Tag : Tips

6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners #ideas #for #new #business


#small business tips

#

6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners

If you run a small business, it s likely that you re operating on a relatively limited budget. Whether you bootstrapped your business or are trying to pay back loans you took out to cover your startup costs, it s in your best interest to conserve money wherever you can.

Without a thorough budget plan, however, it can be difficult to track and manage your finances. This is especially true for any unexpected business expenses that may come up, as they often do. A 2015 survey by small business credit provider Headway Capital found that although 57 percent of small business owners anticipated growth this year, nearly 19 percent were concerned about how unexpected expenses would impact their business.

If you want to keep your business operating in the black, you ll need to account for both fixed and unplanned costs, and then create and stick to a solid budget. Experts offered their advice for small business owners looking to keep their finances in order. [4 Tips for Reducing Startup Costs]

Define and understand your risks

Every business venture has a certain degree of risk involved, and all of those risks have the potential for a financial impact on your company. Paul Cho, managing director of Headway Capital, said that small business owners need to consider their long- and short-term risks to accurately plan for their financial future.

How will changes in minimum wage or health care requirements impact your workforce? Cho said. Do you operate in a geography at high risk of a natural disaster? Do you rely heavily on seasonal workers? Understanding the potential risks facing you on a short- and long-term basis is important for all small businesses. Once you ve mapped out the threats to productivity, a clearer picture can be built around emergency planning, insurance needs, etc.

Overestimate your expenses

If your business operates on a project-to-project basis, you know that every client is different and no two projects will turn out exactly the same. This means that often, you can t predict when something is going to go over budget.

Every project seems to have a one-time cost that was never anticipated, said James Ontra, CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. It usually is that one unique extra item [that is] necessary to the job, but [was] not anticipated when bidding the job.

For this reason, Ontra advised budgeting slightly above your anticipated line-item costs, no matter what, so that if you do go over, you won t be fully unprepared.

I go by the cost-moon-stars theory, he said. If you think it will cost the moon, expect to pay the stars.

Pay attention to your sales cycle

Many businesses go through busy and slow periods over the course of the year. If your company has an off-season , you ll need to account for your expenses during that time. Cho also suggested using your slower periods to think of ways to plan ahead for your next sales boom.

There is much to be learned from your sales cycles, he said. Use your downtime to ramp up your marketing efforts while preventing profit generation from screeching to a halt. In order to keep your company thriving and the revenue coming in, you will have to identify how to market to your customers in new and creative ways.

Plan for large purchases carefully and early

Some large business expenses occur when you least expect them a piece of equipment breaks and needs to be replaced or your delivery van needs a costly repair, for instance. However, planned expenses like store renovations or a new software system should be carefully timed and budgeted to avoid a huge financial burden on your business.

Substantial business changes need to be timed carefully, balancing the risk with the reward and done with a full understanding of the financial landscape you re operating within, Cho told Business News Daily. An up-to-date budget and data-driven financial projections are important components that help guide when to make large investments in your business.

Remember that time is money, too

One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is forgetting to incorporate their time into a budget plan. Ontra reminded business owners that time is money, especially when working with people who are paid for their time.

Timing underestimation directly increases costs, Ontra said. For us, the biggest underestimation is allotting time for client feedback. It is a Herculean effort sometimes to meet a deadline with lots of people focused on a single task. Then, the client needs to give feedback for us to proceed. If the client is distracted with other issues, feedback planned for a three-day turnaround, can become a week or longer. Not only do you start to lose time to the delivery schedule, your team also loses momentum as their collective thought shifts focus to another project.

Ontra recommended treating your time like your money, and set external deadlines later than when you think the project will actually be done.

If you believe the project will finish on Friday, promise delivery on Monday, he said. So, if you finish on Friday, deliver the work early and become a star. If for some reason time runs over, deliver on Monday and you are still a success.

Constantly revisit your budget

Your budget will never be static or consistent it will change and evolve along with your business, and you ll need to keep adjusting it based on your growth and profit patterns. Cho suggested revising your monthly and annual budgets regularly to get a clearer, updated picture of your business finances.

Regularly revisiting your budget will help you better control financial decisions because you will know exactly what you can afford to spend versus how much you are projecting to make, Cho said. Take into account market trends from the previous year to help you determine what this year may look like. Once you have a clear understanding of your business s budgetary needs, you can accurately forecast what can be set aside for an emergency fund or unexpected costs.

Nicole Fallon Taylor

Nicole received her Bachelor s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email. or follow her on Twitter .

You May Also like

What is Zero-based Budgeting?

  • Organization is Key to Managing Business Finances

  • Don t Burn Through Your IT Budget: 5 Ways to Save Money



  • 7 Tips to Generate the Perfect Business Idea #franchise #business #opportunities


    #business idea

    #

    7 Tips to Generate the Perfect Business Idea

    Coming up with a solid idea was the hardest part of starting my business. The National Science Foundation estimated that our mind produces as many as 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts in a single day. It’s hard to even know where to begin. You may be one of those people that have tons of ideas or perhaps none so here are few tips that may help to expedite your journey as an entrepreneur.

    1) Know what you want

    As Thomas Edison once said, I never worked a day in my life.” I highly recommend to quit your day job if its not something you really, truly and utterly feel passionate about. If you are scared to make a change because you do not know what you want, try to focus on what makes you happy. This may seem very general but it does the trick every time. When I had ideas about quitting my banking job I started off with a list of goals. I would keep a journal next to my bed and write in it every evening. Eventually my business ideas began to take shape as I wrote more about the things in life I cared about. When writing down your ideas, make sure that you are thinking 100% about you! I used to think being a banker made my family proud but actually it had nothing to do with my personal goals. This practice totally defeats the purpose of making your passion your profession.

