Three Creative Ways to Show Your Employees You Appreciate Them

Business owners are often so focused on correcting their employees’ mistakes that they often forget to react when they get something right. Management is not only about focusing on the negative—in fact, it should be more about boosting your staff members’ ego by celebrating the positive. It is vital for business owners to show their employees that they appreciate their time and effort. Not only will this lead to a happier corporate culture and more loyal employees, but it will create more efficient workers.

A study found that when bosses show their employees they appreciate them, the workers become more empowered and productive. Another study held up these findings, citing that 69% of staffers worked harder when they felt the appreciation from their bosses.

Creative Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Employees

Small business owners tend to feel that they can’t afford to shower their employees with gifts. However, a show of gratitude and appreciation doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are low cost and even free ways to show that you care.

Award Ceremony

If you love to watch the Oscars, create your own award ceremony at the office. You can find low-cost medals or awards and engrave them with the achievements of your employees. It’s up to you if you want to focus on recognizing your top players, or create an award that will honor every member of your team. Don’t forget to include everyone, such as cleaning people or delivery drivers.

You can make this fun and silly, creating awards for categories such as “Best Dressed,” “Best Work Husband,” or “Most Deserving of a Break.”

Work-Related Coupons

We’re not talking about coupons to grocery stores here, but coupons that can be redeemed by employees when they need them. They can entitle your staffers to time off, an extended lunch, the ability to come in early or leave late, or time to pitch an amazing idea they have. This won’t cost you anything, but will empower your employees to use them when they may simply need a break or a boost at the office.

Special Perks at Work

If you ever got to be principal for the day at school, you know how special it felt to get that designation, at least for a short time. To show your employees you appreciate all that they do, offer them special perks at work.

This can involve choosing an employee of the month and then allowing them to be CEO for a day. You would obviously limit their power on top level decision making, but they can decide on other things, like what to order for lunch that day, to set a casual dress day, or to create a wacky day when everyone dresses up as superheroes.

The three ideas mentioned above are fun and low-budget, but they truly do work. Oftentimes, it’s not the monetary value of the gesture, but the simple act of showing appreciation. However, if you feel that your employees are deserving of something more, such as bonuses, turn to IOU Financial for a business loan. We work with small companies to offer hassle free and fast loans of up to $300,000. Contact us today to learn more.

Finance 101: Keeping Your Business Finances Organized

Managing your company’s finances is the most important part of running a business. Surprisingly, some business owners don’t know the first thing about organizing their finances. This is not only a problem because they can’t pinpoint exactly how much loss or profit they generate in a year, but for other, more serious concerns.

Companies often experience negative cash flows, especially during the startup phase. Some businesses are seasonal, and need a cash reserve to carry them through the slower months. If your business thrives, it will need an investment of funds to sustain growth.

If there is no management of funds, financial planning and savings, it can be detrimental to a business. In this article, we present Finance 101: Keeping your business organized with these tips:

Separate Personal and Business Finances

This may seem like no brainer, but many small business owners don’t realize they must maintain their personal and business finances separately. They charge both types of expenses on the same credit card, finance their business goals with personal loans and transfer profits into their personal banking account.

This presents a major headache at tax time, when either the business owner or their tax accountant must separate every expense into different categories, causing confusion. Plus, fusing finances can raise a red flag and lead IRS to audit your business.

Invest into Accounting Software

If you cannot afford to hire a dedicated accountant to manage your business expenses, purchase accounting software. Although there is likely to be a small learning curve with every new program, this is an efficient way to enter all of your spending, sales, payroll information, etc.

If the software is cloud-based, it will securely maintain your records online, making them accessible anywhere at anytime. This will cut down on your paper usage and make it much more efficient to view and change your financial information at any time.

Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Just as you require a social security number (SSN) to open personal accounts or register for government issued documents, your business needs its own tax number, called an EIN. You can easily apply for an EIN on the IRS website for free by following this link. This will be required to open credit cards and financial accounts, as well as retirement plans.

