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How to Effectively Set Up Your Website to Collect New Leads

Content has always been a very important component of inbound marketing, and now more so with Google’s algorithm that reward fresh, relevant content. Without good content, it is hard to drive visitors to your website or convert them into leads.

Decide on your messaging strategy:

Here are four questions to ask yourself about your website’s content:

  1. Do visitors immediately understand what the website is about?
  2. Will visitors know which page they are on and why?
  3. Can visitors easily navigate to the next page?
  4. Is there some value proposition to cause visitors to interact with your site rather than someone else’s?

An affirmative answer to all four questions will translate into more traffic, more leads, and a lower bounce rate.

Here are a few tips for making sure your message gets out:

  • Use headlines and subheads to outline your most important ideas on each page. Avoid clichés, doublespeak and jargon.
  • Offer a powerful value proposition. That means either giving away something of value of offering it at an incredibly attractive price. Anything from downloads to free offers can be used.
  • Include clear calls-to-action, which direct visitors on what to do next to benefit from the value proposition. Put links into the body content that direct readers to registration dialogs, data intake forms, exclusive offers, etc.
  • Perform A/B testing on your copy and headlines to see which alternative yields better results. There are online tools from Google and others that help determine which variation drives more conversions.
  • Go beyond simple product content. Offer eBooks, videos, whitepapers and other types of educational content. This attracts visitors who may not know yet that they want to buy from you – they are on the outer tip of the marketing funnel. Suck them into the funnel with free, valuable content.
  • When delivering a sales pitch, use a writing style that matches colloquial one-on-one conversation. Pronouns like “you” and “we” are preferred over “one” or “they”. Never talk down to your audience.
  • Your content should help visitors solve their problems. Don’t go around bragging about how you are the best – instead make a point of explaining how your content helps viewers.

Share quality content:

When we speak about quality content, we are actually talking about quality, unique content. If you copy, you die. Search engines pick it up right away and penalize you, sometimes by de-indexing you altogether. If you have nothing original to say, don’t say it. Next, write to the highest language standards you can. Humans appreciate good grammar, sentence construction, proper spelling and logical thought. Your original content should educate or entertain its readership – boring content is, well, boring. People are busy and need to extract value from your content, or they will spend their time elsewhere.

There are times when it helps to provide evidence to prove a point. If, in the course of presenting your material, you quote facts, statistics, events, etc., give them some backing with a credit, either inline or as a footnote. A backlink to your source would be appropriate.

Finally, try to avoid jargon and clichés, such as “cutting edge” or “mission critical”. These phrases have been so overused that they have lost their meanings. They turn off readers and make your content seem suspect. Prose that contains phrases like “ground breaking” seldom is. Often, spammy websites substitute clever headlines and captions for clear content. You can’t trick your readers into enjoying your content with snappy headlines alone. Give them clear, concise material and leave the gimmicks to others.

If you’re looking to re-vamp your website and need to hire a marketing pro to do so, IOU can help with the funds. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more about how you can borrow up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

 

Facebook Ads: The Basics for Small Biz

Being the most prominent social media platform around the world, Facebook can’t be ignored when it comes to planning an advertising strategy for your small business. Two billion people around the world use this platform every month, which gives companies a large potential customer base to connect with. The benefits of creating Facebook ads is you can set ad campaigns to any budget, and they can be viewed on any mobile device!

Setting Up Facebook Ads

Business Ads Manager allows even the most novice online user to set up eye-catching and relevant ad campaigns for their customers with these steps:

  1. Click on Create New Campaign
  2. Select a campaign objective—Decide what the main goal of the ad campaign is so Facebook can optimize features to help you get there, including:
    1. Awareness: brand awareness or reach
    2. Consideration: traffic, engagement, etc.
    3. Conversion: sales or store visits
  3. Name the campaign
  4. Choose your audience—Choose who sees your ads based on their location, age, gender, language and even interest and behaviors
  5. Set up Ad Placement—Facebook has the option to determine where your ads will be shown, or you can decide yourself. It’s important to note that the cost of the ad will vary based on where it’s placed. The options include:
    1. Facebook News Feeds
    2. Facebook Right-Hand Column
    3. Instagram
    4. Audience Network
    5. Instant Articles
    6. In-Stream Video
  6. Choose your daily budget and when you want to start/ stop running your ads
  7. Add content—Add a video, photos and or text to make your ad go live!