    “Your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart. Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

    2) Focus

    Now you may have a lot of ideas. This is also a problem as rarely do we excel in a particular area when we try to do too many things at the same time. Try talking to your spouse during a football game or texting while walking. I like to use this analogy. Imagine going into the forest to cut down a tree, instead you greedily take a whack at every tree in the forest a few times but none fall down. Exhausted and frustrated you leave the forest without any lumber. Had you focused on one tree you would have wood. Ideas involve attention and lack of focus leads to lack of progress. Choose one idea and stick with it.

    “The more choices we have, the greater the need for focus.”

    3) Research

    If you have a single idea that you feel is viable you must conduct thorough market research. As Warren Buffet says, never invest in anything you do not understand. For example, my product is exclusive to the China market thus I have spend years researching, traveling and immersing myself in local culture. You can never research too much. I had conduced countless focus groups, surveys and tastings. I have read tons of books, trade magazines and articles before feeling confident to pursue my idea. However, the most important part for me was simply talking to people. Often times you will find more of a benefit to sharing your idea than to keep it to yourself. Talking about your idea will only help to shape your future business and perhaps you will even find some business partners along the way.

    “Google is not a synonym for ‘research’.”

    4) Listen

    The famous designer Tom Ford once said in an interview, “Life inspires me”. Pay attention to what people are talking about. Social media is a great place to start. Find out what’s the latest buzz, who is tweeting about what, who is unhappy with a particular product or service? Business is about making progress, being innovative, inspiring, unprecedented and creative. None of this can come is we are not listening. Travel and learn about other cultures. This is a great way to uncover business ideas as we live in a global world. Listen and find out what’s missing in one market and could be resourceful in another.

    “First seek to understand, then to be understood.”

    5) Perseverance

    Stand by your ideas and don’t be afraid of what others think. After all, look at Copernicus, Jack London, George Lucas, Ayn Rand and Oprah Winfrey, none would be around if they did not have faith in their ideas. My business idea too was rejected many times but today I have a solid team, investors and a beautiful product.

    “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

    6) Positivity

    Randy Pausch was right about walls but I would like to add that they exist because we put them there. Often times people may tell themselves: I have no time, my kids keep me busy, my job is secure so why bother, I don’t have a degree in this industry, if only I had enough savings. The truth is you CAN. Before starting my business I literally read every self-help book in print. I am living proof that positive thinking does work. I highly suggest picking up a few and trying some of the techniques, it can’t hurt. Here are a few of my favorites: The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.

    “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

    7) Patience.

    Remember setting up a business is a process and there will be setbacks. When I had raised the first round of funding for my business it took almost three months before the check came. My staff had been working for free for months and stress was mounting. Every CEO has the pressure of producing immediate results but its how we deal with this pressure that is reflected to our employees. If they see that we are calm and cool it will show that we are confident in our decisions and the business overall.

    “All human power is a compound of time and patience.”

    Honore de Balzac

    Image Credit: http://keizerchamber.com/

    Under30Experiences



    Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business #small #business #plan


    #catering business

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    Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business




    How to Buy and Invest in Stocks Investing Ideas and Tips #fast

    #investment ideas

    #

    Investing Ideas: How to Buy and Invest in Stocks

    How to Invest in Stocks

    So, you want to invest in stocks? The first rule is to invest in what you know, but it s actually not that simple. It s not enough to simply understand the underlying business you have to understand what makes a good investment, well, a good investment. There exist different schools of thought here, and investing is part art and part science. You can predict and hypothesize as much as you desire, but no one really knows exactly what s going to transpire. Some different styles of investing include:

    Swing Trader

    A swing trading position is held longer than a day trading position, but shorter than a buy and hold investment strategy that can be held for months or years. Typically, a tradable asset would be held for days at a time in order to profit from price changes or ‘swings. Profits can be attained by either buying an asset or by short selling.

    Value Investing

    A value investor believes that the market overreacts to both good and bad news. He/she would look for stocks that they believe the market has undervalued; thereby profiting by buying when the price is deflated.

    Growth Investing

    Growth investors invest in companies that show above-average growth. Growth investing focuses on capital appreciation. Growth investing kind of contrasts with value investing.

    Great chess players don’t sit at a board and just…play.

    Masters of the game have a very concrete plan of how they intend to play. They decision-making that can adapt to whatever their opponents throw at them. Investing is no different: you need a plan to guide your investment decisions!

    Deciding What to Invest In

    You know you are ready and willing to invest. Now it s time to decide in what. Make sure to:

    Research ETFs

    Find the exchange-traded fund which track the performance of the industry and check out their holdings.

    Choose Sectors

    Select your stocks based on specific criteria (sector, industry etc.) Use a screener to further sort companies by dividend yield, market cap and other super useful metrics.

    Stay Informed

    Keep up-to-date. Read stock analysis articles. Read financial news releases. Stay critical.

    Types of Investments


    Bonds

    Bonds, or fixed-income securities, are debt investments in which an investor loans money to an entity, with interest. The borrower borrows the funds for either a fixed or variable period of time.

    Mutual Funds

    Mutual funds are operated by money managers and should match the investor s objective. They are made up of a bunch of funds collected from many investors and the purpose is to invest in securities like stocks, bonds, etc.

    Small-Cap Stocks

    Small-cap investors are the risk takers. These small companies have huge potential for growth. However because they are often under-recognized, more research is necessary. This requires the investor to have more time available to properly crunch numbers.

