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5 Reasons Why You Need an Accountant for Your Business

5 Reasons Why You Need an Accountant for Your Business

Entrepreneurs who are planning to start their own business can benefit from engaging professionals to deal with their cash flow, tax compliance, and more. But in your current situation, should you start considering hiring an accountant?

Listed below are some reasons why you need an accountant for your business.
 

1. You save time.

Yes, you are able to do the taxes of your thriving business, but have you considered how much money you lose by just doing taxes? Remember, time is money. If for example, you spend a good eight hours computing your dues, and your time is worth $100 per hour, that means you spend $800 every time you deal with your taxes. And since you’re not a tax specialist, there’s a risk in making mistakes.

Hiring an accountant can help you get rid of that time-consuming task, so you can focus on matters that will help develop your business and generate more revenue. You will also have the confidence that a professional is the one dealing with your taxes.

2. You get a more realistic view of your business plan.

A lot of entrepreneurs often have great business ideas. However, no matter how good these are, it doesn’t mean that they fit the existing situation, therefore, these ideas might not turn out well.

By involving an accountant from the early stages of business planning, you can establish a more realistic business plan that can steer you in the right direction. That’s because an accountant can create reports and financial projections, and can give you professional advice so you come up with an effective business plan.

3. You will get a better understanding of your business finances.

As a business owner of a growing enterprise, you will come to a point where you won’t have the time to deal with every facet of your company. If you feel like you’re losing track of your finances, it will be a wise decision to hire an accountant to help you out.

An accountant will be able to provide you with reports that will give you a better understanding of your company’s current financial status. This can also enable you to keep track of your business’ cash flow, revenue, and a lot more.

4. You can determine the business structure that suits you.

Even if you only exercise for a very short period of time, it will give you an energy boost to help you wake up more quickly, Elrod explains. It can be a seven-minute workout on YouTube. Yoga stretches. 60 seconds of jumping jacks. Anything to help you wake up.

I personally have a 20-30 minute yoga practice in the morning. It helps me get out the sleepy energy from my body and get ready to take on the day!

There are four main business structures in Australia— sole trader, company, partnership, and trusts. Choosing a structure depends on what your business needs. An accountant can explain and help you determine the factors you need to consider so you can identify which business structure suits you best.

5. You have greater chances of having your business loan approved.

In order for you to successfully get the bank’s approval for a loan, you obviously need to prove to them that you are able to give back the money you will loan. With the help of a professional accountant, you can provide the bank with figures that support your application for a loan.

An accountant can also help you determine a type of loan that is most favourable to you.

Other than the items listed above, there are a lot more reasons why entrepreneurs and individuals who require help in managing their finances need an accountant. These reasons include keeping up to date with tax laws, handling financial records correctly, and completing compliance documents for a business.

 

Content By: Mckinley Plowman |   Read More Here

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6 Morning Routine Habits Successful People Swear By

6 Morning Routine Habits Successful People Swear By

The morning has always been a sacred time, across traditions and throughout history. If you wake up every morning and immediately check your phone, and can’t understand why you’re not achieving the happiness and success you’re looking for, then this post is for you.

Let me and keynote speaker Hal Elrod introduce you to the power of a morning routine. 

“In 2008, when the U.S. economy crashed, I crashed with it,” said Elrod. After six months of his health, finances, and career going in a downward spiral, he needed to make a change. 

He researched personal development practices of high-performers and came up with six tried and true habits that the most successful people swear by. 

And it changed his life. In less than two months, his new morning routine led to dramatic improvements in his financial, emotional, and physical health. He doubled his income, got out of his depression, and started training for an ultramarathon.

Commit to what Elrod calls his “miracle morning” routine for two months. See how it goes. I guarantee this slightly earlier wakeup call will help you will begin to see the life changes you’ve been aching for.

#1 Start your day with silence

Whether you follow a meditation practice or simply sit in silence for 10 minutes, carve out time for peaceful, purposeful silence every morning. I personally sit for no less than 20 minutes per day and I can’t imagine a day when I don’t do this. It has had such a positive impact on my life.

Silence helps you lower your stress (cortisol) levels and turn your attention inward, Elrod explains, to generate new ideas and establish a clear mindset for the rest of your day.

Don’t judge yourself for any part of the experience. Simply sit and try to find that balance between relaxation and attentiveness.

Every day you do it will bring new levels of consciousness, feeling, and being, “…and the benefits of spending time in silence will simply be amplified and deepened over time,” says Elrod.

#2 Craft your affirmations as commitments

Elrod defines an affirmation as a statement that directs your focus towards something of value. And he offers a twist on traditional advice.

To create affirmations that produce results, Elrod advises not to affirm who you are or what you want to be. Instead, affirm what you’re committed to.

Answer these four questions to craft results-oriented affirmations:

  • What are you committed to?
  • Why is it deeply meaningful to you?
  • What activities will you do to ensure your success?
  • When, specifically, will you commit to doing those activities?

This can also be an intention for the day. What do you want to focus on? How do you want to feel? Set an intention in the morning and check in with how your behavior and thoughts are aligning with that intention or affirmation throughout the day.

