Finance 101: Keeping Your Business Finances Organized

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

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

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

Separate Personal and Business Finances

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

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

Invest into Accounting Software

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

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

Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

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

Consult a Professional

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

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

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

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

Summer Refresh: Tips for Streamlining Your Business

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

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

Review Goals vs. Accomplishments

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

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

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

Work With Your Team

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

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

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

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

Stay Organized

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ways to Utilize Customer Stories for Growing Your Startup

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

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

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

How Customer Stories Help in Boosting Marketing

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

They Help in Building Credibility

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

They Demonstrate & Prove How Your Product Actually Works

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

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

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

Ways to Create Convincing & Compelling Customer Stories

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

They Would Be Talking About the Core of the Issue:

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

They Describe in Detail the Precise Solution You Provided:

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

They Demonstrate How Exactly the Customer Was Benefitted:

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

They Use Actual Names & Pictures:

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

Easy Tips to Promote Your Customer Stories

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

Conclusion

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

Guest post: About the Author

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

10 Email Newsletters Business Owners Should Subscribe To

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

Startup Digest:

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

Seller Labs:

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

SaaS Weekly:

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

Tomasz Tunguz:

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

The Swipe File:

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

Mattermark Daily:

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

Charged:

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

Statechery:

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

First Round Review:

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

Morning Cybersecurity:

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

The Hidden Costs of Starting a Business to Look Out For

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

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

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

Insurance

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

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

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

Employee Perks and Benefits

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

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

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

Permits and Fees

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

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

Taxes

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

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

Administrative Costs

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

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

Shrinkage

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

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

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

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

Guest post: About the Author

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

 

10 Blogs You Should Be Reading for Business Advice

Everyone can benefit from some good advice. If you run a small business, or want to, good business advice is worth a whole lot, especially if its free, or at least reasonably priced. Which brings us to the top nine business blogs we think many entrepreneurs and small business owners will find useful.

  1. Small Business Administration Blog:

    Headed by Caron Beesley, the SBA Blog tackles the full range of topics of interest to business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s especially helpful for businesses seeking loans underwritten by the SBA.

  2. The 4-Hour Workweek:

    A blog/podcast founded by Tim Ferris, who wrote the New York Times bestseller of the same name. The emphasis is on improving your efficiency and freeing yourself from the mind-numbing drudgery that most businesses can inflict.

  3. American Express Open:

    A financial blog site that helps explain complex topics to the average small-business owner. It teaches owners how to go about using financing to grow your company. It also hosts a forum to answer your questions.

  4. Small Business Bonfire:

    This daily business blog, run by Alyssa Gregory, bristles with tips and tools for operating your small business. Topics cover everything a business owner should think about, from productivity to security. Whether you work from an office or at home, this blog is well worth your attention every day.

  5. Social Triggers:

    A marketing blog by Derek Halpern for the ecommerce set. It describes how to exploit social media using consumer psychology to achieve your business goals. The advice focuses on a mix of data-driven marketing and content marketing to boost your traffic, prospects and sales. If you’re looking for ways to recruit and keep online customers, this blog is for you.

  6. Copyblogger Blog:

    Copyblogger is a company that teaches online content creation for business. Content marketing can be in the financial reach of any small business, because you can do it yourself for free, without having to pay for expensive ads. Founded by Brian Clark in 2006, the free daily blog continues even as the remainder of the marketing company was split off as Rainmaker Digital.

  7. Entrepreneurs-Journey:

    This blog, started by Yaro Starak, is for folks who want to “live the laptop lifestyle,” that is, make money online with your website and blog. It’s a good resource for building your website, populating it with content, and using it to earn a living. You’ll also learn about operating an email newsletter and other marketing techniques that will drive traffic to your website.

  8. Jim’s Marketing Blog:

    Jim Connolly explores the many ways a small business can grow through effective marketing. His advice is geared to specific strategies and tactics rather than generalized (and mushy) “solutions.” He is also a convincing advocate for list-based content, though not to the exclusion of other forms, such as essays.