    Large-Cap Stocks

    Large-cap investors are more conservative these guys like to play it safe. With their steady dividend payouts, these big-cap blue chip companies are as stable as they come

    Penny Stocks

    Penny stocks are super high risk because of their lack of liquidity. Beginners are often lured in to these stocks because of their crazy low share price. This allows investors to hold thousands of shares for a relatively small amount of invested capital. With a scale like that, the gain of just a few cents per share can translate into major returns.

    Finding Good Stocks to Buy

    Within each stock sector, the ultimate goal is to find the stocks that are showing the greatest price appreciation. In the same way that one would pay attention to sectors, multiple timeframes should also be examined to make sure the stock in question is moving well over time. There are two main things to keep an eye on when selecting stocks:


    Liquidity

    It isn t smart to invest in a stock that has very little volume. What if quick liquidation is required? Selling it at a fair price will be extremely difficult if not impossible. Unless you are a seasoned trader, invest in stocks that trade at least a couple hundred thousand shares per day. Save yourself the headache.

    Price

    Trade in stocks that are at least $5. Don t shy away from a stock just because of its high price. Don t buy a stock just because of its low price.

    Investment Ideas

    Want to invest like The Greats? Take a look at the strategies these big guys used to earn their names:

    Warren Buffet

    Warren Buffet is considered a value investor. Essentially, he selects stocks that are priced at a significant discount to what he believes is their intrinsic value. When Buffett buys stocks, he buys them for keeps. This requires a lot of discipline: it s hard to resist buying or selling when the market seems perfectly ripe to act.

    Buffet views the stock market as temperamental. He doesn t panic when stocks plummet, or celebrate when they skyrocket. Instead, the Oracle of Omaha maintains the keep calm and carry on mantra, only buying stocks he intends to hold indefinitely, if not forever.

    Peter Lynch

    Lynch is also a value investor who stresses fundamental analysis. Lynch s bottom-up approach involves focusing on an individual company, rather than the entire industry or the market as a whole. The idea here is that what really matters is the quality and growth potential of a specific company, regardless of whether the industry is under-performing or even in a tailspin.

    Here are 3 additional Lynch stresses when looking at a company from the bottom up:

    Good research pays off

    Shut out market noise

    Invest for the long term

    Philip Fisher

    Philip Fisher was a growth investor. He consistently invested in well-managed, high-quality growth companies. He would hold on to these for the long term. His famous fifteen points to look for in a common stock were divided up into two categories: management’s qualities and the characteristics of the business itself.

    When Fisher found an investment he liked, he wasn t afraid to take an outsized position of the stock within his portfolio. In fact, Fisher sometimes downplayed the value of diversification. He often found himself scouring the tech sector because the pace of c hange there creates an environment that is ripe for disruptive innovations.

    Best Stocks to Buy in 2015

    Here are some best performing stocks of 2015:



    6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners #small #business #loans


    #small business tips

    #

    6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners

    If you run a small business, it s likely that you re operating on a relatively limited budget. Whether you bootstrapped your business or are trying to pay back loans you took out to cover your startup costs, it s in your best interest to conserve money wherever you can.

    Without a thorough budget plan, however, it can be difficult to track and manage your finances. This is especially true for any unexpected business expenses that may come up, as they often do. A 2015 survey by small business credit provider Headway Capital found that although 57 percent of small business owners anticipated growth this year, nearly 19 percent were concerned about how unexpected expenses would impact their business.

    If you want to keep your business operating in the black, you ll need to account for both fixed and unplanned costs, and then create and stick to a solid budget. Experts offered their advice for small business owners looking to keep their finances in order. [4 Tips for Reducing Startup Costs]

    Define and understand your risks

    Every business venture has a certain degree of risk involved, and all of those risks have the potential for a financial impact on your company. Paul Cho, managing director of Headway Capital, said that small business owners need to consider their long- and short-term risks to accurately plan for their financial future.

    How will changes in minimum wage or health care requirements impact your workforce? Cho said. Do you operate in a geography at high risk of a natural disaster? Do you rely heavily on seasonal workers? Understanding the potential risks facing you on a short- and long-term basis is important for all small businesses. Once you ve mapped out the threats to productivity, a clearer picture can be built around emergency planning, insurance needs, etc.

    Overestimate your expenses

    If your business operates on a project-to-project basis, you know that every client is different and no two projects will turn out exactly the same. This means that often, you can t predict when something is going to go over budget.

    Every project seems to have a one-time cost that was never anticipated, said James Ontra, CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. It usually is that one unique extra item [that is] necessary to the job, but [was] not anticipated when bidding the job.

    For this reason, Ontra advised budgeting slightly above your anticipated line-item costs, no matter what, so that if you do go over, you won t be fully unprepared.

    I go by the cost-moon-stars theory, he said. If you think it will cost the moon, expect to pay the stars.

    Pay attention to your sales cycle

    Many businesses go through busy and slow periods over the course of the year. If your company has an off-season , you ll need to account for your expenses during that time. Cho also suggested using your slower periods to think of ways to plan ahead for your next sales boom.

    There is much to be learned from your sales cycles, he said. Use your downtime to ramp up your marketing efforts while preventing profit generation from screeching to a halt. In order to keep your company thriving and the revenue coming in, you will have to identify how to market to your customers in new and creative ways.

    Plan for large purchases carefully and early

    Some large business expenses occur when you least expect them a piece of equipment breaks and needs to be replaced or your delivery van needs a costly repair, for instance. However, planned expenses like store renovations or a new software system should be carefully timed and budgeted to avoid a huge financial burden on your business.

