Starting a Home-Based Business: What You Need to Know

Starting a home-based business takes a lot of hard work, but for millions of Americans, it really pays off. More and more people are discovering the possibilities of being small business owners on their own terms as the nine-to-five workday increasingly becomes a thing of the past. Even large companies are hiring freelancers who can work remotely in order to save on costs, from insurance to office space.

Growing a business from your home can be extremely lucrative and rewarding, but it has to start with careful planning in order to work. Not only do you have to be very focused and have goals set from the beginning, you also have to remain motivated throughout the process of garnering clients and expanding your business. Fortunately, there are several tools at your disposal, from websites to grants and other funding opportunities.

Keep reading to find out how you can start a home-based business and what you need to succeed.

Know Your Stuff

Before you start thinking about the details, it’s important to look at big-picture things first. You’ll want to be very knowledgeable when it comes to the area you want your business to be in, and you’ll need some experience, too. Very few entrepreneurs have found success with a business that they’ve never worked with before. For instance, if you want to become a consultant, you need to be well educated in whatever area you want to consult in, acquire the right licenses and certifications, and stay patient as you grow your business. Keeping realistic expectations is imperative for entrepreneurs.

Hire the Right Help

Depending on the nature of your business, it may be in your best interest to hire people to get yourself up and running, and keep it operating as a successful venture once it’s fully launched. Even if you plan an independent business that you fully oversee, ask yourself if there are people you can recruit to make you stand out among the competition. For example, if you’re going to be selling handmade works of art on a site like Etsy, should you hire a professional photographer to take eye-catching photos of your products? Has your company grown so successful that you need a second (or third or fourth) set of hands to help you create your crafts? Think about what types of employees will take your business to the next level, and then start lining up interviews. Be sure you’ve adequately prepared yourself on the job interview process by doing your research on what to ask, what you can’t legally inquire about, and what to look for in a candidate.

Stay Productive

One of the hardest things about running your own business is having to stay productive all the time on your own, with no one to motivate you. You have to be your own cheerleader, which means it’s extra important to create a space in which you can work efficiently. This includes setting up a home office without distractions and making the most of natural lighting, which can boost your energy and keep things running smoothly. It’s also important to make sure you have the right equipment for the jobs you’ll be doing; you can’t expect success if you don’t start with the right tools.

Network

Starting a home-based business usually means you can make your own schedule and set your own rules, but it also means a lot of solitude and not much time spent checking out other businesses. Networking is important to entrepreneurs because it allows them to make connections with like-minded people that could be useful now or down the road, and it also provides a support system that is helpful in the first few years of owning a business. Get online and create a web presence on social media; Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all great places to start. You can also check out conventions and similar businesses that are local.

Keep Your Personal and Business Lives Separate

It can sometimes be difficult to separate your personal and business lives, especially if your office is inside your home, but it’s imperative that you do everything you can to draw a line between the two. This means having separate bank accounts, keeping different sets of books, and making sure your tax liabilities are taken care of. Getting organized and keeping excellent records will help, as will having business credit cards and email addresses.

Starting a home-based business can be a very lucrative venture for you, but only if you put in the work. Start with a solid plan — talk to someone who’s been doing it for a while to get some advice — and use all the tools at your disposal to build up your company.

Guest Post: About the Author

Brittany has spent over 20 years as a CPA, and is writing a book about financial literacy. She also runs Financiallywell.info.

Looking to start a business? Be sure your budget is in order with our Business Budget Smart Sheet available for FREE download!

5 Online Courses to Develop Your Management Skills

As a business owner,  it is important to have the developed skills of a leader alongside other hard skills that will benefit your company. Nowadays, people learn various stuff online, from foreign languages to cooking and programming.  There are hundreds of courses available online and most of them are free. Those that have to be paid for, are still significantly cheaper than offline lessons. Browse this list of 5 of the most effective online courses that will turn you into an awesome leader in no time!

Becoming a manager, Lynda

Lynda is an online learning platform developed by LinkedIn. It offers 1 month free trial and you can try any of the lessons for this period. Taking a course will give you a good idea of the qualities a good manager must possess to be useful for the team and company in general. During this time, you’ll get to know your strengths, discover your personal motivation, and learn how to build a good relationship between you and your employees. Also, you will learn how to hire the right people, how to connect, motivate and engage with your team, and act as a coach and role model for your team.

Management course, Alison

Courses on Alison are specialized to suit your own needs. Here we suggest you try not only one lesson, but complete all three courses to make sure that you’re becoming a qualified specialist. Whether you focus on managing people, individual projects, quality, or corporate leadership, there is an opportunity for you to learn from these courses. You can also try a diploma program that is offered in specialty areas. Taking these programs will ensure your success in the field.

