts. Even if you do pay for advertising on [...]
2017-03-27T01:55:56ZRaising money is the toughest hurdle any entrepreneur has to face. As soon as you mention the words “money” and “startup” in the same sentence, doors slam in your face and acquaintances dash across the street to avoid having to say hello to you. If you find yourself stalling when you think about raising money for your startup, consider the suggestions here.5 Ideas for Funding Your Startup Raising money is the toughest hurdle any entrepreneur has to face. As soon as you mention the words “money” and “startup” in the same sentence, doors slam in your face and acquaintances dash across the street to avoid having to say hello to you. Even bankers look at you with disdain. Remember, though, that your refusal to give up can make all the difference. As Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” With sufficient funding, you’ll be able to institute effective marketing strategies, develop new products, hire employees and pay yourself. If you find yourself stalling when you think about raising money for your startup, consider the following suggestions. Bootstrap Your Startup for Greater Control Bootstrapping means that you use your own funds to start your business. An advantage to bootstrapping is that you’ll retain more equity in your own company. You’ll also be more inclined to work hard in your business and to be frugal with whatever funding you do have. Not only that, but by investing your own money you’re demonstrating to the world that you believe in your company and your product or services. The best way to get started with bootstrapping your startup is to begin a disciplined practice early on of saving money for the express purpose of starting your business. This mindset of saving will spill over into your business once it gets rolling, making your company leaner and better able to compete. Eventually, you just might find that prospective investors will be more interested in your business because you started it with your own money. Turn to Family and Friends If your family and friends have the resources and are willing to help you, you’re a very lucky entrepreneur indeed. Their confidence in you and your products and services is another demonstration to the world that your business is every bit as good as you say it is, and their faith in you can act as a magnet for prospective investors outside of that close-knit circle. One thing to watch out for, though, is that when your family and friends invest their money in your startup they could expect to have more of a say than you would like in how you run your business. In order to avoid this turn of events, set up investments from family members and friends as long-term loans with low interest rates. Look into Business Grants or Loans Because small businesses are a boon to the economy, governments around the world have established grants and loans for entrepreneurs. The main benefits of government grants are that you do not give up any equity in your business when you accept one and, unlike a loan, a grant does not need to be repaid. However, grants can be difficult to find and so narrowly targeted that only a handful of businesses will qualify, and the competition for each grant can be fierce. Like grants, small business loans can also be difficult to obtain, but you can improve your odds of funding your startup with a loan by approaching the lender as if you were applying for a job with them, persuading them that their investment in your startup will benefit them. If you do your homework, you can come away with a decent interest rate as well as the funding you need to boost your startup to the next level. Often, especially with government loans for small business, the repayment periods are long and the interest rates are fair. Take It to the Crowd Present your business idea to a crowdfunding site and give ordinary people an opportunity to take a chance on your business. Wit[...]
2017-03-27T01:52:20ZSetting up or expanding your business can be a very daunting affair. A point often comes when you need to source help from outside. Financing is one such area. However, lack of funding should never be the reason you give up on your endeavors. Take a look at how to navigate this prickly challenge. 5 Tips for Financing Your Business Setting up or expanding your business can be a very daunting affair. A point often comes when you need to source help from outside. Financing is one such area. Getting folks to open their wallet for you is no easy feat. Lucky for you there is no scarcity of ways to go about this, though, ranging from conventional methods like bank loans to new and improved ones like crowdsourcing and fast online loans. Lack of funding should never be the reason you give up on your endeavors. Take a look at how to navigate this prickly challenge. Private Equity and Hedge Funds The less-than-friendly evaluation methods banks now employ to dispense loans is one of the reasons that led to the steady incline of private equity and hedge funds. While private equity and hedge fund lenders are usually very lax in their criteria, their interest rates can be quite steep, often amounting to twice as much that of traditional lenders. Equipment Based Financing Equipment based financing operates on the same principle as that of an automobile loan. Let’s say you want funds to purchase a photocopier. The photocopier itself will be the collateral for the loan and you would be absolved of putting up any extra collateral. It is not only easy but very low risk as well. The only catch would have to be the amount you are qualified to take out. If you have a good business history coupled with a great credit rating you have no reason to fret. Keep in mind that these factors will also determine your interest rate. Crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing avenues like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are revolutionizing the business financing industry. In 2014 alone this avenue amassed a whopping $9.46 billion (with a B) in North America. In light of this, the industry enjoyed an overwhelming growth rate, coming in at 145%. Some of the lucky projects that reaped considerable benefits include The Dash as well as a gaming VR headset that Facebook acquired. Small Business Loans Small business loans, or SBA’s, have the backing of the U.S. Small Business Administration. To qualify you to have to be a small business as defined by the government and also need to have been rejected by a bank. Kind of the perfect solution for struggling businesses, wouldn’t you agree? Other countries besides the U.S. offer loans and grants for small businesses, too. For instance, the government of Australia states on its website for small business loans that “new small business loans will jolt the economy.” Funding for small businesses is available from the European Union, as well. Angel Investors Angel investors are just that: angels who step in when venture capitalists, friends and family fail to pitch in. In contrast to venture capitalists, these folks put in their own money as opposed to pooling funds. They often step into the business in the early days in exchange for cash value at some point in the future, or for shares or equity in the company. Companies like Yahoo, Costco, and Google have received the aid of angel investors and thrived because of it. The tradeoff is that angel investors often ask for a pricey return on their investment, sometimes amounting to as much as 25%. Their saving grace is the wisdom and experience they bring to the company with them. While raising funds for your business can be one of your most challenging hurdles, with creativity, imagination and courage you will find the funding you need to finance your business and realize your dreams. [...]
2017-03-23T00:09:30ZCosmetics are all about appearances, and that includes the packaging. If you’re in the cosmetics business, the good news for you is that the packaging industry for cosmetics is exquisitely well-developed, and providers of packaging have innovative solutions just waiting for you. You’re sure to find just the right packaging for your cosmetics that’s cost-effective, attractive and practical. Read on to learn more.When It Comes to Cosmetic Sales, It’s All About the Packaging Cosmetics are all about appearances, and that includes the packaging. Are you in the cosmetics business? When you’re packaging your products, make sure the packaging you choose gets your customer’s attention, first of all, and then showcases what your product will do for him or her. These days, not only do you have your choice of materials, but you can also choose from a range of shapes from the artistic to the high-tech. Packaging for cosmetics has never been more creative or innovative, and you don’t want to be left behind. Glass Is Luxurious Glass is a classic packaging material, and it appeals to women and men alike. Seniors, especially, tend to go for cosmetics packaged in glass. So if you’re selling anti-aging products—which, by the way, have captured a larger share of the cosmetics market than ever—glass containers are definitely your best bet. As a matter of fact, glass containers tend to appeal to anyone over the age of 40. It’s what they grew up with and it communicates quality to them. Glass also tends to be popular among the younger set because it is environmentally friendly. Be Creative with Plastic Not only is plastic cost-effective, it lends itself to innovative ideas, and it’s great for customers who have children at home. While plastic isn’t as environmentally friendly or skin-friendly as glass, it works for small, upcoming brands as they compete with better established names, by making highly effective packaging designs affordable. If you need a plastic cylinder jar for your cosmetic products, for instance, a simple search online could net you great results. To spur your creative imagination, check out a few of the following examples: There’s WWP, which has made a name for itself by offering tubes that come in rectangular cross-section, rather than the traditional round or ovoid one, and has made a name for itself in this way. Paul & Joe, the French brand, differentiates itself from the competition by printing wallpaper designs from the ’70s on its plastic lipstick packaging, and by molding them into fun animal shapes. MOR builds its packaging to resemble products from upper-crust French patisseries. Metal-plated rocket-like packaging shapes are the trademark of Marc Jacobs’ Tony Moly prefers bright, transparent plastic containers in creative shapes. Not Just a Pretty Face While shelf appeal is enormously important, especially for cosmetics, packaging has its practical side, too. Cosmetics buyers are more sophisticated than ever before. They know that some kinds of packaging make more sense than others. For example, savvy customers prefer tubes to jars. People who have used both jars and tubes realize that jars tend to allow contamination with each use when a finger is dipped in. They have come to understand that a large area of exposure hastens the breakdown of sensitive ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol. When customers who are aware of the problem have the choice between a brand that comes in a tube and one that comes in a jar, they will usually choose the tube. Airless pumps are even better. As good as tubes tend to be at protecting their contents, they do suck a considerable amount of air in. For liquid products that allow pumping, airless pumps are considered far superior. Sophisticated customers also understand that when it comes to cosmetics, opaque is better than transparent. While glass can be attractive, it can be risky because of the amoun[...]
