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Streamlining Your Bookkeeping Process: Tools for Small Business

Whether you’ve been running your small business for years or are just opening up shop, efficient operations are the key to business success. When it comes to bookkeeping, it’s vital you run a smooth operation that gives you timely, reliable results. Bookkeeping tasks includes setting up accounts, entering transaction data, generating reports and preparing tax returns. It is the key part of your accounting system, including invoicing, bill payment, banking, inventory management and payroll. We’ve assembled here a short prescription for streamlining your bookkeeping process and have included a list of bookkeeping tools to boost your efficiency.

Five Keys to Efficient Bookkeeping

Even minor improvements can have a major impact on your business’ efficiency. Here are five:

  1. Establish or review your system:

    If you are just now organizing your business, you will need to have a detailed bookkeeping system in place from the very start. It starts with basic tasks, such as entering your receivables and payables as soon as you can — don’t let invoices or checks pile up on a desk, as it’s all too easy for something to fall through the cracks. Review your chart of accounts to ensure its properly set up and capturing all the information you need. Establish training materials in case you change bookkeepers, as this will save much time should the need arise.

  2. Maintain your pace:

    As we just touched upon, you should never fall behind on your bookkeeping. Even a delay of a few days can snowball into bigger problems. Errors often occur when you have to play catch-up. For example, your inventory system might fail to reflect orders placed if you haven’t yet entered the data into the system. It’s wise to have at least one “backup” bookkeeper who can step in when the primary one is away.

  3. Contract with a CPA:

    You probably don’t need a full-time CPA on staff, but that shouldn’t stop you from hiring one as a part-time consultant. CPAs can ensure your books are being kept correctly. You’ll probably have the CPA prepare your tax returns and answer any questions that come up. And in a pinch, your CPA can temporarily maintain your books if you need to find a new bookkeeper.

  4. Keep receipts:

    It’s such a cliché, but nonetheless true. If you don’t keep, organize, and record your receipts, your business will likely slow down as you search for purchase information from weeks or months before. Consider digitizing each receipt, and in any event, set up a filing system that ensures you can find a receipt when you need it.

  5. Use the best tools:

    It goes without saying that, in 2019, very few businesses are run using a paper-based accounting system. Since everyone automates, it makes sense to choose the systems and tools that have impressed the experts and other users. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay thousands to get a basic accounting package. In fact, some good ones are free! Keep reading to see some expert recommendations.

Tools for Efficient Bookkeeping

The most valuable business tool is your accounting system. If you are a small company, consider getting a modular system with separate packages for basic bookkeeping, invoicing, inventory, payroll and so forth. Here are some noteworthy systems to consider:

  1. Wave:

    This is a top-rated free accounting system with more than 1.5 million users around the world. It’s a cloud-based system accessible anywhere you can establish an internet connection. It has impressive functionality, including invoicing, receipt management and banking. The only cost is a processing fee for online payments.

  2. Sage Accounting:

    Perfect for self-employed business owners who need a simple system that can be upgraded as your business grows. Prices start as low as $10/month.

  3. FreshBooks:

    A powerful accounting system that integrates most accounting features and interfaces with popular CRM and customer service apps. Prices start at $19.95 per month.

  4. Others:

    Many other accounting systems also perform well, including QuickBooks Online, Xero, Sage 300 Cloud and Sighted. If you need a payroll package, consider WagePoint, Gusto and SurePayroll. For tracking time and expenses, look at TSheets, Expensify and Neat.

Take the time to get your bookkeeping right from the start and you’ll save countless hours on error correction and rework. Your business will save money and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

The Best Tech Tools Entrepreneurs Recommend to Boost Business Productivity

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s important to make sure you’re covering all areas of business in the most effective way possible. While you’ll have different priorities at different times, your accounting department is just as important as your customer service department. Each cog is vital in running a smooth and effective machine.