Beginning Project Management, Udemy

In this course at Udemy, you will learn the absolute basics of Private Management. You’ll discover the big picture of it and its life cycle. By the end of the program, you’ll have a great grasp of what Private Management is about, what your roles and responsibilities as a Private Manager will be, and how to move forward in your career.

Growing as a Manager, Future Learn

What differs this program from the previous ones in this list? It has been developed by The Open University Business School – a pioneering institution that is triple accredited by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – the leading authority on leadership in the UK. Even if you are not planning to work in Great Britain, this online certification will turn your professional skills to the new level.

Business Strategy, EDX

A qualified business owner must not be only the leader and a good team player. They must know how to develop the business. One of the fundamentals of professional development for managers is mastering of business strategy essentials. What helps people to improve their position in the marketplace? A good strategy does. To execute an effective strategy, a specialist must have a grasp of specific tools and frameworks. That is exactly what Business strategy course from Wharton will give to you. Here you’ll gain knowledge that will make you competent enough to evaluate your strategic environment in the present and the future, and engage you in a strategic planning process that works.

Guest Post: About the Author 

Judy Nelson is a writer at https://eduzaurus.com/ whose main topics are dedicated to management issues of different kinds. She used to share her thoughts with all those who were interested in getting useful information on business topics mostly. Her life motto is: “A good leader has to have a purpose that is larger than his daily duties are, and the balanced personality and skills to put that purpose into action.”

How to Promote Your Brand and at the Same Time Do Nothing

Branding is a diligent and time-consuming process. You may hire an entire team to do it for you, but you’ll have to be involved in one way or another. As a business owner, you might be wondering: is there a way to make branding easier, so you can focus on the business itself?

Let’s see. We’ll suggest few ways on how to promote your brand without doing anything complicated

Start a Blog

As any other smart business owner, you already covered the website part, right? You absolutely need to establish the brand’s online presence. When people are interested to buy your products or services, they are going to search for them online.

But did you implement a blog section on the website?

Blogging is a crucial element of search engine optimization. Mark Roberts, part of the marketing team at Essay On Time, explains that: “When someone searches for a product or service you want to sell, Google will show them high-quality results. Google evaluates websites according to many factors, but content is the main one. The blog gives you tons of space to provide such content, which would appear in the first page of results and attract target customers your way.”

But we were talking about promoting a business without making much effort right? Blogging seems like a lot of effort. It won’t be if you hire the right people. You may count on freelancers or writing agencies.

Start an Affiliate Program

You don’t have much time to promote your business? Why don’t you let the customers promote it for you? When you start an affiliate program, each customer will get benefits, such as discounts or free packages.

Payoneer, for example, is an online payment service that has such a program. For every new user that signs up through the affiliate link, the user who recommended it gets an actual payment. If that’s too advanced for you, you can offer simple discounts and free products for each referral.

The best part is that you just develop the program and it works for you. You’ll be gaining new customers by the day.

Giveaways!

Before someone decides to buy a product or service from you, they will want to read a review. It’s no wonder why people are so obsessed with Amazon reviews. They want to be sure they are spending their money on something valuable.

But how do you get enough reviews when your business is still new? Giveaways!

Organize contests with valuable prizes: product packages or yearly subscription to your service. Ask the winners to share their honest experience, and feature those reviews at your website.

Connect with Influencers

Since you cannot engage in all activities needed for the promotion of your brand, you need people who will promote it for you. Social media influencers! That’s what you should be thinking at this point.

When you connect with influencers on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms, you’ll make a deal. You’ll send them a free package of products or provide a subscription to your service free of charge. Most influencers will require a payment, too. What you get in return is promotion in front of thousands of people.

These are social media users who have a huge base of followers. When you gain such exposure, it will be a matter of time before your brand becomes big.

When engaging in influencer marketing, it’s important to target influencers with relevant interests to what your brand provides. You want to target an audience that would buy from you. So choose your influencers wisely.

See? Branding is not that big of a deal, after all. Of course; you have to make an effort to make the process successful, but some aspects can run smoothly without major involvement on the part of the business owner. Hopefully, the above-listed tips will make the branding process simpler for you.

Guest Post: About the Author

Terence Murray is a journalist and an editor from London. He loves to meet new people and talks with them about literature, photography and jazz music. Join him on Facebook and Google+

Want to invest in better branding? IOU can help you get the funds you need to get started with up to $300,000 in as little as 24 hours.