How to Track Facebook Ad Campaigns

Although business owners choose their daily budgets, it can take a significant investment to reach a wide audience on Facebook. As such, it’s advantageous to track the results of the campaigns and see which ads outperform others. Your audience may prefer videos over pictures, or they may respond better to one type of text over another.

Here are the steps to track ad campaign results:

  1. Click on Ads Manager.
  2. Choose between Campaigns, Ad Sets or Ads to see the analytics for each one
  3. Click on Columns dropdown menu
  4. Click on Customize Columns and decide what you want to track, such as purchases
  5. Click Apply to see results

The great thing about Ads Manager is that it provides options to not only see results but to test your ads and then make meaningful changes to help them perform better.

Finding Your Target Audience

Possibly the most important step in reaching your objective when advertising on Facebook is finding your target audience. You may create the most compelling ad, but if the people who see it have no need for your product or service, they will not buy it.

If you already know the demographics of your customers, Facebook can create a Lookalike Audience of similar people to show the ad to.

If you are not sure who to target, Facebook’s Audience Insights is a great tool. Simply type in an interest or topic close to your field, such as Ford Motors, and you can get information about the people interested, such as their demographics, what other pages they like, where they live, their relationship status and more!

You can then use this information to set up your custom audience on Facebook. If you need financial help in hiring a professional to set up your Facebook ads or to increase your social media reach, a small business loan can help. IOU Financial has worked with many companies to help them reach their goals with loans of up to $300,000. Click here to learn more and contact us today!

Google Adwords: The Basics for Small Biz

To keep your company profitable and competitive, it is important to create a strong online presence. To accomplish this goal, a necessary tool is Google Adwords, a search marketing tool. Unless you’re an internet or marketing expert, this process may be confusing, which is why we are going to break down the basics of using Adwords for your small business.

What is Google Adwords?

There are two ways to help your website rank higher in Google searches, organically or by paying. If you have a new website, it can take months or even years for it to climb the rankings, causing your site to live in obscurity and losing out on sales. As an alternative, Google allows you to pay to have your site show up on the first page of Google.

The paid results show up on the top of or to the right of organic results, and while they look almost identical, they do have a “Sponsored” label to identify them.

How Does Adwords Function?

Adwords allows you to advertise based on keywords (words or terms relevant to your business) that your customers are likely to search for when looking for your products or services. The tool provides relevant data, such as how many people search for the keywords, what the competition for each term is, and how much it would cost every time a person would click on the keyword (PPC).

Once you find relevant keywords, you can bid on them against your competitors, and if you place the highest bid, your link would appear in paid Google search results.

How to Set Up Google Adwords?

Once you have your keywords, you can set up a paid campaign on Google Adwords by following these steps:

  1. Select a campaign: Google gives you a variety of options for the type of campaigns you want (video, search, etc.). Select the type you want and give it a name.
  2. Choose the area: Decide where you want to advertise by country, state, city or even metropolitan area.
  3. Choose your bid strategy and budget: Google allows you to choose how to place bids, depending on conversions, clicks, views or impressions. You can also set daily maximum bids to stick to your budget.
  4. Fill out Ad Extensions: This is additional information you want your ads to show about your company.
  5. Write a headline and short text for your ad.
  6. Insert keywords.
  7. Set your default bid: The max you want to pay per bid.
  8. Enter your billing information.

How Do you Track Your Google Adwords Results?

Any time you spend money on marketing or advertising, it’s important to track results to see what is effective and what isn’t. Over time, you will see which keywords bring the best results, and you can concentrate on specific campaigns to help with your ROI.

To track your Google Adwords conversions, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Tools, and then Conversions in your Adwords account.
  2. Click on the +Conversion button.
  3. Click on website to track the results.
  4. Name the specific action you’re tracking, such as how many people sign up for your newsletter, make a purchase, visit a site, etc.
  5. It’s possible to define a monetary amount under the value section if you only offer one product/ service. For example, if you sell T-shirts for $19.99, that is the value you’d input. If you sell items for different amounts, you can specify that amount value for different conversions.
  6. Count: Choose to either count one conversion per ad click, great to track leads, or for sales, you can track every conversion.
  7. Conversion: Decide how long you want to track the ad for, from 1 day 90 days.
  8. Click Create.