    Substantial business changes need to be timed carefully, balancing the risk with the reward and done with a full understanding of the financial landscape you re operating within, Cho told Business News Daily. An up-to-date budget and data-driven financial projections are important components that help guide when to make large investments in your business.

    Remember that time is money, too

    One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is forgetting to incorporate their time into a budget plan. Ontra reminded business owners that time is money, especially when working with people who are paid for their time.

    Timing underestimation directly increases costs, Ontra said. For us, the biggest underestimation is allotting time for client feedback. It is a Herculean effort sometimes to meet a deadline with lots of people focused on a single task. Then, the client needs to give feedback for us to proceed. If the client is distracted with other issues, feedback planned for a three-day turnaround, can become a week or longer. Not only do you start to lose time to the delivery schedule, your team also loses momentum as their collective thought shifts focus to another project.

    Ontra recommended treating your time like your money, and set external deadlines later than when you think the project will actually be done.

    If you believe the project will finish on Friday, promise delivery on Monday, he said. So, if you finish on Friday, deliver the work early and become a star. If for some reason time runs over, deliver on Monday and you are still a success.

    Constantly revisit your budget

    Your budget will never be static or consistent it will change and evolve along with your business, and you ll need to keep adjusting it based on your growth and profit patterns. Cho suggested revising your monthly and annual budgets regularly to get a clearer, updated picture of your business finances.

    Regularly revisiting your budget will help you better control financial decisions because you will know exactly what you can afford to spend versus how much you are projecting to make, Cho said. Take into account market trends from the previous year to help you determine what this year may look like. Once you have a clear understanding of your business s budgetary needs, you can accurately forecast what can be set aside for an emergency fund or unexpected costs.

    Nicole Fallon Taylor

    Nicole received her Bachelor s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email. or follow her on Twitter .

    You May Also like

    What is Zero-based Budgeting?

  • Organization is Key to Managing Business Finances

  • Don t Burn Through Your IT Budget: 5 Ways to Save Money



  • 10 Professional Business Networking Tips #business #phones


    #business networking

    #

    Why Build an Awesome Professional Network?

    People do business with people they know, like and trust. Companies don’t make decisions, people do. Your professional network can open doors for you that otherwise could not be opened. For better or for worse, it’s not just what you know or are capable of doing, it’s who you know, that’s important for career advancement and business development. You can also learn a tremendous amount from people in your network who have experience and expertise.

    How to Learn How to Build Your Professional Network

    After realizing the incredible importance of professional networking, I began scouring the web, Amazon, and bookstores for resources. I found there were resources on related topics, such as interpersonal communication, but not many great resources on business networking specifically.

    I began asking everyone I know who has had a successful career, built a successful business, or simply knows a lot of people for their advice on how to build a professional network. After compiling the best advice I received, studying every relevant book and resource I could find, experimenting, and practicing, I learned a lot about how to effectively make new contacts and build relationships.

    After years spent practicing and testing new techniques and strategies, making a lot of avoidable mistakes, and meeting and building relationships with lots awesome people, I’ve learned a lot and decided to write a book on it to share my knowledge. Here’s just 10 business networking tips you can use to grow your professional network.

    1. Be Helpful

    When people in your network get stronger, you get stronger. By helping people in your network get stronger, they may be in a better position to be able to help you in the future. In addition, per the law of reciprocity, people may be more motivated to return the favour.

    Share your expertise and ideas. Share information. Promote your network’s work and accomplishments. Be a connector. Business transactions are always mutually beneficial. One person is buying a product or service because it will benefit them in some way, and one person is selling a product or service because they can profit. If you can connect two people you know who would benefit from knowing each other, you can help two people as well as improve the strength of your network

    2. Build a Reputation

    In a professional setting, people prefer to build business relationships with people they see as being valuable. By building a reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable, people will be more motivated to meet you and stay in touch with you. Let people know what you’re accomplishing and learning through blogging, emails, and conversations.

    3. Be Visible

    If no one knows what you’re doing, it’s like it never happened. Maintain regular and consistent with people you want to stay in touch with. Communicate via email, blogging, social networking, and of course, in-person.

    4. Meet Lots of People!

    The best way to make lucky things happen, is to make a lot of things happen. Go outside. Manufacture serendipity. Ways to meet new people include conferences, events, meetup.com. Quora, asking people you know for introductions, reaching out to people directly, personal interest groups, intramural sports leagues, classes and workshops, parties, happy hours, alumni associations, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups.

    5. Be Intentional

    Go where the people you want to meet hang out both online and offline. Interact with people and build rapport. Share valuable content and spark interesting conversations. Also think about who else spends time with the people you want to meet and connect with them.

    6. Think Long-Term

    Connections open doors, but relationships close deals. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Relationships take time to build. Be patient. Stay in touch with people you like.

    7. Get Rejected!

    “If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough” – Chris Dixon

    When you push yourself, in any area of life, you will inevitably face setbacks. In networking, you will face a lot of rejection. People will ignore your calls and email. They will decline meeting invites, and requests for introductions. Trying and failing is much better then not trying at all. At least when you try you have a chance to succeed. Learn from your rejections and grow stronger for when it happens again.

    8. Listen

    Listening is one of the most valuable, yet commonly overlooked, skills to have in networking and in business. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate when you take a genuine interest in what they have to stay. Listening will help you to get to learn about peoples’ challenges and get to know them better, which can ultimately lead to more productive professional relationships. Ask open-ended questions, be genuinely interested, and express interest and curiosity.

