Enhance Your Mobile Site with These Tips

With mobile phones becoming indispensable in our daily lives, it may be no surprise that more than 50 percent of online searches are conducted on mobile devices. Simply having a website is no longer enough for business owners as those sites need to be customized to be navigated from a phone or tablet.
Users are demanding a quick, engaging, and easy mobile experience, and companies may lose business if that is not delivered. How should you enhance your mobile site? Consider these tips:

The One Finger Rule

While desktop users can use a mouse or two hands to navigate a website, most mobile users will use one finger (the index finger or the thumb). Therefore, a mobile site must be designed with this in mind. The content, images, and text need to be large enough to be viewed without having to pinch to zoom, yet small enough to fit into the various sizes of mobile screens.
As most mobile users use a touchscreen device, the buttons need to be designed for fingers of different sizes. People with larger-sized fingers often have trouble navigating mobile sites because their fingers cause misplaced clicks. To avoid this issue, mobile interfaces must make targets easy to select. Mark Rattin, executive creative director at Lyons Consulting Group recommends giving “buttons or tap elements at least 45 pixels of space for selection areas,… [as] this allows the targets on screen to be easily selectable and removes many of the accidental taps from the user experience.”

Use Icons


A mobile site needs to be clean, simple, and uncluttered; to facilitate this, try using minimal text  and concentrate on icons whenever possible. There are many benefits to using icons; for example, the standard ones are easily recognizable and don’t need to be translated for international users, unlike text. Icons are also typically designed to be easily finger-operated on a mobile interface, as well as clickable with a cursor.

Speed it Up

While desktop users may spend the time researching products and reading details online, mobile users are usually on the go, wanting a quick online experience. To accommodate the unique needs of mobile users, mobile sites need to be fast. In fact, studies have shown that 57 percent of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
To make your mobile site faster, strip it off large media files, such as photos and videos, that will cause it to lag. When using images, use lower resolutions, resize and crop them, so that they require less time to load.

Customize Contact Forms

Remember that mobile users are typing with one finger and usually are on the go, which means that they don’t have the time and ability to fill in tons of information. To make the mobile experience better, design the contact form to require a minimal amount of information. For example, include a GPS component which can track the user’s location so that you don’t need to require them to enter their city, state or zip code.

If you don’t have someone on your team to help, you will likely need to involve the services of a professional web designer to design or enhance a mobile site. IOU Financial can help you improve your online presence with a small business loan in under 24 hours. Click the banner below to find out more.

Is Keeping a Debt Tracker Beneficial to Your Business?

If you run a small business, especially one in which you’ve empowered others to spend company money, you know how important it is to manage your cash flow. It comes down to a question of solvency: Does your business have enough short term cash to meet its obligations, including debt payments due throughout the next several months. One of the unfortunate things about most debts is the big monthly repayment that always seems to threaten your cash balance. We say most debts, because as we’ll explain below, some loans, like the ones offered by IOU Financial, avoid mammoth monthly payments altogether.

A debt tracking tool, which centralizes information about debts and debt payments, is therefore an excellent idea for the busy owner on the go. The tool can take the form of a downloaded computer program, online software, or a mobile app:

  1. Computer program: You can purchase or rent financial management software, such as QuickBooks, that provides debt tracking functionality, along with a host of other features. If you use a computer-based accounting system, you should be able to generate reports about cash and debt, but they might be less timely.
  2. Online software: A program like Mint provides information about your upcoming bills and warns you if your cash is running low.
  3. Mobile apps: Several apps exist for tracking debt, including Debt Tracker, LearnVest, Unbury.me and others. These have the advantage of always being available, even if you aren’t at your computer. Mobile wallets not only include debt information, but also provide mechanisms to make payments.

Functionality

So, what should a debt tracker do for you?