Advanced Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

Today, with the huge number of small businesses coming up every day, all small business owners are looking for ways to stand out. Although no one can predict what the future of businesses holds, no one wants to fall under those businesses that fail after a few months of operating.

In this internet era, no one can afford to ignore digital marketing. For your business to be on the edge of the competition, you must have effective strategies in place from the first day of launching your startup. This applies to every type of industry. A powerful strategy is one that takes advantage of social media and search engine optimization to drive traffic among other things.

But without the right tools, your digital marketing is as good as dead. Well, of course, some of these tools are free and some are paid, which means you will have to pay some amount of money annually to use them. Marketing tools are very helpful to both experts and beginners.

Some tools will help you to spy the competition to know your business rivalries’ strategies among other important things. Others will help you to identify the most searched phrases so that you can target people conducting those searches online.

In this post, we’ve prepared a list of advanced marketing tools for small businesses that have also been tried, tested and recommended by experts in the field.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is one of the most popular tools recommended by professional assignment writers today. This is a free tool that will help you find out the topics and questions that people type on Google when searching for information. You just need to enter your main keyword that you want to rank for and the tool displays the topics and questions.

Once you’ve identified the topics and questions, you can then include it naturally throughout your content so that when Google crawls your site looking for the best information related to the topic searched, your site can rank better and thus being able to convert your website visitors to real customers since you will have answered their questions with your content already.

Google Keyword Planner

You want to launch a pay-per-click campaign, grab a Google Keyword Planner. This is a handy tool if you want to set up an AdWords campaign for your small business. The greatest feature of this tool is the search volume calculator that enables you to type in your keyword and the tool displays its search volume. You can also search keyword by location to see how many people are searching for the same keyword in your area.

Hootsuite

It’s not a question; social media plays a huge role in today’s digital marketing regardless of the size of your business or industry. Hootsuite saves you loads of time by planning your social media posts in advance. This tool is equipped with great features that will help you as you start your business. You can use it to accomplish many tasks such as:

  • Connecting with blogger and influencers in your industry.
  • Engaging your audience through a central dashboard and etc.

The good thing about Hootsuite is that you can use it to manage almost all your social media accounts in one place.

Google Analytics

This is one of the best and free tools from Google. When starting your business, analytics should be the first things to consider in your digital marketing strategy. It’s easy to add the Analytics code to your site and start to monitor the actions of your website visitors. Although many people term it as a traffic tool, it can do more than that, especially for your marketing strategy. For instance, you can be able to know the sources of your traffic.

Google Analytics is a tool that you should install in your site immediately you launch your business.

MailChimp

Email marketing is currently used by a large percent of B2B and B2C firms. Why should you be left out of this?

MailChimp boasts more than 14 million customers and this makes it one of the top email marketing providers currently. This tool has a free plan for users with less than 2,000 subscribers with a limit of 12,000 emails per month and a pro plan starting from $199/month. For a small startup, you can start with the free plan and advance to the other plans as your business grows.

HubSpot

HubSpot is one of the best tools for sales and marketing and is also the best CRM software out there. This tool helps you from attracting customers until when the customers make a purchase. It keeps your marketing funnel in a good working order. It is equiped with tools that help in creating landing pages as well as calls-to-action, SEO, blogging and more. In short, we can say that it is an all-in-one marketing software.

Canva

To spice up your marketing strategy, you need stunning images and, presentations and posters. Canva is your tool for that. It features excellent tools with guides which makes it easy to use for both experts and beginners.

Buffer

Buffer is another social media management tool that helps you to plan your social media posts to publish on various platforms in one place. It has a free version that allows you to schedule a minimum of 10 posts for every social media platform. You can also use the premium and analytics tools as well.

SEMrush

SEMrush is another best tool for monitoring and evaluating your site’s organic rankings although it’s free version is limited. However, the free version can still help you to improve your SEO.

TweetDeck

As the name suggests, TweetDeck is another great and free marketing tool for managing your Twitter profile. This tool allows you to manage your lists and tweets in the best possible way on Twitter.

Final Thoughts

To be sure of success in your digital marketing strategy, you need to use the right tools for the job. We hope that this list will help you choose a tool that will take your online marketing to the next level.

There are many tools apart from these, but we’ve selected a few of the most effective that have also been recommended by online markers worldwide.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Ways Business Loans Support Your Financial Status & Help You Achieve Your Goals

There are a plethora business opportunities in the world today, many of which did not exist decades ago. As technology advances, many digital trends influence the types of businesses that pop up. Even on social media platforms, there are businesses that cover how best to manage social walls and increase followers. One thing is important in all these, whether you are an online merchant or a manufacturer of kitchen wares, whether you render services or sell products, the core of business strength is capital.