    9. Ask

    You never know until you ask, and more often than you think, you will get the answer you want. Ask for introductions. Ask people you want to meet to meet with you. Ask for advice.

    10. Follow Up

    Build a reputation as someone who delivers on their promises and is persistent. Follow up with on people who promised to do something for you. Follow up on on emails you send that get ignored. Do what you promised to do for others.

    The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career.

    Contact MNI



    Keep Your Business Finances in Order With These 6 Tips #www.business.com


    #business finances

    #

    Keep Your Business Finances in Order With These 6 Tips

    November 4, 2015

    Do you find managing your business finances to be a pain? Although it may appear to be, and often is, tedious, keeping your finances in order is extremely important.

    It helps you to project where your business is headed, and when you know exactly how your revenue and expenses are stacking up, you can begin to make more informed decisions for your business. Maintaining your financial records also makes tax reporting and payments a lot more manageable.

    Don t try to do it all alone. Leverage the talent and the tools that are available to you. Here are six tips to help you keep your business finances in order:

    1. Keep your personal and business finances separate.

    Mixing your personal and business finances will inevitably result in confusion. It might seem convenient to charge everything to a single card, but ultimately this will make tracking your spending far more complicated than it needs to be.

    Begin by opening separate bank and credit card accounts for your business. For the ongoing tracking and measuring of your finances, and for tax purposes, this practice will take a major headache out of sorting your transactions every quarter, or every year as the case may be.

    This will also take the guesswork out of the equation. If you want to be successful in business, you need to be able to monitor and track your key performance indicators. You need to know the score, and some of the most important elements include cash flow, expenses, revenue, profit and so on.

    2. Choose accounting software that makes sense for your business.

    When it comes to accounting software, there are a variety of different solutions. Think of Xero, QuickBooks and Freshbooks. The best online accounting software depends on your business, and it s worth considering several options before making a decision.

    If you haven t moved your financial data from desktop software to the cloud yet, that should be your first order of business. Cloud-based tools allow you to view real-time insights, and they can be accessed from anywhere at any time. The ability to keep an eye on your finances on the fly gives you a great deal of flexibility as a business owner.

    If you ve already picked out an online solution, ensure that it s the right one for you and your business. Today more than ever, there are a myriad of options to choose from, and if you aren t satisfied with your current service, you can always make the switch to another platform that better matches your needs.

    3. Consider hiring a professional bookkeeper.

    Most people aren t numbers people, and will never be excited about them as much as accountants or bookkeepers are. If managing your own finances is starting to get on your nerves, it s time to look into hiring a qualified bookkeeper.

    Many entrepreneurs have a tendency to try to handle everything themselves. But as with legal matters, the granular elements of small-business accounting aren t usually within a business owner s wheelhouse.

    Although it s easy to balk at the expense of working with a bookkeeper, they will be able to help you save money over the long haul. You ll be freed up to work on high value tasks that keep the business moving forward, while your bookkeeper handles the tedium of number crunching.

    4. Stay organized and plan ahead.

    The aforementioned tips should help with keeping your finances organized. Moreover, monitoring your finances and projecting future revenue and expenses will enable you to make better long-term decisions for your business.

    Without this information, planning ahead can prove challenging. If you aren t looking at the future of your business, you could be taken by surprise. If you want to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition, you should plan as much as 10 years in advance.

    You ll be able to mitigate unwanted surprises if you stay ahead of the ball. Even if unexpected expenses do rise, if you ve been practicing conservatism in your spending, you shouldn t run into any major problems.

    5. Make a budget.

    Part of staying organized and planning ahead should include creating a budget. Many business owners view this step as dull and unnecessary, but the importance of a budget could be equated with the value of a well-formed business plan.

    A budget is not a tool for planning out how every penny should be spent. Rather, it s a framework that you can use to help you make clear-headed decisions, whether it s increasing your marketing spend, or cutting expansion costs to keep your profits on track.

    Make a budget and use it as your guide. Don t allow it to force you into decisions you don t want to make, but use it to make adjustments when and where necessary.

    6. Find a trusted credit union in your locality.

    Credit unions are invaluable to small-business owners, especially since they are often willing to provide loans at competitive rates. Make it a point to seek out the best one in your locality, and make sure they understand your business needs. The partnership could prove immensely beneficial.

    Some of the other advantages of credit unions include fewer transaction fees and account service charges, as well as flexible, customized services.

    Since credit unions are not answerable to shareholders, they are empowered to put your interests at the forefront. Credit unions also keep profits within the community, and help budding entrepreneurs get their dream businesses off the ground.

    Final thoughts

    The reality is that many business owners do not keep track of their finances. Whether you know it or not, this could mean missing out on opportunities to minimize your expenses and maximize your profits.

    Preparing online business accounts can take time, but the end result is worth the effort. Even if you don t consider finances to be the most important part of your business, streamlining your process will allow you to develop a straightforward step-by-step process as opposed to a search-and-find initiative.

    Make the effort to simplify the organization of your business finances moving forward. This will allow for long-term stability and sustainability.



    How to design a business card: 10 top tips #family #business


    #designing business cards

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    Creative Bloq

    How to design a business card: 10 top tips

    A well-designed business card lends legitimacy to your business, and can make you stand out from the crowd of competitors. Check out our top tips on how to make a lasting impression.

    Although we re working in paperless offices more and more, the humble business card is still a mainstay of business. If you haven t got a card you can give out to prospective clients or collaborators, you re missing out on a key marketing opportunity.