By concentrating on finding a new audience base with paid online marketing, you can expose your brand to new customers and grow your sales. If you would like to hire an expert in this field to share their expertise in this area with you, or need financial assistance in paying for online ads, IOU Financial can offer easy and fast small business loans. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more about how you can borrow up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

3 Excellent Online Communities for Women Entrepreneurs

Women in the U.S. are taking their careers more seriously than ever before as well as the necessary steps to become entrepreneurs. Since 2007, there are 45% more female-owned businesses—which currently employ 9 million people in this country.

Although women have been making significant progress in the business world in recent years, it is still mostly run and controlled by men. As such, females need their own communities to help them with the motivation to succeed, resources to start their own business and support to meet the challenges head on. The following online communities are great choices for women entrepreneurs:

Chic CEO

This community targets those females who want to become entrepreneurs, or are in the first stages of developing their ideas. A common barrier to the process is fear and the belief that they can’t do it, so Chic CEO provides resources to help women conquer their fears.

The site offers tutorials and advice from actual business owners that is easy to understand and follow. Check out the following resources:

  • 3 Day Chic Start: an online tutorial that focuses on customer service and brand development
  • Business Plan format guide
  • Blog
  • Resource Center that recommends books, interviews with other professionals and more

Yes She Can

As the name itself suggests, this online community empowers women to follow their dreams and live up to their full potential. This site targets female Los Angeles business owners and professionals, sharing local events, stories, advice and resources to empower females.

Started by professional writer, Lydia Mack, Yes She Can offers several cool features:

  • Sole news source for female LA entrepreneurs
  • Calendar with hand selected events, such as conferences, lectures, meetups and workshops to help women advance in their careers
  • Weekly newsletter with strategies to improve both the personal and professional lives of women
  • Monthly meetups where members meet on the first Friday of every month to network and share their thoughts and advice

Note: Although this group is Los Angeles based, it is a great example of local groups throughout the country. With an easy online search, females can find meetups and meetings in their areas.

Lean In

This organization was created by Facebook’s Founder and Board Chair, Sheryl Sandberg. Named after a book she wrote, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, this site is dedicated to aiding women in their quest to follow their ambitions.

They accomplish their goal in three ways:

  • Create Circles, where over 37,000 different groups of women meet throughout the world to discuss their objectives and create plans to succeed
  • Create awareness campaigns to educate the public about important issues surrounding the success of women, and men’s role in this process
  • Create tutorials, videos and discussion guides for both men and women on helping females succeed in the business world

If you are a female entrepreneur who has a great idea for a new business, but lack funding, turn to IOU Financial. Our company is committed to helping both men and women follow their dreams and ambitions. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to find out about our easy business loans of up to $300,000!

How Can You Optimize Your eCommerce Store to Increase Sales?

You’ve put a ton of work into your online store and even started getting a decent amount of traffic to it. But, when it comes to sales, you aren’t meeting your goals. Does this sound like you? If so, don’t worry — Many online stores owners are facing the same problem. You need to optimize your marketing efforts to acquire more customers, and this article show you how.

First, You Need to Determine When Shoppers Leave Your Site

While there are some general optimizations that will benefit allonline stores, the areas where you need to make improvements to your site are determined by user behavior. You need to know precisely when a shopper leaves your website. Upon determining at what point website traffic navigates away, you will have an idea what elements must be improved.

So, you’ll have to monitor your website traffic. From real data, you can acquire invaluable understanding. Here are the indicators you want to look for and what you can do to improve your sales potential.

A High Bounce Rate and How to Solve it

A high bounce rate (above 56%) indicates that your page design or load speed is severely lacking. The problem for your shoppers is immediate, so they leave right away — and most of them won’t come back. So, the first thing you need to do if your bounce rate isn’t at least average, is run a page speed test.

Google PageSpeed Insights can provide you with page load speed and optimization ratings for mobile and desktop browsers. Follow the advice given, step-by-step, right to an optimized user experience upon arrival to your online store.

If you find that your website is fully-optimized and your bounce rate stays in the high range, it may be time to get some feedback on your design and/ or images; the aesthetic appeal of your site might be non-existent or lacking (this is a tough but extremely commonpill to swallow).

Tip: Find a neutral focus group to test your design and give you unbiased feedback on your website design. Most of the time, your staff, friends, and family are going to tell you what you want to hear, whether the aesthetics of your site are terrible or not.

Site Traffic Drops off on Product Pages and What This Means

After arriving at your home page, interested, qualified leads will likely move to your product pages. If this is where they move away, there could be something wrong with your product descriptions. Crafting optimized product descriptionswill have a powerful effect on your sales.

