10 articles Articles posted in Business

Take Your Business to the Next Level

Starting a Small BusinessPhoto by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash

If you’re starting a business, be it a shop selling handmade items or a restaurant serving high-end dishes, you’ll want your premises to make an impact. Most of us walk around only half-noticing our surroundings, so creating a space which is enticing and exctiting to prospective clients can make a big difference when it comes to your profits. When making plans for yur new premises, you should be thinking about how you can take your business to the next level and blow your competitors out of the water – here are some suggestions of how to do it:

Get Your Design Right

If your new premises is an empty space, it’s full of potential but it can sometimes be hard to visualise. Invest in bespoke interior architecture  which will compliment your business and create a space that your customers or clients will WANT to spend time in. Restaurants often benefit from a variety of seating areas, from large open areas for big groups to smaller, more intimate nooks for couples. Adding to your architecture could help you to create all of these in one space.

Think About Your Signage

Shop and restaurant signage can be a tricky thing to get right. You want something that represents your shop and looks good on the front of the business, but it also needs to look fitting in the street location and complement the surrounding businesses. Sticking out like a sore thumb ight get you notices, but if everyone else has muted, vintage styling and you opt for a neon sign that you can see from space, you might not win too many friends!

Sound it Out

When it comes to shop and restaurant design, it’s also important to consider music, volume, and how it will sound around the space and affect customers. Research has proven that background music has a direct effect on shopping behavior, so it is something business owners should always keep in mind. Bluetooth speakers are the ideal solution to creating a pleasant shopping environment for retail stores and small businesses.

Tech to Make Running a Small Business Easier

Whether you’re working from home as a one man band, setting up a side hustle in your spare time, or run a business which employs lots of people, there are certain bits of tech which can really make your life easier. We’ve put together a list of the top five tech items you can buy which will help to take your business to the next level:

A Good Camera

This won’t apply to all small business, but if you’re selling products or run a business which depends upon you have decent images to display then a good camera should be one of your main investments. If you don;t have thousands to spend but still want a high-end set up, look online for second hand stuff – lots of people plunge hundreds and even thousands of pounds on photography equipment, only to realise they never use it, and then sell it on for way under the new price.

Packing Machines

If your business requires you to package something, then investing in a packing machine from C Pack Ltd will save you time and money in the long run. They have machines which can package just about anything and they’re guaranteed to do it quicker and with less error than a human! They’ll even build a custom packing machine for your exact requirements.

Cloud Services

The old fashioned way of doing things still clings on in some respects, with many people struggling to trust Cloud services because they’re just not as tangible as paper files or a physical hard drive. However, Cloud services are actually the safer and more reliable way to store your data and you’re less likely to suffer a loss with one of these services.

Chatbots

You might see chatbots as something way out of your business’ league, or as something that’s just a bit too futuristic for your needs, but using chatbot software to deal with some of your communications can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Security

Ransomware has become a billion-dollar business and that makes sense: it’s finally a way for clever hackers to actually make money with their malware. We read about the stories of hotels, transit systems and city governments brought to their knees by security breaches like this, but we don’t hear of the thousands of small businesses that are also affected. To protect yourself you need to use a good cloud backup service, keep your operating systems updated and use a good security application in your company.

Make Your Life Easier as a Mumpreneur

With childcare costs at an all-time high and earnings not really falling into line, it’s little wonder that so many women are turning to the idea of running their own businesses from home. The advantages of working in your own home are numerous, allowing you to set your own hours, work around school times and school holidays, and ultimately save a lot of money on childcare. It’s not for everyone, and some people struggle with the challenges of running a business in their home, but if you’ve got the drive and the patience, it can be a great alternative to a traditional 9-5 career.

If you’re thinking about becoming a work-at-home-mum, or even if you already are and are looking to make your life a bit easier, we’ve got some tips on how you can delegate certain tasks.

Get an Assistant

If you’re not keen on the idea of having someone coming to work alongside you in your home office every day, virtual receptionist services could be a great solution. For as little as 30p per day, you could have an automated service to handle all of the calls you don’t have time to deal with. It also means that you’re not tied to a desk and have the freedom to work from absolutely anywhere without the risk of missing important calls or losing business – far cheaper than a human assistant!