2017-03-21T03:02:11ZAre you thinking of becoming your own boss? Have you spotted a gap in the market and have an incredible business idea? Most people will need a little help to get their bright ideas off the ground. Here are 5 simple steps to help you build a solid and successful business.
Five steps to a successful start-up
Are you thinking of becoming your own boss? Have you spotted a gap in the market and have an incredible business idea? Most people will need a little help to get their bright ideas off the ground. Here are 5 simple steps to help you build a solid and successful business.
Having that spark of innovation is the first step, but you need to sit down and think about the logistics behind it. How do you see it working? How many people do you need to hire to get the skill set you need? Do you have any direct competitors? What can you learn from them? These are the kinds of questions you need to find the answers to, and it starts by fully researching the marketplace for any other kind of service or product similar to yours.
Once you’ve come up with a blueprint for everything you need, you’ll have to think more specifically about the budget to get the business off the ground. Make sure you allow for everything, from the salaries you must pay, to the equipment you’ll need. If you’re thinking you don’t need any of this because it’s just you in your home office, you’d be wrong. What about supplies for your home office, materials for prototypes or software if it’s an online product? You’ll need to have branding and a website designed to so make sure you contact a few website development companies and get a quote to build your site so there won’t be any surprises down the line.
It’s one thing to create a realistic budget, but problems do crop up. For example, you may have budgeted a specific amount for your accountant, but when they come to review your documents, it takes longer than planned due to missing payslips or invoices. What if your car breaks down and you need to hire a rental car or take an uber? You should always allow a little extra breathing space in your budget for problems like this, so that you don’t fall at the first hurdle due to finances.
Now that you have a plan of action and your finances figured out, start to build a presence on social media while you set-up your start-up. It’s the best platform for you to showcase yout expertise, so don’t be shy. Be sure to get involved in discussions on places like LinkedIn groups, Twitter lists and Facebook groups.
Finally, think about the additional services you will need as part of the daily operations of your business. While your website is being created or company registration is going through, get plenty of different quotes from service providers. For example, if you’re a product business, have you considered how you will ship your parcels reliably abroad? Websites like irishparcels.ie will deliver to Europe for much more affordable rates than standard mail. Make sure you look into the types of services you will need for your particular product or service and make sure you know exactly what things are going to cost before you get up and running.
The more planning you can do before you start, the better. The best way to a successful business is thorough research and proper planning.
2017-03-23T07:45:32ZDeciding which payment methods to accept for your business can be a tough choice. Once you do, it is imperative you pick a reputable processor that does not charge outrageous fees. Here are some things to look out for on your statement to make sure your provider is legit. 9 Fees You Should Never Pay Your Merchant Services Provider Deciding which payment methods to accept for your business? It can be a tough choice. Operating a cash-only business is basically a death knell. Sure, you bypass credit card processing set up, fees and middlemen, but Americans are using cash less often, according to Gallup, and mobile payments are on the rise. That said, there are a number of landmines to navigate when it comes to credit card processing, like picking the right provider and rate plan for your business. Making the wrong choice could lead to numerous headaches in the form of painful terminal leases, unfair contract terms, dishonest billing practices and lost profit. Merchant billing statements are incredibly confusing, which makes it all too easy for your provider (whether it’s a Merchant Account Provider or Payment Facilitator) to take advantage of you. Some fees are legitimate pass-through fees, whereas others simply boost your provider’s bottom line. The following fees are blatant examples of unethical billing practices (read more about each fee here). If you spot any of these fees on your merchant statements, you’re not working with an honest provider. PCI Compliance Fee If your business is categorized as non-compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, a yearly or monthly fee can be added to your merchant statements. This fee simply penalizes you for not verifying your compliance. The card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and AmEx) are not charging your provider this fee. Fair providers work with their customers to help them achieve compliance. Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) Fee This fee is imposed on businesses that don’t complete an SAQ to verify their PCI compliance. It essentially dings businesses twice for the same issue and can be charged quarterly or monthly until an SAQ is submitted. The SAQ is a self-assessment, so there’s no valid reason for your provider to bill you. Next-Day Funding Fee It doesn’t cost your provider anything to offer your business next-day funding. However, unethical providers get away with this fee by making it seem like a premium service. You should never be charged to simply access your money when it’s available. Address Verification System (AVS) Fee A fraud-prevention measure, AVS ensures that the billing address provided by a customer matches the address associated with the card used for the purchase. It’s a best practice for card-not-present transactions and costs just $0.01 to implement. Some providers assume their customers don’t know the true cost of this service and inflate this fee. Padded Dues and Assessments The card brands charge dues and assessments to providers to cover marketing expenses, price and rule setting, network operations and fraud-prevention research. This fee is standardized for all providers and is published on each card brand’s Interchange guide. Visa, MasterCard and Discover charge between 0.11% and 0.13% for dues and assessments. AmEx charges 0.15%. Unethical providers assume business owners don’t know these rates offhand, and inflate this pass-through fee to make an extra buck. Non-Qualified Interchange Fee This fee is tricky. It borrows terminology from one rate plan and applies it to another. On Tiered rate plans, transactions are bundled into Non-Qualified, Mid-Qualified and Qualified transactions based on risk and reward. On Interchange-plus pricing, there’s no such thing as a Non-Qualified transaction, much less a fee. Some providers charge this for each of the major ca[...]