  • Accounts: The program should have full information about each debt account, including account number, method of payment, payment calendar, interest rate, outstanding balance and so forth. It should be able to sort the account display by various criteria, such as date, amount of next payment, interest rate and more.
  • Payments: Debt trackers should be prepared to give you full information about each payment you make, including penalty fees and interest. Comprehensive trackers also serve as a means to schedule and make payments, by generating online checks or performing real-time bill payment.
  • Cash management: Trackers should be able to report your available cash and near-cash reserves, and alert you whenever a payment will create a low-balance or overdraw situation. You would like a tracker to suggest the order in which to pay off debts, according to criteria that you set, such as remaining balance or interest rate. A nice feature is to have an earmarking function, in which you allocate a portion of cash inflows to specific objectives, such as building up a fund to act as equity for a property purchase. Naturally, part of cash management is to report who owes you money and when to expect it.
  • Usability: A debt tracker, whether standalone or a function of a larger system, should meet certain usability standards. It should be easy to operate, secure (using encryption, PINs, etc.), offer flexible reporting, and, if you choose, a method to make payments. Ideally, the tracker will be integrated with the rest of your company’s financial data, including all payables and receivables.

The Joy of Daily Repayments

We mentioned earlier how monthly debt payments require you to ensure you have sufficient cash when the payments come due. That’s a major benefit of debt trackers. IOU Financial takes a different, and better, tack. Instead of hitting you with a monthly lump-sum repayment, we evenly spread your payments over all the business days within the month, and we automatically debit your bank account so that you don’t have to take any special steps. Your debt tracker will show you how your balance goes down gently each day. IOU Financial can lend your business up to $150,000 in as little as 24 hours, so contact us today to experience the joy of daily repayments.

How to Get Your Finances Ready for Your Slow Season

Many small businesses experience one or more slow seasons each year. For a B2B business, the year-end holidays might be a slack time, while tourist-related businesses might have little to do during the coldest (or hottest) months. Although challenging, a slow season is at least predictable, which means you can make preparations to see your business through the lean months. Here are some suggestions:

Assess your cash needs:

Most businesses have a mixture of fixed and variable costs. You’ll need enough cash to cover your fixed costs and that portion of your variable costs that you can’t avoid. Your monthly and quarterly budgets should give you a good indication of an impending cash crunch and thus how much money you must have on hand.

Husband your cash:

In the months just prior to the slow season, accumulate excess cash, if any, in a bank account. If you have a lot of money tied up in unpaid invoices, consider factoring them for immediate cash. Cut your expenses and purchases during the slow season. If you hire contractors, it’s easy enough to reduce staffing. That’s a little harder to do with employees, but many places do furlough workers or give them unpaid extra vacation time. In the worst case, you can let go of some employees, but that may cause more problems in the long term. A better idea is to hire only the number of employees you need all year round, and then hire seasonal workers during the busy months.

Take a vacation:

If you run a mom and pop store, schedule your vacations for the slow season(s) and shut down the store during those times. For example, if you own a frozen yogurt store in Washington DC, the three coldest winter months might be an excellent time to take an extended holiday. This will cut your variable costs to the bone.

Make credit arrangements:

A short-term loan or line of credit can be just the ticket for smoothing out a choppy selling year. IOU Financial can lend you up to $150,000 on short notice and favorable terms, without all the hassles associated with a bank loan. Since the loan is short term – the length of the slow season – the total interest paid will be relatively modest.

Negotiate better terms with suppliers:

If your slow season is well defined, you should be able to work with your suppliers to loosen their terms during the slack period. It’s reasonable to ask for due dates to be extended from 10 to 90 days, especially if your payment record with the vendor is good. A good supplier will understand your business cycles and offer you flexible terms when you need them. It’s important to reach these agreements well in advance of the start of the slow season, so that you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Increase your social presence:

Use your extra time during the slow season to increase your social media footprint. It’s an excellent time to publish articles and send out newsletters or emails containing useful information. Update your entries in LinkedIn, Facebook and other outlets. You can even advertise over the web by buying ads from Google, LinkedIn and other social sites.

Plan sales events:

If you can’t close up shop during the slow season, why not schedule major markdown events for the period? Lower prices, suitably advertised, should draw in customers. You can also plan fun events, like raffles and free donut days, as well as instituting a buyer loyalty program.