The truth is every business needs a solid financial status to be able to thrive. Sometimes, there might be some hitches in the running of a business- like low inventory, the need to hire staff and grow sales, or the need to carry out a profitable marketing campaign. Considering a business loan might be recommended. Although some individuals try to be cautious, there are immense benefits that getting a loan offers.

4 Ways that Business Loans are Beneficial to You

Not every reason is valid enough to seek a loan. However, there are solid reasons that support this. Just like making a purchase comes with costs and benefits, getting a loan can have a positive impact on business when weighed against the cost. Here are 4 ways that this can benefit your business;

Expansion of Business Activities

More customers are coming into your store and you need more staff to cater for the increase in activities, or you need to add a new location to your business, or there are new products and services that your business can provide- if this is the case, you might need to expand your business to accommodate more hands on deck, or have new space for business activities.

It might be very demanding on the finances of your business when it comes to bearing the cost of adding another location or venturing into a new market, even though these moves can boost the profitability of your business.

Getting a loan can ease these processes by providing ready capital for new overhead and upfront costs. In considering this, it is important to have a proper plan and forecast to ensure that the new activity would be profitable enough to cover the repayment of the loan.

Increased Liquidity

For many businesses, inventory is an important component of commercial activities. It is important to keep your inventory replenished and of high quality. With a sales projection, you can forecast the profitability of acquiring more inventory and improvement in cash flow can help you achieve this.

Apart from inventory, day-to-day activities are also crucial to businesses; you might need to train staff, pay salaries or effect repairs on machineries. Loans can improve your liquidity and help you cover these activities smoothly.

Invest in Marketing

Marketing can be the very approach your business needs to pull in more potential customers. However, due to the cost that marketing entails, some businesses tend to put it on hold. This is because successful marketing campaigns require a tangible budget.

Since marketing is needed to spur business growth, investing in a campaign can increase your customer base. Taking up a loan can help you execute a solid marketing strategy, thereby increasing customers and improving the financial status of your business.

You Keep the Profits

Compared to getting investors for your business, one benefit that loans offer is that the profit you make is retained for you and your business. On the other hand, investors require that they have a share in the profits of your business.

With loans, you can venture into new business opportunities, expand your business or get needed equipment, all of which are beneficial to you in the long run even after the loan payments are made.

Every business needs financing no matter the nature. Although some are of the opinion that adding debt counters the growth of your business, with the right approach, debt financing can come in handy and boost your profitability. Not every business needs to take up a loan. There are several things to consider such as the terms of repayment and interest rate. It also requires proper planning and knowledge of the market so as to ensure that the profitability of the business can cover loan repayments and keep you in an excellent financial standing.

Every business envisages steady growth. With the above put in place, loans can improve your financial status and help you achieve goals. Its benefits can still be visible even after the loan has been cleared.

Guest Post: About the Author

Ali Khan is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist and a content marketer. He works as a search director in a reputable organization. His main area of interest is digital marketing management and SEO outreach. He writes unique and research driven content about SEO analysis, Social media, Physical fitness and more.

Tips to a Flawless eCommerce Checkout Process

For an online retail business, a good checkout process is crucial to its survival. There’s no other way for customers to buy the products in a timely, efficient manner than the website’s checkout platform. This is why so many small business owners in the online retail space spend a lot of time and money making sure this process is nearly flawless. In order to avoid the possibility of losing customers due to bugs and issues, you need to take some time to make sure your own checkout process works well.

This means doing more than just setting it up in the first place and letting it run. There are several steps you can take to make sure this checkout process is as perfect as possible without spending a lot of money on reprogramming the code itself unless necessary. Here are a few tips you can follow to make your own checkout process as optimized and perfect as possible.

Review the Intended Customer Experience

Everything about a business, whether it is physical or digital, should revolve around the desired customer experience. Your business survival hinges on a great experience each and every time your customer shops. Problems and challenges within this experience are likely to lose customers and harm your bottom line in the long run.

A digital checkout process is no different. Before it is created, a checkout process needs to be planned out in detail. Ideally, you should also take steps to optimize the efficiency of this process wherever possible. This can include reducing the required number of clicks, simplifying the interface and optimizing the amount of time the customer spends checking out in the first place.
While this step is easier to do before the checkout infrastructure has been created, you can go back to refine an existing checkout process as well. This may require some reprogramming depending on the customer experience your checkout process currently promotes, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.

