How to Reward Employees Without Breaking the Bank

Us humans are driven by incentive, and modern leaders understand the importance of rewarding high-performing employees. While typical ways of doing so include bonuses and pay raises, oftentimes small business owners can’t afford to reward their employees monetarily. If you are in the start-up phase of growing your business, you don’t have to forego rewarding your staff members; instead you just need to get creative in rewarding them without breaking the bank.

4 Great Ways to Reward Your Employees Without Money

Simple Recognition

If you want to make your employees feel appreciated, oftentimes all it takes is to voice your  gratitude. If one of the members of your team just turned in a well-researched project, or another one handled a customer service issue in an appropriate manner, simply acknowledging their efforts and saying thank you can be enough of a reward for your employees.

If you want to take your appreciation a step further, you can send out a departmental or company-wide email recognizing the efforts of one of the staff members. Alternatively, you can set up an “Employee of the Month Program” where you choose one employee who has gone above and beyond that month.

Although none of these initiatives will cost your company one penny, they will make your employees feel noticed and appreciated for their efforts, and will encourage others to some friendly competition for recognition.

Time with the Boss

Most bosses are incredibly busy, and don’t have a lot of individual time to dedicate to each of their team members. However, it is extremely important to your employees to spend that time with you, which will help you create a meaningful relationship and a bond that will encourage them to be loyal to your organization.

One way to reward your employees is to dedicate some one-on-one time to a different high achiever on a weekly basis. You can take this person out to lunch; but if this is not within your budget, you can simply take a walk together or even meet in your office.

Dedicating this time to your employee will show them that you care about them, their thoughts and opinions and plans for the future. Make sure to spend that time focusing on the employee; however. This can be a time for mentoring or giving valuable advice that can help them grow in their positions.

Best Parking Spot

Parking is a hot commodity in many metropolitan areas, and many employees need to pay for their own spot, park far away or forgo driving to work altogether. As a reward for a top-performing employee, why not give them the best parking spot your company has? Even if you only have one dedicated spot that you use, that could be a great incentive for your employees that will not cost you a dime.

Ask Them

If you’re not sure what is the best way to reward your employee, why don’t you ask them about what they prefer? Some may choose a paid day off, while another one may want to reassign a project that they’re not interested in on another colleague. Within reason, letting your employees choose their own rewards will make them feel valued and important.

If your employees have truly gone above and beyond and have shown how much they are committed to the team, you may consider investing in giving them financial rewards. After all, that is a way to stay competitive within your industry and keep your employees loyal to your company.

IOU Financial is dedicated to helping you with this goal. Contact us today to find out about our quick and easy small business loans of up to $500,000.

 

Printing Marketing Collateral on a Budget: Tips, Tricks & More

You own a small business and you need printed marketing collateral. You have some great ideas for your business cards, flyers, brochures, and other materials, but there is just one problem: You are working with a very limited budget. Many business owners have faced this dilemma, so you certainly are not alone. The good news? You don’t have to have a million-dollar budget to create printed marketing materials that are both eye-catching and effective.

Whether you are a restaurant owner in need of new menus, a boutique owner in need of new signs for your displays, or a photographer in need of new postcards for your direct mail marketing campaign, you can save yourself a lot of money on the materials you need by printing them yourself.

Today’s printers—even many of the budget-friendly models—are capable of producing an impressive output. Whether you are working with a top-of-the-line laser printer or you have a simple desktop inkjet printer, you can make your own marketing materials at a fraction of the cost of hiring a pro. Here are a few tips and tricks for printing your own marketing collateral on a budget.

Keep It Simple

When you plan on printing your own marketing materials, it is best to keep them simple. This is especially true when you are designing your own materials without past design experience. If you use too many fonts, colors, or images, you risk creating collateral that is confusing or has a negative impact on your marketing strategy.

Keeping your design simple is the best way to ensure that your marketing collateral will look great and convey a clear message. If you are not confident in your ability to create an eye-catching design, there are plenty of affordable graphic designers on sites like Fiverr. Hiring a freelancer who is just starting out is a great way to get an amazing logo or a design for your marketing materials without spending a fortune.

Use the Right Paper

There are several different types of paper, and it is important to choose something that is well-suited to your project. You should also purchase high-quality paper stock to ensure that your collateral both looks and feels good. The quality of the paper you choose can create a lasting impression. The higher the quality, the better the impression you will make. If you use low-quality paper, you could create a negative perception of your brand, and that is the last thing you want your marketing materials to do.