IOU Financial is your source for affordable small business loans of up to $150,000, funded in as little as 24 hours. There are no upfront costs, and daily fixed repayments avoids large monthly payments. Let us see you get through your slow period and help you grow your business year-round.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Business Finances Secure in the Age of the Internet

The Internet has its tenterhooks into everything. Large businesses have IT Departments that use sophisticated techniques to keep their data safe, but if you run a small business, you probably have limited technical resources. Still, there is a lot you can do to secure your financial data, and it’s a really good idea to do just that. Hackers can steal your data or drop malware into your website. In some cases, you may have to pay ransom to get your website working again. Here are five tips to help keep your business data secure:

Secure your network:

You need to be able to discourage hackers while maintaining the functionality you need to do your business. Your WiFi must be encrypted and password protected. Hackers often do mischief by packaging malware within comments or email they send to your website.  You need a physical or site-level firewall to control access, and a continually executing malware identification and removal program to keep out Trojan horses, spam links and so forth. If you use a commercial webhost like GoDaddy, review your security status and upgrade it where necessary.

Control your online purchases:

If you purchase from an insecure site, there is a chance the data will be intercepted or otherwise misused. You might not have a fancy purchasing department, but you can set some rules regarding who you purchase from. Only purchase from trusted sites – ones you’ve dealt with in the past, or, if a new site, one that uses a reputable payment processor, like Google Checkout or PayPal. Always ensure you see the padlock icon on your browser to verify you are looking at a safe page.

Monitor your credit report:

Your business’ credit report will tip you off right away to fishy transactions. You should make arrangements to get fresh copies of your credit reports at least once a month. It’s worth the money. When you receive them, check them over for hinky items that may indicate identity theft. If you find these, contact your bank, the credit card issuer (if applicable) and the credit bureau right ways. You might also need to change account numbers and passwords.

Be careful with your email:

Phishing is big business and the crooks are getting better at it all the time. Your email provider is your first line of defense, alerting you to suspicious email and quarantining it in a spam inbox. Beware emails that ask you to click a link to fix some problem or claim a reward – it’s probably a ruse to load malware onto your computer or direct you to a malicious website. Never include private information, such as account numbers or tax ids, in your emails. If you get an email from a supposedly trusted source asking you to take some action, do not respond to the email. Instead, contact the company by phone or separate email to verify the situation.

Set banking alerts:

You should closely monitor your business checking account for suspicious activity. If you use a program like QuickBooks, download and review your transactions daily. Use a bank that offers account alerts, such as when a withdrawal or payment exceeds a certain amount, of if your balance falls below a given figure.

If you take suitable precautions, you can take advantage of all the efficiencies the Internet provides without undertaking undue risk. When you deal with IOU Financial, know that we follow the highest standards of data protection so that you can borrow money in confidence.

Performance Reviews: Are You Making These Mistakes?

Yearly reviews are commonplace in many organizations, but they are often dreaded by both the reviewers and the employees being reviewed. Managers feel uncomfortable giving out negative feedback, while those reporting to them stress while anticipating the feedback.

The main problem of annual reviews, aside from their negative connotation, is that they are largely ineffective. A study found that job appraisals negatively affected job performance more than one third of the time. As a result, many companies around the world, such as Microsoft and Gap, are phasing out traditional annual reviews altogether. However, performance reviews can be effective if the leaders correct mistakes they are making in this process! Read on to find out if you are making common mistakes during the evaluation meetings with your staff and how you can ensure yours is successful.

Not Timely

Another problem with the annual review is that it’s only given once a year. That is not nearly enough time for managers to be able to provide productive feedback and work together with their employees to make relevant changes.

When you sit down with a staff member in December and mention something that occurred in May, the individual may have no recollection of the incident. Therefore, leaders have to provide timely feedback instead of waiting a year to bring something up.

The most beneficial feedback is immediate, or at least timely, brought up within a few days of the occurrence; otherwise, it is just pointless. While a formal meeting to discuss the yearly performance may be helpful when discussing promotions or raises, feedback should be regularly provided during the course of the workweek.

Focusing on the Negative

Bosses often misunderstand the main point of the performance review, which is to help employees work more productively and efficiently. Instead, they consider this a time to air their grievances and dissatisfaction with the team member. Even if the individual is performing up to the standards most of the time, if the supervisor focuses solely on what needs to improve during the review, it may negatively impact the loyalty and job satisfaction of the person.

Even if you have an employee who is underperforming in many areas, it is helpful to first bring up something positive about their efforts before concentrating on the negative. Consider the small things that the person may be getting right, like the fact that they are always pleasant, to bring up before moving on to what they may need to improve.