2017-03-29T02:40:08ZYou might have heard the news about vaping devices exploding and causing moderate to serious injury for their users. As a business owner, if you allow vaping in the workplace, you might want to consider establishing some guidelines to help keep everyone safe.Workplace Guidelines for Your Employees Who Vape As a business owner, do you allow your employees to use e-cigarettes or vaping devices in your workplace? If you do, you might want to consider establishing some guidelines so that everyone stays safe. You might have heard the news about vaping device batteries exploding in the pants pockets and even the faces of users, causing moderate to serious injury. Naturally, smokers are wary and want to know more. As an employer, if you allow your employees to vape in your workplace, you owe it to yourself and your non-smoking employees to learn all you can, too. Do you need to worry about exploding batteries? Will you be next or have you fallen victim to believing another myth? Here’s what you need to know about safer vaping. Insist on US-Made Vaporizers Many vaping-related products are manufactured in China, but US-made vaporizers are readily available. Vaporizers made in the USA are manufactured under tighter regulations that ensure a higher quality product. When you allow only American-made vaporizers in your workplace, you’ll be assured that those products adhere to specific standards of quality. Allow Only Recognized Vaporizer Brands in Your Workplace Users should be sure that they’re somewhat familiar with the brand of vaporizer they buy. Otherwise, they could be purchasing a device made with cheap components that could easily malfunction. Encourage your employees who smoke to do their research before they buy and to invest in brands they recognize, such as those featured regularly in ads and magazines and those highlighted on smoking-related websites. For example, Kangertech box mods is a well known brand. Other brands to look for include Volcano, White Cloud, and Great Lakes Vapor. Require that Smokers Read and Follow Product Instructions While it may seem like an obvious suggestion, remind your employees who smoke to read and follow their device’s instructions, especially when they’re using new equipment for the first time. Avoid Overheating the Device Some smokers may be prone to pressing the button on their vaporizer for a long time, which results in overheating. Don’t press the button for more than a few seconds. Moreover, pressing the ignition switch for longer periods will shorten the life of the appliance. Alert all employees to be wary of a burning smell if anyone is vaping near them. If a vaporizer becomes overheated, place it in a safe area away from flammable materials and allow it to cool down. Keep E-Cigarettes and Vaporizers Away from Water E-cigarettes and vaping devices are not made for wet conditions. While you may get away with lightly splashing certain models, avoid getting e-cigarettes and vaping devices wet. Neither should you insert any wet or oily solutions into one of these appliances. Between sessions, use dry cotton-tipped swabs instead of a moistened cloth to clean them. Don’t Charge an E-Cigarette or Vaporizer for Long Periods of Time Avoid charging your device for long periods of time. Just as vaporizers can overheat when the button is depressed for long periods, so, too, can overcharging create a safety hazard. Advise your employees not to leave a vaping device that’s being charged unattended. Not only could they risk shortening the life of their device, such a situation could even cause an explosion. Use Only a Charger Intended for the Specific Device The average person owns many electronic devices, and it’s likely a charger for one device could appear to work in charging another. However, you should always be cautious when interchanging c[...]
2017-03-21T02:31:17ZArmed only with their smartphones, your online retail customers can compare your prices with those of dozens of your competitors almost instantly. At the same time, your competitors are fighting to provide the very best deals and win your customers away from you. How can your online retail business stay ahead in this aggressive environment? Your answers may lie in pricing intelligence software, which can help you achieve dynamic pricing and outpace your competitors.Pricing Intelligence: the Online Retailer’s Secret Weapon Only a couple of decades ago, Mom and Pop could stroll down Main Street to their competitor’s store, take a look around, and decide right then and there to lower prices as soon as they walked back their own store. Alas, those slow-paced days are gone, for along came the big-box stores, with their advanced strategies and their uber-competitive pricing, very nearly putting most Main Street stores out of business. Now, a new age is upon us, the age of the small, competitive online business. Just what is it, though, that can give these small online businesses—businesses like yours—such a tremendous edge? It’s pricing intelligence, made possible by software capable of compiling and analyzing large amounts of data about your customers. Pricing intelligence can help you to achieve dynamic pricing so that you can outpace your competitors. What Is Pricing Intelligence? Simply put, pricing intelligence is an ongoing practice whereby you use everything you can learn about your customers to make your online pricing more dynamic and therefore more competitive. In order to make this practice work, you’ll need to invest in the latest software for this purpose. This article will let you in on the secrets to getting started with using pricing intelligence software to take your online retail business to new heights. Take Your Online Retail Business to the Next Level Not only do online retailers need to be extremely professional in their retail doings, they also need to be proficient marketers, masters of social media and avid content creators. In other words, online retailers need to build a powerful web presence in order to succeed. The article here describes the challenges that online retailers like you face every day and gives tips to help you show up powerfully online. But as we’ve already discussed, a powerful online presence isn’t enough in today’s competitive landscape. You’re going to need a dynamic pricing strategy, too. Advanced and affordable, the newest pricing intelligence software will allow your online retail business to succeed, even in cutthroat pricing wars. Why Does Your Business Need Pricing Intelligence? Armed only with their smartphones, your customers are able to compare your prices with those of dozens of your competitors almost instantly. At the same time, your competitors are fighting to provide the very best deals and win your customers away from you. To make things even tougher for you, the bigger online stores use advanced algorithms to change their prices thousands of times each month. Amazon sometimes changes prices as often as every 10 minutes or so. But that doesn’t mean that as a small online retailer you should throw in the towel. As a matter of fact, the smaller and more streamlined your business is, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to outmaneuver your larger competitors, especially if you take advantage of pricing intelligence software. Where to Find Pricing Intelligence Software Retail price analytics software, such as that offered by Upstream Commerce, will analyze up to a year’s worth of data about your customers to evaluate and pinpoint pricing opportunities. Similar software is offered by CallidusCloud, Prysinc, and Competera Price Intelligence. An investment in pricing intelligence software for you[...]
2017-03-24T00:49:23ZWhen it comes to branding your business, you always want to stay ahead of the curve, and every year, new trends come along that shape the direction for branding in the year ahead. From giving your customers a more personalized experience to finding ways to use such innovations as virtual reality and big data, you'll want to stay informed so your brand—and your business—don't get left behind.6 New Branding Trends that Will Change Your Thinking About Marketing Your Business Branding is constantly changing. Each year, new trends come along that shape the direction of branding for the year ahead, and companies would be wise to keep these trends in mind and stay ahead of their competition. So what trends can you expect to see in 2017? Here are some of the most important branding trends to keep an eye on over the coming months so that your business stays ahead of the curve. Virtual Reality Not a day goes by when we don’t read something about how virtual reality is taking hold. New VR devices like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are already available, and they are only going to get better. It’s inevitable that VR will start to play a bigger role in branding, and it’s already starting. Brands are creating VR experiences to put VR to use in creative ways for business, and not just for playing games. That’s one of the reasons why Facebook bought Oculus, because it could see how VR would go beyond gaming. VR provides brands with some exciting possibilities. This technology is so new that it is only in the experimental phase right now, but it’s clear that once it goes mainstream, the opportunities will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. VR can provide all sorts of new ways for consumers to interact with brands. For example, potential customers could be placed into scenarios to help them make better buying decisions, such as allowing them to visit a stadium and choose their seat before the event. Greenery Is the Color Pantone always chooses a color for the year ahead, and this year it is a color called “Greenery,” as reported in Stratabeat. Greenery’s yellow-green shade represents new beginnings, spring and freshness and suggests trends in healthy eating. Darker greens such as olive green are also set to feature, as are earthy colors, including browns, deep reds and gray. Physical Accessories While everything seems to be going increasingly digital, don’t forget about the need for physical branding. Branded accessories have been popular for a long time, and this year will be no exception. Indeed, as people become increasingly fatigued with the always-digital lifestyle, physical items could become more popular. Branded accessories are ideal for event branding at conferences and trade shows, where you can use lanyards, name badges, wristbands, tote bags and USB drives to brand your business. Find more ideas at Lanyards USA. Greater Authenticity Authenticity has always been important, but now it’s even more important. This could in part be a reaction to the fact that stories on the internet are getting harder to believe. An authenticity backlash could lead to a greater focus on products rather than their packaging. People do not want to see the product hiding behind the packaging, and they are seeking greater transparency. People also want to know where their products are coming from and what’s in them because they want to know how ethical their buying decisions are. As a result, brands that are open and honest are likely to be in high demand. Focus on Customer Experience Customer experience is another important trend for this year. Of course, this has always been important, but it is becoming an even more crucial brand differentiator. You can benefit by creating[...]