Working from this point does have one big advantage, however. With an existing checkout process, you already have the experience of customers going through it. This means you can get feedback to see what is working and what is not. Try creating a little digital survey, prompting responses from email or social media, or directly connecting with customers you know first-hand to get this feedback. Use it to refine whatever issues or flaws your current customers experience when they go to check out.

Simplify Where Possible

A digital checkout platform can be technologically perfect and still have a poor user experience. Many web developers have a tendency to overcomplicate the checkout process, loading it up with more features than necessary and potentially losing loyal customers. When it comes to streamlining the checkout process and the user experience, you need to simplify it as much as possible.

One approach to take is to reduce the number of steps involved in the process in the first place. You may find you have too many links, buttons, form boxes or even pages than you need.The amount of simplification does not stop with just the number of steps. The interface of the checkout platform is also an area you should review. Is it easy to understand? Is the font readable? Is it clear where customers should click and where they should go?

Simplification can reduce potential confusion when done correctly. Here again, it’s helpful to get as much feedback as possible from current or future customers. If you’re creating your checkout process for the first time, try to do some beta testing with friends and family members to get their reaction and feedback.

Optimize the Engine

A checkout process is very similar to a car: It has many working internal components that can be optimized for better performance. In the case of the checkout platform, these components are the code and database. All software applications, from programs to websites, use code to define and create the specific features, looks and functionality of the platform. Sometimes, this code can be overly complicated and complex, which will reduce speed and increase processing times. When this happens, a qualified developer needs to go back into the code and revise it to make it more streamlined.

The database that stores product and customer information will also play a role in increasing the performance of the checkout process. A well-structured database on fast servers will decrease page loading times so customers do not have to wait as long for each step of the process. For both the code and the database, this is one area that is best left to the professionals. Unless you have actual programming experience yourself, a professional web developer will be more experienced to streamline the infrastructure as much as possible. They should also be able to do this more quickly than on your own.

Keep Refining the Process

The idea of a flawless checkout experience is appealing but can be difficult to reach if you stop refining it. In other words, true perfection is an ongoing process of revision and refinement. If you stop after you have initially made some changes, you are likely to ignore further problems and issues that develop down the road. You will also miss more opportunities to refine the checkout experience your customers will have each and every time.

A part of this is due to the changing nature of the checkout process itself. While the basics remain the same, there are always new techniques and technologies on the horizon that will streamline the process even further. You may also find different ways to approach common challenges found within an eCommerce checkout platform.

Always spend a little time with the performance data you have available. Keep track of the customer experience using trackers like Google Analytics and other marketing services so you can see where your customers may be experiencing problems. Do not hesitate to make changes if you start to notice certain trends. The best thing you can do is monitor and maintain the health of your checkout process.

Guest Post: About the Author

Jim Rulison serves as the CEO for Media Loop LLC (formerly the National Center for Pain Inc). Jim oversees the day to day operations for all lead generation accounts, with a concentration in the healthcare industry. Before joining Media Loop, Jim was the CEO of PME Home Health and was the founder of one of the nation’s first virtual call centers. He lives in the Rochester New York area where he and his late wife raised their two children. Jim spends his free time with his family and enjoying cooking and his two dogs.

Navigating Business Credit: What it is and How to Establish it

Small businesses play no small role in the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there are 29.6 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 99.9% of all the nation’s businesses.

Small businesses clearly make up the backbone of the US economy. However, many small business owners remain perplexed by the concept of business credit and how it works. More often than not, small business owners take on personal loans and use personal credit cards to fund their businesses, which can lead to financial and organizational headaches. This article aims to do three things:

  • Help small business owners understand the elusive concept of business credit
  • Highlight the factors that affect business credit scores
  • Assist them in building business credit

What Is Business Credit?

Business credit is a line of credit offered to a business that the business can use to pay unexpected expenses, or expected operating expenses when there is a lack of available cash.

Your business credit scoresare represented by numbers that signify whether your business is suitable for loaning money to or doing business with.

There are three primary credit bureaus (Experian, Dun & Bradstreet, and Equifax) that uniquely calculate business credit scores. Each has a different scoring algorithm. Experian and Dun & Bradstreet’s credit scores both range from 0 to 100, while the Equifax scoring scale ranges from 101 to 816.

Similarly to personal credit, those issuing credit to you will rely on your business credit scores in their decision making. The higher your business’ credit scores, the more likely you’ll be able to secure larger credit limits as well as more rewards and benefits.

What Factors Affect Business Credit Scores?