Not Setting Benchmarks

The feedback given out during a performance review will likely not amount to anything unless measurable and realistic benchmarks are set and agreed upon by both the employer and the employee. It’s not enough to tell a subordinate that they need to work faster; to help them become more productive, set small goals that the individual can work towards.

For example, if you need a staff member to work faster, instead of telling them to do so, you should count how many tasks the person currently accomplishes in one week, and increase that by 5 percent per month to see if they can ultimately speed up by 15 percent. It’s important for managers to be involved in this process, observing current behaviors, setting goals and then measuring the employee performance to see if they are meeting those goals.

The reason performance reviews get a bad rap is because many managers are not doing them properly. Sitting down to provide feedback only once a year, focusing on the negative and not setting benchmarks makes the process ineffective; however, making small changes can positively impact both the person and your company.

 

How to Keep Your Clients Engaged With Your Hair Salon

While some hair salon owners have regular clientele, others struggle with maintaining customer loyalty as they are often seeing clients who come in once or twice and then never return. How can these small business owners promote loyalty and increase business? With customer engagement!

There are many reasons why a client may not return to your salon – they forgot about you, found a better price or a more convenient location. However, if you take the time to engage with your clientele, many are willing to drive a little further or pay a little more due to the fact that they are emotionally involved and have developed a relationship with you and your business.

How do you engage with clients? Small business owners are not like large chains and cannot designate millions of dollars to advertising and marketing budgets. However, there are ways that require little financial investment that work, such as:

Blogging

There are hundreds of blogs dedicated to hair online, and a hair stylist is the perfect person to contribute content to this topic. Blogging requires no initial investment, as there are websites such as Wix and WordPress offering free platforms for bloggers. To increase engagement, you can ask your existing clients to subscribe to your blog, which notifies them via email every time you create a new blog.

There are endless topics to write about for a hair blog, such as:

  • Latest hair styles
  • Hair coloring tips
  • Hair treatment options
  • Product recommendations
  • Styling advice

Keeping in regular communication with your clients through blogging will keep you fresh in their minds, and coming back to your business time and time again.

Tutorials

Another way to engage with your customers is through tutorials – either offering in store or online classes to give hair-related advice. Just as with blogging, tutorials can cover any hair-related topic; you will just need to secure a model willing to participate in advance. Consider showcasing how to:

  • Do a french braid
  • Trim your bangs
  • Curl your hair
  • Give yourself the perfect blowout
  • Use specific products for your clients’ desired styles.

If you establish weekly workshops in your salon where you provide styling tips and advertise that with a poster in your store and leaflets around your neighborhood, you will not only promote loyalty with your current customers, but will attract new clientele as well.

If you also share the tutorials on your blog, you could reach customers who were not able to attend your workshop in person. Plus, you can use that content in your online advertising campaigns and social media postings to increase your outreach even further.

Utilize Social Media

Social media is a the perfect tool to connect with current and potential clients without a big ad budget. Websites such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram allow you to post photos, videos, and text to market your brand and engage with users.

One caveat is that there is a lot of competition on social media, therefore, salon owners need to be creative about capturing the audience’s attention. Knowing the demographics of your clientele – gender, age group, location, and styling preferences – can help you create relevant posts to engage your target audience.

In addition to normal postings, social media sites allow business owners to pay to advertise and promote their posts on their platforms. For example, Facebook lets salon owners create a daily budget for ads, and then target them to audience based on your specifications.

With a little extra effort and a small budget, hair salons can make a big difference in their client engagement within their salons, and easily create loyal customers that will come in for more than their normal scheduled haircuts.
If you want to engage with your existing clients and attract a larger customer base, but need financial help in doing so, contact IOU Financial. We support small businesses with affordable loans of up to $150,000 in under 24 hours!