2017-03-29T02:35:33ZIf your company is a small business, most likely you yourself are the business. And if you don’t have health care insurance, not only is your health at risk, so is your business. Act today to protect yourself and your business, because not only are health care costs rising, so are the costs for health care insurance.4 Reasons Why Every Business Owner Needs Health Insurance If your company is a small business, most likely you yourself are the business. And if you don’t have health care insurance, not only is your health at risk, so is your business. Sometimes you allow yourself to wonder what might happen to your business should a serious illness or injury happen to you, but then you shrug your shoulders and get right back to work again. If this sounds familiar, maybe you should take effective action instead—like providing health insurance coverage for yourself and your loved ones today. Here’s why: Taking care of minor health issues early can pre-empt crises. With professional care, most illnesses and injuries can be easily treated, allowing you to get back to work quickly. But if you don’t have health insurance plans when a severe health problem arises, you might think twice about seeking the health care you need. A physical issue that starts out as a minor complaint can escalate without professional care and be even more costly in the long run. However, if you ask a doctor’s advice before things get out of hand, you’re more likely to avoid expensive medical emergencies. The unexpected is sure to happen. There’s one thing about life: You can always expect the unexpected. One day you’re feeling on top of the world and everything is going your way. But things can change quickly. A serious injury or the sudden onset of a severe illness can compel you to seek a doctor’s care, whether you’re financially prepared to do so or not. You know you can’t control everything, but maybe you try. You eat right. You exercise. You’re a safe driver. While these habits of yours provide you with some protection, you don’t live in a bubble. Inhabiting the planet along with you are harmful microorganisms, hazardous situations, careless drivers and unsafe roads. Anything can happen at any time—and often does. Just as you would never embark upon a long road trip without first ensuring that your car’s spare tire was safe to drive on, neither should you carry on in life without providing for your health care with insurance. Health care costs are higher than ever. And they continue to escalate year after year. While you might balk when it comes time to pay that insurance premium, remind yourself that the cost of that premium is surely lower than the cost of paying for medical care for an unexpected serious illness or injury. Further, not only are health care costs rising, so is the cost of health insurance, too. So when it comes to choosing an insurance plan, the sooner the better. Simply put, insuring your health helps you to control costs. And isn’t that something every business owner—large or small—tries to do? You can find ways to manage your health care costs, and if you choose the right level of coverage, you will neither pay too much in premiums or skimp on coverage. The peace of mind you’ll get with insurance is worth the price of the premiums. When you give yourself the gift of insuring the health of yourself and your loved ones, you’ll sleep better at night. While serious illness or injury might still befall you or someone you love, at least you’ll know that you won’t face financial ruin, too, if that should happen. “But what if I don’t get my money back from my investment in health insurance?” you might ask. Well, just think about that for a moment. Would that be so bad? Tr[...]
2017-03-20T13:14:42ZStarting a blog to promote your business doesn’t have to be complex and costly. As a matter of fact, lots of people start their own blogs every day. The cost is minimal, and the entire process should only take you an hour or less. Read on for a quick and easy guide to get you started.Promote Your Business with a Blog: 5 Simple Steps Starting a blog to promote your business doesn’t have to be complex and costly. As a matter of fact, lots of people start their own blogs every day. The cost is minimal, and the entire process should only take you an hour or less. We’ll talk here about setting up a blog on WordPress, which is the most popular blogging platform. If you want, though, you can shop around for others. If you’ve never started a blog before, you might be feeling overwhelmed at first. If you are, click here for details. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s the shortened version: Step 1 – Choose a Domain Name and a Web Host Before you start blogging, you’ll need a couple of things first: A domain name. Make a list of domain names that are unique and accurately describe what your business is about. Make the names on your list as descriptive as you can, while still keeping them short and sweet. You want your readers to easily recognize what your blog—and your business—are all about.Some bloggers use their own name as their blog name. That way, they prevent other people from registering their given name.You can try to do the same with your business, and register the name of your business before anyone else does. This will be easier to do if your business has a one-of-a-kind name.We’ll talk a little more about domain names a little further on. A web host. Your web host will store your blog’s files and deliver them to your readers when they type your domain name.When it comes to webhosting, you’ve got lots of choices. The top 5, according to PC Magazine, are HostGator, 1&1, InMotion, DreamHost, and GoDaddy.But if you’re operating on a shoestring budget, you might want to look at free webhosting. You’ve got your choices there, too. Take a look at Wix, 000webhost, x10Hosting, Weebly, and AwardSpace. Look for a web host that offers free, simple-to-install blogging tools and around-the-clock customer service. The best ones even offer a money-back guarantee. Step 2 – Set Up Your Blog Start by typing the first name on your list into the search box on your webhost site. Don’t lose heart if you find that someone else is already using that name. Your web host will offer similar names for you to choose from. Try to find one that is similar to the one you had your heart set on, but if you can’t, move on down your list, and try the next one. Use your imagination. Get those creative juices flowing and find a domain name that’s right for your business. Remember that if things go well, you’re going to have to live with this domain name for a long, long time. Next, you’ll need to choose a domain extension, such as .com, .net or .org. After you’ve chosen your domain name and extension, you will be directed to a registration page and asked to give your billing details. Here is where you’ll choose from among the various hosting packages and options. Once you’ve set up your account, you can log in by going to the web host homepage and clicking the login tab. The next thing you should see is a control panel for installing WordPress. Click on the “install” option and get started. Step 3 – Time to Blog Now, you’re really on your way. It’s time to start blogging. In the editor section, you will write your thoughts and ideas. A menu gives you choices about whether and when to publish what you’ve written. If you want to add pictures to your blog post, click “add media” a[...]
2017-03-18T18:25:21ZAre you a pool builder? Are you looking for ways to make your business better? Ways to boost your bottom line and get more people talking about your business? Then offer your customers one or more of the five unique touches you’ll read about here, the latest trends that will make their backyard pools the talk of the neighborhood. Whether you’re just getting started with your pool-building business or you’ve been around for a while, your customers are sure to love these avant-garde features.5 Ways to Build a Better Pool Business Are you a pool builder? Are you looking for ways to make your business better? Ways to boost your bottom line and get more people talking about your business? Then offer your customers one or more of the five unique touches you’ll read about here that will make their backyard pools the talk of the neighborhood. According to Wikipedia, the very first swimming pool was most likely in Pakistan, built more than 5,000 years ago. Made of bricks covered over with tar, it was likely considered the height of luxury in its time. Swimming pools have come a long way since that time. Today, a backyard swimming pool is a big part of the American Dream. A well designed swimming pool surrounded by lush greenery and fragrant blossoms makes any backyard more beautiful. Add comfortable outdoor furniture cozily arranged for private conversations, and a swimming pool becomes a charming backdrop for entertaining guests or relaxing with the family. Many homeowners dream of enhancing their homes and their lives with a backyard pool, and homeowners who have already invested in a swimming pool ponder upgrades that will make their pools easier to maintain and more lovely. Delight your customers with one or more of the following features, as does SoCal Custom Pools and Spas. Check out some of the year’s latest trends in backyard pool design and give your pool building business an edge. Fountains and Other Water Features Nothing is more relaxing than the sound of lightly splashing water, and sparkles of sunlight shining through a fountain’s delicate droplets delight both young and old. Whether it’s positioned poolside or smack dab in the middle of the pool, a fountain’s charms soothe the senses and encourage laughter and a sense of play in everyone. Hydrotherapy jets, once considered strictly therapeutic and found only in pools designated for physical therapy, have made their way not only into backyard spas but also into the swimming pool itself. A boon for tired and achy muscles, hydrotherapy jets ease minds and bodies made tense and sore by the workaday world. Give your customers this option and you’re bound to increase your sales. Relaxing Patio Decor As you design your customers’ backyard pools, always be sure to include areas for relaxing beside the pool, too. Whether to warm themselves in the glow of the sun or to unwind in the gentle shade of a patio umbrella, your customers will surely want to enhance those spaces not only with outdoor plantings but with lovely outdoor furniture, as well. You’ll find charming examples at Wayfair, Home Depot, and Costco. No outdoor setting is complete without luxurious landscaping. To get some ideas about poolside landscaping, take a look at these examples on Pinterest. Hook up with a local landscape artist to give your customers even more options. Go Natural Have you heard about bio pools? A bio pool, or natural pool, is a pool in which the water is purified by means of plants and biological filters. No chemicals or artificial devices are used. As your customers become more ecologically aware, more and more of them will want their backyard pools to be friendly to our planet’s environment. Do your business [...]