 

#3 Visualize success

Just like an athlete who visualizes their performance before they even step foot on the playing field, Elrod recommends using visualization to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for whatever the day has in store.

Let’s say you have to resolve a team conflict at the office today. First, visualize the lead-up. Imagine yourself walking into the room as a confident mediator. Imagine the team members motivated and receptive to finding a resolution.

Then visualize the end result: a positive outcome where everyone commits to work collaboratively as a team.

The more specific you can get in visualizing all the various details of the situation, the more effective this tool will be.

This should help you worry less, not more, about the upcoming task.

 

#4 Add exercise to your morning routine

Even if you only exercise for a very short period of time, it will give you an energy boost to help you wake up more quickly, Elrod explains. It can be a seven-minute workout on YouTube. Yoga stretches. 60 seconds of jumping jacks. Anything to help you wake up.

I personally have a 20-30 minute yoga practice in the morning. It helps me get out the sleepy energy from my body and get ready to take on the day!

If you already go to the gym after work—that’s great! Don’t change it. But do add in a few minutes of morning cardio or stretching, and you’ll see how it positively impacts your entire day.

#5 Read a few pages each day

Whether you strive to be a better manager, get more fit, or have happier relationships, Elrod says that you’re a book away from learning what you need to improve that area of your life.

With all the books out there, it’s easy to find one that speaks to where your head’s at. If you read even five pages a day, that’s 150 pages—or one self-development book—a month, which is 12 books a year.

“You’re separating yourself from 95% of our society, and you’re joining the top 5% that read those books,” says Elrod. And that can make you a different person.

 

#6 Write to get clear on your priorities

Every morning, Elrod takes time to journal on two questions.

First, what are three things you’re most grateful for? When you start your day with gratitude, it helps you see the world through a positive lens.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and whether you write them down or simply identify them in your mind, it’s a game changer.

Not sure what there is to be thankful for right now? Start with a pumping heart, air in your lungs, running water—the basic and very real things we can be grateful for.

Second, what are the three most important things you need to do today? Of everything on your to-do list, what will move you toward your biggest goals, your greatest dreams, the life you want to live, and the impact you want to make?

Elrod says this practice has allowed him “to make massive progress on these goals that once were just fantasies that I never really believed I could accomplish.”

 

 

You may be looking at this list and thinking: how early are you people waking up?! Even if you don’t do all six of these things for the duration or amount described, give a few of them a shot for at least two months. Watch the difference it makes!

 

Content By: LinkedIn Learning Blog – Rachel Parnes Read More Here

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6 Steps to Developing a High-performance Mindset

6 Steps to Developing a High-performance Mindset

What does your “best” look and feel like? Is there something holding you back from reaching your potential? Are you tired and frustrated with always struggling?

Successful entrepreneurs, leaders, professionals and trainers all have one thing in common: They take care of their health and strive for a high-performance mindset.

A high-performance mindset is all about how you view the world; how you communicate; and whether you can execute with precision, clarity and alignment with your core values. Here are six key steps to developing a high-performance mindset.

 

1. Examine Your Habits

Think about your habits. Are they bringing you closer to the life you want, or are they pushing you away from it? If they aren’t serving you in a positive way, be open to changing them and taking action to make new, healthier habits.

An easy way to start this process is to make a list of habits you want to end, habits you want to start and habits that you want to continue. Begin with your morning and evening routines and habits. Start small by spending 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night transitioning in and out of the day using activities such as breathing exercises; stretching or exercise in the morning; and taking a bath, journaling and turning off electronics at night. Positive daily habits and routines create consistent momentum toward developing a high-performance mindset.

 

2. Focus on What You Can Do Now

Focusing on what you can achieve is key. Use all the resources you currently have instead of wasting time and energy thinking about the resources you don’t have. The most successful people have clarity. They focus on what they want and how they can work within their current environment to achieve it.

A chief executive officer gained 25 pounds due to his hectic and busy lifestyle. We both felt that losing this excess weight would help improve his confidence, leadership presence and presentation skills and, ultimately, help him reach his goal to increase awareness and support for his growing company. When we started discussing what he needed to do to lose weight (i.e., set up a consistent workout routine and improve his diet), the excuses and complaints started flowing. He believed that long workouts and intricate home-cooked meals were the only way he was going to lose weight, and he didn’t have time to go to the gym for two hours each day or to cook a full meal every night.

We started drilling down into what he could realistically do in his current environment and within his current schedule. Together, we created a plan to purchase at-home weights and simple exercise equipment (which he would have access to anytime) and subscribed to a healthy food delivery service — no kitchen hours required! By making these small changes, he was able to take the weight off in four short months, and he had more clarity, focus and energy to spend on his career and his business goals.

 

3. Work With Your Body, Not Against It

People with a high-performance mindset know how to work hard, play hard and rest hard. Understand how your body restores and repairs itself mentally and physically, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to say no.

A chief executive officer was exhausted and overwhelmed because she was constantly accepting personal invitations and always saying yes to new professional opportunities and projects. As a lifelong high-achiever, it was hard for her to say no. After a few coaching sessions, she let go of the belief that saying no was letting people down. She came to understand that saying a gracious no to one request enabled her to say a resounding and more energetic yes to another. She made a positive shift in her mindset and established healthy boundaries in her life. This change gave her more time to be with her family, to rest and to set up a much needed self-care routine.