How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Help Your Business

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategy many small and mid-size business owners should embrace for two reasons: to help society and to help their own image. There are many causes you can choose to support, such as saving the rainforest, helping refugees, or contributing to a local boys & girls club. A source lists the most common causes of US companies as the following:
1. Efforts to protect the environment (74%),
2. End discrimination or restrictions based on sexual orientation (59%) or gender (54%),
3. Improve access to quality education (59%)
4. Protect human rights abroad (49%)
5. End discrimination/restrictions based on gender identity (52%)

Why adopt CSR into your operations? For these three reasons:

Set Your Business Apart

Regardless of what niche your business is in, you have competition. A way to identify your brand and let potential clients know what sets you apart from your competitors is with the adoption of a social initiative. For example, TOMS shoes, is a great example of an owner who built CSR right into the business model. For every pair of shoes bought, the company donates a pair to those in need around the world. This cause helped people connect with the brand, and sales soared!

People like feeling good about themselves and know that they are making a difference in the world by spending their money. If you align your business interests with a social or environmental cause, you can set your business apart and grab more market share away from your competitors.

Staff Engagement

While a CSR can help you connect with your audience, it is also beneficial to your own staff. Although they are motivated to come to work every day to receive a paycheck, they can become more engaged with the company and invested in its success if there is a cause they believe in involved.

For example, some real estate agents participate in a network called Charitable Agents, which donates 10 percent of commission from homes sales to charities. Agents can feel good about not only making a profit from a sale, but also contributing to a cause close to their heart. This benefits the business with more exposure, as people looking to make a difference when buying or selling a home will find an agent through this network, bringing new business to the agency.

Lower Costs

Corporate social responsibility doesn’t only have to involve donating money to causes, it can also benefit you within the confines of your company. For example, companies who pledge to help the environment should start with changes in their own offices, such as recycling, switching to energy-friendly appliances and technology, reducing water usage, etc.

Not only will these actions represent your true commitment to your cause to your clients and employees, but it will cut costs and promote your own sustainability in the years to come.

Oftentimes, small business owners need funds to market their CSR efforts, otherwise their clients may not know about them. IOU Financial is committed to helping business owners make a difference in the world, which is why we offer small business loans in as little as 24 hours.

THE FINTECH PARADOX IN ONLINE BUSINESS LENDING

Technology is meant to be a productivity enabler whatever industry it serves.  The media and investment bankers are so keen on nicknames that they cannot help from creating neologisms to define new sectors or industries. A technology driven sector has to be named SOMETHING-TECH. Playing with words usually helps simplify complex concepts, until it just delivers the opposite, creates bad publicity and counter-productivity.

Most of the time, the INDUSTRY+TECH association conveys a positive connotation. Some companies called themselves likewise. Chemtech International, for example, is a global solutions provider for the manufacturing needs of various industries. Autotech defines various services to the car owner or industry, whether it is tuning, or innovative solutions to the auto industry. However, type Fintech and you will learn that it refers to “companies that use technologies and innovation in order to compete in the marketplace of traditional financial institutions in the delivery of financial services”.   With Finance, it is therefore different, and to make matters worse, Fintech is also referred as “Alternative Finance”. This stigmatizes an arrogance that is hard for banks to tolerate.

There is a good reason for banks to dislike Fintech.  It is the media and investment bankers banging the news on how much cooler and smarter they are at a time when high IPO valuations were needed, while banks were still trading below book value. Fintech’s debuts enjoyed being portrayed as leaner and smarter while banks were and often still are referred as dinosaurs, slow to move and improve service through innovation. Fintech companies and banks started off on the wrong foot; the media loved it and made the Fintech into the new alternative to legacy finance, de facto a business threat for banks.

The term “FinTech Lenders” was also a play to bring TECH multiples to online lenders who leveraged technology to automate many of the labor intensive repetitive processes endured by the traditional lending process. The term “alternative lending” was brought out as a way to label and define something that wasn’t traditional and wasn’t done through traditional sources (ie: Banks). After all – everyone loves newly created words defining disruptive technologies with the thought of abolishing old and tired processes full of bureaucratic rules. While the term “Fintech” may help people to understand the industry segment of interest or a specific vertical within the industry, it should not be used to primarily define lenders who leverage technology in a new and improved way.

The paradox of all this: Fintech offers innovative solutions to legacy financial institutions but its names says something else. Also, banks being so glacial early on, Fintech may have had no other chance but to try their technology for themselves, enforcing the alternative force within them! With a few years in business, some Fintech have been able to demonstrate the need for their product by generating strong demand. Small business online lending is a proven case with billions of dollars of loans made since the credit crisis.