While your business credit scores vary depending on the specific credit bureau’s algorithm, a few general factors that underlie these scores are:

  • Number of trade experiences
  • Outstanding balances
  • Payment habits
  • Trends over time
  • Public record frequency and dollar amount
  • Delinquencies such as liens or bankruptcy
  • Credit utilization (the percentage of your total business credit that is being used)
  • Demographics such as years on file, Standard Industrial Classification codes and business size

5 Tips To Build Business Credit

Creating business credit is not something that happens automatically. It requires multiple steps on the part of the business owner. Building business credit will not only benefit the business’ credit scores, but open more credit card and loan options for the business. These funds allow the business to keep growing.

In the instance that you have never incorporated your business, or you are starting a small business from scratch, this quick guide will direct you down the path of building your business credit.

1. Incorporate Your Business

The first step on the road to building business credit is to separate yourself from your business through incorporation. Through incorporation, your business will become a distinct legal entity from your person. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides an in-depth guide to launching your business, including incorporation, which would be recommended for all budding entrepreneurs and small business owners.

2. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS

An EIN identifies your business for credit and tax purposes. It’s essential to get an EIN number for an SBA loan. In most cases, it is necessary to have one to open business bank accounts. An EIN allows business owners to separate their social security numbers from their businesses’ credit profiles.

3. Register with Dun & Bradstreet

When a business applies for business credit, lenders and suppliers commonly perform a credit check through Dun & Bradstreet. Register and set up a company profile under Dun & Bradstreet’s database in order to start establishing credit. Dun & Bradstreet will issue a nine-digit DUNS number that is universally used to identify businesses.

4. Open a Checking and Savings Account for Your Business

Open both a checking and savings account in your business’ name. This is done using your recently provided EIN and DUNS numbers. By doing this, you’ll separate your personal and business finances.

A business savings account is not mandatory, but is an intelligent move for any small business owner. A business savings account can assist when an unexpected cost arises and it can also be used as security for taking out a small business loan.

5. Obtain a Business Credit Card & Responsibly Manage Your Finances

Business credit cards are key to building business credit. It’s recommended that these credit cards should be commercial in nature and used for business expenses. Business owners should put any business credit accounts in the name of the business using their EIN and DUNS numbers.

It should be noted that not all business credit cards are created equal. Different business cards provide different types of rewards and benefits. Business owners should do their research and find business credit cards that aligns with the goals of their businesses.

While obvious, it is imperative to maintain excellent financial behavior to build business credit. Make sure to keep your credit card utilization low, pay all bills on time and in-full, and use a variety of credit.

Conclusion

Building strong business credit is not something that’s automatic or instantaneous. It requires business owners to be proactive and behave with financial responsibility. Time and excellent financial behavior are necessary ingredients in establishing high business credit scores for your small business. By understanding the core business credit concepts and following these tips, your business credit scores should be flourishing in no time.

Guest Post: About the Author

Courteney Reed is dedicated to empowering people to make smart financial decisions. As a financial industry analyst, she is driven to provide the most current and highest quality information available.

Small Business Best Practices 2018

Best practices involve business owners finding and using ideas from outside their company to help improve performance and morale in the workforce. Operating a small business can be a challenging process at times, but small businesses can receive substantial benefits through professional development. Here is a list of the best practices that small business owners should focus on this year:

Have A Solid Foundation

Being successful starts at the core of the business. Owners should make sure that they have a solid team in place. Small business owners should look to hire people who share their passion and dedication to achieving success. Owners should hire employees based on the demand for their services. Small business owners should only consider hiring someone when the business is suffering from being short staffed.

Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations for all employees and demanding accountability can make a huge impact. Small business owners should consider bringing all the managers and executives together monthly to discuss each department in the business. This is a good opportunity for small business owners to give and receive feedback.

Be Punctual

A common trait among successful business owners is that they are always on time. Staying on time will help small business owners develop better relationships with their partners and clients. Punctuality holds the business owner accountable and helps your day run a little bit smoother.

Small business owners should respond to any questions or concerns that a customer has in a timely manner. The faster that the business responds, the more impressed a customer will be.

Avoid only responding when a client initiates the dialogue. Try to answer questions in advance. Never let a client feel that the business doesn’t value their support.

Avoid Getting an Ego

Many small business owners can be stubborn at times. However, the most successful owners aren’t bothered by criticism or feedback. Business owners must be good listeners, willing to accept that things may not be going well and focus on the changes that need to be made.

Use Updated Technology

Running a business can be complex at times, as there are multiple variables that can impact outcomes. Small business owners should rely on data. Using data based decision making allows small business owners to take an objective viewpoint and keep track of important records. Protect yourself and your employees by installing cyber security systems.

