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How to Perform an SEO Audit of your Website

The main goal of any website is to attract as many visitors to it as possible. Organic search traffic, meaning traffic that is not paid for, accounts for over half of all site visitors. The best way to increase organic traffic is to have your site show up on the first page of Google search rankings.

Since Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with 3.5 billion daily searches around the world, it’s advantageous to design your website in a way to maximize results. This will help you attract more audience and increase your brand awareness and sales.

The best way to achieve this is to conduct a yearly SEO audit of your website to catch errors that could be hindering the process. This is just a fancy way of saying that you need to verify that your site has the necessary aspects needed to help the Google crawl bots that scan your site move it to the top of the search results.

How to Conduct an SEO Audit

Verify Google Indexing

If you want your site to show up in Google results, Google needs to include all the pages into its index. The very first step of your SEO audit should be to check Google index; if your site is not listed there, it’s a huge problem since it will never show up in Google searches.

Visit Google Search Console and enter your homepage link or the link of a specific sub-page to make sure Google has indexed it. If you find that your site is not indexed, you can manually submit sitemaps to aid the process.

A very important tip is that Google shouldn’t index your page just once, but keep indexing it to keep it relevant and at the top of search results. This is done by adding new content (videos, blogs and graphs), as well as updating older content. The more Google bots index your site, the more visitors you should be getting.

Conduct a Website Crawl

Since Google has special bots that analyze your site, it’s important to see what they would see. This is possible with website crawl tools, which are available as free and paid versions (Beam Us Up).

This is the best and fastest way to find errors on your site, duplicate content and broken links. Some features will analyze the length and quality of your titles and meta tags as well as assess bounce rate (how quickly your audience leaves your site or a specific page) and conversions (how many people click on a link or buy a product).

Verify Company Name Search Results

Remember that most people are not going to enter your website link when searching for you online, but your company name. Unfortunately, other sites may be competing for that search term, especially if it is a generic word or phrase.

Write your company name into Google to verify that it’s the first organic result that pops up. If it’s not, your business is likely going to another company, which is a problem.

The good news is that you can take measures to correct this issue by creating a stronger online presence for your website. This can be accomplished in five steps:

  • Build branded links
  • Reach out to well-known brands and influencers to mention you on their sites
  • Create business directory listings
  • Create a Google Business listing
  • Create social media accounts

While it’s not necessary to financially invest in this process, it can be extremely helpful. Hiring a professional marketing company to make your site SEO-friendly can be a great ROI. If you need financial help with this goal, turn to IOU Financial. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn how you can qualify for a business loan in just 24-48 hours.

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.

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!

 

6 Useless But All-Too-Common Expenses That Turn Your Business Into a Money Pit

It takes a lot of money to keep a small business going – especially if you’re trying to make that business grow. When money is so important, every single cent needs to be spent wisely.

Many small businesses wind up spending a lot more money than they actually need to spend. Those funds would be better off allocated for growth or expansion. Cut the fluff out of your budget and use your newfound cash to help you build a brighter future.

Unnecessary Office Supplies

You’re always going to need office supplies, but changing the way you do things can reduce the amount you’ll spend. Going paperless is one of the easiest ways to save money. Keeping things digital allows you to save on paper, recycling, toner, and printing supplies. Many small businesses burn through mountains of these materials, and paperless businesses barely use them. Going paperless also makes your business eco-friendly, and that’s never a bad thing.

Leasing a Huge Building

You need to give yourself some room to grow for the next year or two, but not for the next decade. While it is a wise move to opt for an office space or retail space that will give everyone some room to move, it’s not a wise idea to overspend on something that you’ll never completely use. It may be wiser to choose a shorter lease on something slightly smaller. If you have your heart set on that huge building, try to negotiate the lease. You might be able to get it for a little less.

High Health Insurance Costs

You need your employees to be healthy, and offering decent insurance is a surefire way to attract top talent. There’s something else you can do that would benefit both your business and your employees. Start a wellness program. A wellness program is much less expensive than high insurance costs, and people who prioritize their wellness are a little less likely to need to use their insurance. Offer up some healthy snacks and partner up with a local gym for a discounted membership. Encourage your employees to use their sick days to discourage them from spreading germs around the office.

Advertising to the Whole World

Small businesses want to acquire as many customers as possible. They take to the internet to spread their message far and wide in an attempt to be heard by the right people. The problem with that overzealous approach is that casting a wide net is expensive. In addition to its hefty cost, it’s more of a gamble when it comes to locating an ideal customer.

Focusing on highly targeted ads will help you obtain customers and spread your message with little effort. If you don’t sell your products online, limit your advertising to people who live within a tight radius of your physical location. If you do sell online within your country, only advertise to people who fit your demographic within that country. It’s the most efficient way to spend your ad dollars. When you expand your business, you can begin to expand your reach.

Having Too Many Employees

It takes a lot to run a small business, and this means you’ll need people to make things run smoothly. Hiring people whom you can barely afford to pay may hinder you more than help you. It might be worthwhile to spend a little more on a rock star employee who is content to wear many hats, rather than paying several people the minimum to deliver an average amount of effort. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to small business employees.

You can also reduce workload by automating as many processes as possible. The right tools can help you achieve a whole day’s work in just a few hours. Don’t do anything manually unless it absolutely requires live human involvement.