  9. Women on Business:

    A great resource for the often-underserved population of female entrepreneurs and business owners. Run by Susan Gunelius, the blog encourages contributions from business women that cover all manner of topics, from financials to management to marketing.

  10. IOU Financial Small Business Blog:

    Featuring some of the most sparkling writing on today’s business scene, the blog covers a lot of territory, beyond the basics of small business finance. You can learn about advertising, management, recruiting and much more in this free and timely blog.

How My Business Can Give Back (While Still Being Financially Responsible)

Giving back to the community is a wonderful thing, just on the face of it. It’s also a way for a small business to show its ties to the community, attract new customers and increase networking opportunities. Your marketing should see a boost when you enhance your reputation and brand recognition by publicizing your social responsibility. The great thing is that there are many ways to give back without breaking the bank. Here are 10:

  1. Collection jar:

    Here’s an easy way to start. Put a collection jar on your counter for the charity of your choice. You can post a sign next to it saying you’ll match all contributions one for one.

  2. Referral program:

    You can team up with a charity or nonprofit by giving a set amount when a customer refers a new customer. For example, you might give $25 in the referrer’s name to your local no-kill pet shelter with each referral.

  3. Sponsor an event:

    This is a great way to get a huge amount of recognition in the community. It need not be expensive, especially if you team up with other businesses. Consider events like a 10K walk, where you donate water bottles to participants.

  4. Encourage employees to volunteer:

    Give employees some paid time off each quarter to volunteer at worthwhile causes. Programs like Habitat for Humanity gladly accept folks to volunteer for a few hours, a day or more. By participating in this type of initiative, you might find it easier to recruit and retain quality employees.

  5. Buy from your small business neighbors:

    Get together with your other nearby small businesses to promote local buying. This directly helps the community by supporting local businesses in their quest to fight off the big chains that dominate the landscape. Your group can print up signs and post them in your storefronts promoting local buying and naming the participants. You can also leave positive reviews on social media.

  6. Offer a play area:

    Parents are more likely to shop in your store if you set up a play area where they can deposit their young kids for a while. Even a few minutes of relief will be much appreciated by parents, who likely will become regular customers even after the kids grow up and leave home.

  7. Participate in community events:

    The key here is to print up T-shirts for you and your employees to wear at local events, like a highway flower planting or car wash to benefit the local high school.

  8. Adopt a highway:

    Speaking of highways, contact your local authorities about adopting a stretch of highway. It doesn’t cost much, and they will put up a sign seen by tens of thousands each day that recognizes your contribution. That’s cost-effective marketing!

  9. Sponsor a school sports team:

    You choose the amount of money to contribute. Maybe you decide to pay for shirts or caps with your logo on them. Then you can take out local printed ads announcing your sponsorship and wishing the team well. Parents will be impressed.

  10. Start a charity drive:

    Think about a book drive for the local library, or a food/clothing drive for the less fortunate. Alternatively, join in on an existing drive, perhaps a soup kitchen or toys for tots. Even a small contribution will be greatly appreciated.

 

Why Your Company Needs a Freelance Contract and What it Should Include

Thirty percent of companies hire freelancers. Hiring a freelancer allows you to hire an individual to help you with anything from graphic design or social media management to creating videos or accounting services. You, too, may utilize independent contractors to meet deadlines, handle staff shortages and fill in talent gaps. Before you hire freelancers, though, create a detailed contract.

Why your Business Needs a Freelance Contract

 

The independent contractors you hire for temporary jobs are not your official employees. To get on the same page and protect your company, you need more than an oral agreement. Your freelance contract will be specific and clear as it outlines details about the project, including payment, deadlines, confidentiality, and other conditions of your work agreement.