Buy the Right Printer

The printer you use is just as important as the paper you are printing on if not more important. While you probably already have a printer, it may not be the best one for printing your own marketing collateral. Even if you are working with an extremely limited budget, purchasing a good printer is a worthwhile investment. Keep in mind that some printers do a great job of printing high-resolution photographs and graphics while others are perfect for producing text documents. Think carefully about what your marketing collateral looks like and what you need your printer to do.

For most businesses, an inkjet printer is a must-have when printing marketing collateral. They do a much better job of printing in color than laser printers, and they require a much smaller upfront investment. You may want to consider choosing a printer that uses pigment-based ink rather than dye-based ink. While cheaper, dye-based ink tends to fade faster, so it is not the best choice for creating marketing materials that last. Canon inkjet printers offer exceptional quality at reasonable prices.

Use the Right Ink

Purchasing ink that is designed to fit in your printer is, of course, vital. You may not have realized, though, that there are different types of ink that are intended for different projects. When you are printing marketing materials, your primary goal should be ensuring that each piece comes out looking crisp and perfect. To achieve this goal, you need to use the right ink. For starters, use OEM ink cartridges or remanufactured ink cartridges from a reputable manufacturer. Compatible ink cartridges are often acceptable, too, but you need to be careful when purchasing them. Read reviews and make sure the ones you purchase are sold by a third-party company that you can trust.

Adjust Your Printer Settings

Most printers have several settings that can be adjusted to ensure the best possible quality. Many devices allow you to quickly select between low-quality and high-quality output. While this is a good place to start, there are other settings that you need to pay attention to.

Select the type of paper you are using. This enables your printer to create the best quality output whether you are using plain printer paper, glossy paper, matte paper, etc. Also, select the correct size for the paper you are using. By doing this, you are ensuring that your printer can properly scale your design to fit on the paper you are using.

Do Test Prints

Before you set your printer to print a few hundred flyers, postcards, or any other type of marketing material, be sure to do a test print. While your design may look great on your computer screen, it may look totally different when your printer spits it out. Doing a test print provides an opportunity to find and correct any issues prior to running an entire stack of high-quality paper through your printer and wasting it. When you are working on a limited budget, the last thing you want to do is waste your materials.

Conclusion

Printing your own marketing collateral is a good way to save yourself a bundle and, thanks to the quality of today’s printers, it’s a project that anyone can tackle. With the right ink, printer, and paper, you can create business cards, postcards, flyers, brochures, and other materials that rival the quality of professionally printed documents at a fraction of the cost.

Guest Post: About the Author

Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.

Small Business Tax Deductions You Should Know About

2019 continues the new tax regime passed two years ago that proved so friendly to business. The corporate tax rate now tops out at 21 percent. While that’s great for reducing your tax bill, it also means that deductions are worth less than they used to. Nonetheless, deductions help you save money and might make the difference between an overall profit and loss.

Qualified Business Income (QBI)

You can deduct up to 20 percent of your QBI from a U.S. business that operates as something other than a C Corporation. It also works for the self-employed, trusts and estates. Wage income and C Corp income do not benefit from this deduction. The deduction has certain other conditions:

  • Maximum income: Joint filers $315,000, others $157,500. Deductions above these thresholds may be limited.
  • Limit: Lesser of (20 percent QBI + 20 percent REIT dividends + 20 percent publicly traded partnership income), or (20 percent of taxable income minus net capital gains)

Bonus Depreciation

It’s back! We’re talking about 100 percent bonus depreciation that allows you to deduct the entire cost of qualifying assets with useful lifetimes up to 20 years. In addition, the cap on expensing business assets instead of depreciating them is $1 million, phasing out dollar for dollar once you place assets worth more than $2.5M into service. The universe of depreciable assets is wider, and includes lodging furnishings (refrigerators, stoves and beds), HVAC equipment, roofs, and security and alarm systems. They’ve cut farm equipment depreciation periods from seven to five years.

Business Vehicles

Bonus depreciation on business vehicles obtained after September 27, 2017 and put into service in 2018 is capped at $18,000 in year one, $16,000 in year two, $9,600 in year three, and $5,670 thereafter. If you buy a heavy pickup truck or SUV for business, you can qualify for up to 100 percent deduction in year one.