Outsource the Cleaning

Having a cleaner may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, but when you think about how much time you spend cleaning in a week, and then consider the fact that you could spend that time working on your business instead, can you afford NOT to have a cleaner?! Taking the domestic chores off of your plate can free you up for more important things and increase your earning potential.

Co-Parenting

As we mentioned above, childcare is a massive expense for many families, which is why homeworking is good for parents of younger kids. However, when you’ve got a deadline or an important meeting to deal with, having kids around isn’t always doable. Teaming up with another Mumpreneur could be the answer – arrange to cover each other’s childcare during important times and the reciprocal arrangement means your childcare won’t cost anything and you both have the opportunity to develop your businesses when you need to. This can also work when you have to start doing school runs – take it in turns each day to take the kids to school while the other works.

Do Everything Online

The world is set up so that most things can now be one online, so set aside a couple of hours each week to get as much done online as you can. From your weekly shop to paying bills and even booking appointments, doing things in a set time slot each week can save you lots of time and give you a clearer head for dealing with work-related tasks. You can even use services which will not only remind you that someone’s birthday is coming up but will also send a card out to them without you even needing to go near a post box!

Get Your Beauty On!

If you’re the kind of person who likes to look ‘put together’ but struggle for time, there are a few things you can do to help you feel good without spending hours in the bathroom each morning. A Brazillian blow dry will cut down on hair styling time and keep your mane sleek without too much heat. Having your eyelashes permed and tinted could help give you the confidence to go out without mascara and having your eyebrows micro-bladed could save you loads of time each day, too. Think about your beauty priorities and see if there’s a permanent or semi-permanent solution.

How To Protect Your Business Online

Image Credit: Pexels

43% of all cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses; 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of an attack and only 14% of small companies to rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks and attacks as “highly effective.”

When was the last time you reviewed your security policies and looked at your protection against online threats? What sort of systems does your company have in place and are they carefully enforced? Did you know that weak passwords cause more than half of all data breaches, but only 24% of SMEs have strict password policies in place, and of those that do, 65% of companies say they don’t actively enforce it. Your security policies need to be reviewed every few months to make sure they’re comprehensive and enforceable. You should also be on the lookout for new strategies and technologies that you can put in place to shore up vulnerable areas of the business. Several highly advanced techniques can now help to keep your business secure and help to make sure that no one is abusing your systems, meaning that your customers are protected too. According to 2018 Identity Fraud, ‘Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity’ from Javelin Strategy & Research’, in 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud, a record high that followed a previous record the year before and criminals are engaging in complex identity fraud schemes that are leaving record numbers of victims in their wake. The amount stolen hit $16.8 billion in 2017 as 30% of U.S. consumers were notified of a data breach, an increase of 12% from 2016.

Just as people regularly practise fire drills, you should do the same in case of a cybersecurity attack. During a cybersecurity drill, you should look at response timing on multiple levels, see how quickly individuals and teams respond and either thwart or mitigate a cyber attack and also how fast are you able to inform customers of the most current and accurate information.

Cyber liability insurance helps to mitigate the costs of an attack and is usually available both as a standalone policy, as well as an add-on to a business owner’s system. You can have first-party and third-party insurance, first-party coverage helps you to cover expenses when your network is hacked, or your data is stolen, and third-party coverage offers protection when a customer or partner sues you for allowing a data breach to happen.

If you are victim to an attack, you need to take everything offline as soon as possible as if someone has managed to access your data; you need to limit the amount of information they can get.

It is essential that you can quickly assess and block the entry point as you might be able to act quick enough to stop any data from being taken. But, you still need to check everything to ensure that nothing is lost.

Whether you have a large company or a small business, stealing or attempting to take someone’s data is a severe offence, so the authorities need to be informed immediately to commence an investigation. You will have to make all your systems and data available to the authorities, so they can see where any entry has occurred and hopefully trace it back to the perpetrator.

Informing your customers is essential, and you will need to prepare a statement that outlines what has happened and any potential data that has been lost. If you are not sure what data has been lost, or what details they may contain, your customers need to be aware so that they can monitor their bank accounts to see if anything suspicious has taken place. Your customers and clients will likely have a lot of questions that they want to ask. So you should also have a dedicated email or telephone line established to field such queries.