Set yourself up for success by planning ahead for healthy meals, self-care and exercise. These three important elements will keep your life moving forward and prevent you from getting stuck. Planning ahead will help you work hard, play hard and rest hard.

 

4. Experiment and Experience

Instead of making a quick decision or judgment, experiment and experience it for yourself. I believe in a flexible blueprint, because each person is different and going through different seasons and cycles in his or her life. If you learn about someone else’s approach, take it and make it your own.

I am constantly learning new strategies to optimize my business and my life, and I go through my own process of applying them to what already works for me to build a stronger foundation. By building this process into your lifestyle, you will discover what works best for you and become more flexible and adaptable — one of the true signs of a high-performance mindset.

 

5. Slow Down to Speed Up

Believe it or not, slowing down will help you go further, faster. When you slow down, you can take time to come up with a step-by-step plan and model people who achieve results like the ones you want. You can then take intentional action to achieve your goals — even your goals for more than a decade from now.

A student once came to one of my workshops with a “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mindset. During the second day of the workshop, when I introduced him to a “10-, five-, one-year vision and goals” framework, something shifted for him. Five minutes into the 40-minute module, he saw a new vision for himself and his family. After putting all of his thoughts on paper, he was thrilled to share his insights with the group.

Three weeks after the training, I followed up with him, and he said that he was already adjusting his mindset, time management process and schedule to accomplish his professional goal of earning $500,000 that year and his personal goals of losing 40 pounds and getting better sleep.

 

6. Traction = Taking Action

Don’t talk about it; take action! Walk your talk. Momentum is built through consistent action, so set yourself up for success by organizing your time to so you can follow through on what’s most important to you.

Always remember that experiencing life is subjective. Each person has a different definition of health and wellness — and a high-performance mindset!

Content By: Training Industry – Katy Kvalvik Read More Here

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7 Best Ways to Stay Motivated as a Small Business Owner

7 Best Ways to Stay Motivated
as a Small Business Owner

Owning and running a business is tough, no doubt about that. The challenges are more as a small business owner because you are yet to figure things out. And, you are yet to have a fully functional team and standardized processes in place.
 

Moreover, in the post-COVID19 world, things have gotten more challenging and uncertain. The stress combined with the unending list of to-dos can easily make you demotivated. But worry not, every business owner comes across such phases in their lives.

If you are currently in a rut and looking for quick tips to boost your motivation, then read on. Learn about some effective ways that will help you gain your motivation back and start actively working towards your goals.

 

1. Know your Why

Whenever you are stuck and feel demotivated, going back to your “why” can be of great help. Why did you start your business in the first place? How did you come up with the idea? How did you motivate yourself to get started with your business idea?

Going back and answering these questions will fill you up with the same enthusiasm which was present when you first started your business. Thinking about your “why” will get you out of your demotivated state and push you to take action.

2. Plan Ahead

Oftentimes, we feel demotivated because we have a fear about the uncertainties waiting for us in the future. You too might feel scared and unmotivated to move forward due to negative thoughts about your future.

The best way to combat this is to plan ahead for negative scenarios. As the saying goes, expect the best and prepare for the worst. You can apply the same for your business too.

One of the main concerns can be running into monetary losses. You can combat this by building multiple income streams that can help you fund your business even during tough times.

You can do this by investing in real estate or using P2P loan marketplaces such as Swaper. You can use mediums such as Airbnb to rent your property. You can also build passive income streams using affiliate marketing and blogging.

Planning for the negative scenarios can help you stay in the game knowing that you are prepared for even the worst times.

 

3. Get Rid of the Perfectionist in you

The perfectionist in you can be good. But it can also stop you from taking action without perfecting the task. This can put you in an endless cycle of trying to perfect things without taking any definitive action.

Ultimately you’ll burn out, get exhausted, and give up. Hence, consider getting rid of the perfectionist inside you. Just take action without thinking about the consequences. You’ll learn as you grow.

 

4. Eliminate Distractions

Distractions can be the single most demotivating factor for you as a small business owner. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, distractions can constantly come up. Hence, you should mindfully take steps to eliminate all distractions.

The first step is to identify the distractions. These can be anything from social media apps on your phone to working on menial tasks. Next, work towards keeping these distractions at bay to get motivated to work on your main tasks.

 

5. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

When you are feeling demotivated, you need people just like you to support and get you through these tough times. Talking to family and friends can be nice. But, also take efforts to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners.

This way, you’ll get a feeling of belonging and get motivated to move towards your goals. You can even look for an accountability partner to ensure that you stay on track. You can motivate each other during such phases in your entrepreneurial journey.

 

6. Engage with your Community

As a small business owner, you should always remember that what you do is something more than you. Your business is not just limited to your life, but it impacts your customers’ lives too. When you change your mindset this way, you’ll automatically feel motivated.

You can engage with your customers or your community through social media or emails. When you get in touch with them, you’ll realize what impact you’ve had in their lives. This will again remind you about your “why” and you can use this to move towards your business goals.