Entertainment Expenses

These generally are no longer available. But you can still deduct holiday parties. You can deduct up to 50 percent of your employees’ meals while traveling on business. The 50 percent deduction on client business meals appears to be intact, but double-check with your tax professional.

Commuter Benefits

Employers can no longer deduct transportation benefits for employees. This includes mass transit passes and parking. However, employers can deduct up to $20/month to subsidize employees who ride their bicycles to work. Alas, these bike riders will be taxed on the benefit. Employees can set aside up to $260 a month in pre-tax money to cover vanpools, mass transit passes and parking.

Net Operating Loss (NOL)

You can offset up to 80 percent of taxable income with NOL in future years. You can carry forward NOL offset indefinitely, rather than just 20 years under the old tax law. You can no longer carry back NOL.

Family Paid-Leave Credit

For 2018 and 2019, you get a tax credit for workers on paid medical or family leave. The credit amount equals 12.5 percent of the wages paid during the leave. That credit is larger when the employers pay workers on leave more than half of their normal wages. There are many strings attached to this credit, so check with your tax professional.

Cash Method of Accounting

If you are a C Corporation, you can use the cash method of accounting if your average gross receipts over the previous three years was less than $25 million. The cap used to be $5 million. This also applies to LLCs and partnerships owned by a C Corporation.

The Best News

The best news is that business loan interest is still deductible! IOU Financial will lend your business up to $500k and you can deduct every penny of interest. So why wait? Contact us today!

Smarter Offices: Tips to Automate and Update Your Workplace

What is your organization willing to do for a more efficient workforce? You can’t log on to the internet without seeing the impact of chatbots, AI or the Internet of Things (IoT) that make our devices and appliances even smarter. Some corporations are issuing Segways and microchipping employees to provide easier access to everything from building entry to snacks. Let’s take a look at what else is in store for the future.

Smart Offices Are Among Us

With technology that once seemed only the purview of sci-fi flicks, modern gadgets are now replacing the physical boundaries of traditional business with virtual pathways and surprising innovations. This phenomenon extends past the physical barriers between your company’s employees and clients; it encompasses solutions from the use of convenient websites with helpful chatbots to incorporating tech in the physical equipment of your office.

Check out these examples of a smart office:

  • Internet of Things: IoT is a network concept that can power your office with smart lights, virtual reality cameras, thermostats, speakers, and other tools to help employees feel more comfortable and concentrate better on work, even from remote locations.
  • Interconnectivity: Smart devices like relays, dimmers, and smart switches can be set up to power the office efficiently and conserve energy. Sensors detect and control UV light, temperature, and ambient light levels to operate smart windows that keep out radiation while maximizing natural light. Apps activated from wearable tech can provide instant access to Slack and similar communication-and-convenience apps so employees can order snacks or coffee from their desks.
  • Machine learning: Knowledge management and leadership tools area already taking advantage of machine learning. You can seamlessly integrate technologies that automate meeting management, file management, and interoffice communications. Employees can answer emails in a fraction of the normal time with accurate voice-to-text tools and explore other ways tech can help them concentrate on the tasks at hand.

Tech for Employees

Whether employees are looking for easier commutes or sitting/standing desks for a healthier workplace experience, there’s plenty of tech available to help make it happen. Check it out:

  • The use of standing desks and sitting/standing desks is gaining momentum in the office. When you alternate standing and sitting, you avoid back pain and remain more alert throughout the day. GeekDesk, Uplift Desk, UpDesk, VariDesk, and Humanscale are models that help employees stay healthy and productive.
  • Self-driving vehicles, like the Tesla Autopilot, are already out there. However, Volkswagen has announced plans to roll on autonomous vehicles on a much larger scale. Starting the workday while still on the commute could eliminate lost hours on the road and allow for fewer hours in the office.
  • Modern offices feature open, inviting spaces that put dark cubicles in the past where they belong and encourage collaboration and productivity.
  • Millennials and Generation Z are children of the digital era who love working with cool gadgets, like taking calls with Echo Dot, a compact speaker that connects to Google’s Alexa voice control. This kind of connectivity can help your youngest workers avoid the stress of unplugging that many of their generation suffer.
  • These young workers also use digital apps to address any task they can — for instance, calculating taxes via smartphone, warming or cooling homes remotely, or feeding pets long-distance. Make sure you’re offering digital options available to shorten workers’ wait times and to-do lists in the office.
  • Smart tools can also prevent repetitive stress injuries that cause carpal tunnel and similar conditions. Voice-activated gadgets and voice-to-text functionality embedded in office applications help reduce the amount of typing needed and give fingers a break.
  • Technology has changed conference and boardrooms, too. Many companies have implemented AI tech for conferencing that orders the tech needed for a video call with colleagues around the world, or for webinars with clients. These smart systems are self-diagnostic and can report any issues they’re experiencing as well as collect data to streamline future operations. Amazon’s Alexa for Business is a forerunner in this area, but future applications will enable workers to multitask through voice or typed commands to connect to digital tools seamlessly.