For the freelancers, a contract provides peace of mind. As they create your company’s promotional video, complete remodeling projects, or perform seasonal deliveries, they know exactly what type of work they will perform, how long they have to deliver the goods or services, and when they’ll get paid. Signing a contract also motivates your freelancers to commit adequate time and energy to the project.

The contract protects your company’s assets and proprietary information, too. A contract reduces your liability during a project disagreement and gives you legal recourse if a freelancer steals privileged information. Additionally, you will need copies of all freelance contracts if your business undergoes an IRS audit.

What to Include in a Freelance Contract

When creating a freelance contract, include several details:

Contact Basics

Include contact information, such as the address, phone number, email, billing address, and contact information for your company and the freelancer. This information ensures both parties can contact each other throughout the project process.

Project Details and Scope

Record details about the project’s parameters and expectations. Be as specific as possible to ensure you get the product or services you need, to verify that the freelancer knows what’s expected and to prevent misunderstandings. This part of the contract will also outline steps you will take if the work isn’t completed on time or as expected.

Nondisclosure Agreement

Protect your interests, including sensitive, confidential and proprietary information, when you require freelancers to protect details about the project’s work and clients. You can ask freelancers to sign an NDA before you begin contract negotiations or include it in your formal contract.

Non-compete Agreement

Preserve the relationships you have with current clients and protect your interests. For example, if you hire a freelance graphic designer to create graphics for your clients’ presentations, the non-compete agreement prevents them from offering their services directly to the clients.

Deadlines

Define deliverables and milestones. Include specific delivery dates and details about what happens if the freelancer misses a deadline.

Expenses

Describe who will pay for expenses such as software, stock photographs or mileage. While most independent contractors take sole responsibility for these expenses, your company may wish to cover some or all costs associated with specific projects.

Payment Terms

Outline when the freelancers will be paid and the payment total. Be sure to include the hourly pay rate, if applicable, and who’s responsible for billing. For payments made in increments, include the project and invoice deadlines and the exact amount of the payments. Remember to add information about acceptable payment methods and how quickly you will pay after you receive an invoice.

Final Copyright

Detail which party holds the final copyright to the finished project. In most situations, freelancers retain full rights until they deliver the milestone or final project.

Relationship of Parties

Specify that you are hiring freelancers as independent contractors, not employees. You may also need to include that the freelancers are responsible to pay their own income taxes.

Dispute Resolution

Review the procedure for handling disputes over incomplete or completed work and other contract details.

Signatures

Remember that both your company’s representative and the freelancer must sign the contract. It’s not legal or binding until it’s signed.

DIY Contracts Versus Hiring a Lawyer

You can customize a freelance contract template online or hire a lawyer to write one. With a legally-binding DIY contract, you can write in understandable language and customize each contract. Alternatively, a lawyer can write a clear, concise and specific contract that covers your legal bases. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

If your company hires freelancers, you need a contract. Use these guidelines to create a thorough and clear contract that protects your company and your freelancers.

Guest post: About the Author

 

PJ Taei is the founder of Uscreen, a video monetization platform to help you sell any kind of videos online.

 

Should Your Body Shop Offer an Independent Lifetime Warranty?

As an owner of an auto body shop, you may be wondering how you can give your business a competitive advantage. Every city across the USA has a multitude of body shops, so what can you do to set your business apart from others? A proven strategy for many owners has been offering clients an independent lifetime warranty on some products and services. Read on to figure out what you can cover with your warranty and how it can benefit your business.

What is an Independent Lifetime Warranty?

While some auto part manufacturers provide limited warranties, you can offer your customers an independent lifetime warranty on some parts and repairs. While you may not be able to offer warranties on items such as engines or tires, you can offer to cover repairs on fit, finish, functionality and overall quality. You can cover items such as body work or paint jobs, mechanical repair, parts and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.

Why Should You Offer Independent Lifetime Warranties?