    Not all business cards are created equal, however. We live in a world where the average small business can design their own cards and order them from well-known online printers for under 20. These cards tend to be of an inferior weight, and typically use twee clipart to relate themselves to the business being advertised.

    What this means is that there are a lot of poorly designed business cards out there! This is both a challenge and an opportunity: to stand out you need to create a design that looks fantastic, and helps you differentiate yourself. If you can make it tactile and feel pleasant in the hand, you ll be well on your way. Create an effective card and you can elevate your business above your competitors before the prospect has ever seen your website!

    So, with all that in mind we ve brought together 10 of our top tips for creating effective, innovative business cards .

    01. Use good design principles

    It might seem obvious but it s worth reiterating that a business card is a piece of printed material like any other. Because of this, the basic principles of paper-based design apply to business cards:

    • keep all your key copy at least 5mm from the trim edge
    • work at 300dpi for best image reproduction
    • ensure you maintain a minimum size for your typography to maintain legibility
    • design in CMYK unless you re working exclusively with spot colours

    Many designers also find it helps to use a grid to lay out their cards, as this can help you to achieve the right hierarchy of information as well as ensure your alignment is sound.

    02. Get creative within the constraints

    There are a couple ‘standard’ sizes for business cards, depending upon where you are in the world. One typical example is 55x85mm, although you’ll see many other sizes quoted on the web. Working within this tiny canvas you can still get creative with the space: start by considering the key information you want to include, which will typically be a name, phone number and email address, then work your design around presenting this information in a creative way.

    03. Avoid common pitfalls

    There are some common pitfalls to designing business cards that it helps to be aware of. The first and most obvious is to ensure you provide a bleed as specified by your printer. This is commonly 3mm, but can be 5mm so check! Just as important is to avoid using a straightforward border around the entire of the card, as this will show up any misalignment in the trim if the card isn’t perfectly cut.

    04. Use special finishes

    This example features a UV spot to highlight fret positions, on the reverse of a guitar tutor s business card

    An instant way to add impact to your business card, and make it stand out from the crowd, is to use a special finish. Special finishes include the likes of foil blocking, spot-UV and metallic inks, and can add significant cost to your print. What they offer, however, is the opportunity to make your card more tactile, visually impressive and memorable.

    Different printers offer different options for finishes, so speak to them to find out what they can do for you, and don t be afraid to go to a specialist if your usual printer only offers straight four-colour print.

    05. Cut into your card

    This card, designed by Phil Jones, Ryan Coleman and Jeff McCullough for Yoga One, shows how some creative thinking with die-cuts can result in a fun and memorable card

    A great way to make your card unique is to use a die-cut process to remove elements from the card stock, leaving a void. You can either use a die to change the shape of your card (by rounding the corners, for example), or you can cut shapes out of the centre.

    Dies are expensive to create the first time, although increasingly printers are offering laser-cut options that make it economical to create a die-cut look on shorter print-runs. There are some amazingly creative examples on the web, and when combined with creasing you can use the process to create architectural features in your card design. Also, don’t overlook letterpress as an option.

    06. Use unusual materials

    This card is constructed from a printed circuit board, and works as a USB device. When plugged in, it provides additional information about the owner

    Most business cards are printed on card stock. This is the most cost-effective option for printing your cards. If you re willing to get a little more creative, you can print onto all sorts of different materials including transparent plastics, metals, wood and even slate.

    Here dog treats have been used as a business card material, allowing the card to serve two purposes simultaneously

    Keep in mind that cards need to be portable, and easy to file away in a pocket or briefcase, but get creative with your choice of stock material and you’ll instantly stand out from everyday business cards.

    07. Make it useful

    This business card designed by Emily Berry converts into a handy chair that can hold your phone upright on a desk

    One of the problems with paper is that it s everywhere. Some people hold on to every bit of paper they receive, while others are far more ruthless and recycle at the first opportunity. To avoid the risk of being recycled, make your business card work as more than simply a calling card.

    This card was designed by Jamie Wieck and includes a seed that sprouts after a few days of soaking

    Some of the most memorable designs incorporate function as well as form. Examples include business card that act as a holder for hair clips or turn into a miniature armchair for your mobile.

    08. Make your own

    Breakfast Creatives cut up old cereal boxes to form their own, brand-relevant business card design. Credit: http://breakfastcreatives.co.uk

    If you re feeling creative, why not make your own business cards? You can find letterpress kits on eBay at reasonable prices, allowing you to convert any card stock into your own business card with ease. This is a time-consuming but very satisfying way of expressing yourself in a card!

    09. Recycle old cards

    These cards were made by hand out of business cards, christmas cards and screenprints that went wrong. Credit: http://designbyif.co.uk

    Old business cards, postcards or packaging can be repurposed and given a new life as your business card. Recycling is both environmentally sound and can allow you to express your creativity in new and exciting ways. There are some fantastic examples on the web to get your creative juices flowing. The process can be as simple as getting some stickers printed, or as complex as hand-illustrating over the top of each old card to suit the recipient.

    10. Double-check your artwork

    This tip applies to every bit of print work you do, but it s so crucial it s worth repeating. When sending your artwork off to the print shop, make sure you ve double-checked every single detail. There s nothing worse than getting back your cards and discovering you missed a typo in the email address or name. Check twice, print once is a a well learnt adage!

    Liked this? Read these!

    Have you got any tips for designing effective business cards? Let us know in the comments below.



    11 Success Tips from Small Business Leaders #business #financing #options


    #small business tips

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    11 Success Tips From Small Business Leaders

    Whether it s about how to use social media, getting through the early dark days of a startup, or about marketing your business, getting advice can help you succeed.