Consult a Professional

Every state and some cities have different laws and regulations about running a business. To make sure you are in compliance with these rules, are filing your taxes properly and know the ins and outs of payroll law, it is advantageous to consult a professional about these matters at least once per year.

These can involve certified public accountants (CPA), labor law attorneys and Human Resource administrators. You are not required to hire these professionals on permanently, but can use their services on an as-needed basis.

Although you will need to pay for their expertise, making sure you are following the law will save you from paying penalties or risk ruining your brand image and losing your business.

IOU Financial is committed to helping small businesses become financially secure. We specialize in hassle-free, easy and secure small business loans of up to $300,000. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to speak to us about qualifying for our loans.

Summer Refresh: Tips for Streamlining Your Business

While the summer months pick up business for some companies, it slows it down for others. Regardless if you fall into the first or second category, this season is the perfect time to refresh your business practices to streamline your company.

Halfway into the year, it is advantageous to set objectives in place that can be beneficial for the rest of the year, or strategize to plan for goals for the upcoming year. Review the ideas below to see what you can implement to streamline your company.

Review Goals vs. Accomplishments

As a business owner, it is important to set goals for yourself, your employees and your business every year. Most people do this before the year ends, making resolutions for the following year.

You may have intended to automate the customer service process, but simply have not gotten around to it. Or, you may have rolled out the program, but haven’t surveyed the customers or the employees to gather feedback about the progress.

Don’t wait until all 12 months go by to revisit those goals. The middle of the year is an important time to review what you set out to accomplish and mark your progress. This will allow you the opportunity to make changes to the status quo if you are not on track to meet your goals, rather than abandoning the tasks altogether.

Work With Your Team

Don’t forget to involve your colleagues in the process of streamlining your company. First, it’s important to review their progress as well and not wait until the year end to hold appraisals. Consider doing so at least twice a year to discuss the plans you had made in the previous year and evaluate your employees’ performance thus far.

When you meet with your staff members regularly instead of annually, it gives you an opportunity to discuss recent errors or mistakes and a bigger chance to fix them before performance truly starts to affect productivity.

On the other hand if your employees are exceeding their objectives, you will be able to recognize their efforts and show them that you value their hard work. This will empower them to work ever more efficiently and be loyal to your team.

In addition to appraisals, remember that your employees are the ones carrying out the daily tasks in your company. As such, they can give you the best ideas and advice about making efficient changes to your business. Hold regular meetings and reward those that offer innovative ideas that can help make your business more efficient.

Stay Organized

It’s difficult to run a business; one of the most common complaints from business owners is the fact that they never have enough time in the day. To be more productive and waste less time, it’s vital to stay organized.

Make sure you start summer off with a major spring clean of your office or job site. Although we are not talking about washing the floors, it’s helpful to look through the files, documents and other items in your office to decide what you can toss or recycle and what you need to keep.

Organize your files, both physical and electronic, as well as emails to make them easy to access and share with others.

Create a weekly schedule for yourself and your team, which you can re-evaluate daily to move the more pressing items to the top of the list. This will carve out the time you need to deal with top level tasks, leaving the less important matters for a later time.

There are countless ways you can streamline your business to take it to the next level. If you feel that financial help can help you achieve your goals, contact IOU Financial. We work with small and medium-sized businesses to offer secure, fast and easy small business loans. Call us today at 1-866-217-8564 or visit us online at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more.

 

Ways to Utilize Customer Stories for Growing Your Startup

Customer stories seem to be really powerful. Startups should be smart enough to take the fullest advantage of inspiring customer stories or customer experiences. We know that only a great product cannot spell success. For a startup to grow and succeed you would be requiring both great marketing and also, a great product.

Startups usually do not have amazing marketing budgets. They may not be in a position to splurge on a single advertising campaign. However, the best thing about startups is that they do not require thousands to spend on advertising. Startups are known to boast strengths that they could utilize for fueling their marketing and grabbing customers. Customer stories could be used effectively for achieving incredible growth. If your business gains a lot of recognition, you could earn a lot of profits and you could make all your business debt repayments promptly on time. Your startup would be prospering without any hiccups.