 

7. It’s Okay to Pivot

Sometimes, you might feel demotivated because you are stuck somewhere and you don’t find a way out. When such times arise, it is best to take a step back and think about your path forward.

Instead of trying to work something out, that doesn’t look like the best option anymore, try to pivot and change your decisions. We all make mistakes and it is okay to get out of it by changing your business decision. This will give you the opportunity to grow further.

 

Final Thoughts

As a small business owner, it is natural to lack motivation and think about things that are going wrong. The best way to get out of this is to take intentional action. The tips provided in this article will definitely help you to get motivated to reach your goals.

Content By: SMB CEO – Ivan Widjaya Read More Here

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Ways to turn social media fans into customers

How To Turn Social Media Fans Into Customers

So your business has taken the plunge into social media. You have a Facebook page and are actively tweeting and blogging. Best of all: You’ve got a growing list of social media followers.

But are those fans buying your products? What can you do to help convert them into loyal customers?

Here are six tips for upping your social media sales conversion success.

 

1. Create a strategy

Start off on the right foot by creating a social media strategy. All those Facebook posts and tweets may not help your sales much without proper planning.

First, determine the goals of your social media presence, whether it’s attracting more customers, boosting brand recognition or improving customer service. Decide who your target audience is, and spell out a content strategy covering:

  • your key messages
  • kinds of content that will appeal to your audience
  • a list of keywords that describe your business. You’ll use these words in your content to help you rank higher in Internet searches for those terms. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find popular keywords relevant to your business.

Second, create an action plan that sets out employee responsibilities for social media tasks and a publishing schedule for posts.

 

2. Optimize your website

The greatest social media page in the world won’t do you much good if it’s driving fans to an awful website—one that’s hard to navigate and plagued by jargon-laden text.

A clean, attractive website with compelling visuals is all-important for converting social media fans into paying customers. Visitors shouldn’t need to do a lot of clicking or scrolling to find what they want. Pages on your site should also prominently feature your contact information and clear calls to action—a box or image that asks visitors to take the action you seek (e.g. buy your products, contact a sales rep or sign up for a newsletter).

 

3. Create unique landing pages

Improve your conversion odds by creating unique landing pages for each of your social media pages. This is a special webpage designed specifically for visitors arriving from a social media page. Make sure you have consistent messages and a clear call to action on the landing page.

 

4. Use social selling

Social selling is the process of building a network on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to make connections and present yourself as an expert in your field.

To get started, research companies you are interested in doing business with and take a close look at who you’d want to connect with. Then, connect and start building a relationship with those people by sharing content, inviting them to events or introducing them to potential customers.

But don’t expect this technique to make big wins quickly. Social selling is all about fostering relationships over the long term.

 

5. Explore social media’s conversion features

Social media platforms now allow businesses directly promote their products and services with paid ads.

Facebook, for instance, allows you to create special deals that can be redeemed on your website or in-store. You can also create ads that show your catalogue to a target audience, or even promote store visits to people close to your location. Instagram has similar features that can be used to target consumers directly.

Meanwhile, Pinterest allows businesses to use five types of “rich pins” that display additional information about your posts.

Product pins, for example allow you to show where and at what price the pictured product can be purchased. Because many people on Pinterest use the site as an online wish list, product pins can be a great way to boost online sales.

If you do business in the United States, you could even choose to create a buyable pin, which allows users to purchase a product directly on Pinterest.

 

6. Measure, learn and optimize

As in any conversation, listening is half the job. Be sure you’re monitoring what fans are saying and doing. Look at what kinds of content sparks the most reaction and leads to the best conversion rates. And monitor other successful companies in your industry to see what they’re doing on social media.

Then, optimize what your activities to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

 

Content By: BDC Read More Here

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6 Best Affiliate Marketing TipsThat Will Earn You More Money

6 Best Affiliate Marketing TipsThat Will
Earn You More Money

So, you’ve joined an affiliate program! That’s great news. According to Forbes, affiliate marketing is now responsible for more than 15% of e-commerce sales. That puts it in the same league as email marketing and ahead of social commerce and display advertising—whoa!

But we’re probably not telling you anything you didn’t already know. What you’re here for today is to get some answers to the question, “How can I make more money with my affiliate program?” So, on with the affiliate marketing tips and tricks!

1. Choose Affiliate Programs Wisely

Not every affiliate program is created equally, and not every affiliate program will make sense for your customer base (we’ll cover that in more detail in section two). In addition to those factors, there are other considerations you’ll want to make:

  • Choosing quality over money. Sure, you can probably make a higher commission if you sell a lower quality product, but people will probably be less likely to buy because most have wised up to cheap products. Plus, promoting junk can seriously damage your credibility.
  • Consider promoting digital products. Some of the best affiliate programs to make money are online. These often have high conversion rates because they provide instant access and instant gratification to purchasers.
  • Consider promoting products that renew monthly. It’s okay to promote products or services that generate a single commission, but receiving a monthly recurring commission makes your affiliate business more predictable and stable.