SignMission’s now hiring banner product description provides a great example of everything necessary for converting a page visitor. Here’s why it works:

  • Right off the bat, it tells the reader what to do with the product: “Advertise your employment needs…”
  • Next, it showcases the main benefits: durable, pre-grommeted mounting holes, indoor and outdoor use, fade-resistant, made in the USA, outdoor, heavy duty, 13 oz vinyl.
  • Then, it explains where the product can be used: job fairs, grand openings, roadside, and more.
  • Plus, it seems to be super SEO-friendly with wise use of subheadings and lists.
  • Finally, it makes wise use of grammar and power words.

If you wrote the product descriptions for your online store and this is where visitors are moving away, it’s time to study up on psychological sales triggers, power words, and maybe even grammar. There’s a lot that goes into effective product descriptions.

Tip: If you hire someone to help you rewrite your product descriptions, make sure that you check references. You’ll probably be better off hiring someone with experience in your niche because they will already know the language if your target market.

What if Shoppers Drop off on Category Pages?

You may think that when your traffic moves away upon landing on your category pages, it’s for the same reason as product pages and you need to update descriptions; this couldbe part of the cause, but it’s definitely not the most likely. Instead, when shoppers leave after landing on category pages, it’s probably because your navigation needs some work. The simpler your navigation menu is to use, the longer shoppers will browse.

MightySkins’ provides a great example of an eCommerce site with good navigation. From one category page you can choose to create your own popsocket skin, buy a pre-designed skin, use the dropdown menu to see a list of the most popular products, or do a search. In the sidebar, they provide product images of other popular products with images. Follow their lead to encourage clear opportunities for conversions on category pages.

Tip: Try to make your main conversion point stand out on your top menu. If website traffic is drawn to the “Shop” button, you’re likely to get traffic to your money pages.

Are Your Shoppers Abandoning Their Carts at Checkout?

. Shopping cart abandonment is one of the main conversion killers eCommerce stores face. You’ll need a streamlined checkout experience if you want shoppers to see their purchases through. So, learn why online shoppers abandon their cartsand check to see if your experience makes the grade.

Here’s what an optimized checkout process looks like:

  • It never presents shoppers with unexpected costs.
  • The price of your products, including shipping, is competitive.
  • Site is functioning properly as far as page speed and bandwidth.
  • Utilizes minimal security measures while maintaining trustworthiness.
  • Presents sufficient and affordable (free when possible) delivery options.
  • Shows relevant currency information.

Tip: If you sell the same inventory on and offline, you should use a credit card reader that connects to your online store. This way, you’ll have an easier time with inventory management.

Final Thoughts

An optimized online store leads to higher conversions, hence a greater ROI. If you’re in the business of selling online, use these tips to improve your business’ financial situation. Most of these tips can be implemented right away, so don’t wait to make the right move – start now.

Guest post: About the Author

Ashley Kimler is part of the superhero team atHeroic Search in Tulsa. She’s been working in the digital marketing industry for over a decade. Follow @ashleykimlerand @heroicsearchon Twitter to see what she and her team share next.

 

3 Must-Haves for Smooth Running Operations

This is an exciting time to manage a business—technological advances and new opportunities due to increased globalization lead to greater profits, innovative business models and new customer bases. However, increased competition and higher demands from customers create new challenges for managers and business owners that leave some unsure as to what goals are right for them.

One of the most vital answers to running a successful business in current times is streamlined operations. When staff is properly trained and motivated, smart systems are in place and customer demands are met—the company is headed on a positive path. To keep your operations running smoothly, make sure you focus on the following three must haves:

No Single Point of Failure

One of the most common pitfalls that stagnate growth is a single point of failure in any aspect of operations. Most companies train specific employees in different areas of the business; however, when an unforeseen emergency arises preventing them from their duties, no one else is able to take over their responsibilities.

To prevent this from occurring at your workplace, work with Human Resources to cross train your workers. Additionally, it may be advantageous to switch teams within your organization, thus allowing different team members to handle various aspects of the operations.

This practice would prevent a single point of failure and would make certain that there is always someone at the workplace that can take over for a colleague should they be unavailable for work.

Automation

Operations are always at risk for human failure, which is why automating processes with the latest technological offerings is a beneficial way to streamline this area of your business. Although automating processes usually involves a high upfront cost to purchase software, integrate it into your routines and train staff, the return on your investment (ROI) is usually significant.