2017-03-16T01:22:52ZYou’re a social media mogul, at least in practice. Your talking to fans on Facebook, making the rounds on LinkedIn and creating board after board on Pinterest. There’s no question your taking advantage of social media, but are you using it to your advantage?
Is Your Social Media Marketing Hitting the Target?
You’re a social media mogul, at least in practice. Your talking to fans on Facebook, making the rounds on LinkedIn and creating board after board on Pinterest. There’s no question your taking advantage of social media, but are you using it to your advantage?
Many marketers create social media accounts without a clear idea of how to use it, or what they want to accomplish. A social media presence won’t do much for your business unless you understand why you’re on it. If you’re not sure whether your social media strategy is working, ask yourself these essential questions.
Am I growing my audience?
One of the reasons companies spend allocate dollars to social media is because it’s a more affordable way to generate leads than SEO and traditional marketing. The more people that sign on to your social media pages, the more successful your campaign.
Many social sites will allow you to place ads in front of key demographics. Facebook might even suggest your page to your target audience but those ads only work if they actually “like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter. An ad that yields a few dozen new followers doesn’t do much, but one that yields hundreds, or even thousands, can do wonders.
Is my presence getting buzz?
These days, it’s pretty common to add Share buttons to product pages, blogs and other key website pages. It’s also common for people to share their favorite pages with their social networks. Your strategy is working if your pages are among them.
If people haven’t found your ads on social media, they can still find you if some well-connected person decides to share one of your pages with their networks. Of course, you can get the ball rolling; for example, next time you publish a new blog, share it on every social media site you can think of. The right content can generate more clicks than an ordinary search.
Are my sales going up?
Have you noticed sales picking up since you started using social media? Have those exclusive coupon codes from sites like DontPayFull.com increased response rates and converted new customers? If so, thank your social media presence for the boost to your bottom line.
Many businesses use social media to entice potential subscribers with exclusive deals and special offers and many people take advantage of it. But social media is also a low-cost way to announce new product launches, share company news and remind followers how awesome your products and services are.
Social media is supposed to be social, but that social contact has to have a purpose beyond just staying in touch. Your success on social media is based on whether your pages and tactics are attracting the kind of attention and sales you want for your business.
2017-03-15T05:42:32ZDebt financing is a growing funding platform that has gained immense popularity among budding entrepreneurs. In this article we discuss the different types of debt financing, when you need it and why it makes sense. Everything You Need to Know About Debt Financing There are many things you need to think about when you start a business venture. Whether it’s a full blown ecommerce business or a low capital reseller web hosting business you are starting, you will be busy. Most likely you will be gathering the required resources, raising capital, setting up the initial framework and making major decisions about everything. Contrary to popular belief, equity funding (i.e., finding investors and business people to invest in your venture) are not the only ways to generate capital. Sometimes applying for a loan or credit line will make sense. Here, debt financing can be a smart way to generate instant cash reserves against company assets and accounts. What is debt financing? The proper definition of debt funding would be a method of financing where a company receives a loan and promises to repay the same with an agreed amount of interest. Debt financing solutions can include both secured and unsecured loans. However, most lenders today are conservative and will ask for some sort of collateral. In other words, your company will need to pledge some security against the loan amount taken. This is an assurance that the money will be repaid on time – or you can lose your collateral. What are forms of debt financing? Debt financing includes an array of robust, reliable funding options such as ABLs (asset-based loans), RBLs (revenue-based loans) and microloans that support small-scale industries. These loan programs allow quick money transfer and low-interest rates to help first-timers set up their business. Small companies can get both short-term and long-term loans depending on the nature and scale of their business. Taking money from friends and family is also considered a debt financing solution. If you go this route, it is advisable you draw a legal contract so each party understands what is expected of them and that your contract is a legally binding document. This ensures better security and assurance that the money will be paid back. Credit cards and venture debt are also a growing financing technique that allow faster, glitch-free transactions without the necessity of complicated paperwork. Why is debt financing necessary? Investments and personal assets may not fulfill the large capital requirement you need for your organization. When you need to make big purchases, grow your inventory, expand and so on, you may need to take on some debt. Credit funding and loans could be just the thing you need to support and grow your business. Here are some advantages of debt financing: Greater Flexibility Unlike investments, debt financing does not take away your control. You are free to use the loan amount any way you want. On the other hand, when you take on an investor, they will have equal say in the company and its direction. This can seriously hamper your control over your own venture. With debt financing, your only obligation is to repay the money back according to the terms you agreed to. What you do with the money is entirely your prerogative. 2. Tax Deduction Benefits The principal amount and interest payable on a business loan is considered a business expenses and so are exempted from additional taxes. This can be a huge huge advantage for small-scale enterprises. 3. Lower Interest Rates Most debt financing solutions, such as microloans and SBA-backed plans, are made for growing companies so interest rates are nominal. [...]
2017-03-15T04:58:14ZHuman error is one of the most common catalysts leading to cyber attacks. Employees tend to click on embedded emails, share their passwords and use unsecure networks because they don't understand the dangers. Here is quick article about cyber security that all employers should be teaching their employees6 Need-To-Know Tips to Keep Your Company Safe From Hackers? Where is your company most vulnerable to hackers? Do you know? The truth is, human error is one of the most common catalysts leading to successful cyberattacks. Nowhere is human error more prevalent than in employee emails and password use. That is because employees often: Inadvertently click on dangerous embedded email links Reuse corporate credentials on less secure networks Share logins with coworkers Send passwords over less secure channels It is not their fault. Most employees are not trained on cybersecurity and don’t know what questions they should be asking. Let’s review a few Tips Your Staff Needs to Help Make Your Business Safe: Make Your Email Safer: It only makes sense that an employee would click on an email from an unknown or suspicious sender as they are dealing with new clients, issues and requests all the time. Your company should have a policy in place for what to do with emails that do not look right. Perhaps you send them to your tech guy to check them prior to opening? Perhaps you run spyware and malware immediately after any strange email is accessed. Whatever it is you do, set a policy and teach your employees how to be diligent and safe in the event your company is exposed. 2. Know What Criminals Are After: All businesses, and particularly small businesses are targets of hackers. More than 40% of all cyberattacks in 2016 were targeted against small businesses. Even though small companies don’t store large amounts of customer personal information, hackers need access to their systems. This is because they can use a small business’s network as a lever to pry into larger companies that do store a great deal of sensitive information. 3. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access a corporate networks: Hackers routinely steal data that is sent over unsecured or unrestricted Wi-Fi networks by using a “man in the middle” technique. Cyberthieves can use this to steal network login credentials and personal financial information. Regardless of how convenient or tempting it might be to use public Wi-Fi, it is never a safe alternative for accessing your corporate network. 4. Perform Regular Software Updates: Software updates frequently address security holes that publishers discover in their programs and apps. Hackers share information and take advantage of these known security flaws. Any time you fail to install the updates that address those flaws, you are leaving your corporate network exposed to a cyberattack. So yes, do perform updates regularly. 5. Is all Malware Dangerous? Malware is a broad term that encompasses computer viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious attacks on a corporate information network systems. Each of these categories of malware is capable of creating substantial financial losses for its victims. No one type of malware is more or less risky than any other category. They are all dangerous and should be treated as such. Your employees should be trained to treat each type of malware as a serious and substantial threat and take action should they feel they have been exposed. 6. Know How a Distributed Denial of Service (“DDoS”) Can Hurt Your Business: Hackers can us a DDoS attack as a diversion. In its simple[...]