Your company will need to establish how and when your security was breached. It is also essential to ascertain whether the breach was external or internal to your company.

Some companies offer computer evidence recovery services that can help you and the authorities discover any potential evidence. They can then provide that to you so that you can see if there are any apparent suspects.

Before you put your services back online, it is essential to conduct a thorough audit of all your procedures and safeguards and even get an expert to come in and check your systems and advise on how they can be improved.

Ways To Save Money if You Run Your Own Business

Running a Small BusinessWith rising living and childcare costs, more people than ever seem to be looking at ways that they can work from home so that they can limit their expenditure and maximise their income. Starting a business and becoming self employed may seem daunting but there are a lot of advantages to flexible working and many people have huge success. Although it may seem like you’re spending more than you make when you first start, it’s all part of getting started, and we’ve got some tips on how you can save money as a small business owner.

Do Your Own Accounts

Unless your accounts are really complicated (which is unlikely in your first years as a small business) it’s actually really easy to do your accounts yourself online these days, which cuts the need for accountancy fees or an external payroll service. This could save you a lot of money in the long run and is also a great skill to have under your belt for the future.

Online Printing

If you need to use flyers or posters for promoting your business, using an online printing service like https://www.helloprint.co.uk/ could save you a small fortune. Their service is really easy to use, they offer free delivery on all products and they print on an incredibly diverse range of media – you could even print your company logo on a load of umbrellas!

Negotiate

Here in England, so many of us seem uncomfortable with the idea of bartering on prices but it’s common practice throughout almost the whole rest of the world! If you’re doing business with other people, never accept their first price as bartering could save you a lot of money. Many small businesses offer services as part payment for things too, so if you have a valuable skill you could offer this instead of cash.

Check Your Tarrifs

If you use your home as a place of business, check to see if there are better tariffs available for your energy costs, broadband supplier or telephone contract. Many companies offer special business rates, or even if there’s no money off, some companies will prioritise repairs if they’re for business users, so it could be worth a call to find out if it makes a difference.

Learn New Skills

If you’re looking to save money then taking a few courses could be an investment which saves you money in the long run and give you even more autonomy over how you want your business to run. Need to keep marketing costs low? Take a course in social media marketing and run your campaigns yourself. Need to save on accounting costs? Some companies like Sage offer day courses in small business accounts and payroll which will be a lot cheaper than years of services from an accountant or payroll person.

Luke from Caelum Communications said: “Having a quick and reliable internet connection is a basic essential for a running a business. Failover services and other installations are also great considerations for small and large businesses.”

Streamlining Organizations Operation Efficiency Using CRM

The world today is fast becoming a global economy and people communicate, sell, and buy in different ways. Customer relationship management is critical in facilitating and achieving better communication and analysis by securing, simplifying, and scaling the customer engagements. There are a lot of benefits that businesses and organizations can attain by taking advantage of CRM. Here are just but a few:

Business growth

Some businesses believe that prospecting is a salespersons job, but this is not the case. In fact, it’s the collection of automated and manual information across different channels that can result in a business opportunity. A CRM system helps in prospecting since you can acquire leads from trade shows, email campaigns and websites then send them to your sales people. Additionally, the system can identify market opportunities and new products, and this helps in improving the calling efficiency.

Customer intimacy

Customer intimacy involves the tailoring of client engagements, services, and products to match customer’s industry or business. This is one of the best ways for medium and small sized businesses to compete in an overcrowded and competitive market. CRM system helps such companies to capture their customer and behavior which is great in streamlining sales activities, product development, and also enable target marketing. CRM provides the customer with the impression that you know their preferences and needs and the system can take note of these things for hundreds of customers at a given time.

Replication businesses best practices

Businesses will always have an idea on how to go about engaging their customers, but the problem for most businesses is how to deliver a consistently high-quality customer experience. CRM provides an efficient way to embed the best customer service and sales processes that are effective in guiding businesses through different aspects of customer interaction. There are different websites that outline how Workflow animation and Templates can be used to create and simplify complex processes. That said, by visiting the Salesforce website, you will discover how various activities are automated to reduce the administrative overhead of the CRM and ensure that best practices are followed. You’ll also get answers to questions like what is CRM?