Automation leads to higher productivity, reduced costs, better customer service and reduction in errors. It is important to note that even artificial intelligence and machine make errors, so designating a team to review these operations on a regular basis is imperative to running a tight ship.

Motivate Employees

Your business is nothing without its employees, and successful operations result from motivated and empowered staff. An employee who comes to work daily and gets away with minimal effort is one that is failed by management.

Create incentives to encourage your employees to work hard, be proactive and creative instead of those that are satisfied with the status quo. Maintain that with constant feedback, recognition and rewards for your highers performers—the more invested your employees are in the success of your company, the smoother your operations will be!

It’s always a good idea to invest financially into projects and strategies that will streamline your operations. IOU Financial is ready to offer financial help into your endeavour. Contact us today to inquire about our quick and easy business loans.

 

Is Your Company Maximizing its Digital Potential for Revenue?

The world today is fast-paced, and largely driven by innovative technologies, which means businesses are under immense pressure to keep up. Companies need to follow the latest digital trends to stay competitive, as failure to do so can potentially lead to a decrease in profits, in part due to the likelihood of losing clients, an inability to streamline business processes, or incapacity to take advantage of revenue increasing measures. Here are five ways that a company can maximize its digital potential.

Outsource to Skilled Workers

Outsourcing helps a company reduce and control operating costs, mainly because high-quality services can be acquired at a lower cost. In the article ‘4 Ways Outsourcing Can Save a Failing Business’, business leader Richard Walton explains how outsourcing allows companies to “access to talented professionals from across the globe.” He details how digital networking has made it possible to hire someone with the specific skills you need for a part time or hourly period, which is cheaper than employing someone full-time. Walton says that the biggest advantage is “[that] this kind of special assistance can help small businesses to keep up with the professionalism of firms who have much larger in-house teams.”

Automate Workflows

Automation can help enhance productivity, and, in some cases, even aid HR in hiring the best people. For instance, credit firm oMelhorTrato uses TensorFlow to automate part of their hiring process. This decision to automate, according to company co-founder Cristian Rennella, has allowed the company’s HR to spend more time interviewing the best available candidates since the automated process eliminates the need to manually pore through CVs. The aforementioned manual process can be very time-consuming and laborious. Instead, TensorFlow makes use of certain algorithms to distinguish between good and bad candidates who send in their CVs through the company website and third parties.

Engage Customers on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool that companies can use to connect with and engage their intended market, to generate more profits, as found by the owners of the Neon Retro Arcade. Mia Mazadiego and her husband, Mark Guenther, began using Facebook to boost sales largely by enticing people online to come visit their store in Pasadena, California. Facebook is just a part of Neon Retro Arcade’s expansive online presence, as it has its own website, an Instagram account, a Yelp page, and a YouTube channel, too.

The use of social media is just one aspect of digital marketing, which encompasses the vast scope of digital technologies. Unsurprisingly, many companies big (KFC, Microsoft, etc.) and small (Neon Retro Arcade) are now using digital marketing to their advantage, which in turn is leading to an increased demand for digital marketing professionals. That demand is set to increase even more in the coming years, with Maryville University pointing out that digital marketing spending will rise to $335 billion by 2020. In line with said forecast, it comes as no surprise then that companies are making a conscious effort to elevate their brand presence in the digital world. In fact, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters senior marketing manager Tom Funk notes that 80% of Fortune 100 companies are active on social media. With more people using social media platforms, companies must take advantage of this huge digital costumer base.

Big Data

Big data helps companies accurately predict the market’s future behavior through an analysis of existing trends and statistics. This ability, in turn, allows businesses to adjust accordingly, keeping the predicted behavior in mind at every step. Athleisure manufacturers, for instance, can make use of big data to gauge the styles that may corner a particular market and then focus their efforts in that direction. By doing this, companies can proceed with a clear goal in mind, and this means that time, resources, and effort will not be wasted performing tasks unrelated to the achievement of said goal.

 

Guest post: About the Author

Jay Dixon is a computer science graduate who now specializes in writing about the latest trends in the tech industry. He hopes that his insight and knowledge will help readers get a better understanding how technology is successfully changing the home and workplace. When he is not in front of a computer he can be found at the latest tech conventions.