As a small business owner, it may be difficult to manage costs as it is, and offering any kind of free work may seem like an unneeded expense. However, there are benefits to this incentive, such as:

Setting You Apart from the Competition

Many people shop around before committing to getting their car fixed or serviced at a body shop. They not only look for the most affordable price, but perks not offered anywhere else. You may not be able to beat the cheapest price in town, but you will be able to justify your cost by the fact that you stand behind your work!

Letting potential customers know that they don’t need to worry about bad service or faulty parts will set you apart from the competition and give new customers the faith to give you a try.

Repeat Customers

Another benefit of offering an independent lifetime warranty for your body shop customers is the promise they will keep coming back. A client may have chipped the paint on their car and came back to you for a free touch up, but chances are they may also require an oil change or a tune up at that time.

The promise of your guarantee will keep your clients coming back to your shop, where they likely will spend more money on additional work. This will lead to customer loyalty and more revenue for your business.

Word of Mouth Referrals

Individuals typically find body shops in two ways: through their insurance company or by referrals. Word of mouth referrals are incredibly important for small businesses, and offering an independent lifetime warranty is reason enough for your customers to share that information with their friends, family members and colleagues. This is not a common incentive for small body shops, and it is enough to impress your customers to recommend your business to others, growing your customer base!

If you are looking for effective ways to grow your auto body shop, you may benefit from a small business loan. Let IOU Financial help! Call us today to inquire about our fast and easy loans of up to $300,000.

 

 

How to Make The Most out of Your Direct Mail Marketing

Many people have dismissed direct mail since the introduction of online advertisement tools. While online tools are vital for small businesses, it is a mistake to assume direct mail is not as helpful; for one, it can be highly targeted. A small business owner has to purchase a mailing list with the addresses of people interested in what the company sells. It is much easier to entice people who are interested in your product or service, which is just one thing that direct mail marketing can do for a business.

Building Your Target Audience

The first step you need to take is purchasing a mailing list. The list will contain individuals who are interested in the products you sell or the services you offer. Now, some people just use that mailing list and send off their marketing material. The material is marked with a coupon or something similar that you can track if those coupons are used in your establishment later. You can slash the mailing list, and just focus on a particular area that responds well to your mailing list.

Another step you can take is to use the mailing list as a starting point. What you want to do is make a mailing list even more specific by using demographics. You probably already know which groups of people respond well to your product or services. Use that information to target your potential customers even better. What you are doing here is reducing waste because you do not want to spend so much on advertisements that may simply end up in a trash can.

Getting the Best ROI From Direct Mail

Making sure your direct mail marketing is effective takes work. There is no doubt about that truth. The following are a few tips to ensure the best ROI you can:

Clear Call to Action

Potential customers do not want to be confused regarding what steps they can take to benefit from your products or services. This means your direct mail should be very clear and use simplistic language to tell potential customers about your offers.

Be Sure to Include Perks 

Potential customers are being pampered by many other businesses like yours. You need to make sure that you pay attention to the perks competitors are offering potential customers and see if you can beat them. A good option is to offer a few coupons, but you can spice it up by partnering with other complimentary businesses to double your clientèle.

Use Names Effectively

People love to receive mail, especially mail that is addressed to them directly rather than just the resident. You want to make sure that you use the name of the person who lives in the location. Pepper the recipient’s name throughout the letter or marketing material.

Try to Avoid Being Aggressive

Yes, you want new customers, but you do not want to seem too desperate. Do your best to ensure you only include a few calls to action or just one. People do not like a pushy salesperson, so they will not appreciate pushy marketing material.

Taking these steps should help reduce the chances of your material being tossed away with the rest of the refuse in a household. Make sure you design your marketing material with intent. Usually, what works best is something clean, simple, and printed with big letters. It would be wise to speak to a direct mail marketing consultant. This specialist can help get your message across effectively.

Guest post: About the Author

Caylanne Crowne is a contributing writer and the media specialist for Allegra Network. She regularly writes for marketing blogs with an emphasis in career building and print marketing.