    The video below contains success tips from 11 business leaders. It was shot at ICON14 in Phoenix, Arizona. ICON is the Infusionsoft customer conference that attracts 3,000 attendees, most of them small businesses or serving small businesses like yours and mine.

    I was there on behalf of Small Business Trends capturing some man on the aisle interviews from presenters and attendees.

    And out of all the success tips, what s my favorite? Well, it s from Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, who sat down and talked frankly about the brutally tough early days of the company he co-founded over a decade ago. Infusionsoft, which got $54 million in venture capital from Goldman Sachs, bootstrapped its way for years before earning that large injection of growth capital.

    Mask says that in the early years, every single day was a struggle for survival. And while cash flow and business experience matter, the real secret, he says, starts in your head with your success mindset, attitude and positive thinking. This is what gets you through the struggle.

    Below is the video (accompanied by a brief recap of key quotes):

    Tip 1: In Social Media, Be Where Your Customers Are

    “Know where your customers are hanging out online. You don’t have to be everywhere. Be where your customers are … and communicate with them there.” Laurie McCabe, Partner SMB Group, SMB-GR.com

    Tip 2: Never Stop Networking. Don t Give Up

    Never stop networking, never stop pushing. It’s easy to give up when everybody around you is telling you ‘you can’t do it’. You have to be around positive people. Then push on. (Starts at 1:08) Tom Force, Owner, ICE Keytags

    Tip 3: Twitter Provides Powerful Market Research

    Twitter is the best thing that ever happened to small business owners. You can listen to your competitors or customers, and they don’t even know you’re listening. (Starts at 2:01) Melinda Emerson, Author of Succeed as Your Own Boss

    Tip 4: It s all About Mindset and Positive Thinking

    Our first three years were brutally tough… every day was about survival. Then I remembered a lesson from my father. Your mind is everything, yet it’s not what you know, but rather how you deal with it. It is about your mindset and positive thinking. (Starts at 2:43) Clate Mask, Founder and CEO, Infusionsoft

    Tip 5: Wearable Tech Keeps You Fit

    The ‘wearables’ tech trend is keeping people fit, keeping them active, and keeping them in toe with their fitness goals. (Starts at 7:10) Tishin Donkersley, Editor in Chief, AZTechBeat.com

    Tip 6: A Handwritten Thank You Note Will Wow Customers

    One simple way to ‘wow’ customers is thank-you cards a handwritten note, a thank-you card saying ‘thank you for buying from me’. (Starts at 8:09) Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist, SmallBizTechnology.com

    Tip 7: Share Information on Facebook That is Great for Your Customers

    “Having a Facebook presence as a real estate professional is vitally important. Buyers and sellers are there. Make sure you are sharing information that is great for the consumer, not just real estate people.” (Starts at 9:09) Bill Harney, CEO, Keeping Current Matters

    Tip 8: To Get PR, Offer Yourself up as a Thought Leader

    If you are a local small business, look at local media for PR. Read those publications, forge relationships, find out what types of stories the journalists are covering, and offer yourself up as a thought leader on a topic. (Starts at 9:49) Laura Collins, PR at Infusionsoft

    Tip 9: Put Processes in Place in Your Business to Ask for Referrals

    “Put processes in place in your business that ask for referrals. And make sure the customer experience is above expectations.” (Starts at 11:21) Jonathan Graves, President, Graves Organization, Inc.

    Tip 10: Your Sales Pipeline Should Qualify Leads at Every Step

    “You need to set up a process to convert the most leads possible. Put them in a sales pipeline and add checkpoints to determine those who are qualified, versus those who aren’t.” (Starts at 11:52) Justin Roberts, Infusionsoft Expert, Infusionsoft

    Tip 11: Entrepreneurship is Lonely. Reach out to Mentors and Peers

    “Entrepreneurship is one of the loneliest professions in the world. The entrepreneurs that are really successful reach out in networking groups and peer associations or just to one person. They need that thought partner.” (Starts at 13:00) Jeff Mask, Vice President, Infusionsoft

    Deborah Shane is a Top 100 Small Business Champion, Top Small Business Podcast, Top 50 SMB Influencers on Twitter 2015 (Dunn and Bradstreet), career transition consultant, personal branding strategist and social media specialist. Deborah hosts her Top 100 Small Business Podcast weekly and her book, “Career Transition: Make the Shift” is available through all major book sellers.

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    25 Free Low Cost Advertising Tips by Small Business Expert Tom Egelhoff

    #business advertising

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    25 Free Low Cost Advertising Tips

    by Tom Egelhoff

    (Tom’s FREE Podcast for this topic is available. – For More Info Click Here)

    If there is one mistake small town businesses make more often than any other it’s, What ever is left over, we’ll use for advertising.

    Marketing and advertising is an investment, not an expense. I know it sure seems like an expense to me when I’m writing the check, but trust me it’s not.

    Without enough money put aside for advertising your sales can go down and you suddenly have less and less for promotion.

    When do you advertise the most? For most businesses it’s the first day of business. Don’t you have a Grand Opening, balloons, flyers, ads, on-site radio stations, contests, and prizes? Did the income from sales pay for that? No, it didn’t. You advertise most when you need business. You advertise more when you don’t.

    An average cost of advertising is usually 1 to 5% of gross sales, which can vary according to location, local advertising rates, and industry. Car dealers need more advertising than funeral homes.

    Before we get to the 25 tips let’s look at the basic strategies of successful advertising.