Defining your future business metrics

CRM is a valuable tool, especially when considering events and trends that act as a lead indicator of your profit metrics and revenue. Managers can use the CRM dashboards to consider the lead indicators, especially when pipelining value to spot any indicators of future problems, opportunity creation, and also lead creation. The sales leaders can also view the activities of teams or sales people to trace problems that might affect revenue generation such as the opportunity to close rates, lead conversion rates, customer calling activity, and territorial coverage.

The marketing leader will be able to trace the marketing campaigns and activities to make adjustments to the marketing plan in relation to the failure and success of those activities. On the other hand, the customer service leader will take a closer look at his/her people and take note of the most efficient individuals. Additionally, the service leader will monitor escalations and get alerts in cases that are past due date. It will now be up to the product manager to analyze cases and monitor products to evaluate whether there is any defect and also feature requests that are important in improving the products and services delivery.

CRM presents different advantages that are useful in pushing the business forward. However, it’s important for businesses to consider future goals and business strategy since it plays a huge role in the overall business success.

How To Organize Your Event On A Budget

So, you have an amazing idea for an event and are faced with one of the largest challenges in coordination – budgeting. Staying inside the client’s budget can be harder than it sounds, making the need for expert organization key in pulling everything off.

Get your Excel spreadsheet ready, this is your 10 step guide to making any event a cost savvy production.

1. Start With The Site

Without a location, there is no event! Since this is where the initial cost is going to accumulate, this is where you will want to get started.

Meet with your venue’s sale manager and track all of the projected rental fees. Keep things like housekeeping, baggage handling, and other expenses for renting this venue in mind, adding them all into the spreadsheet.

2. Catering Adds Up, Fast

Food and beverages are an essential part of any event. Whether that includes a hot meal for every guest, a Sweet Services dessert buffet or wine and cheese pairings, mark down every expense the caterer will charge. You will also want to take gratuities into consideration, which can be up to 30%.

3. Transportation And Travel

Will you need a shuttle or coaches? How about event transfers? Write down what transportation could be used for the event, narrow it down to what is absolutely necessary. Don’t be afraid to utilize a cheaper company when you can. Just make sure to include any and all related expenses.

4. Décor Matters

If there is a general theme to the event, this step is made a little easier. However, many event planners are responsible for centerpieces, floral arrangements, and more.

Doing these yourself can drive down costs. If you cannot afford to hire someone to do this for you, create pieces you can pick up and arrange around the venue. As always, go with what is cost effective.

5. Entertainment And Equipment

In this step, you are simply documenting A/V equipment or any entertainment hired. Pro Tip: this is an excellent place to list honorariums to speakers.

6. Printing Charges

You’ll want to make sure that you have included every single small item cost for the event. Start with the easily overlooked like invitations, nametags, program booklets, and banners.

7. A Separate Line Item For Gifts

Never allow the guests from leaving empty handed, but also don’t forget to track the cost of gifts separately. These might be small charges, but they can add up quick. Tracking them separately will help you keep them in check.

8. Are There Activities?

Now that the bulk of the event’s cost has been written down and estimated, you can move on to additional costs. Golfing, spa services, tennis and more can fall into this category. Summarize the total cost, then attach a breakdown to keep your client thrilled.

9. Funding

At this point, you will want to in touch with your client to double check the price tag of the event and their budget. If you happen to be planning and funding your own solo venture, you might want to consider a crowdsourcing option, like Plumfund, to meet your estimated costs.

10. When It’s All Said And Done

After the event is over, calculate your total expenses and compare them with the actual cost. This is the best part, because you get to see where you saved money. Make sure to show what you brought to the table by letting your client see those savings, or pat yourself on the back for a job well done if this was a solo venture.

Author Bio:

Zachary Whatule

Zachary Whatule is a super-connector with ManageBacklinks.io who helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. Zachary frequently writes about the latest advancements in the SaaS world and digital marketing.

What is a Limited Liability Company Tax ID

Limited liability companies are a great way to start your business, especially when you are starting off small as it is the least complex in comparison of the other business structures. However, even as a small company or a company of one, yourself, you still need to get a limited liability company tax ID.