However, as a small business, the chances are you’re doing a lot of these processes yourself, but thanks to the modern age, there are plenty of tools out there to help you get things done correctly while maximizing productivity. This means apps!

Today, we’re going to look at a selection of some of the best apps and tools out there that can help you get every job in your business done to the best of your ability.

QuickBooks

As we mentioned above, accounting is a crucial department you’ll want to make sure you’re nailing in your small business. Get it wrong, even on the tiniest mistake, and this can have huge consequences for your business, especially from a legal standpoint.

Fortunately, the QuickBooks app makes it easy for you to load up and connect your bank accounts to easily keep track of all your finances and get the facts spot on.

Square

Being able to take mobile and card payments as a business is essential when it comes to maximizing your revenue and providing your customers with the best experience possible. Square is an excellent solution for making sure you have all bases covered.

ZenDesk

As above, the level of customer service you offer is essential because this is what people are going to think of your business and will make or break as to whether they recommend you or never come back. ZenDesk makes it easy to offer fantastic customer service from your computer or mobile.

Toggl

When running a small business, it’s easy to get caught up with tasks, and you end up spending way more, or way less, time than you originally planned. Toggl is a free time tracking app that can help you keep on top of things and spending your time and energy in the right places.

Evernote

Every entrepreneurial tool list will mention Evernote, and that’s simply because it’s so effective at what it does and brings so many benefits to small business. “From jotting down notes and ideas for the future to keeping track of employee hours and orders, Evernote can be whatever you want it to be” shares Nina Harper, a business blogger for WriteMYX and Brit Student.

MailChimp

Marketing your business is an essential process you need to go through to get your business out into the world, and one of the best ways to market is through email marketing. MailChimp makes it easy to manage and create your email marketing campaigns, and you can get started for free up to 5,000 people!

HootSuite

Hand in hand with the marketing point above, you’re going to want to market your business on social media to get it out to the masses. While there are plenty of options to choose from, Hootsuite is a great way to manage all your accounts in one simple place.

There are all the features you could need, including post creation and scheduling to answering comments and managing the accounts you follow. Hootsuite, available on desktop and mobile devices, really does have it all.

WordPress

Every business needs a website to be an online HQ for the company, but this can be expensive and complicated if you have no experience in it. “However, WordPress is designed to alleviate these troubles and make it easy for anybody to set up a professional website in no time at all” explains Sarah Coombes, a writer for Next Coursework and 1Day2Write.

Through WordPress, you can manage everything from the theme and design of your website to the blog post and content you’re creating. Everything; all in one place.

Slack

Slack is an instant messaging platform designed to help you and your team communicate in the most integrated and effective way. Slack ensures your team can sign into their workspaces from anywhere to stay in touch and maximize productivity.

Slack is available on all devices, and with the ability to set up an infinite number of channels, which could be dedicated to different projects, different clients, or different departments, it’s easy to stay organized and one step ahead of the game.

Guest Post: About the Author

Emily Marchant is a marketing manager at Academic brits and Origin writings. She is responsible for renewing and retaining existing subscribers through campaigns that involve newsletters, sponsored content, partnerships, ads and events. An excellent project manager and a team player, and a blog contributor at Phd Kingdom.

Spring Cleaning for Your Business: Tackle These Tasks

Spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings, and it’s not just for nature or your closet. Your business can greatly benefit from a spring cleaning to clear out the old, and streamline the new. What tasks can you tackle that can help you run a more productive and profitable company? Below are some examples for your inspiration:

Digitize

With more and more technological advances coming out daily, it is surprising that many people are still using outdated paper processes to manage their business operations. The spring is an excellent time to review how you handle your billing, filing and communication, and find more innovative and efficient ways of optimizing them.

For example, using filing cabinets to store paper files is extremely inefficient for multiple reasons—it takes up a lot of space, it is time-consuming to put away and find needed documents and it exposes your sensitive information to theft or fire. A better way to clean up your documents is to use a virtual file storage system where you can scan information and store it in a digital cloud. This way, you can access your documents from anywhere at anytime, and implement cybersecurity to protect this information. Click here to read reviews and pricing for digital filing tools.

