Browsing: Small Business

More Than 6 Popular Free Google Products and Services for Your Business

Google has developed free products and services for consumers as well as businesses. They offer these items as incentives to potentially use “paid for” services like traffic and lead generation via paid ads in their Google AdSense program.

Delve into what some of their more popular services like Google maps, Google search, YouTube, Google Analytics, Gmail, and Google+ to learn more about what they can do for your business. For instance, note the following points:

1. Google Maps is a service application and technology that offers satellite imagery, local street maps as well as route planners, links to public transportation, businesses and entertainment. Maps can be used as a tool to find new customers, locate office space, travel in different cities and a myriad of other map-type functions. Use these on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and other devices.

2. Use Google Search and the Chrome browser. They are free search tools, and Google has invested billions keeping these on top of the free search line-up.

3. Google's YouTube is one of the most viable marketing tools on the Internet. It is a search engine utilized by over 1 billion unique users each month. Reportedly, over 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the number of subscriptions runs into the millions daily.

4. Google Analytics is free to business owners and individual site owners who want to follow organic search referral traffic, analyze clicks and visits, as well as set up charts and budgets. Analytics make it possible to determine where your marketing strategies are paying off.

5. Gmail is a free advertising email service that uses secure webmail and POP3 or IMAP4 protocols. Currently, Gmail is among the most highly used web-based email providers. There are over 500 million users' worldwide taking advantage of this free Google service. Businesses can also take advantage of Gmail Labs that allows bookmarking of important email messages and using custom keyboard shortcuts.

6. Google+ is a social networking application. It requires registration and currently over 500 million active users are listed on Google+. Utilizing Google+ as a business tools gives direct ownership of web content plus interoperability with YouTube comments.

There are many other free Google services out there like their Calendar that you can sync with smartphone Google Calendars for easy planning and date management. Take advantage of Google Drive, too, and share files and folders across multiple platforms and among multiple users. And keep up with the latest Google News to find not only worldwide announcements of interest, but even local and company specific information about all types of areas of interest.

Want to learn which of the above free products and services can help your business and how to take advantage of them? Get help from virtual assistants, aka personal assistants. No need to go Google all alone!

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Why Use Online Directory To Find Establishments, Businesses And Services?

The Internet, as large as it is, has many uses. It is a center for information, a market place, an advertising medium and a virtual world by which people can connect. With the growth in the number of Internet users year after year, Internet capable mobile devices have been massively produced, as more people stay connected to the web even when on the go. The Internet can help you find anyone or anything as long as you know where to look and what to look for. And in this tech savvy generation, the possibilities are just limitless.

Gone are the days when you have to find things the hard way; when you had to go through the thick yellow pages and manually search for a business, establishment or a service. Today you no longer need to knock on people's doors or stop someone on the street to ask for directions, technology has produced GPS for convenient use in getting to places. A lot of people these days rely on online directories to find the establishment they are looking for or the service provider they need; everything from accountants, business solicitors, hairdressers etc.

But why should people use an online directory to find these things? Here are a few reasons why it is best to use an online directory when searching for services, establishments and businesses on the web:

· The online directories are often free. You do not needarily need to pay or purchase a physical telephone directory.

· There are images that come with the products or services posted in the directory. It makes it easier to choose.

· You can search the directory automatically anywhere as long as you have a mobile device connected to the Internet.

· Updates and details on events are also accessible through these directories. No need to wait for radio or TV announcements.

· You can easily find reviews from other people about the services and the business or establishment. It gives you an idea of ​​what to expect.

· Paper directories incur printing fees and the space is limited, but online directories have more space for details, which is definitely convenient.

· You can easily grab coupons and catch promotions given you're able to access the directory anytime and anywhere.

Truly, technology can benefit people and make life easier when it is used the proper way. Such information shared through the Internet is of great value. Use it to your advantage and maximize its benefits.

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5 Reasons Your Marketing is Failing

Marketing, done well, reduces the need for “selling” in Sales.

You've likely heard some paraphrase of the above a million times.

Potential clients come to you ready to invest, they just need to hear the details. It does not completely replace the sales process, but it makes it a whole lot easier.

The issue?

Most small businesses, whether online-based or brick-and-mortar, fail at marketing. They may not realize they're failing until it's too late, but they are.

How do I know?

I've worked with hundreds of small business owners and, in a few questions, I can usually pinpoint where their marketing goes south.