You have got to agree that there is a massive difference between simple promises and real results. Every startup promises to provide a solution to a particular issue that sounds pretty exciting. However, nothing could persuade potential customers better to purchase anything than when they are actually sure that it works perfectly. This is exactly where the customer stories fit in. Startups could use effective customer stories for demonstrating how their specific products or services would be solving problems and making things easier for you. Customer stories must be powerful enough to motivate potential customers to ultimately take the buying decision. Let us explore how customer stories actually help in boosting marketing.

How Customer Stories Help in Boosting Marketing

Customer stories or powerful case studies could be utilized all through the sales and marketing funnels. They are supposed to be truly important not simply because of their versatility and flexibility but because they play a pivotal role in the accomplishment of three core responsibilities.

They Help in Building Credibility

If you are a startup and have recently started your business, it is necessary for you to convince your customers of your credibility. You need to prove to potential customers that you are trustworthy. If you are able to successfully demonstrate that there are several other people who are relying on you and are pleased and happy with your company, it becomes easier for the prospects to appreciate your worth and take the final step confidently toward buying your product or service.

They Demonstrate & Prove How Your Product Actually Works

It is obviously tough for people to understand how a product would be functioning when it is actually presented to them, in the abstract. A case study that reveals the story about the way you have assisted your customer would help other customers to visualize precisely how they would be benefitted if they work with you.

They Would Be Assisting You in Up-Selling & Cross-Selling Customers

While creating a customer story, you would be asking your customers to actually share the slightest details of how they have been successful in generating higher profits by using your product or service. When your customers start reflecting on the various benefits they had experienced with the help of your product or service, it is quite likely that they would want some more services or products from you.

Ways to Create Convincing & Compelling Customer Stories

Effective customer stories could be taking different formats including videos, written stories, and audio recordings; however, the persuasive case studies would be having certain things in common.

They Would Be Talking About the Core of the Issue:

Prospects are interested in knowing if your products could solve the issues they are facing. You must communicate very clearly that you appreciate and understand the problems and the associated pain.

They Describe in Detail the Precise Solution You Provided:

When you describe in detail and talk about precisely how you had helped in solving the problem, your customers would be visualizing the solution clearly in their minds. They could easily visualize how your product would actually work.

They Demonstrate How Exactly the Customer Was Benefitted:

Precisely how much revenue was generated by your product? How much savings did the customer achieve? How much time did he save? How many new customers did your client gain after using your service or product? The more clearly you are able to highlight the benefits, the easier it would be for potential customers to understand your true worth.

They Use Actual Names & Pictures:

People would not be convinced if you present a wonderful case study without including the actual name of the company. Most customers are reluctant about sharing details and personal info with others. So, it is essential to ask upfront if your customer is actually willing to contribute personal details while participating in the exercise. Many customers, on the other hand, would be incredibly excited and enthusiastic about the entire affair and would cooperate with you.

Easy Tips to Promote Your Customer Stories

  • Publish your customer stories on your website.
  • Publish a fascinating blog post.
  • Share the customer story on your social media platforms.
  • Incorporate inspiring customer stories into your presentations.
  • Request your loyal customers to share your authentic customer stories with their contacts.
  • If your customer has done something newsworthy with the help of your product, turn your customer story into an important press release to grab a whole lot of attention.

Conclusion

Stories are supposed to be shared experiences. Humans are actually hard-wired toward receiving information basically through storytelling. So customer stories would work great wonders for the growth of your startup. Customer stories could truly improve your marketing, sales, and PR. However, the outcomes depend largely on how well you go about creating customer stories and utilizing them to your advantage. Startups are clever enough to take advantage of inspiring and persuasive customer experiences for achieving unprecedented growth.

Guest post: About the Author

Marina Thomas is a marketing and communication expert. She also serves as content developer with many years of experience. She helps clients in long term wealth plans. She has previously covered an extensive range of topics in her posts, including business debt consolidation and start-ups.