Document Everything

When small business owners provide clear documentation for everything, that promotes transparency. Employees should have a clear idea of what is being asked of them. Documentation makes it easy for owners to bring on new employees while also stopping the business from being over reliant on a few employees.

Market Your Business

Your small business may not be a branding giant but there are small marketing steps to take to make your business more visible.

  • Stay active on social media accounts
  • Use paid advertising
  • Promote special events or sales
  • Make sure your contact information is updated and available

Marketing your business will increase revenue and your customers while also helping you connect to the community around you.

Always Think About the Future

Small business owners should incorporate policies that will be successful right now and in the coming years down the line. Owners should constantly look ahead so that they can continue evolving and avoid becoming outdated. Stay consistent and focus on the longevity of your business.

Emphasizing Customer Service

The most successful businesses have made proving excellent customer service a major point of emphasis. Dealing with unhappy customers is something that every business will have to deal with at some point. If the business handles the complaint with professionalism, that will enhance their reputation in the industry.

Save Money

Small business owners should try to put aside at least $1,000 to $1,500 a month. That way they can have a peace of mind concerning their finances and avoid fears of going out of business. Many business owners have said that getting their finances in order has helped their relationships with vendors.

Embody Your Mission Statement

Create a mission statement if you do not already have and let that be the heart of your business. Small business owners should enjoy the process of creativity. People and products are important, look to surround yourself with good people and strive to create innovative products.

Guest Post: About the Author

Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for NextGen Wealth. She often produces content for a variety of business blogs.

9 Mistakes You Could Be Making On Your Website That Can Ruin Your Business

Having a website for your brand is a wonderful thing, especially if you are focused on working globally. You can use it to interact with your users, sell your products and services, share content on your products, market your services, share reviews etc.

It became a norm in the business world. Benefits of having a website are highly talked about and praised in our modern society. Experts say that having a website can improve your business, create a good image of your brand and help you expand and engage with more people.

However, no one really talks much about how doing things wrong on your website can deteriorate your image and cost you your business. There are common mistakes that are often made not out of ignorance but coincidentally or because of forgetfulness.

Effects of these mistakes can be seen in sales, website visitation rates and bounce rates. This is why you need to be aware of them and have tools and knowledge to improve your website, eliminate the mistakes you are making and inevitably, improve your business.

Here are some common mistakes and some solutions to them:

There is no social proof

Imagine visiting a website where there are no reviews – good or bad – no newspaper articles or banners claiming that the website is legit. Would you stay on that website and make a purchase confidently?

Your answer is probably no. According to study, approximately 70% of people look at reviews, testimonials and other social proofs before making a decision to buy.

People need a social proof to be sure that they will not be tricked. This is basic psychology – you need to know that someone has walked that path and came out unharmed and happy if you are to walk that path yourself.

And this is what so many websites get wrong.

Avoid this by adding customer reviews, even if they are just good ones to your website. Include your stamps of approval from influencers, newspapers, other businesses from your niche, social media. Do whatever it takes to prove to a new visitor that you will not trick them.

You have a bad layout and design

People are visual creatures. They like looking at pretty things and if your layout and design don’t meet their expectations, you can be in trouble.

Bad layout, for one, can be confusing and hard to focus on. This is another easy fix – you only need to hire an expert to help you figure out what is the best layout for your business.

Design is another place where a lot of mistakes can happen. Wrong color scheme, font or illustrations can lead you to lose a lot of customers. Go for neutral colors that are easy on the eyes, pick readable fonts and make sure that everything is consistency with your brand. Check out the competition and see what they are doing. Don’t let your website look outdated.

There are no social media tags

If you are a business without social media profiles, you know you are doing something wrong.

Social media platforms are so good for businesses because they offer a unique way to build and maintain a relationship with your customers, according to study conducted by Moz. You can see their complaints and praises in the comments sections and use that to improve your business, you can get them to like you better by being fun and interesting on social media – the possibilities are endless.

If you do have social media profiles or pages, share them on your website. A customer can make an easier decision about a sale if they see that you are truly working with real people. Sometimes, this is all the social proof you need.

You have a confusing navigation

People don’t like visiting a website and being confused. Make it easy for them to find a page and move around your site. According to study conducted by Joshua Porter, users are more likely to make 3 clicks on the website to access the target page rather than 12 clicks. If some information is hard to find, they are likely to give up and move on. This is really bad for your business.