Hold an Innovation Contest

Entrepreneurs on the hit show Shark Tank are always questioning old processes or products and finding better ways of improving them. Most of us get so preoccupied with our daily tasks that we forget to question standard processes to see how they can be optimized to be more efficient.

Now is the time to create an innovation contest, urging employees to find creative solutions for existing operations. By motivating your colleagues to think outside of the box and have a safe space to suggest an idea, no matter how crazy or silly it may sound, you can pinpoint great ideas you can implement throughout the rest of the year.

Reinvent Traditional Meetings

Did you know that 6 out of every 10 meetings are over an hour long? That means that you are wasting at least 1/8th of your day that can be spent on other, more pressing activities. While  interaction with your employees is imperative, try to reinvent traditional meetings to make them more productive and faster.

Did you know that meetings up to 18 minutes long are able to capture the concentration of attendees the best; after that, they start getting bored and distracted?

Instead of having a large interdepartmental meeting every week, why not create micro meetings that last 10 minutes or less with only the people that are directly involved? This way, you can allow colleagues that do not need be part of the conversation the opportunity to work on other tasks instead of sitting by idly wasting time.

Commit to a New Project

There are many projects that you likely have in mind, but have been hesitant to implement due to a lack of resources. Whether it is a new marketing campaign or research and development for a new product, spring is the time to commit to a new project that can grow your business.

Creating a new annual goal that can help you beat the competition and take over your niche market is imperative to stay relevant in your space. If you do not have the financial resources to invest in this task, IOU Financial is here to help. We work with small businesses to finance up to $500,000 in small business loans in as little as 24-48 Hours. Click here to contact us and learn more.

Make Your Business More Efficient With These Stunning Tips

Running a profitable business is everything but simple. A study shows that more than 540 thousand new companies are launched each month, but a staggering portion (50%) of small businesses fail within two years.

It’s obviously not so easy to start a company and keep it productive in the long-term perspective, but what can you do to prevent failure and make your team more efficient? There are tons of tricks and tactics to use here, but some of them prove to be more fruitful than others.

In this post, we will show you seven ways to make your organization super successful. Let’s take a look!

1.   Determine Business Goals

As an entrepreneur, you must have some goals that you are trying to reach. The ultimate objective is, of course, revenue generation, but this should never be the one and only business goal. On the contrary, you can only achieve it if you previously fulfill all other preconditions.

What you want to achieve depends on the nature of your business, but most companies are trying to hit the following targets:

  • Traffic increase: One of the first objectives is to raise awareness by attracting more people to visit your website.
  • Customer retention: Perhaps your goal is to build a larger base of loyal consumers.
  • Improve customer service: Customer service is an important brand differentiator, which is why you should try to improve the overall level of consumer satisfaction.
  • Lead generation: A lot of companies are trying to generate verified leads.
  • Drive conversions: Finally, you want to convince prospects to convert.

2.   Customer Service

We already mentioned that customer service is a critical part of every organization – and for good reason. According to the research, more than half of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience.

In such circumstances, you cannot afford to neglect this segment of your business. Customer service agents have to be knowledgeable and polite, answering clients’ inquiries in a timely manner. Besides that, chatbot technology made a massive breakthrough in the last few years, so we strongly recommend you to consider adding it to your customer service portfolio.

3.   Choose Marketing Channels Wisely

Small businesses should choose their marketing channels very carefully. You probably don’t have too much money to spend on brand promotion, so you better find the most productive and cost-efficient ways to tell the world about your company.

This is where digital marketing steps in to save your day. Namely, content creation costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. The best thing about it is that you can distribute pretty much the same types of content through different channels, including social media, a website, email newsletters, and so on.

Digital marketing is amazing because it allows you to reach global audiences almost instantly, but you don’t even have to spend the budget on it. If you are able to create outstanding content week after week, you can earn higher search engine ranking organically and enjoy the privilege of forming a wide fan base.