Here are just a few of the reasons:

• Inconsistency in communicating with ideal audience. One week / month, you're everywhere, the next … POOF! vanished like the wind.

• It's all about * you *. Not your audience, not their problems, but * you *. What you're doing, what you're up to without converting those experiences into lessons / solutions for your customers and clients.

• Fear of failing and lowered sense of self worth stop you from taking any chances. Henry Ford said it best “Do what you always do, get what you always got” or there's always Albert Einstein's “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results”.

• Too slow in creating things and when things are created, they're often more about the product, price or promotion than about your customer. Perfectionism often results in a massive slowdown through your business and it's easy to become to focused on the product and how to “get it out there” that we lose track of our customers' perspectives.

• Too focused on one channel or one media: Facebook, email, teleseminars, whichever is more than being everywhere your potential clients are.

Do any of these, or others, creep up for you in the dark of night? Are you wondering what you can / should do differently?

My 2 cents:

• Identify those areas which are a challenge for you.

• Pick one and tackle it. If writing is a challenge, write a blog post or a Facebook Note or an email to someone who can help your business. Then “finish” it. Post it, hit “send”. Whatever it takes. Do it in less than an hour.

• Once you see movement and completion on one of your challenge areas, it'll be much easier to tackle others. Momentum is a very powerful force. Take advantage of it.

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The Reasons and Rewards of Business IT Services Outsourcing

From the mistakes not to make when outsourcing IT business services, it is now time for the reasons and rewards of outsourcing your business IT services.

Outsourcing gives your business experts the fraction of the costs of a full time employee or in-house department. Is outsourcing purely just a decision made to help your bottom line? Are there other reasons why businesses choose this option? What are the rewards of outsourcing IT for your business? This article will cover the reasons and rewards for outsourcing your business IT services.

The Reason for Business IT services Outsourcing

The Money – many companies look to outsource IT services and support as a way to cut costs. Outsourcing IT support can be cost effective and cheaper than spending all the time and money on the management, training, taxes, etc. involved with hiring an employee or in-house IT department.

Reduce Risk – technology can be expensive especially when there is so much choice available and if you make the wrong decision this can be a costly mistake. Outsourced IT service providers typically know what a good technology fit is for your type of company and what is not. They can save you from making that costly mistake.

The Business Objectives – you can not do it all. Outsourcing your business IT support and services allows you to remain focused on your core business objectives.

The Expertise – outsourcing your IT needs allows you access to not only the knowledge of one IT support technician but a team full of them. On most occasions outsourced IT companies have certified IT consultants on staff.

Freedom – in many cases most businesses use someone who is tech savvy to attend to all their IT problems, even though this is not part of their job requirement. However, if this person is attending to all the IT issues, then when they are going to be able to do the job they were hired to do. Outsourcing IT services frees up this person to concentrate on the role they were hired to do.

The Rewards of Outsourcing Business IT Services

Keeping up to date – technology is rapidly changing on a daily basis. It takes more than one person to keep up to date with all the changes. Having more than one expert voice in a technology decision that will cost you a lot of money is better that completely relieving on your in-house employee.

Savings – reduction in overhead costs, options to lease hardware, software and licenses can reduce your business costs if you chose to outsource your business IT services.

Resources – as well as certified IT technicians, many outsourced IT companies have access to specific vendors within the technology industry.

You can see above the reasons and rewards of choosing to outsource your business IT service needs.

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IT Policies Businesses Should Have

Great, your business has access to the internet, uses computers, emails, servers and various software tools on a daily basis. Businesses use these every day to operate but yet many business do not have policies in place to protect them against the misuse of these. It is imperative that your employees know what is expected of them in relation to the use of technology that is provided by your business. In order to protect your business it is essential to have policies in place that cover areas such as personal internet and email usage, software, hardware and data. Do not forget the potential lost time and productivity due to personal internet use. Without no strict IT policies and guidelines there are no standards that employees have to attend to and this can lead to trouble for you, the business owner.

Let's have a look at some of the basic IT policies that every IT company should have.

Security – this is imperative for both employees and yourself. Each employee should have their own password, employees should be given restricted access to all levels of the network, ensure you have virus protection and the most critical no employee should have access to all files.

Disaster Recovery – have a procedure in place in the event of disaster, this happen more often than you would think. Backup data often and use online and offline backup.