10 Email Newsletters Business Owners Should Subscribe To

It’s a very rare entrepreneur or small-business owner who couldn’t benefit from a little expert advice. How fortunate that there are so many sources of important information for owners, including books, courses, podcasts, forums, blogs, magazines, and newsletters. The best ones are quite valuable, because they explain topics from an expert’s point of view and that have immediate practical applicability. Here’s 10 of our favorite newsletters you can get delivered right to your inbox!

Startup Digest:

This newsletter includes multiple reading lists, so you can subscribe to specific areas and choose the frequency of emails you receive. Just about every startup-related topic is covered, from specific operational tasks to global strategies. The Digest can help you connect with other entrepreneurs and owners in your community.

Seller Labs:

This newsletter is devoted to owners who operate on Amazon as sellers, fulfillers, associates or in some other way. It will help you from running afoul of Amazon policy changes. Failure to follow Amazon’s rules can get you kicked off the platform and ruin your business, so if you do business on Amazon, getting this weekly newsletter is a smart idea.

SaaS Weekly:

This newsletter addresses issues dealing with businesses who offer software as a service. Each week it provides incisive articles and the latest news on all aspects of the SaaS industry. Whether your interested in increasing sales, introducing new services or just growing the company SaaS Weekly is a great read.

Tomasz Tunguz:

The writer runs a venture capital firm and contributes daily posts that are also packaged into emails. This is a good general source on all business topics. Just about every startup business owner will find valuable information here.

The Swipe File:

This newsletter addresses online marketing issues. If your goal is to increase website traffic and improve search results, Swipe File has actionable advice for you. In addition to discussions on topics like SEO, the newsletter offers tips on a wide range of subjects that entrepreneurs will find useful.

Mattermark Daily:

Interested in getting funding for your startup? Mattermark Daily curates posts from investors and business operators that shine a spotlight on the thought process that goes into investing and attracting investors. You’ll find out how your peers are growing their businesses and addressing challenges.

Charged:

Part newsletter, part podcast, Charged offers tech news that entrepreneurs can use. Especially important for those who want to anticipate technological innovations and how these will shape the marketplace. You read this newsletter to avoid being left behind by the latest innovations.

Statechery:

A daily newsletter that provides detailed explanations of the latest technology news. Look for sharp opinions that are based on solid data and industry expertise. A subscription costs $10/month, but it’s worth every penny.

First Round Review:

Published by a VC firm, this newsletter publishes articles from startup founders and directors that describe how they were able to secure funding. The advice is often very concrete and can help spur readers to kick fundraising into a higher gear.

Morning Cybersecurity:

If your business depends in any way on internet access, then cyberscecurity has got to be an important consideration. This daily newsletter looks at the intersection of politics and cybersecurity, a place that can have important implications for your business. If your business must keep sensitive data secure, you’ll want to read this newsletter.

The Hidden Costs of Starting a Business to Look Out For

As exciting as launching your own business can be, it’s important to remember that success rarely comes for free. The saying “you need to spend money, to make money” is one that often comes up in the entrepreneurial world. However, while many would-be business owners know that they’re going to have to tap into their savings to get their company off the ground, they’re not fully aware of the expenses that can be involved in running a business.

According to one study from the Kauffmann Foundation, startup costs for a small business can average out at around $30,000. Of course, the amount it costs to get your organization running will depend on a number of things, including how much your product costs to make, and how much you have to pay for things like overhead and utilities.

While startup costs in any industry can pile up relatively quickly, knowing what to expect can mean that you’re better prepared when you’re planning for things like website development, real-estate, and initial inventory costs. Here, we’ll be looking at some of the hidden costs that business owners often overlook in the excitement of starting a new venture.

Insurance

When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to think that all you need is an internet connection and a healthy supply of inventory to start making a profit. However, there are a lot of other expenses to think about if you want to launch your company successfully and protect it in the long-term. For instance, insurance provides you with a critical safety net in case anything goes wrong when you’re running your company.

Although you might not feel as though you need insurance at first, as time goes on, the need for various forms of protection is likely to increase. For instance, you may need not only small business insurance, but also liability insurance, omissions and errors insurance, workers compensation, and more.