Hire someone to review your website as a new visitor and through the fresh eyes, you’ll be able to see if your website is easy to use or not.

You don’t provide enough information

On your website, you need to be open and share enough information about your business and yourself. Display your contact information or contact page prominently  – it should be your main goal for customers to be able to find you easily. Then proceed to tell your story and share just enough for them to be entertained and for you to seem legit.

Sharing too much can also be a problem.

Collin Nevin, an SEO-specialist at Boomessays, states, “You have to give your users enough information about your website and yourself for them to see you as a relevant and trustworthy business and person. Don’t make the information too hard to find and don’t make yourself unreachable. Share your addresses both email and physical, numbers and tell your story.”

You don’t post quality content

Take your time and write content that will truly resonate with your readers. You will not be able to achieve much with bad content. You can hire writers, writing services or write it yourself, but it needs to hold all of the relevant information.

Another mistake with content that you could be making is not checking it for plagiarism. Google doesn’t like plagiarized content, favoring more fresh information and new takes on different subjects. This is why you should definitely employ the services of a plagiarism checker like Copyscape or UKWritings.

You don’t optimize your images for speed

Visual content is always a good idea but not if it slows you down. People don’t like waiting and if your page takes too long to load, they will not stay.

Make sure that everything is in optimal condition and test your website while imitating similar pressure that it would endure with an enormous flood of visitors.

“Anything that might slow down your loading speed is your enemy. People don’t like waiting. This is why you need to optimize your images, icons and videos so that they don’t slow your loading speed down but improve it. This isn’t hard to do but it will mean a lot for your website and your business,” says Miranda Grayson, a Web Developer at Essayroo.

Your site is not mobile-friendly

Most of the readers like to consume their content and get information on their mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-friendly, they will not ‘pinch and zoom in’ for too long and they will move on quickly to find another, mobile-friendly website.

You make grammar and spelling mistakes

According to new studies and statistics, people don’t like grammar mistakes or misspelt words. It signals them that your website is not to be trusted and that it may be a scam, potentially harmful for their devices. This also represents you as someone who doesn’t care enough to eliminate these when they are so easy to fix by using tools like StateOfWriting or SimpleGrad.

Conclusion

While there are many benefits to having a website, there are also a lot of mistakes that you can make. Some of them are on this list and if you follow these tips on how to fix them, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Guest Post: About the Author

Grace Carter is a content manager at Paper Fellows and Academized, online writing services. She checks content quality, curates writers and explores marketing possibilities. Also, Grace is a tutor at Eliteassignmenthelp.com, academic website.

Manage Costs And More With Business Credit Cards

If you run a business, chances are high that you might have considered business credit card for purchases. When compared to personal credit card, business owners can always expect the finest response from these forms of business related credit cards. Whether you are just a single operator or part of a larger conglomerate, a business card is what you need to have. Unfortunately, these cards are the most overlooked aspects of any business finance and that of the business management. First, it is high time to learn more about these cards and how those options are subject to work for you.

Why a Business Credit Card?

Business cards are primarily used for any form of business-related expense. You can expense various purchases for the tax section and these are mostly purchased on business credit card. It is rather a common place to use business cards for practically any form of purchase with dual purpose. It means you can use the business cards for not just basic work but also for buying fuel for your car if you want to!

Establishing Business Credit:

When you first set foot in the business world, your business will not have any established credit. That’s where the credit card will help. Be sure to research and select a card that will help grow your business and your business credit history.  Consider a card with reasonable interest rate and annual fees to keep balances as close to zero as you can. This is the first step to move towards success.

Manage Your Spending: 

A major reason for business owners to pursue business card is to help manage expenses. Keeping track of all the purchases under one platform is a streamlined approach when compared to multiple forms of payment methods. By having all your purchases in one place, it can be much easier to keep an eye on things. If you check the balance on your business card once every week or so, spending can easily be reined in early stages.

Rack Up Rewards:

Another important reason to get a business credit card is to take advantage of perks to help move the business forward. Some card benefits include  flat rate rewards, sign up bonuses, cash back, and travel perks. Use your purchases to your advantage by earning rewards. If you are a frequent traveler, find a credit card that helps you earn flights. If you are trying to buy physical products find a card that earns you cash back.

Rewards:

  • Cash back rewards
  • Spending some limits for employees
  • Sign up bonuses with great return values
  • Interest free periods and balance transfers
  • Airport lounge access
  • Travel rewards
  • No such spending limits
  • Building credits for businesses, and much more

It is vital that you get in line with the best financial institution, ready to help you with the business based credit cards. They know your requirements and will help you out accordingly.

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.