IT Standards – have a set of guidelines for technology misuse and how this will be approached, and who in the business is accountable for monitoring this. Have someone dedicated in your business to provide technical support, maintenance, provides software updates, installation and long term technology planning or outsource this to a local IT company. Remember if you want to grow your business it is important to have technology that can grow with you. In most cases it is more cost effective to outsource your IT services needs.

Network and Data Setup – There should be a clear plan of how the network has been configured. The guidelines should state how to add employees and allow permissions on the network.

If you do not have a strict IT policy in place for your business, get working on it and implement it as soon as possible. You are leaving yourself and your business at risk without guidelines for IT use. It can not be stressed enough how important IT polices are for business, it is great to have them but it is even better when they are enforced and adhered to. Contact your local tech support guy or local IT company to see how they can help you.

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Surviving Business Relationship Breakdowns

Most business owners would like you to think that everything in their world is rosy. Nothing ever goes wrong; they have a whole raft of satisfied customers that never complain and everything they do goes smoothly.

They're lying.

The truth is, no matter how careful you are, sometimes things will go wrong. It's the side of business no one wants to talk about, but it happens. Yes, even you may, at some time, experience a relationship breakdown with a client.

Whether you're a freelancer or a small business owner, it is one of the toughest things to deal with. Firstly, you will not get paid. Secondly, it hurts because you always go out of your way to help your customers. But you're not alone.

The rest of this article is written from my own point of view as a copywriter, however the scenarios can easily be taken from any profession. Oh, they're also fictional, but still good illustrations of why things can go wrong.

1. The brief

Before any project can begin you need a brief from your client so you understand their aims.

Getting as much detail as possible is essential, but can also prove difficult. Ask lots of questions so you get a full picture of what they're looking for.

Some clients will expect you to be a mind reader and when they say “I want 4 web pages written” expect you to know exactly what should be written. Of course it does not work that way, but some clients do not understand that they have to provide you with the raw material to work with (ie what they do, who their customers are, what their customers want, their USP etc. ).

At times, when you're with a client who is particularly hard work, it's tempting to just get an outline and crack on with it, hoping you'll get it right. Do not because that's a disaster waiting to happen. All you'll end up doing is wind up your client because you'll have to do umpteen revisions. It's much better to take the time at the start to get the right information than try to put it right later.

2. I'm not sure

Some clients just do not know what they want.

They're not sure about what content they need, how it should be written, the type of layout they want, or even what the main benefits of their product or service are.

This is the type of information you'll have to fight during during the briefing session.

When it comes to the voice / style, a good idea is to ask them for some examples of other stuff they've seen that written in a style they like. It's much easier to emulate a style you can see than try to create one from vague directions from your client.

3. Review process

Why is it important to know how the process process is going to work?

Well, if the person giving the brief is the one that signs it off, you're on to a winner. But if someone else is signing it off, or a group of managers, there could be trouble ahead.

When more than one person is involved you've got multiple opinions to deal with. They may have different views on style and content and even if you've followed the brief to the letter, they may want changes.

The best idea is to find out what the process process will be and if it involved several people, arrange a meeting with them at the start so you can get some ground rules in place before writing.

4. Ideas

Every so often you'll get a client who knows exactly what they want. On the face of it this sounds great, but what happens when their ideas will not work?

They've hired you because you're an expert in copywriting, but when you tell them how it should be written (benefits led, second person, conversational) they're it their way – even though you know it will not work.

You have two choices:

  1. Write what they want knowing it's not going to work and risk your professional reputation
  2. Walk away and let them find someone else

In this case, walk away.

Is there any way you can prevent yourself from ending up in one of these situations?

The best advice I can give is to trust your instincts. If there's a little voice in your head that's saying “no”, listen to it.

Your instinct will tell you if the job is right for you or not. Do not be afraid to say no, something else will come along. When you do say it, it will save you a lot of sleepless nights.

Author – Sally Ormond

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Small Business Start-Up Loans – A Great Aid for Start-Up Businesses

Small start-up businesses need loans more than owners of established businesses. For small enterprises, loan is required at almost every step of setting up the business. However, in most cases, small business owners find it difficult to obtain loans from conventional lending sources at reasonable rates. Start-up businesses in most cases can not adequately fulfill the eligibility criteria set by banks and other conventional lenders.

Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency providing financial assistance to start-up businesses with the aim of improving the nation's economy. The small business start-up loans are not issued directly by the SBA to the borrowers. Instead, they work through their lending partners, including micro-lenders, community development organizations and private-sector lenders, who provide these loans to small businesses on the basis of the SBA terms and conditions.

SBA offers a wide variety of loans that cater to the financial requirements of different businesses. Let us discuss the various types of start-up business loans provided by SBA:

SBA 7 (a) : You can use an SBA 7 (a) loan for various purposes including:

  • Purchasing machinery, furniture, equipment, fixtures, materials or supplies required for a business.
  • Purchasing real estate including buildings and land.
  • Establishing a new business or expanding an already established one.
  • Meeting long-term working capital needs for paying accounts payable and operating expenses and also for purchasing inventory.
  • Meeting short-term working capital needs such as contract performance, exporting, seasonal financing and construction financing.
  • Constructing a new building or remodeling an already existing one.
  • Refinancing an existing business debt.

There are various advantages of a 7 (a) loans over conventional loans such as:

  • Easier eligibility criteria than conventional loans.
  • Lower down payment rates on fixed assets.
  • Longer maturity periods than conventional loans.

7 (a) loan amounts range from $ 350,000 to $ 3.5.

SBA 504 : SBA 504 credit claims can be used for the following purposes:

  • Purchasing real estate including land and already existing buildings.
  • Constructing new facilities or renovating or remodeling already existing facilities.
  • Purchasing equipment and machineries.

Like 7 (a), the various advantages of SBA 504 include:

  • Lower down payment rates on fixed rates.
  • Extensive maturity periods than conventional loans.
  • Easier eligibility criteria than traditional lends.

Loan amounts for SBA 504 starts from $ 350,000 and do not have any maximum limit.

SBA Express and Patriot Loans : These credits can be used for various purposes including:

  • Purchasing inventory or vehicles.
  • Meeting working capital needs.
  • Purchasing equipment.

The advantages of these credits include:

  • Easier eligibility criteria than conventional lends.
  • Longer maturity periods than most conventional credits.

The loan amount of SBA express credits and Patriot lends range from $ 25,000 to $ 350,000.

It should be kept in mind that not all the banks providing SBA small business start-up lenders offer the same SBA loan programs. In addition, the creadit requirements and the eligibility criteria for the borrowers may vary from bank to bank based on the bank policies and their individual terms and conditions.

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SBA Small Business Loans – A Huge Benefit to Start-Up Businesses

Setting up a new business is never easy. There are innumerable details that need to be taken care of. Start-up businesses are primarily dependent on loans for almost all their business requirements. It is therefore extremely important to find an appropriate and reliable lending source to cater to their financial needs. However, since most conventional lenders and banks are not keen on providing loans to new business owners due to various security reasons, opting for SBA small business loans can be an excellent idea.

Small businesses can contribute immensely in developing and enhancing the nation's economy. The Small Business Administration (SBA), which is a United States government agency that provides loans to small businesses with the aim of improving the country's financial condition. These loans are intended to support the establishment of small businesses by providing through adequate financial assistance. These loans can not be obtained directly from SBA, but through a number of their lending partners working in accordance with the SBA rules and regulations.

The SBA offers a wide variety of loans that demand different qualifications of the borrowers. The various financial programs offered by SBA such as surety bonds, debt financing and equity financing are designed to cater to the different financial requirements of borrowers. In order to avail a loan from them, it is extremely important to understand how the SBA works. Let us discuss some basic rules and regulations of the SBA:

  • The SBA loans are provided to business owners at a lower interest rate than banks and other conventional lending sources due to the fact that start-up business owners do not have adequate capital to opt for loans with high interest rates.
  • SBA does not provide loans to small business owners directly. Instead, they are strictly set certain rules and regulations that are strictly followed by their partners, including private-sector lenders, micro-lending institutions and community development organizations, who are authorized by the SBA to provide loans to start-up businesses.
  • The loans are provided to the business owners under an SBA guarantee to ensure that the loan is repaid on time to the lending partners. Business owners can not avail SBA small business loans in case they have the eligibility to obtain loans from other lending sources on affordable and reasonable terms.
  • You can obtain SBA loans fast and without any kind of hassles. They can be acquainted on an immediate basis as soon as they are applied for. This can be immensely beneficial for start-up businesses that need financial assistance for all their business needs. Delay in acquiring loans can create problems for them in setting up the business.
  • One of the most beneficial aspects of SBA loans is that they can be availed even if you have a poor credit record including bankruptcy, insolvency, IVA etc. It can be an excellent way to improve your credit records.
  • SBA offers various kinds of loans, including 504 for purchasing real estate and equipment, 7 (a) for common small business loans, disaster loans and microloans. Not all banks issuing SBA loans offer the same loan programs. Moreover, in accordance with individual bank policies, the loan requirements for a particular program can differ from bank to bank.