  • Choose vendors that will negotiate. Find vendors who will renegotiate your commission if you start to consistently generate a lot of affiliate sales for them.
  • Choose vendors with a good landing page. Reconsider partnership if landing pages have an outdated design, are full of ads, contain way to much text and spelling and grammatical errors, have too many calls to action, or contain a phone number (you probably won’t get commission if orders are placed on the phone). Remember, if a page turns you off, it will turn off your visitors too. 
  • Look for programs with lifetime payouts. With these affiliate campaigns, you make money if a visitor continues to purchase from the affiliate vendor even if they never come back to your site again!

2. Understand Your Audience

Studies show that people don’t hate ads—they hate bad ads. One aspect of a bad ad is irrelevance. Let’s say you run a fishing website. It wouldn’t make sense to run affiliate ads for a computer just because almost everyone probably has a computer at home. Your customers aren’t there for this type of content; it will confuse them, annoy them, make them think you’ve run out of content or, worst of all, make them think you’re trying to sell something shoddy to make a quick buck. 

Successful affiliate marketing means promoting only items that match the immediate needs and wants of your audience. The more relevant the product or service, the more likely they are to buy; in addition, educating them on relevant products or services can be considered value-added content, not weird or unexpected advertising. So, always think about why people are coming to your site, joining your email marketing list, or following you on social media.

 

3. Be Trustworthy

Some people use affiliate marketing only for profit, not to benefit their customers. Some will even mislead their audience with spammy, dishonest affiliate ads and promotions, or they try to hide the fact that it’s an affiliate link. Here’s a tip: most readers can smell them a mile away—and that’s okay, if you’re honest about the intent!

If the product or service you’re promoting is relevant to your audience, they won’t mind the content. However, if they feel you are trying to scam them or take advantage of their readership with too many irrelevant ads, they’re liable to leave and not come back. 

Remember, it is your repeat visitors who are most valuable to you; they are the ones who will give you linkbacks and recommend your site, growing your customer base—not the ones you lured in one time by misleading them. You need to be honest and ethical with your customers, building relationships with genuine content. If all they see is a profit motive—that you don’t ultimately have their best interests at heart—they won’t be back.

Pro Tip: One way to show your trustworthiness is to address any weaknesses of your affiliate product or service. Wait…what? It’s true! If you advertise something as too good to be true, they’ll never believe it.

Instead, highlight the strengths, then address a weakness to gain trust (but, always include a work-around to show how you make it work regardless of the weakness, or note that almost all similar products or services share this weakness, etc.).

4. Offer a Bonus

When you disclose an affiliate relationship—and you should, because as we already noted, building trust is a must—consumers will appreciate your honesty and won’t mind contributing to your bottom line by using your link (the opposite can be true; if they feel you’re not being honest about your affiliations, they may go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you the referral credit!). 

Of course, by disclosing an affiliate, they still have the opportunity to go directly to the vendor (and they’ll know that other sites are probably hosting the affiliate link too). So, consider offering an incentive to use your affiliate link. This is a great way to give your affiliate sales a boost and differentiate yourself from the other competing affiliates out there! 

 

5. Create a Variety of Ads

Typically, a vendor will provide you with a variety of ads to use on your website, social channels, and through email. If they don’t, you’ll have to do all the work, so keep that in mind. However, even if they provide you with some assets, you’ll still want to create your own ads (if they allow it) so that you can stand apart from the affiliate competition. 

Once you have a good arsenal of ads, you’ll want to change them up frequently and test different versions to see which are most effective with your customers. It may take some time before you figure out the best formula, and you may also find that you need to continually rotate ads to attract more attention.

 

6. Keep Your Ad Strategy Relevant

Don’t be complacent when it comes to your affiliate ad strategy. Keep up to date on the latest product and service offerings of your affiliate programs and swap out ads as soon as they become available (or create one yourself if you’re allowed). 

Also, stay on top of the current trends and always be willing to explore new opportunities. For example, if those hot weight-loss pills have cooled off, or a particular clothing trend has died out, replace that content with something new and popular to reflect your timeliness. 

Finally, you should always be on the lookout for new products that are useful and relevant to your audience; the more you can promote, the more you can earn.

 

Hopefully these affiliate marketing tips and techniques will help you to earn more commissions with your vendors!

Content By: The Fulfillment Lab Read More Here

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5 Rules for Businesses Running Remotely During COVID-19

5 Rules for Businesses Running
Remotely During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly disrupted the way most companies work. We already live in an incredibly digital world, and some companies already have remote staff and offer digital products and services. Unfortunately, many other companies are having to play catch-up, fast. Some businesses are simply not set up to  operate remotely, yet countless have had no choice but to adapt during recent weeks. For small businesses who have never run remotely before, or who aren’t used to running operations entirely online, there are a lot of adjustments to make. Whether you’re used to operating remotely or this is all new to you, consider these five rules for running your business remotely during COVID-19. 

1. Build your toolbox

You may not be needing as many paper clips as you did before, but you’ll still need to get your hands on some valuable office supplies. This time, they’ll be digital though. There are plenty of options out there for file sharing, hosting video meetings, and creating custom chat threads to help your team work efficiently. And the best part is, some of these platforms are free to use or are being offered for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, WeChat, and Slack all offer text or video chat based communication programs that are currently free. While large corporations will likely need to pay for any project management software they use, smaller businesses with close knit teams can often use tools like Asana, Teamwork, and Project.co for free.