Difference Maker

There is a big difference between limited liability companies and all of the other business structures when it comes to taxes, but the primary difference being that LLC is a business structure created at the state level which means the federal government does not recognize a limited liability company in its own tax classification. Although your LLC tax ID number will come from the IRS, in their eyes you will always be classified as either a corporation or a partnership depending on the specifics and membership of your LLC.

Advantages 

There are many advantages to creating a limited liability company. Some of those are:

  • As owner, you can report profits and losses on your personal tax returns eliminating double taxation.
  • Legal protection from business debts acquired during the life of the company.
  • Having an LLC enhances credibility with suppliers, partners, possible lenders.

The Process

After you have done your research on the steps you need to take for creating your LLC, you will be ready to get your federal tax ID number. When you utilize the services of a specialist like IRS-EIN-TAX-ID.com, they will help you to get your tax ID number, possibly, with the same day. Once you submit online, simply wait and within a few hours you will have your newly assigned tax ID confirmation from the federal government.

Getting your tax id number is important even if you have a limited liability company. It will help to establish you as the professional organization that you are.

 

How to Make a Success of Your Online Business

Having an online business, be it for selling something or some other service, can give you the flexibility of working from home, dictating your own hours, reducing the need for childcare and saving you money on commuting or additional premises. However, while is may sound like jacking your job in and going it alone is the solution to a perfect life, there are a LOT of things which can go wrong with a new business, not least of all being the lack of security.

We’ve got five tips for you which anyone thinking of starting a new business should think about before taking a leap of faith.

Know Your Niche

Knowing your niche is hugely important, especially if it’s a market which is already flooded. If you plan to start a business which is just like another, already established one, what is going to make people shop with you rather than going to the on they already know? It’s a fact that most new businesses fail within the first year, so planning ahead and making sure you really know your market is hugely important.

Build Your Audience

Online shops are NOTHING without customers. You can have the best products advertised on the sleekest website but if no-one is buying your stuff, it’s all pointless. Social media is one of the best allies that a new business can have because it allows you to build your audience and give your business a personal touch. Remain professional but personable and engaging when you speak to people and your shop will be memorable to them.

Proper marketing

As with the point about social media above, people will only shop with you if they know about your shop! Using some of your start-up budget on proper marketing from a service like Innovation Company will ensure that you spread your message as optimally as possible for your budget, with professionals who really know marketing on your side.

Good Customer Service

Anyone who does a customer facing job knows that “the customer is always right”, and although we all know that sometimes the customer is ACTUALLY a frustrating ass, dealing with people in the right way will really win you support from people. Obviously we aren’t suggesting that you allow yourself to be fleeced by chancers who are trying to get something for free, but being accomodating with your customers will go a LONG way towards making them loyal to you.

Cheapest Isn’t Always Best

When you first start a business, there’s a massive instinct that you need to undercut the competition in order to win customers, which isn’t always the case. Many people are still suspicious of the cheapest shops because they feel that they must be ‘too good to be true’ and will opt for something slightly more expensive for a sense of reassurance. Also, pricing yourself so low that your business cannot afford to continue won’t help anyone!

Do you have any tips of how to make the bets of a new business? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Best Payment Gateway for International E-Commerce

e-commerceLaunching and maintaining your own business can be a confusing and somewhat overwhelming prospect. This is perhaps especially true in today’s world, where you could be selling to someone across the world just as easily as you could someone next door. In order to take advantage of the larger market and help use it to our advantage, it is important to have the right tools at your disposal. The best payment gateway for international e-commerce, for example, is important to help all of your transactions, no matter where they originate, run smoothly. To do this, you should look into a great merchant processor that can offer you other benefits, like a free credit card machine.

Merchant Account Processor

One of the main tools at your disposal when it comes to running your international business is your merchant account processor. You need a service that can help provide your customers with a seamless purchasing experience whether they are local, or located across the globe. To do this, take your time and look for a well-established merchant account processor that understands how to provide you the services you need. They might also offer extras, like a free credit card machine, to further help make your experience a good one.

Beware the Fees

Something else to keep in mind is that you will end up paying a processing fee on every credit card payment you receive. That means that you naturally want to find the merchant account processor with the lowest credit card processing fees you can find. This will help ensure that you retain as much of your money as possible rather than losing it to simple transaction fees.

Merchant Account Solutions offers experienced and comprehensive service to all of their customers. Take a look at how they can help you!