2017-03-15T03:28:19ZIs your business still relying on paper invoices? If so, you might want to think about making a change to a faster, easier, paperless and cloud-based system. Faster invoicing means faster cash flow. Here are 3 steps to get you there. 3 Steps to Getting Your Invoices Paid Faster Is your business still relying on paper invoices? If so, you might want to think about making a change to a faster, easier, paperless and cloud-based system. The truth is most companies today still rely on paper invoicing and payment systems, although that is changing. Think about it. These systems require you or an employee to generate and print invoices, stuff them into envelopes and send them via snail mail. This method requires a lot of time and labor both when you send the invoice AND when you receive and track the payment. In addition to waiting on payments, this method is also fraught with possible errors and slippage as there are so steps. Just imagine what you could do for your business could if you were saving time and labor on invoicing – and getting your receivables paid faster! A recent study conducted by AIM indicated that two-thirds of businesses that transitioned to paper-free invoicing reported seeing improved audit records, reduced costs, increased staff productivity, stronger cash flow, better response times and more efficient processes overall. Fortunately, the digital technology of today provides a myriad of effective ways to streamline your business invoicing and payment systems. Here is what you need to do to get paid faster: Step 1 – Get Started The key to streamlining an outdated invoicing system is to automate your existing system via electronic invoicing. Changing systems will require a plan of action to ensure it is done right. It may seem daunting at first but keeping in mind the benefits will worth it. Companies like DataServ specialize in helping clients integrate to paperless systems by creating customized systems for your individual business needs. Step 2 – Tell Your Clients Some vendors won’t readily embrace a paperless invoicing system and might even complain about not receiving paper invoices. You will want to be proactive here and let your customers know, before-hand, that you are switching to a paperless system. Depending on the client, if paperless really poses a problem for them, you may want to consider continuing to generate paper invoices for specific clients; if that is possible. Eventually, probably very soon, most companies will embrace paperless. Step 3 – Prepare Your Staff The automation will undoubtedly require some re-training of your staff members. As some current tasks become obsolete, others will be created. Employees may need to be redeployed into different ways. Be up front about it. Get them the training they need early – so everyone is on the same page from the get go. Are There Other Benefits? The biggest benefit of paperless invoicing system might just be your ability to get paid faster. When you send invoices automatically, clients are also able to pay you on the spot. No more paper invoices and cutting paper checks and waiting for the mail. Instead, you get your money instantly. Imagine all the things you can do to grow your business with quicker cash flow and less times spent on accounting tasks overall. If you have been considering leaving paper invoicing behind, now may be just the time to do it. About the Author Katherine Morris loves to write about new and exciting technology advancements that help her clients to grow their business. [...]
2017-03-22T16:05:23ZWhy have you chosen to become an entrepreneur? Is it that the 9-t0-5 lifestyle doesn’t agree with you, that your creative energies wither and die when you are forced to work in a cubicle? Do you just want to be your own boss? Or is it that you are determined to do the work you know in your heart you are meant to do, no matter what it takes? Learn more about the upside and the downside of entrepreneurial qualities here.A Close Look at the Entrepreneurial Mindset: Is This You? Why have you chosen to become an entrepreneur? Is it that the 9-t0-5 lifestyle doesn’t agree with you, that your creative energies wither and die when you are forced to work in a cubicle? Or is it something larger than that? A dream, perhaps, of enriching the world in ways never before imagined? An idea that you just know will alter the course of history and make life better for millions? “I Just Want to Be My Own Boss!” Maybe you just want to be your own boss. You bristle whenever anyone tells you what to do, especially if that someone is obviously not as smart as you. Other entrepreneurs feel the same way, as you’ll read here. A Passion for Excellence Or it could be that you are determined to do the work you know in your heart you are meant to do, no matter what it takes. Whether you get paid well for it or not, you are interested in the process. You care more about how you spend your time and about how your mind and body are engaged in your work than you do about any other thing. And if you should happen to be paid well for what you do, that’s a bonus. As Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” If this is your attitude, most likely you are—or will be—paid well for what you do, because loving what you do leads to excellence, and excellence is still valued in this world. But It’s Not All Fun and Games Whatever your initial motivation, you’ve likely since discovered that being an entrepreneur involves lots of hard work, long hours, inevitable failures—and the occasional thrill of a win. Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs Successful entrepreneurs have several qualities in common. Among them are confidence, creativity, determination, independence, a thirst for knowledge, a penchant for building relationships and an insatiable drive to promote themselves and their latest venture. Read more about successful entrepreneurs’ shared qualities here. Most would agree that, above all, entrepreneurs are risk-takers. Moderation in All Things Some would even argue that entrepreneurs’ best qualities can be their Achilles heel, as you can read in this article, because anything taken to the extreme can cause a problem. As a matter of fact, entrepreneurs who have taken things too far share some of the same qualities as people who have become addicted to gambling, including symptoms of withdrawal when they try to take a day off from the stresses of their work. While there’s nothing wrong with gambling for fun and relaxation, gambling can become a problem when gamblers take risks they can’t afford to take and continue to gamble despite the consequences. In the same way, entrepreneurs who focus all of their attention and energy on their latest business ventures at the expense of their relationships and even their health may suddenly realize one day that their lives are out of balance. In addition, there is some research that has shown that entrepreneurs are more likely [...]
2017-03-21T04:31:35ZTechnology keeps making it easier for us to solve problems, communicate and keep financial records. As any business person knows, entrepreneurship involves wearing many hats, so any app that can help you save time and be productive is a welcome resource. Here is a list of 5 must have apps that can just plain help you get more done.5 Must Have Apps for the Productive Business Person Wave Wave is an accounting app suitable for small businesses, sole proprietors, or independent contractors who work with 9 or fewer employees. Wave helps you easily track sales and expenses easily. It also helps you manage your customer payments, invoices, receipts, employees’ paychecks and more. This app will also generate free accounting reports which can be very helpful in monitoring the success of your business. Wave recently added a free app to help you manage your finances and expenses – all in one place. Polaris Office This is a good alternative for those who can’t use Apple’s iWork app. The Polaris Office app creates and edits documents and syncs them with Microsoft Office from any remote location. You can download the basic version for free or upgrade to the Pro version for a little more each month. Rescue Time If you need to know what apps and websites you use each day, this app can help you with that. It will give you a detailed report each day of where you are spending your time. The app also works with all kinds of devices and operating systems. The free version is called Rescue Time Lite. They also offer a premium version with more features you will also find useful. For example, it will block unwanted websites, and send you alerts with even a more detailed end of day report. Currently the app costs $72 per year with a 4 month free period – so it is worth checking it out. Trello Trello is a project management app whose task is to facilitate easy tracking of workflow in your business. Basically, each card that you create in this app will represent an assignment. To make those cards more descriptive, the app lets you work with stickers. Trello also lets you communicate with members of your team effectively and add comments, attachments, due dates, checklists, and more to your projects. Each time you change a card’s details, your members will be notified through email so it helps keep everyone up to date. If you have a team involved in your business, this could be great for you. Evernote Syncing your notes across desktop and mobile applications has become an easy task thanks to Evernote. You can also save emails and screenshots that previously you might never be able to find again. The free version allows you to upload 60MB of documents monthly. However, with the upgraded plan, you get 1GB of data as well as the ability to access notes or and save emails while offline. The business version costs $12 per month and comes with multiple administrative features for your business. If you are not using Evernote already, you will want to check it out today. While these apps are great for solving business problems, you might be interested in a few gaming apps as well. Apps such as Slots2Slots android app might not address your business concerns but may help you relax in your down time. We all need to be able to take a break sometimes and shake things off at work. Having a few gaming sites in your repertoire to blow off a bit of steam could be just the thing. Whatever the case, check out the 5 business apps mentioned above as one or all could s[...]