A Small Business Guide to Building Business Credit

While most small business owners are well aware of personal credit scores (like those from FICO), the concept of business credit remains more elusive. Though 65 percent of business ownersuse credit for business purchases, only 50 percent of those cards are in the business’ name. This article tackles the basics of:

  • What business credit is
  • What affects business credit scores
  • How to establish a business credit profile
  • Ways to maintain a good credit score

The Basics of Building Business Credit

For many people, discussing credit or credit cards has become a social taboo. In a study by Experian, the average American’s credit card debt has creeped up 3 percent from last year. The good news is despite the rising debt, credit scores have also increased.

The reality is you need credit to purchase a home, a car, and to sometimes to get business credit. The best way to wrangle this beast is to increase your financial literacy on how credit works, and to get an in-depth knowledge on the ways personal credit differs from business credit.

For small business owners, keeping their personal credit in good standing and separate from their business ventures is crucial. Though, it’s still something that not many people fully understand. Let’s dive into how a business owner establishes a business credit.

What is Business Credit?

Business credit is the result of the information collected by business credit bureaus. They look into your business trade credit transactions in order to create your business credit report. They use your business name, address, and federal tax identification (FIN), otherwise known as your employer identification number (EIN).

Based on your company’s business credit transactions, the business credit bureaus will compile the data and create a report that determines your business’ credit profile. This affects the amount of money your business can be granted, the types of credit cards you can open, and whether or not your business is deemed financially trustworthy.

Establishing Business Credit Profile

Before the major credit bureaus Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business can begin  compiling the data necessary to provide a credit report, you need to incorporate your small business. With sole proprietorships and general partnerships, the business is legally considered the same as the owner. Incorporating a business or forming an LLC creates a separation from the individual, this provides protection to the owner’s personal assets.

Dun & Bradstreet uses a 9-digit DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number to identify every business that has a credit file. The Small Business Administration reports the DUNS code is “the most widely used number for identifying companies in the United States.”

With personal credit, your history is automatically tracked; however, if you have a small business, you or your vendors have to voluntarily send your information to business credit bureaus in order for it to be reviewed. Your business needs to have a federal tax identification number or employer identification number (EIN). The process for obtaining this is fairly easy. Go to the IRS websiteto access the EIN Assistant page, and click on “Begin Application” at the bottom to get started. The EIN is required on federal tax filings and to open a business bank account in the name of the corporation or LLC. The EIN is like your small business’ social security number.

The next step would be to open a business credit profile with all three of the major credit bureaus in order to have your information tracked. Each credit bureau calculates business scores differently, so it’s important to note their range and how they rank high credit risks compared to low credit risks.

Factors that Determine Your Credit Score

Business owners are responsible for opening their business credit profiles to establish business credit. Once a credit profile is open business credit card issuers may need to be notified to report credit transactions specifically to business credit reporting agencies. The Experian and D&B credit scoring system uses a range from 0-100; the higher the number, the lower the risk. Equifax’s scoring system ranges from 101 to 816. The primary determining factors of a business’s credit report can be:

  • Number of trade experiences
  • Outstanding balances
  • Payment habits
  • Credit utilization
  • Trends over time
  • Public record recency, frequency, and dollar amount
  • Demographics such as years on file, Standard Industrial Classification codes and business size
  • Delinquencies such as collections, bankruptcy, and liens

Building Your Business Credit Score

In order to begin sending positive activity to the business credit bureaus you should be conscious of keeping your credit utilization low, and managing a variety of credit. Begin by opening a business checking and savings account, apply for small business credit cards in your company’s name, and obtain a small business loan using your business savings account as collateral.

Once you’ve created a business credit profile it’s important to maintain exemplary financial behavior. The goal is to be considered a low risk to banks and other financial institutions. This is accomplished by paying your bills on time and in-full by the end of each month.

Business credit is an intangible asset, according to the NSBA Small Business Access to Capital study. 20 percent of small business loans are denied due to business credit. Of businesses surveyed, 27 percent claimed that they were not able to receive the funding they needed. For those 1-in-4 businesses, the most frequent effect the lack of funding caused was preventing the owners from growing their businesses.

Conclusion

As a small business owner, it is imperative to begin building your business credit profile to maximize your company’s funding potential. Stay informed and up to date with your credit reports, and your business will become a trustworthy borrower.

Guest post: About the Author

Courteney Reed, is a financial industry analyst dedicated to empowering people to make smarter financial decisions.

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.