Tech for Customers

Customer and client applications will greatly benefit from the latest tech, too.

  • Customer service and client communication will also benefit from new technologies. Chromecast and Apple TV, small network appliances that can receive digital data from multiple sources, are already ideal for conferences and PowerPoint presentations. Zoom is a video call tool that only requires a 9-digit number to join.
  • Chatbots improve customers’ experience by answering simple questions on demand, collecting client information to offer personalized recommendations, and providing expanded pathways for marketing and sales.
  • Three Square Market administrates mini-markets in hospitals, hotels, and businesses. To use the market, customers have microchips implanted under their skin, which allow them to make purchases with the swipe of a finger.

Smart office tech still comes with a large price tag; however, those costs can be expected to come down, thanks to economies of scale, as more businesses join the movement. With Generation Z and millennials becoming increasingly dominant players in business and commerce, most of these trends aren’t just likely to become widely adopted — they’re inevitable. Get a head start now on improving employee and customer experiences through smart tech, and you’ll find your business in a position to thrive in the future.

Guest Post: About the Author

Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of www.BusinessWomanGuide.org, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.

 

Is There Truth to the Morning Routines of the Successful?

Most of us have a similar morning routine— we brush our teeth, have a cup of coffee, get dressed and head out to the office. Or do we? Is there something that the ultra-successful entrepreneurs do in the morning that is vastly different from the rest of us? Do successful people have a specific morning routine that has helped them realize their goals? Read on to find out if a “success morning routine” is valid or is just a hoax.

Earlier Wake Up Times

Benjamin Spall of New York Times interviewed 300 successful people over a span of 5 years to see what they do in the morning that sets them apart from everyone else. He was not able to find a “secret formula” that led to prosperity with absolute certainty, but did did discover certain practices that successful people tended to focus on in the mornings.

The author found that the majority of the people set their alarms every morning depending on where and when they have to be. A common practice for the rest of us is to wake up as late as possible to get to work on time, but the ultra-successful have a different understanding of when they need to start their day.

He found that the average wake up time for those that he interviewed was 6:27AM, but most of the people experimented with the time that would work best for them. Give yourself a month and try waking up an hour and a half, an hour and 30 minutes before your usual time to see if you can give yourself extra time in the morning to start your day better. Perhaps, if you’re not rushing and are more prepared for your day, you will also be more successful.

Start the Day Off with a Preferred Activity

Although you may not be a morning person and hate the rush at the start of the day, successful people reinvented their mornings to better suit their needs, according to Spall. They tend to give themselves enough time to start the day with an activity that they enjoy—this can involve meditation, exercise or simply quietly reading a book.

If you begin the day was something that you enjoy, you will likely be in a better mood and better prepared to tackle the challenges of the rest of the day as well.

Have a Family Breakfast

Forbes magazine reports that the ultra-successful make time to have daily breakfast together with their loved ones. Doing so helps them distress and start the day surrounded by people that they love.

Plus, sitting down for breakfast tends to lead to healthier diet choices rather than grabbing a muffin or a breakfast sandwich on the way to work. And, nobody needs to be told about the importance of a healthy breakfast at the beginning of the day.

Create a To-Do List

It may come as no surprise that successful people know how to set and achieve their goals. A common practice for them is to create a to-do list first thing in the morning when they get to the office. This helps them to prioritize the most important tasks, and dedicate enough time to them to make sure that they are completed by deadline.

Although there’s no blueprint for an AM routine which will help you get ahead, giving yourself more time in the morning to do something that you enjoy with others that you love and setting daily goals will definitely help you become happier and more productive, which is the ultimate definition of success.