However, not all Fintech business models have yet matured into profitability, key to the definition of success. A structural element of future success for new entrants resides in their ability to access cheaper funding and quality customers. Who can offer these things?  With that in mind, Banks, especially small ones, should feel confident they can monetize their position to bring down their cost of innovation.  By working with innovative companies in financial technology, they can quickly benefit from new and very cost efficient ways to grow revenues. Online lending could be the first expertise to explore in order to welcome small business back and help them grow.

It is true that technology has enabled new entrants to offer innovative services not available at banks, either as a product offering or at a more competitive price.  It is also true that banks have been slow at embracing technology as a growth engine, mostly due to lack of capital to fund innovation. This is especially the case for smaller banks who tend to lack financial and human capital to invest heavily in R&D and innovate. Large banks with deep pockets have found ways to either build or partner and grow their presence in areas where technology offer a clear competitive edge. Large banks have in fact recognized the win-win rationale for partnering with Fintech, an opportunity also open to small banks. Large banks love Fintech because they can afford it. Small banks can as well.

In the case of small business lending, these new online lenders saw a void left by banks in micro-lending (below $150,000 uncollateralized loans) and used technology to reduce underwriting cost accordingly. Online lenders did not actually steal market share from banks in micro lending. Instead, they offered an economical solution to underwrite small loans and managed to fill a gap left by banks.

How will the paradox divide disappear between banks and Fintech Alternative Lenders?  It will dissipate with the online lender taking time to educate banks about their efficient loan platforms and how they can help banks reach new customers, develop new funding sources and grow revenues, especially non-recourse fee income.  Banks should also be curious and consult with online lenders to better define how they can benefit from their technology and expertise in lending small.

Online Lending could be merely defined as – technology enabled lending through a secure website and internet based process. It doesn’t really stop there. Many “online lending” platforms are little more than a pretty form fill website application. The real battle is won (or lost) on the battlefield of cost-to-produce.

What happens after a business loan application is submitted online?

  • Processing workflows
  • Multi-database connectivity via API’s
  • Underwriting processes including risk scoring
  • Anti-fraud detection processes
  • Efficient client interactions
  • Comprehensive and effective post loan funding servicing
  • Post loan funding automated surveillance

This is where the “cost” rubber meets the road.

The total cost of the customer acquisition, headcount and operations to support the online lending operation.

Many online lenders require hundreds of employees behind the scenes to run their “automated processes”. Applications processed per employee, funded units per employee, total cost to produce in basis points. These are traditional metrics that hold true for traditional lenders and online lenders alike.

Now in analyzing these metrics and using units instead of dollars, allows to level the playing field from traditional lenders with 7 figure average loan sizes to online lenders with 5 figure average loan sizes. Profitable online lenders will be the ones who have shared their technology with small banks, and by doing so, help solve the circle quadrature: through partnerships with banks, provide small business with no collateral capital to grow.  An online lender who has been working tirelessly for years optimizing its processes, risk scores, data aggregation processes, headcount metrics and servicing techniques is a great match for any bank that genuinely seeks to lead its local business community towards growth and prosperity.

Fintech is good for banks who can see and exploit the opportunity. In fact, banks who take the lead in partnering with online lenders are the ones who can ensure that online lending becomes mainstream for very small business in North America.

Low Corporate Morale? Five Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

Working in today’s world is not easy – the hours are getting longer, the responsibilities more intense and the push to cut costs are brutal. Many business owners find that they have more to do to stay afloat with less resources to hire staff, so all employees end up doing more with less – less time, less money and less help.

Overworked and tired employees develop low corporate morale as they stop looking forward to coming to work every morning, and feel tired and stressed out. This leads to high employee turnover, decreased productivity and an unhappy workplace.

On the other hand, engaged employees are better for business – a source states that businesses where the staff members are truly engaged “have 6% higher net profit margins,” according to Towers Perrin research and “five times higher shareholder returns over five years,” according to Kenexa research. It is up to the business owner to find ways to boost employee engagement, which will create a better corporate culture and better overall morale.

What is Employee Engagement?

An employee who is truly engaged is invested into the success of the company in which they work. They don’t just come in to receive a paycheck, but care about the company’s goals and interests. This type of team member uses discretionary effort, meaning they do things to help the company without having to be asked or required to do so. This can involve staying late or coming in on a weekend, mentoring a new staffer, or addressing a safety concern.