4.   Make Use of Local SEO

Do you know that 46% of all searches on Google look for local information, while 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online? More and more users conduct “near me” searches, so you should exploit this fact to make your physical store visible online. All you have to do is create a business accounton Google and add company-related information such as address, phone number, etc.

5.   Retain the Best Employees

Products, services, software, and devices don’t make a company. On the contrary, employees are what makes your organization so valuable and you must give all you have to retain the best workers. This is not only common sense but rather a proven fact as the cost to replace a highly-trained employee can exceed 200% of their annual salary.

How can you stop your best people from leaving the company? You can try a number of different methods:

  • We all work to make a decent living, so it’s always a good idea to give your finest employees a raise.
  • You should embrace workplace flexibility and help employees to balance between personal and professional duties.
  • Another option is to provide workers with small perks such as free snacks or gym memberships.
  • Of course, building a friendly atmosphere is a great way to improve employee retention.

6.   Leverage Online Tools

No matter what you do or how well you do it, you can always find a digital tool to speed up, automate, or improve the process. This goes for almost all areas of business as you can quickly search and find different types of online assistants. From proofreadingand case study writing service all the way to virtual surveys and collaboration software, tons of incredibly useful tools are only a few clicks away from you.

7.   Analyze Achievements

We begin and end this list with your business goals. While the first part was dedicated to goal-setting, the last one is all about measuring the results of your professional activities. Key performance indicators (KPIs) must follow the goals you set because it’s the only way to determine whether you are doing the right thing or not.

As soon as you notice that something is not functioning the way you planned, you should change it or remove it completely. Of course, business analytics is not a one-time process, which means you have to do it regularly in order to maximize the productivity of your organization.

Conclusion

Small businesses depend on hard work and strategic planning, so you’ll have to invest a lot of time and efforts into making your company profitable. We can name dozens of interesting solutions on how to improve your organization, but there are only a few mechanisms that can guarantee excellent results both short- and long-term.

In this post, we presented you with seven ways to make your business more efficient. Make sure to remember our tips and let us know in comments if you have any other ideas to share with our readers – we would be glad to read it!

Guest Post: About the Author

Jacob Dillon is an editor and journalist at EssaysOnTime. The best way for Jacob to express himself is to write. Being passionate about what he does, Jacob likes to discuss stirring events as well as express his opinion about technological advancements and evolution of society. Find Jacob on Twitter and Facebook.

Designing Mobile Websites for Voice Search & Why Is It Important?

If you want to get an edge over the competition, you need to utilize every tool you can get. Some tools push you forward, others don’t let you stagnate. An example of the latter is mobile optimization. Before it was a bonus if your website was optimized for mobile. Now, however, it’s practically expected. Customers will be annoyed if they visit an unoptimized, mobile-unfriendly website. This is further exacerbated by the fact that most people do their browsing with their phones anyway.

But, a new and relevant trend now is optimizing your websites for voice search. If done properly, it can really make a difference. Read how and why below.

Why it matters

Beside the fact we mentioned (namely, getting every edge you can), there are reports that web browsing using voice search is growing steadily. This is due to the appearance of more, and higher quality, gadgets, and elements that utilize voice search. We all know about Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Alexa… Everybody sees the potential utility and futuristic aspects of using voice search.

So, why does it matter? Because if you properly set everything up, having good voice search functionality will get you more traffic. It also improves your SEO, because people get their answers faster. This speed mitigates high bounce rates and other negative signals that influence your rankings.

But, how to actually optimize properly?

Implement locations within your content

The aspect of localized SEO can get you much better results than simply focusing on every search engine optimization elements equally. And while we do believe that you should have proper SEO done for your website, know that there is only so much you can do if you go too general. Focusing on improving your localized SEO, on the other hand, will give you better results, especially if your company localizes its business dealings to your region. Now, this all matters for voice search in that there are reports stating that almost half of all voice searches are done for local businesses.