2. Master proper digital etiquette

A 2019 survey from Messenger found that 75% of respondents felt that a certain digital etiquette is generally expected when it comes to business. In personal circumstances, emails and texts can have a casual tone, but in a business setting it may be more acceptable for your communications to be professional and respectful at all times. The following etiquette rules are worth following if you don’t want to ruffle any feathers from afar. 

Don’t leave anyone hanging. The ease of digital communication can add unnecessary pressure to respond quickly, but you don’t have to respond as soon as you get a message. If you know it will take a while for you to respond to a message in full, sending a quick heads up to acknowledge that you received the message and will get back to the sender will go a long way. If you need a break from checking email, texts, or instant messages, let your colleagues know that you’ll be taking some heads down time and won’t be responding for a set period of time.  

Don’t be a multi-messenger. Cut your colleagues some slack during this hectic time and try not to message them repeatedly if you don’t hear back from them right away. Ideally, you should be messaging as little as possible to get your point across. 37% of the survey respondents deemed it bad etiquette to over-reply to digital messages. 

Read the room. In this case, you’ll need to read the chat room. Before you suggest a video chat meeting or keep things friendly with texts, make sure you carefully consider who you’re communicating with. While texting is suitable for reaching out to a teammate, most clients would probably prefer a call. Proceed with caution when using massive communication channels with messaging threads that all of your coworkers can view. Before adding a comment to a thread, double check that you’re chatting with the person you think you are. The same goes for large group threads. Confirm that the person you actually want to address is in the group and that your message is appropriate to be seen by multiple people.

3. Face tough talks head-on

In these challenging times, there is no shortage of difficult conversations to have, and business owners and managers have no choice but to face them. One of the most professional and respectful ways to have sensitive discussions (such as HR or client related matters) is through a phone call or a video chat when appropriate. While working remotely may not enable you to let an employee go or tell a longstanding client you’re canceling an important order face-to-face, you can call them. A call can feel more respectful than receiving an email or instant message. It will also give you a chance to have an interactive conversation and potentially come to an amicable solution. 

4. Set solid expectations

If you’re running a business remotely for the first time, it will be important to agree on clear expectations with both your employees and clients. First, what goals or key performance indicators  do you expect your team to meet while they are working from home? Are there set hours they need to be online? Are there certain tasks that must get done and others that they can pause right now? Do you need your employees to check in with you every day or once a week? On the flip side, you also need to help meet your employee’s expectations regarding work life balance, job security, and salary. Have open and honest conversations with your team about what they can expect from you as a business owner or a manager for the time being. 

Similarly, you should set some expectations for your customers or clients. If your customer support staff is fielding more calls than usual, let customers know they may experience longer wait times than usual. If their shipment of goods is going to experience a delay, let them know that at the time of ordering or as soon as you become aware of any imminent challenges. People mostly understand they cannot expect business as usual right now and the best way to keep everyone calm is by communicating clearly. 

5. Be compassionate

Ideally, you are always managing your team and running your business with compassion in mind, but during these times it is even more important to be flexible and thoughtful. If you know your workers have children at home right now, you may want to consider their surroundings and offer them scheduling options before asking them to hop on a video chat at a moment’s notice. If a colleague is caring for a sick relative, you may also offer to extend their deadlines. If a client can’t pay their bill in full right now, try to work out a payment plan. Everyone is feeling strained and stressed during this pandemic, but your business can run smoother if you take time to lead with compassion.

Hopefully these recommendations will make the transition to remote operations during COVID-19 precautions easier for your employees, you customers, and yourself.

 

Content By: Jacqueline DeMarco Read More Here

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Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?​

Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?

Retirement doesn’t always mean not working. Sometimes, it means pursuing entrepreneurship

  • Retirement provides the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship. Starting a business after retirement gives you a chance to pursue your passions.
  • Evaluate your skills and your willingness to commit time and energy to a new business. Create a business plan to shape what you want your business to look like.
  • Remember to have an exit strategy in place. If you’ve already worked in a profession for years, you don’t want to become stuck in a new business venture indefinitely.

When you think about retirement, you might picture weekdays on the beach with a tall drink, thriving off your 401(k) savings. But today, for many, retirement doesn’t promise much-rewarded time off. In fact, it often means more free time to pursue other types of employment, from freelance work to part-time gigs. Some workers even choose to follow entrepreneurial dreams.

“Starting a business in retirement is becoming a popular next chapter as many pre-retirees or retirees reexamine what they want to do with their lives,” said Kristen Edens, content and brand developer.

Jane Emery of the Business.com community asked: “Is starting a new business a good plan during retirement?” We outlined some ways to determine if you’re in the right position to do so, and how to approach the endeavor.

 

Ask yourself the right questions

Starting a business at any time in your life requires hard work, time, and resources. To ensure you’re ready for that type of responsibility, Edens recommended asking yourself these questions, and answering them honestly:

What skills, knowledge, and interests do you have to build a business?

Who would your intended audience be?