How do You Promote Employee Engagement?

In order to “turn that frown upside down,” use the following tips to improve corporate morale to increase employee engagement:

Reward Your Staff’s Efforts

When small business owners hear the term “reward,” they tend to think of financial rewards; however, rewards don’t have to cost anything! Simply showing your staff that you recognize their hard work and are grateful for their efforts is often more than enough to get them to take ownership of their responsibilities and become more engaged.

Oftentimes, simply saying, “I see you are working hard, and I appreciate it,” will do the trick. However, it can also be advantageous to recognize certain team members publicly during a staff meeting or to create an employee of the month award so that the whole office is aware of someone’s achievement. 


Other ways to reward staff without spending a dime are to let them go home earlier after a long week, give them a day off after a busy season that required continuous overtime or to host a potluck to celebrate a big company win!

Support a Cause

It’s important to remember that companies are made up of people, and that many of them are motivated by social causes. A great way to boost engagement is to survey your employees about causes important to them – be that the environment, local boys and girls clubs or third world countries. After calculating the responses, pick a social cause that you can support as a company.

You can either dedicate a percentage of your profits to the cause, or help bring awareness to it through marketing and social media campaigns. To take it a step further and truly unite your team members to strive for a common goal, dedicate a day to go out and make a difference together. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or build houses for Houses of Humanity to help those that are less fortunate.

The best way to boost morale and create employee engagement is to take the time to get to know your staff, form relationships with them, and make them feel appreciated!

 

Why Now is the Time to Move Online

If you do not yet have a business website, you should make this a priority in 2017! Not showcasing your products or services online is likely hurting your company’s bottom line, as you are losing out on potential customers around the world that may not have the ability to walk into your physical location. What are the main reasons to go online this year?

Brick-and-Mortar Locations are Declining

The reality is that e-commerce websites are quickly replacing brick-and-mortar locations. When big brands, such as Sports Authority, Staples, and Macy’s are either declaring bankruptcy or closing down stores, smaller enterprises that don’t have the same advertising budgets and funds to stay open may not fare much better. Brands such as Target and Walmart, which sell goods online as well as in physical stores, are investing funds into their e-commerce websites, which is where the majority of people are shopping.

E-Commerce Requires Less Overhead

For a brick-and-mortar to be profitable, it needs to be in a location with a lot of foot traffic; however, renting or leasing a corporate space in a popular location is expensive. It is much more cost effective to sell goods online than out of an expensive storefront.

Not having to pay rent for a retail space, as well as insurance, electricity, employee wages, etc. can leave more funds for inventory and advertising. All business owners would need is a warehouse, which is more affordable to run than a store, as well as order takers, packers, fulfillers, and shippers… saving money on paying the salaries of customer service representatives and sellers.

Furthermore, moving operations, such as supply chain management, procurement, or billing online can lead to a savings of up to 5 percent on “maintenance, repair and operation costs; this five percent savings can turn into 50% of a company’s net profit,” states The Web Doctor.

Ability to Target a Specific Audience at Lower Costs

While a physical location relies heavily on foot traffic and traditional advertising, such as television and flyers, an online website allows business owners to target who they want to advertise to.

For example, social media platform Facebook provides options to advertise to specific groups of people with 89 percent accuracy. Choose audiences based on location, demographics (age, gender, relationship status, education and employment), interests, hobbies, and behaviors.

Targeted advertising allows owners to save money and efforts by not reaching out to those that would not be interested in their services, and provides a greater return on investment (ROI) on marketing only to a specific audience base.

Online Presence is a Necessity

Companies that choose not to sell items online should still concentrate on establishing and promoting their online presence. Customers are demanding more from the businesses they patronize than a simple financial transaction. They want to learn about the brand and what it stands for. When companies are able to forge emotional attachments between their customers and their brand, they retain loyal customers.

An online presence allows business owners to share relevant company news, information about new products, as well as philanthropic initiatives – all topics that can be interesting to current and potential clients. A small investment into a corporate website can provide a new revenue stream from online buyers. If you need help financing your move online, contact IOU Financial. Our company can provide a small business loan in under 24 hours.