Inspired to make more changes toward success? Check out our list of FREE resources. Smart Sheets are Excel based spreadsheets that allow simple data to transform for visualized business analysis. Use these along with our Business Guides to help you run your small business like a pro!

 

How to Build Up a Powerful Marketing Campaign

What does a marketing campaign have to be so that we call it powerful? Some people would say that it has to “get the job done,” e.g. – sell a product or service as well as the marketer himself anticipated. While it is true that a powerful marketing campaign paints the product in the best possible light, there is so much more to it.

A powerful marketing campaign evokes emotions. It stimulates comments, as well as etching itself into the memory of people who are targeted by it. How can you achieve all this with only one campaign? It’s a multi-step process, and you can easily master it with the following tips.

Think about what’s wrong with your existing strategy

Starting from scratch is easier said than done, so it’s always better to start with a thorough assessment of your current strategy. How long have you been implementing it? Are you satisfied?

To get the best “viewpoint,” write down ten things that are working and ten things that are not. Separating functional from non-functional elements will make each of the next moves much easier to orchestrate.

As you analyze the strategy, you will know what good things to keep and repeat and which segments are unfit for your goals. Speaking about goals – how much time do you devote to creating them?

Set realistic goals

There are no better key performance indicators (KPIs) than clearly-defined and achievable goals. Think about what you want to achieve with your marketing campaign. Do you want to set the groundwork for the launch of a new product? Do you want to increase customer loyalty? Setting goals can be easily separated into the following steps.

  1. Separate bigger goals into smaller sub-goals.
  2. Write a project brief or outsource it using writing services.
  3. Assign every single segment of a goal to the team member you believe will execute it the best.
  4. Cross off goals that you have accomplished. The mere visual representation of what you managed to do is the best motivation!

Never set a goal if you’re unsure you can achieve it. Funneling time and resources into unattainable plans will derail your marketing campaign before it even started. Be careful.

Know your audience

When building up a powerful marketing campaign, efficiency is the most important factor. This requires knowing exactly what kind of people might be interested in your products or service.

Each platform contains a unique group of individuals that just might be your next customer. By monitoring the data that you receive from previous campaigns, you can map out a detailed buyer persona.

Who is your average buyer? How old are they? Do they like videos or infographics more? There must not be any questions left unanswered if you wish to create a powerful marketing campaign. By knowing your audience, you will ensure that they will take an interest in your brand, signaling the beginning of a relationship.

You will also benefit greatly in a financial sense, as well. 77% of all email marketing ROI comes from campaigns that were previously segmented. Choosing the target and hitting it is the key.

Don’t follow trends, set them

Following trends is integral when building up a powerful marketing campaign. Knowing what’s popular and what’s not can give your campaign shape. But, do you always want to be a follower? A really powerful marketing campaign starts a trend and makes it one with the brand.

Take this GE campaign as an example. GE first invited influencers on a tour of their company, with a goal to show that their business isn’t as dull as it seems.

Soon, people caught onto the hashtag and started posting their own images. Just like that, GE started a trend. People observed what they did and started doing the same. Overall, this GE campaign resulted in:

  • 8 million views of their Instagram profile
  • 3 million outreach per each tour
  • 000+ new followers

Setting the trend doesn’t require you to change the world. Think of something new that might catch on and your campaign will be truly powerful. The best way to achieve this is by using content.

Reinforce every product and service with content

The most powerful campaigns aren’t the ones that only focus on selling. Instead, they are executed to spread awareness and focus on both short-term and long-term goals. To add identity to your marketing campaign, you have to reinforce it with content. What should you watch out for?

  • Be versatile. Don’t be afraid to switch it up. Post more than just text. Make videos, infographics, and even animations to engage your audience.
  • Think about the most common problems of your target audience. Write blog posts that relate to these problems specifically and address them in a helpful, but determined manner.
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource. Use tools such as xpertwriters.com to order custom content. Outsourcing content serves two purposes. It decreases the overall workload of your team, and it gives you an example for future reference.

Look for collaborators

Why not make your powerful marketing campaign a joint effort? The most powerful campaigns are conducted on multiple channels, which is mainly due to collaborations.

Think about all the prominent bloggers and influencers in your niche. Collaborate with them! Guest post on their website, interview them and promote them as they promote you.

When people see that you are connected within your niche, it will automatically give you marketing campaign credibility. In addition to this, sites more popular than yours will cause an influx of new potential customers. You will have traffic coming from many different sources, causing your brand to truly branch out in terms of online presence.