How do your talents fit with what’s needed for your audience?

How much time, money and energy do you have to dedicate to this business?

What resources are available to help you build your business?

“Following the introspective questions, determine what’s needed to move your plan forward,” said Edens.

Reasons to start a business in retirement

One of the main reasons to start a business in retirement is to curb boredom. Many people don’t look forward to staying home. In addition, you may not feel ready to retire if you’re in a profession with young average retirement age, such as police officers or firefighters. Plus, if you’re collecting retirement funds and don’t need to rely on any business revenue, you’re at reduced financial risk when starting a new company. Retirement businesses are also the perfect opportunity to pursue any passion projects. Maybe you worked in finance for years and are looking forward to launching a business related to a hobby, such as cooking or photography.

According to the legal advice website Nolo, prospective business owners who are looking to launch post-retirement should create a chart to evaluate potential business ideas. The chart should demonstrate that your business idea matches your goals, work style, and current skill set.

Know the risks

There’s always a risk when creating a business from the ground up, and some might seem too severe to follow through with your plan. Weigh the possibilities to determine the best course of action.

“Starting a business in retirement is not a risk-free endeavor,” said Wendy Ann Payne, CSA, CEP, founding partner of Centurion Wealth Management LLC. “Be certain that your business structure protects your personal assets. If your business venture does not work out the way you intended, you certainly don’t want to lose your personal savings and assets.”

You don’t necessarily have to go all-in for your business. If you aren’t sure your idea will take off, proceed with caution and go part-time until you’re more confident in your plan.

“Possible risks are based on an individual’s time, money, and energy,” said Eden. “There is give-and-take at all levels, and the risk is how much is one willing to dedicate to their business.”

Consider your finances

According to Payne, you should be mindful of startup costs and ongoing expenses. Will your business require a physical location? Will you need a substantial amount to launch your brand, or can you do so without breaking the bank? Calculate all possible costs, then map out your financial plan from there.

If you’re in good shape to retire, then you likely have hefty retirement savings. And while you might be tempted to dig into your 401(k) to fund your business, you shouldn’t blow it all in one place.

“Many people will cover their business expenses with distributions from their 401(k) or IRA,” said Nathan Garcia, CFP(r) and retirement planning specialist at Strategic Wealth Partners. “Most of the time, these distributions are taxable as ordinary income. Large distributions can cause higher tax bills, thus reducing your capital base.”

Garcia advised outlining your personal expenses before withdrawing money to limit taxes and extend your savings.

“Most businesses will require 18 to 36 months to develop positive cash flow,” he added. “During this time, you should understand how much expenses will be and how they will be paid. It’s critical to know your personal expenses first than to layer your business expenses on top.”

“Be careful when borrowing funds for business purposes,” added Payne. “If you obtain personal loans, use your personal line of credit, and/or personally guarantee business debt, it is vital to know that you are personally on the hook for repayment of that business debt. If you voluntarily close the business, or things don’t go as planned and the business fails, you are still personally liable.”

Have an exit strategy

Payne stated that you should plan your business down to the exit strategy. Figure out what would happen when you want to stop working for good, i.e., selling the business, passing it along to someone else, shutting it down permanently, etc.

“Once you become a business owner, it is extremely important to have a written succession plan,” she said. “This is especially true for aging business owners.”

You can settle this from the start by choosing an ownership structure that compliments your intentions. Because you’re starting your business later in life, you might want to choose a structure that allows you to involve family, like your children, Garcia said. That way, if you plan to eventually pass down ownership, you can consider co-owning with that person to ease the process.

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5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

The service you provide to your customers reflects on your company. As the central pillar for ensuring a productive future, the after-sales service also has a great deal of impact on customer loyalty, whose expectations are becoming increasingly high. 

It is a major part of business, and will allow you to build close relationships with your customers, who will then be more inclined to trust you. A customer who has a satisfactory after-sales service experience is more likely to come back, to relive their positive buying experience.

Because quality customer service is a source of income, referrals and continuous improvement, this article contains 5 key elements to help you effectively manage your after-sales service!

1. Get to know your customers and listen to them

Customers can be a great cause for concern. It is your duty to get to know them, in order to be able to fully satisfy their needs. In other words, your strategy, and your after-sales service, must be customer-centric.

In order to get acquainted with your customers, there should be no secrets: get in direct contact with your customers using satisfaction surveys. Your customers are a valuable resource for relevant and interesting feedback. They will provide you with valuable indicators for enhancing those services with which they are most satisfied, and highlight those that need to be reviewed. 

Also, pay close attention to customer reviews. Showcase the most positive reviews, and respond pro-actively to the negative ones. They allow you to keep track of customers’ changing needs, and to improve the results of your after-sales service. Another significant advantage: they can have a positive impact on your ranking on search engines! You can turn to SEO experts to help you optimize your SEO strategy.

Knowing your customers also means listening to them and paying particular attention to any problems they encounter. After-purchase difficulties vary greatly from one customer to another. Nevertheless, the aim remains the same, regardless of the type of problem. 