    * In order to be successful, your advertising must provide a consumer benefit or solve a problem.
    * That benefit or solution must be wanted by the consumer.
    * The product or service you are offering must be tied directly to that benefit or solution.
    * The benefit or solution must be distinctly communicated through medial advertising. In other words, be clear, forget the advertising glitz and make sure the message isn’t lost in the ad.

    A small-budget advertiser doesn’t have the ”deep pockets to develop big advertising campaigns. Some time you need to break the rules to be noticed. Avis did it by admitting they were Number 2 in the car rental business and that campaign took them from 6th place to second place. When they stopped that campaign they dropped back to 6th again. In the past year they have gone back to it.

    Budget conscious advertisers must achieve top results for their advertising dollar. Expand your dollars by adopting some creative techniques.

    Here’s 25 tips I hope will help you.

    1. Radio, newspapers and magazine specialists will frequently give free help in developing an advertising strategy. Things like demographic information, money-saving ways to produce your ads etc.
  • Place your ads in off hours or in unusual locations for less. Many times you can still reach your target market with these spots.
  • Instead of a one-time big splash ad, be consistent with frequent small ads that work.
  • Monthly magazines sometimes have unsold ad space at the end of the month they will sell at a discount.
  • If you have an 800 number, put it in every ad for immediate response and feedback.
  • Try advertising consistently in the classifieds. These ads may draw more customers than more expensive display ads.
  • Can you barter for the cost of ad production? Maybe the newspaper needs painting in exchange for an ad about your paint store.
  • Piggyback advertising are the ads you receive with your Mastercard bill. Is there someone in your town that sends out a lot of bills? Can you put a small flyer in with their bills and split the postage? Or pay a small fee?
  • Split advertising costs with the people who sell to you. Vendors and manufactures are always looking for exposure. Let people know you carry their products and have the vendor pick up part of the ad cost.
  • Are there up front advertising discounts for cash?
  • Consider advertising in regional issues of national magazines. The costs are lower and you can still reach your target market. TV Guide is a good choice. It stays around for at least a week. Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report may stay in local doctors offices for years.
  • Share ad costs with neighbor business. Video stores and Pizza parlors are natural partners. Have coupons to each others stores or share the cost of flyers.
  • Try reducing the size of your ad (not in the Yellow Pages) or length of your radio spots. A 60 second spot is not twice as much as a 30 second spot but you won’t get twice as many customers for a 60 over a 30. Going with small ads or shorter spots will allow you to do more ads which normally pulls more customers. It’s better to be there every day with small ads than every month with one big one.
  • Develop tight production controls to minimize the need to reject finished ads. The message is more important than the messenger. Don’t try to produce ads that win awards, produce ads that sell.
  • Who are your very best customers? Aim your ads to talk directly to people like them.
  • What will suppliers give you in the way of point-of-purchase materials. Posters, stand ups, handouts, etc. Some have excellent display racks you can use.
  • Some national chains like Coke and Pepsi provide outdoor signs for businesses. There are also indoor lighted signs you write on with special markers to advertise your special offers.
  • Can you sponsor a community event? A fun-run, golf tournament, or other event that will be well publicized in the community. Your name may not be prominently displayed but sometimes the positive exposure in the community will bring in new customers.
  • Small businesses can seldom afford saturation advertising. You must be selective in the media that reaches your customers. Pin your ad reps down and make them show you exactly how their media reaches your target audience.
  • Exploit the media you choose to the fullest. If your message is verbal, you don’t need TV. Use radio, billboards and newspapers to the fullest.
  • Consider direct mail. A letter and brochure before customer contact can increase business. An IBM study concluded that selling time can be reduced from 9.3 to 1.3 total hours with direct mail advertising. A Sales and Marketing Executives International Study showed salespeople went from eight orders per 100 cold calls to 38 orders per 100 when direct mail was used.
  • Try an editorial style ad. These are ads that look like actual stories in the newspaper. They will have advertisement at the top of the article. Develop a good headline, and 50% more people will read the article than would read an ad of the same size.
  • You can’t match larger competitors dollar-for-dollar but, you can use unusual approaches (like the Avis idea above), color, music, slogans, humor (be careful here), or media selection to win your market away from the big guys.
  • Due to the high costs of conventional advertising on, radio, TV, newspapers, many cost conscious business have been forced to look for lower cost methods. Can you advertise on parking meters, taxi boards, balloons, blimps, and grocery shopping carts. Community bulletin boards, movie ads, and weekly newspaper shoppers.
  • Key your ads. Put something in the ad that will let you know which media it came from. On coupons, put a code that will record the paper and date of the ad. In radio or TV, have them mention the ad to get the discount. Ask every customer how they found you.
  • Plan for a rainy day. During the year put a small amount aside each month for emergencies. You never know when you’ll need to react quickly to whatever the competition is doing. You must be able to capitalize on breaking national events or news regarding your industry. If negative things happen in your industry you may need to respond quickly to make sure the right message is presented.
  • Always give the customer more than you promised and more than they expected. This is tip number 27 of the 25 we advertised. Maybe this last one is the one you needed.
  • I hope these tips will help your business grow. Not all may be relevant to your particular situation. Hopefully, they will illustrate the importance to plan and control your advertising budget.

    Listen in on Tom’s weekly radio show Open For Business on AM 1450 KMMS Radio, Bozeman.
    Have a business question for Tom? Click here to get Tom’s advice for free.
    Stay up to date on business issues. Join Tom’s Blog.

    This article may be reproduced for your non-profit group or organization provided it is not altered in any way and the following is attached:

    Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town. and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 888-550-6100 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271

    Would you like Tom Egelhoff to speak at your business function or convention?
    Click here for information, topics and pricing.