Be consistent with your content marketing strategy

As you create a myriad of content to help you market your brand, it’s important that you don’t stop. If you post content on a regular basis, people will start looking at your blog/website as a reliable source of information. This will lead to much higher customer retention and improve your brand’s performance across the board.

Plan in advance for different types of content and analyze everything you can. If you’re short on inspiration, you can always draw ideas from your past posts. Expand on a certain detail or even transform them completely. Turn an old blog into a new podcast or a wall of text into a fun infographic. The opportunities are endless.

Concluding thoughts

A powerful marketing campaign is all about being determined and willing to think outside the box. Remember to segment your audience, be consistent and always set new realistic goals. One bout of success will influence the future of your brand, giving you the opportunity to make even more powerful marketing campaigns.

Guest Post: About the Author 

Alexandra Reay has been working as a journalist and editor in one of the finest Melbourne publishing agencies for 3 years. She is also a professional content writer who prefers to do research on the following topics – self-improvement, technology innovations, global education development ets. Feel free to contact her at Twitter.

5 Tips for Better Inventory Management

There are dozens of ways to improve your inventory management. In this article, we have five important tips for establishing you beginning of year inventory so that you can report your taxes correctly.

The Internal Revenue Service requires you to value your inventory at year’s end so that you can determine your cost of goods sold, or COGSs, gross profits and taxable income. The IRS assumes your beginning inventory for one year is equal to the ending inventory of the previous year — if it isn’t, you must tell the IRS why. To prepare your tax returns, you need to establish your year-end inventory value, either by taking physical counts or by using an estimation method approved by the IRS.

Tip 1 – Prepare for Inventory Count

If you establish your inventory value through a physical count, your preparations depend on how you keep inventory records. If you use an automated inventory management system, you can quickly switch from normal operations to inventory counting in the waning days of the year. Paper-based inventory systems are inherently slower and require you to have stationary inventory before beginning to count. You might need to freeze paperwork, receiving, manufacturing, purchasing and shipping several days before year-end to ensure that no inventory moves into or out of your storage area during the count.

Tip 2 – Count Your Inventory Efficiently

If your inventory is small, counting by hand might suffice. However, many companies use devices such as barcode readers and radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags to speed the process. RFID readers count inventory by receiving electronic transmissions — they do not require line-of-sight access to inventory. Even if you maintain a perpetual inventory system, you can still choose to take a year-end count. This allows you to adjust your inventory value to match the information you collect, and helps detect shrinkage, damage and other problems. The IRS requires you to take a physical inventory at “reasonable” intervals to ensure accuracy.

Tip 3 – Use the Perpetual Inventory Method

The IRS allows you to use avoid year-end counting in two ways — perpetual inventory and the retail method. A perpetual inventory system immediately captures the receipt, movement and sale of inventory, relying on inventory tracking technology and an automated inventory management system. The IRS requires your perpetual inventory system to record the actual cost of inventory you buy, produce, use, transfer or sell. Your ending inventory must also reflect the value of beginning inventory.

Tip 4 – Consider the Retail Method

The IRS permits you to estimate ending inventory, and thus next year’s beginning inventory, via the retail method. To apply the method, you must calculate a cost-to-price ratio for goods you sell. You apply this ratio to sales revenue to determine your COGS. Subtract COGS from the sum of beginning inventory and the cost inventory acquired during the year. The result is your ending inventory cost. If you sell different classes of goods — the normal situation for many retail stores — you should calculate a cost-to-price ratio for each separate class and track acquisitions and sales by class.

Tip 5 – Expand Your Inventory

If you want to grow your company, try expanding your inventory through a business loan. This will allow you to purchase more inventory and more storage space in support of expanded sales. If you can efficiently manage an inventory of X size, the jump to 1.5X or 2X should not present insurmountable problems, and in return you can expand your sales revenues without a proportional increase in operational costs, due to economies of scale. Contact IOU Financial to arrange an inventory loan and watch your bottom line grow!

 

10 Onboarding Kit Ideas to Make Your New Employees Feel Welcome

So, you’ve hired some new team members, but how do you give them the warmest possible welcome? For many smart companies, the answer is to shower them with branded swag on day one! And it’s not a bad strategy—surprising new hires with welcome kits is a great way to instill company pride from the get-go and to encourage a positive work environment. As long as you make it creative, personal, useful and (perhaps most important) welcoming, you can be sure your brand-new co-worker will be glad he or she took the leap to join your organization. Here are some awesome onboarding kit ideas to make new hires feel right at home.