2017-03-10T04:16:40ZOK, so you had a huge ecommerce idea; one you knew was an absolute winner. You got yourself a domain name, built a site, took it live — and nothing happened. Demoralized, you abandoned it. Six months later, you saw an ad for the exact same thing on TV. Suddenly, someone else was out there crushing it. So why did it work for them and not for you?OK, so you had a huge ecommerce idea; one you knew was an absolute winner. You got yourself a domain name, built a site, took it live — and nothing happened. Demoralized, you abandoned it. Six months later, you saw an ad for the exact same thing on TV. Suddenly, someone else was out there crushing it. So why did it work for them and not for you? The simple answer is they were ready and you weren’t. Read a bit further to better understand what we mean. How can you tell when you’re ready to launch your ecommerce store. There’s a lot more to it than coming up with a product and building a website. As is true for any business proposition, there are a number of preliminary steps you must make to realize success. If you already have a product in mind, the first thing you should do is conduct some research to evaluate its potential. You should also get a feel for the competition, and study the market so you can approach it in the most efficient and effective manner possible. If, after doing your research, you’re still convinced you have a winner, it’s time to develop a business plan around it. This will serve as your guide for the rest of the process. In it, you’ll describe your company, chronicle the findings of your market research, lay out your plan of operation, define your organizational structure and identify your management team. You’ll also describe your product and/or services, outline your marketing plan and delineate your financial projections. If you need to borrow cash to get started, it’s also where you’ll define your funding needs and convey your repayment plans. Even if you’re using your own money, this is still a very useful exercise. With your business plan in hand, you can properly set up your organization. You’ll need to come up with a name and develop a logo so you have a professional look. This is also the time to learn everything possible about search engine optimization and how to build an ecommerce website. Once you’re confident you have those factors well in hand, you can proceed to build out your store. During the build, start planning your social network strategies. In addition to claiming your name on the various sites, you’ll want to identify the specific networks most likely to drive traffic to your store. Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for highly visual products, while You Tube is great if video is integral to your marketing. Once your line of attack is identified, start developing your followings. You can start by tantalizing the market with the news your site is under development and coming soon. This builds anticipation and gives you a ready audience when you launch. Rumors of the demise of email as an effective marketing channel are greatly exaggerated. Select a provider, develop messaging strategies and produce templates so your campaigns have a consistent look. Develop messages for the key aspects of your operations such as abandoned carts, welcoming new customers, acknowledging sales and the like. This is also when you want to develop your key performance indicators. Among the most notable are your monthly sales volume, the size of your average order, your profit margin, an[...]
2017-03-10T04:08:14ZThe idea of your business being subjected to a tax investigation isn’t pleasant. The truth is, as your business grows and becomes more successful, the more likelihood the government will come around asking for their fair share. No need to panic. Here is a list of things that trigger audits and how to make sure you are prepared. What can trigger a tax investigation into your business? The idea of your business being subjected to a tax investigation isn’t pleasant. The thing is, as your business grows and becomes more successful, you are more likely to hear from the IRS that you are being audited. So what can trigger such a tax investigation? There are actually a few different factors and knowing them will help you prepare should the IRS of HMRC come knocking. Business growth and expansion It’s important to note that it is possible for a business to be selected at random for a tax audit or investigation. However, this is usually the case for larger companies in order to ensure they are paying their fair share. When it comes to smaller businesses, it’s more common to be subjected to an audit if your company undergoes a sudden and strong period of growth. This sudden change in company’s size, and the scale of business it conducts, can simply trigger an audit for clarification. Of course sudden growth in just about any business is a great thing. Just remember that any big changes like that can trigger some sort of inquiry, investigation or audit. Large year-on-year financial change If a company sees a significant change in its finances, either upward OR downward, it can appear suspicious to government regulators. If the change has seemingly happened without good cause, this could trigger an investigation. An example might be if you have spent heavily on one particular area of your business, but have not done so in previous years. An example would be the purchase of new equipment in one year that you have not made in past years. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you keep accurate records for your business and expenditures. Tax mistakes and inconsistencies Another key area that can trigger an investigation is when mistakes or inconsistencies are found in your tax returns. While mistakes do happen, frequent inaccuracies can cause an investigation for a clearer picture of the company and its finances. To avoid this, make sure your returns are accurate and consistent. Being prepared for a tax investigation It is really safe to assume that a tax audit or investigation can happen to any business as it grows and develops. It is important that you are always prepared with your finances in order. Do this by keeping your accounts and tax information up to date, filed and in order. If you do find yourself needing help, it can be a good idea to speak to a business association for support. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), for instance, provides its FSB Tax Investigation Advice service. Services like these can help business managers build key knowledge and expertise, so they know how to best manage their company finances. With the right knowledge, preparation and approach to your taxes, you can make sure all your business spending, dealings and developments are accounted for, correct and consistent. Then you can focus on what really matters – running your business. [...]
2017-03-10T03:57:48ZAlthough we have only just welcomed a new year, the seemingly infinite winter season is ending and this means we can happily begin the countdown to spring and summer. From warmer weather and lighter evenings to an overall sense of renewal, spring certainly provides us with the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate, relax and brush away the winter blues. Here are 5 tips to help you Grow your spa business5 Smart Tips to Grow Your Spa Business Although we have only just welcomed a new year, the seemingly infinite winter season is ending and this means we can happily begin the countdown to spring and summer. From warmer weather and lighter evenings to an overall sense of renewal, spring certainly provides us with the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate, relax and brush away the winter blues. According to Accenture, the global health and wellbeing market will grow to $737 billion by 2018 – with spas already accounting for $99 billion of the $3.7 trillion global wellness economy. Therefore, it is becoming more essential than ever that spa businesses adapt their promotional efforts for seasonal opportunities to increase growth potential, stay competitive and, most importantly, achieve profits. With this in mind, check out these springtime incentives for your spa businesses: Get your Outdoor Area Ready Along with spring comes a gradual increase in hotter weather and longer periods of daylight – opportunities that customers will want to take full advantage of during their spa visit. Providing indoor facilities is idyllic for the colder and wetter seasons, but this might create limitations for customers during the warmer and drier months. If you have unused or outdated garden space available, you could expand your business by introducing an outdoor area to integrate your clients’ spa experience with the pleasant weather. This could include spa pools and Jacuzzis to a simple outdoor seating area with heating and/or water spritzers. It is vital you evaluate your business’ capital before undertaking any new project. Check out your resources and do some due diligence to see what this new area will cost you. Once you have a budget and know the new area will provide you with an adequate return on investment, you can calculate your small business loan potential to determine your available options. One example of adding outdoor space was done by Bedruthan. They have created a separate “Spa Garden Experience” for their customers. They advertise this new experience as an hour-long, seven-stage experience. This outdoor exclusive features a hot tub, sauna, shower and seating area alongside a fire. They have enhanced this investment further by creating a sunset-themed outdoor package called “The Sunset Sensory Spa Garden.” This will maximise their return-on-investment in the long-run and offer their clients something new, special and worth coming in for. Create a New Experience If you are able to create an outdoor experience, (or even create something new indoors), you can also offer new and exclusive treatments to reconnect your customers and amplify their relaxation pleasure. Massages, exfoliation sessions, body scrubs and seaweed wraps are all excellent rejuvenation techniques that can be bundled, named and offered as packages that can really draw your customers in for the “entire experience.” Other ideas are outdoor or indoor yoga or meditation sessions if your space would allow. Provide Spring &[...]