So, here is what you should do. Include the name of your city into your metadata and into your content. Use certain phrases, words, and images that are specific to your region. Remember to tag all your images and videos appropriately, placing the name of your region within. Provide audio transcripts for your videos if said videos contain relevant localized SEO keywords.

Use callouts

You want your content and SEO to be as organic as possible. The point you should be moving towards is setting up the content within your website to sound more like a conversation, than a robotic one-sided monologue. To do this, one of the steps that you need to consider is figuring out what questions your potential clients may ask. Either use certain tools, like Answer the Public or just check Google Analytics data and Keyword Finder.

When you figure out the questions, you obviously need to answer them. The answer themselves can be placed in featured boxes within relevant pages on your website. If done properly, these answers can show up in featured snippets, attracting users even more.

You can always delegate these kinds of tasks to one of your employees. However, this can draw away valuable manpower, resources, and time from some other obligations. Another option is contacting a company like Hoppingmad Website design, that will take on the entire task of setting a website up, requiring only minimal input and time investments on your part.

This all is similar to regular SEO – figure out what the potential client is thinking, and implement it. The difference here is that you want it to be more customized towards voice search.

Common query answer locations are vital

You want to provide your potential clients with information right away. It’s pretty obvious that people want to get what they need as soon as possible, especially if they are using voice search. And this isn’t just about getting content, but also about finding your company, and what you are about, quickly. They want to find out your address, make a reservation, get info on what you offer…

For this reason, you want to place this relevant information at the top of your navigation bar. You want to put in the navigation bar, or in the header. For example, let’s say an individual wants to reserve an appointment with you or your company’s official. Furthermore, let’s say you offer stock market consulting services. They may use voice chat to search for “stock market consultations Brisbane”. If you set up your location properly (see above), and if you have this phrase somewhere at the top of your page, or in your header or title, you increase your chances greatly of being found.

Setting up “Google My Business” can also improve your odds. Register your company properly, fill in all the information that is required of you, and you will definitely see results. The reasons for this is that “Google My Business” gives you an easy and structured system to improve your Google rankings.

Conclusion

Voice search is the future. It’s simple, convenient, and gets the job done. Trying to get the best results with minimal input and investment is an intrinsic part of human nature, and voice search plays directly onto that. So, remember to take care of where you put the most common answers relevant to your business. Try to get proper localized SEO up and running, and use proper callouts.

Guest Post: About the Author

Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged on projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.

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

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

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

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

Keep It Simple

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

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

Use the Right Paper

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

Buy the Right Printer

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

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

Use the Right Ink

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

Adjust Your Printer Settings

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

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

Do Test Prints

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

Conclusion

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

Smarter Offices: Tips to Automate and Update Your Workplace

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

Smart Offices Are Among Us

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

Check out these examples of a smart office:

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

Tech for Employees

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

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

Tech for Customers

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

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

 

Is There Truth to the Morning Routines of the Successful?

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

Earlier Wake Up Times

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

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

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

Start the Day Off with a Preferred Activity

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

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

Have a Family Breakfast

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

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

Create a To-Do List

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

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

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

 

How to Build Up a Powerful Marketing Campaign

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

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

Think about what’s wrong with your existing strategy

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

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

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

Set realistic goals

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

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

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

Know your audience

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

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

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

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

Don’t follow trends, set them

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

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

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

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

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

Reinforce every product and service with content

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

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

Look for collaborators

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

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

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

Be consistent with your content marketing strategy

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

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

Concluding thoughts

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

Guest Post: About the Author 

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

5 Tips for Better Inventory Management

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

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

Tip 1 – Prepare for Inventory Count

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

Tip 2 – Count Your Inventory Efficiently

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

Tip 3 – Use the Perpetual Inventory Method

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

Tip 4 – Consider the Retail Method

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

Tip 5 – Expand Your Inventory

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