How much you’ll need to spend on any policy will depend on various factors, including the size and type of business you’re running, your industry, location, and any previous issues you might have had. You can easily spend more than a thousand dollars each year on insurance alone.

Employee Perks and Benefits

While you may have already thought of “salary” as one of the many expenses you’ll need to deal with as a new company, a lot of entrepreneurs overlook the importance of those added extras that make employment so appealing to their staff. Benefits and perks are a crucial component of what you pay out each month, and according to some studies, the average cost can run to about 1.4 times the basic rate of pay.

This means that a $50,000 wage could quickly become about $70,000 by the time you’ve finished accounting for healthcare, vacation time, and other perks. Make sure that you know exactly how much you’re going to pay altogether before you start promising your employees the world.

Alternatively, you could work with freelancers that wouldn’t expect the above-mentioned benefits. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t offer some perks. Something as simple, and comparatively less-expensive, as a monthly fresh-roasted coffee subscriptioncould do the trick or a gift card to a restaurant they mentioned they like.

Permits and Fees

Depending on the industry you choose to operate in, and the types of things you want to sell, you may need to invest in a number of fees and permits just to make your company legal. Some business owners don’t realize just how much cash can go into things like liquor licenses and retail permits. The best way to make sure you’re prepared is to do your research into the necessary expenses for your industry before you launch your business. For instance, you might need:

  • A fire department permit if your business deals with flammable materials
  • An air and water pollution permit if your company burns any materials or use products that produce gas (including paint sprayers)
  • County permits that allow you to trade within your chosen neighborhood
  • Sales tax licenses or certificates of authenticity
  • Health department permits if you run a business that deals with food and drink

Taxes

Taxes are one of the most frustrating parts of running your own business. When you were an employee of another company, the chances are that you probably didn’t spend too much time thinking about your taxes. While you likely paid your fair share, most of the hard work will have been automated by your payroll department. This means that you barely noticed the money going out of your bank account.

Unfortunately, when you become a self-employed business owner, things get a lot more complicated. Self-employment tax can cost a lot more than you might think, and it can also lead to other expenses that are associated with managing your cash flow. For instance, if you want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes on your returns, you might want to invest in a professional accountant.

Administrative Costs

Administrative costs are sneaky. A lot of companies assume that they only have to pay out once for things like phones, computers, printers, and office supplies, and then they’re done until something breaks. Unfortunately, administrative costs can become an ongoing expense when you think about the costs of software licenses, paper, ink, and even paperclips.

Individually, the everyday items you buy like office cleaning supplies and healthy snacksmight not cost very much. However, as your business grows, you may find that your administrative costs quickly add up to a significant price tag. Buying in bulk early can help to keep your expenses down in some cases.

Shrinkage

Finally, shrinkage is a common expense often overlooked by retailers who sell physical products. If you run your own brick and mortar business, or even when you’re selling physical items online, there’s always a chance that shrinkage can occur. In fact, some numbers suggest that shrinkage can cost retailers up to $45 billion each year!

Shrinkage can happen for a number of reasons, from packages that get lost during shipping, to issues with shoplifting and employee theft. Even something as simple as a paperwork error can cause you some serious problems with your cashflow. The good news is that if you catch the signs of shrinkage early, you can sometimes reduce your risk. However, most companies will find that’s impossible to eliminate shrinkage entirely.

Ultimately, there are plenty of expenses involved with running a company that are easy to overlook – particularly when it’s your first time as an entrepreneur. Making a list like the one above and making sure that you’re prepared for every expense can prevent you from facing a nasty shock when you launch your company.

Starting your business takes funding! IOU Financial is ready to help. Contact us to learn how you can get qualified for a small business loan of up to $300,000 in just 24-48 hours!

Guest post: About the Author

Raj Jana launched his own business when he realized that there weren’t enough sustainable solutions out there for those in search of their daily caffeine fix. When he’s not busy running JavaPresse, he shares his stories and experiences with the world through blogs and articles.