2017-03-10T04:11:54ZConstruction projects are not among the list of easy things that one can undertake. We have to consider and manage a lot of things in order to have a successful project. Should you go it alone or hire an experienced contractor? What are some ways to save money?Construction projects are not among the list of easy things that one can undertake. This is because you have to consider and manage a lot of things in order to have a successful project. For instance, you will need to consider the costs, materials, contractor, engineering, and timeline among many other things. Construction is labor intensive and can be expensive. Chances are, you will be digging deep into your pockets to get the best quality and performance. Here are a few practical ways to reduce your construction costs: Selecting the right contractor will be job #1. The truth is, you still can get a good quality construction if you choose a diligent, honest and hardworking contractor. You may even think you will save a great deal of money by choosing to be your own contractor. The truth is, that is not usually the case and here is why: What will it really cost you? It is estimated that the average profit for small scale contractors per year is 5% of his job cost. So, if you decide that you want to be your own general contractor for your construction, it means that you will save that 5%. Or, does it? This is what many people think, but the reality is quite different. Usually, on site labor costs are between 20-25% of the total price of a new home when you use the services of a contractor. However, when you are your own general contractor, this value will go up because as a one–time job, subcontractors will raise their labor prices accordingly. You will also pay more on insurance because insurance companies will place you in a risky category. The most obvious setback will have to do with costly mistakes that you will likely commit since you are not a professional in construction. Ways to save money: Value engineering is the process of carrying out certain design decisions that will enable you to build for less. For instance, when you go for a conventional design you may decide to use cement blocks instead of bricks or use flush doors or PVC windows. There are often many things you can do to bring down the budget of your job. A good contractor should be able to help you in making some of these decisions. Other design measures that reduce costs include using a simple roofing system, cutting down on the square footage, using a custom design to eliminate error and maybe using modest materials for flooring, cabinetry and appliances. After all, you can always choose to upgrade later. Unless you have an unlimited budget or can utilize a crowdfunding platform (online funding for anything) to help, you may need to creatively cut corners. Choose a good construction contractor You don’t want to get everything else right and then fail to choose the right contractor. Make sure that the contractor is licensed, honest, reliable and has references you can check before you pay him one dime. Also beware of contractors that need 50% to start. Ask for a “pay as you go” schedule so you know they are going to show up, work hard and get your job done. For instance, you may want to get look for a contractor who uses a slide rail trench box for elaborate excavations compared to just conventional sheeting and so on. You do not need[...]
2017-03-10T04:13:27ZOf course, every student dreams of earning extra money. However, students often find themselves in class and learning during the day and working on homework and assignments at night. More and more students find themselves without the time for a full or part time job, yet they still need to earn money. Should they start their own business? Sounds kind of crazy, right? The truth is more and more students are deciding to become their own boss and work inside a schedule that is convenient for them.Startup During College – Why Should You Try It? Of course, every student dreams of earning extra money. Whether it be for entertainment, dating, video games, travel, food or saving for the future, we all seem to need more of it. However, students often find themselves in class and learning during the day and working on homework and assignments at night. More and more students find themselves without the time for a full or part time job, yet they still need to earn money. Should they start their own business? Sounds kind of crazy, right? The truth is more and more students are deciding to become their own boss and work inside a schedule that is convenient for them. Here are some tips for a successful college start up Choose something that interests you This about it for a minute. What is it you like to do? Are you a guitar player who can teach others? Are you a pet lover who would like to start a dog walking service? Do you have computer skills you can tap into? I have guy that is great at “fixing” computers. Every few months or so I download something strange and I text him for an appointment time. He remotely accesses my PC and cleans it up for me. I pay him $50 for 30 minutes work and he never even leaves his house. I think he may even work on a few customers at a time – all because he knows how to clean up a computer and run anti virus software like a pro. Think about what you not only are good at, but also like to do. Make a list and bounce it off of your friends and family. Chances are you will find just the right thing. Your age is your advantage Being a student might truly be the perfect time in your life to begin a business. At that age you are not usually supporting a family just yet or trying to make large mortgage or car payments. You also have the ability to take greater risks, move around freely and recover if things do go wrong. On top of that, you are young and sharp and learn new things more quickly. Technology is your friend in every way and it is simply a great time to make use of it. Assemble a team of professionals It may be helpful from the get-go to hire a lawyer, CPA and web programmer? The truth is, your business will do much better if you have smart and reliable people to help you with the parts you are not good at or just don’t want to do. Assembling a great team will help you work “on” your business instead of “in” your business so you can concentrate on growth. Websites like upwork.com are a good place to go for technical help. Don’t be afraid of your competition I always hear people say things like, “well isn’t someone else already doing that”? You would be surprised to know how a few negative words like that can stop people in their tracks from following their dreams. Maybe there are others and that is important to know. But what can you do to make your service better, faster, les[...]
2017-03-13T02:03:27ZHave you covered all of your bases in giving your biz a polished look? What might be missing?You want to show the world that you mean business. You have a professional, responsive website with a custom logo. You have a stack of business cards printed on high-quality stock paper. You have business accounts on social media and people are starting to notice you. You have a custom phone menu and answering service that makes your business appear much larger than it actually is. Things are looking up! But have you covered all of your bases? What might be missing? The answer is Internet fax. This seems like an understandably obtuse answer, but hear me when I say that every business needs an Internet faxing service. Here’s why: Internet Faxing Lets You Connect With a New Audience There are people who don’t bat an eye at a fax machine. And then there are people who aren’t sure why anyone would ever want to use such a “relic.” Which group of people do you think you’re already connecting with via your website and social media accounts? Probably the latter, who would prefer to just send an email. Faxing shows the “old crowd” that you’re more than willing to tango, and that you value their business. Any good business owner strives to make their client’s lives as easy as possible, and that means using their preferred method of communication. They want to see a copy of your terms of service chugging out of their fax machine? No problem. Signing Documents Has Never Been Easier Some companies prefer to send contracts via fax so that you can sign it “properly,” with a pen and in your unique handwriting style. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fraudulently sign a form under someone else’s name. Who’s to know that the person typing the name on the dotted line is the real person or not? Handwritten signatures can be compared and verified if needed. Anyway, this is somewhat of a pain if you don’t have a fax machine. It means that you have to print the contract, sign it, and then scan it, upload it and email it back. What a process! Thankfully, when you use a mobile faxing app, you can sign your name with a few strokes of your finger or stylus and send it straight back. No papers to worry about and no extra technology to hassle with. Like a breeze! A Fax Service Gives You That “Big Business” Feel With None of the Overhead Just as a custom answering menu or phone service makes your business feel bigger than it actually is, so too does a fax service. No one has to know that your “fax machine” is actually an online fax service. Clients and potential business partners will be impressed at the thought of the overhead you’ve dedicated to your business. It will be your little secret that everything is handled with the touch of a button. You never have to pay for an additional phone line, the machine itself, the paper and ink, or struggle through technology malfunctions like paper jams or busy signals. And as a bonus, because you don’t need any of that extra overhead, you can keep your business as environmentally-friendly as possible, something that you can brag about amongst all your other accolades. You have an email address, a phone line and a physical mailing address. Don’t discount the importance of a fax number for your business as well! Yes, some people still use fax. If you’re easy for them to reach in their preferred manner, they’ll want to work wit[...]