Generally speaking, if your customers contact your after-sales service, it is to report a possible problem-or to obtain further information about a product. Pinpoint it quickly and process it as soon as possible. Make sure you fully understand your client’s problem by reiterating it to avoid any misunderstanding. 

2. Expand your communication channels to benefit your customers

You cannot simply offer your customers a single means of contact. You must expand the communication media for your customer service. It is essential to allow the customer to choose the channel which seems the fastest and most appropriate for their request. Your level of responsiveness ought to be the same for each channel of communication.

Don’t limit your means of contact to the phone; many customers are becoming more and more reluctant to call (waiting times, potential call cost, hotline opening times, etc.).

It is important to ensure that your advisers proficient in these different communication media. The codes on these platforms differ: a customer is not addressed in the same way when making a phone call or an e-mail, for example. 

3. Facilitate the internal flow of information and establish a CRM solution

The effectiveness of a quality after-sales service also depends on impeccable internal communication. It is important to internally manage the flow of information and listen to your advisers’ suggestions, as they are in direct contact with clients. Adopt a transversal way of working to facilitate communication, enabling your after-sales service staff to quickly share the feedback received from customer interactions. 

Facilitating the internal circulation of information also means implementing an effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. It will allow you to centralize customer requests and allocate resources according to priorities. Task automation frees up valuable time for your advisers: no longer will they have to deal with time-consuming or repetitive tasks, and will be able to focus on important, strategic tasks. A CRM solution promotes better collaboration between different departments and increases responsiveness!

4. Be able to anticipate and know how to deal with conflicts

Handling delicate and conflictual situations during an interaction is not easy. Knowing how to manage these situations in the best possible way is a real asset for your after-sales service.

Your advisers have to deal with numerous problems which can be more or less urgent, and very stressful. You have to be able to control your emotions and keep your cool. 

Clients should be encouraged to express their views, and then you can try to find a quick solution. Never get into an argument with your customer; this could seriously damage your reputation and insult the customer.

This will lead to customer dissatisfaction. An attentive and empathetic approach will help to calm your customers and find a suitable solution.

5. Set up FAQs

Most consumers wish to solve their problems on their own. Contacting an after-sales service by telephone or any other communication medium is a constraint for your customers. This could put customers and potential customers off.

Setting up an FAQ section proves that you are professionally managing your business and that you pay particular attention to your customers’ questions. The answers must be clear, detailed, and satisfy your customers. The advantage of FAQs is that they are available 24 hours a day and your advisers are left to focus on requests which require more time and involvement. 

Conclusion

The after-sales service, which reflects your image and professionalism, demonstrates your ability to handle your customers’ problems and to solve them. It is your duty to do everything possible to satisfy your customers, regardless of the situation. Therefore, the management of your after-sales service must be fluid, organized, and optimal!

 

Content By: Yves Attias Read More Here

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Small Business Finance Tips

Small Business Finance Tips

Managing your company’s finances can be challenging, especially when you have so many other core business processes and activities to deal with. However, poor finance management can have serious consequences on your business and lead to overspending and issues with cash flow. For that reason, all business owners must develop the skills needed to manage their finances efficiently. Here are some useful small business finance tips to help you run a successful business.

Invest in accounting software

If you want to manage your business finances efficiently, then you must monitor your spending regularly and keep on top of your monthly cash flow. One of the simplest ways to manage your business finances is by installing accounting software. According to financeonline.com, some of the major benefits of accounting software include fast and efficient data entry, detailed financial reports, increased accuracy, and automatic record-keeping. 

Having your accounting processes automated will give you additional time to focus on key business activities that will aid growth and profits. There is a great selection of free accounting software available to download online, or you can opt for paid systems that offer premium services and extras. 

Reduce business costs 

Reducing business costs is one of the easiest ways to increase profits within your company. You should review your spending regularly and try to identify any ways to cut business expenses. Here are some ideas to help you minimize spending in the workplace: 

  • Negotiate lower rates with suppliers and vendors. 
  • Move to a smaller, less expensive business site. 
  • Search for a cheaper energy provider on business utilities comparison websites. 
  • Advertise your products using free or low-cost marketing techniques such as social media. 
  • Carry out energy-saving improvements to lower your monthly utility bills. This may involve adding extra insulation, installing eco-friendly appliances, or adding double glazing.

Create a cash flow budget 

Every business owner should have a cash flow budget in place to help them manage their finances efficiently. To create a realistic cash flow budget, you need to consider all expenses and financial obligations within your business, such as salaries, office rental fees, and loan repayments. You can then calculate your projected cash inflow and outflow to determine your ending cash balance. You must try to stick with your cash flow budget to avoid overspending or getting into debt. You can easily create a cash flow budget for your business by using a cash flow management tool online. 

Adopt good financial habits 

All business owners should make an effort to adopt good financial habits in the workplace. It may take some time to develop these skills, but it is well worth taking the time to learn how to become responsible with your spending, especially when it comes to your business. Some of the most important financial habits to adopt include creating clear financial goals for your business, monitoring expenses accurately, and avoiding overspending on your monthly budget. You can develop your financial management skills by completing online courses, reading financial blogs and websites, or seeking advice and guidance from a finance expert. 

Content By: Samuel Bavor Read More Here