Include Something Personal

No matter how many logo hoodies, pens and sunglasses you throw into a given kit, nothing says “we’re glad you’re here” quite like a personalized note. Before the first day, pass around a welcome sign or card to the entire team to sign, with personalized notes, signatures and tips for brand-new hires. If you already know a little something about the newbie—maybe she’s an athlete, a music lover or a foodie—try to tailor a goodie bag to suit her personality.

Include Something They Can Wear

At the end of the day, employees are representatives of your brand. And if they believe in it, they will share it with everyone they love, acting as natural (and free) promoters. Thus, keeping employees proud and happy is key to solidifying a good Glassdoor review and reputation within the industry or community. Allow new hires to show their company pride with an onboarding kit that includes promotional apparel, like custom hoodies and tees.

Include Something That’s Useful

What do the welcome kits of the most forward-thinking companies have in common? Uber, Randstad, Facebook, IBM and eBay all give new employees the same single piece of branded swag: a branded notebook. The truth is that logo items simply get more use when they’re useful, so you can trust that they’ll stay in the game for years to come. Consider adding custom mouse pads, pens, planners and sticky notes to your onboarding kit for a practical appeal.

Include Something They Can Eat

You’ll be the onboarding hero if you add something sweet to your welcome kits! The idea is to pair valuable, branded items like apparel with affordable yet crowd-pleasing extras, such as candy, beverages and snacks. If your new set of hires has relocated for the position, make sure to give your onboarding kit a local flair with regional sweets and treats that welcome employees to the area and your company.

Include Something You Sell

If you have the ability to give every single employee your best-selling product or service, do so. This is more than just a perk for new hires; it’s also a way for them to get acquainted with the things they’ll be working with or using every day and to provide real, usable advice to potential customers, family and friends. Of course, if your service is an intangible—such as software or an app—be sure to offer all new hires the premium or top-tier version for personal and work use for free.

Include Something They Can Share

Again, your employees serve not only as the scaffolding of your business, but also as promoters and believers of what you do. In this spirit, it helps if you encourage your new hires to spread the word about your business with their closest family, friends and colleagues, and they’ll be much more likely to do this if they can hand out stickers, pens or buttons. Be sure that you don’t put pressure on this (especially if promotion isn’t their job), but simply mention that sharing is caring!

Include Something to Carry it All in

If you love the idea of creating a super neat, self-contained welcome kit for new employees, consider tying it all up in a pretty little package that serves dual purposes, like a custom promotional bag. These carry-alls serve as personalized gift bags and swag in their own right, so they’re pretty much guaranteed to check all your branding and welcoming boxes! Opt for something you know will get use, like a custom tote bag, drawstring bag or backpack.

Include Something in Your Company’s Spirit

Don’t choose onboarding kit items at random. Piece together swag and gifts that celebrate the essence and vibe of your company. Say, for example, your company is a fitness tracking app. Your employees will surely be interested in staying fit, so consider welcoming them with company water bottles. If your company is all about the high-tech, then a custom wireless speaker is a great option. All about the cool factor? Obviously, it’s got to be custom sunglasses!

Include Something Industry-Specific

Not everything in your welcome kit needs to be branded. Mixing in useful, iconic and industry-specific extras will give your swag kits a big-picture feel, helping to honor the history or importance of your work. For example, a limited-edition version of a significant book—Gray’s Anatomy for medical pros, The Elements of Style for writers, etc.—will always delight passionate employees!

Include Cool Finishing Touches

The devil’s in the details, as they say! Some of the most memorable and unique onboarding kits we’ve seen perfectly honor a brand’s spirit with special unboxing experiences, beautiful packaging and messaging and colors that honor a company’s branding and culture. Tie it all together by creating a new hire welcome basket that newbies will want to share on social media!

When designing your employee onboarding kits, make sure that they’re three things simultaneously: personal, inspiring and creative. The goal is to make your new hires feel like they’re part of the team—and part of something overall positive and inclusive—and to encourage them to build loyalty and pride so that they work hard and stay with your company well into the future!

Guest Post: About the Author

Lee Becknell serves as the Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. She oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years.