Failing to Follow Rules and Regulations

Making legal mistakes is one of the most expensive situations a small business can wind up in. Small businesses try their best, but sometimes fail to secure the right permits or licenses they need to operate or expand the way they’ve planned. Running a business is a learning experience, but you can’t afford to learn with your money.

It might be worthwhile to retain a lawyer for your small business. You need someone to look over the money, the rules, and the licenses as you grow and change. A lawyer might seem expensive now, but nothing is more expensive than finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Many small businesses work with tight budgets, but sometimes those budgets are tighter than they need to be. Keep a close eye on the books to be sure you’re not tossing away the funding for your success.

Guest Post: About the Author

Alana Downer is an avid finance blogger from Sydney, Australia, currently writing on behalf of Learn to Trade– money and finance experts. Interested in all things connected to growing a stable income, Alana might often be found online, sharing her financial tips and participating in discussions. Feel free to reach out to her on @alanadownerLTT.

Tax Season Prep: Five Steps to Get You Ready Now

According to Benjamin Franklin, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Although tax season is still a few months away, it’s advantageous that business owners start preparing for it now. There are certain steps that need to be taken to be able to report the right amount to the IRS and make sure no mistakes are made on your taxes.

Collect Business Records

We’ve all seen movies where frustrated business owner bring a box of receipts to their accountant come tax time. Don’t let this be you—a good rule of thumb for any business owner is to have a systematic way of collecting business records for tax time. If you get in the practice of careful filing of your documents, you will not need to scramble in the spring and spend your time looking for records or frantically calling vendors to ask for receipts or invoices.

An electronic system where you can keep track of all business-related earnings and expenses will make it simple to determine your overall income and deductions you may be eligible for. Plus, this will foolproof your filing system and allow you to access information from anywhere, anytime. Certain programs, such as Quicken and QuickBooks allow you to download your financial information straight unto your tax return.

H&R Block provides a useful checklist of all expenses that will determine your taxable income.

Separate Business and Personal

One of the most common mistakes that small business owners make is failing to separate their business and personal expenses. It’s vital to utilize business checking accounts and credit cards to clearly understand what your business expenses and earnings are to report the correct taxable income amount and determine what deductions you may be eligible for.

If you fail to do this throughout the year, you will spend days trying to determine what amounts were used for your company and what was made for yourself.

Save Receipts

Although it’s not something anyone likes to think about, any business has the chance of being audited. To protect your company, make sure to keep all business-related receipts. The good news is that there are several receipt apps, such as Shoeboxed, which allow you to scan receipts and keep their digital copies. Plus, the apps can be integrated with certain accounting software, making the tax preparation process quick and seamless.

Review Payroll

Before submitting your tax records, review your payroll information with a specialist to verify that everything was calculated correctly and legally. Payroll mistakes can be costly; 40% of businesses pay over $800 to the IRS simply for payroll errors.

Know Your Deadlines

Federal taxes are not the only taxes businesses are responsible for. There are also local city taxes, self-employment taxes, property taxes and payroll taxes, all with their own stipulations, forms and deadlines.

Research these deadlines and note them in your calendar so that you are not penalized for late filings.

If you are anticipating a large payment to the IRS this year, or need funds to invest in getting your business ready for tax time, consider a small business loan from IOU Financial. You may be eligible to borrow up to $500,000 in a quick turnaround of just two business days. Click here to learn more.

Women in Business: How to Get Certified as a Woman-Owned Business

If you are a woman who owns or runs a business, you can gain a competitive advantage by having your business certified as women-owned. Although the process can be time-consuming, it’s well worth the effort, because many governmental entities and public corporations have quotas for women-owned businesses. So don’t despair if you are not part of the “old boys’ network.” Celebrate instead, and fight for you share of the pie by getting certified.

The federal government  likes women-owned businesses, and has a requirement to award 5% of eligible prime contracting money to women-owned small business. Government agencies and large companies distribute requests for proposals through organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners (NWBOC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), who in turn distribute the requests to members. In addition, many state and local governments offer opportunities for women-owned businesses, as do large corporations such as Starbucks and Target.

Who Qualifies?

In general, a business is considered women-owned if:

  • Women control at least 51% of the company, and they are U.S. citizens
  • Women must manage the daily operation of the company and must occupy the highest executive office on a full-time basis
  • A woman and man can jointly own a women-owned business as long as the woman owns 51% and can demonstrate her control and management of the company

Four Certification Programs

There are four major, nationally-recognized certification programs for women-owned businesses:

  • Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) designation: This is an excellent certification for businesses wishing to bid on federal contracts. The WOSB designation helps women-owned businesses in industries where they are underrepresented.
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification: This is a federal designation provided by your state. It can help you win contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. States that issue contracts that use federal money must include DBE businesses at a predetermined level. DBE certification is not just for women – it also applies to minorities.
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification: This is probably the premier non-governmental certification, accepted at federal, state, and local entities as well as 1,000+ corporations. Certification requires significant paperwork and a personal interview, but there isn’t any requirement for the size or age of your business. The SBA accepts the WBENC certification for the WOSB program. By joining WBENC, you gain access to thousands of other female business owners.
  • Nation Woman Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) certification: This program is similar to the one offered by WBENC. In addition, NWBOC offers training and mentoring opportunities.

5 Online Courses to Develop Your Management Skills

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

Becoming a manager, Lynda

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

Management course, Alison

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

Beginning Project Management, Udemy

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

Growing as a Manager, Future Learn

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

Business Strategy, EDX

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

Guest Post: About the Author 

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