The SBA rules and regulations for small business loans are designed to help start-up business owners and can be extremely beneficial for them.

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How To Attract High-End Clients

If you know that your products / services are worth more but are worried that your existing clients can not or will not pay a higher price. Or you are wasting time and resources trying to convince your target audience to 'sign up', when in reality they just do not have the money to invest (even though they love what you do). Then, there may be scope to refocus and elevate all or some of what you offer to higher paying clients.

It does not need to take a lot more work to attract high end clients but it does require a shift in a few areas to make it happen …

Design an exclusive product or signature service to offer in addition to your existing range. Some clients are willing to pay more for extra value, speed of delivery, personal time and attention, as it means faster results, higher quality and individual service. This could range from one off VIP / consulting days to longer term contracts, services and programs

Work on your wealth consciousness . When you have a handle on your OWN relationship with money you'll have much more confidence in dealing with the expectations of your clients. You'll also be comfortable charging what you're worth and not undervaluing your services.

Attend new higher level networking events, conferences and social activities that attract your ideal client. Some of these events may charge more but are worth the investment for the connections you'll make. The quality of your network of contacts and referrals is essential for attracting high end clients.

Dress the part . There is a saying that you should dress for the job you want not the job you have. This could be a good reason (or excuse) to invest in an outfit or two and upgrade your accessories!

Be seen and known as the expert and leader in your field . Speaking in public, hosting your own events, publishing books / articles or getting media coverage will help to raise your credibility and profile.

Upgrade your image and brand. Everything you do and say in your business needs to reflect a certain quality and style. Take an objective look at all your marketing materials, your photos and social media sites – what needs to be changed, up-dated or amped up?

Working with high end clients can be fun and productive . Your income will improve and by working together at this level you'll feel that you are having a greater impact and adding more value.

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Should You Drop Health Coverage for Employees of Your Small Business?

The Setting

Small business health care premiums have almost doubled in the last five years, from an average of $ 590 to a whopping $ 1,121 each month. This is believed to have made small businesses less profitable. Owners are now also less likely to get new employees, raise salies, or put more money into their businesses.

Many people are worried that “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act of 2010) will raise premiums even more. They are both right and wrong, depending on each individual situation. In any case, “about half the public (51 percent), and two-thirds of the uninsured (67 percent) continue to say they do not have enough information about the law to know how it will affect their families” (Kaiser) .

In this changing health care environment, more and more small businesses are considering whether to keep their employees on a group health care plan, or to drop them, and instead give their employees a set amount on their paycheck.

Reasons for Staying with a Group Health Care Plan

First of all, no matter what you give in exchange, taking previous health insurance coverage away from your employees can have them feeling resentful. They can become afraid of what can happen in case of medical emergencies and unexpected illnesses. This may then become a major reason for them to look for another employer.

Numbers-wise, older employees who lose company health coverage will likely have to pay a lot more for individual coverage since insurance companies charge higher premiums the older one gets.

Obamacare gives a tax credit for 50% of the cost of company health insurance, and replaces it with a stipend of sorts, so making it subject to state and federal taxes.

In any case, having 50 employees or more will always be required for companies to provide health insurance to employees.

Reasons for Dropping Group Health Care Plan

Still, Obamacare is designed precisely to make health care affordable to a targeted 95% of Americans. It aims to do this in a number of ways.

In 2014, more than 80% of employees who switched to independent health insurance were eligible for government subsidies to help them afford the costs.

It has set up a “competitive health insurance marketplace” that allows small business owners to spend a fixed amount for employee health care, and lets them compare and choose the most cost effective plan available to them.

Other Changes Being Brought about by Obamacare

Whether for group plans or individual coverage, Obamacare is undeniably aimed at helping the little guys. It provides more benefits the smaller the business is and the lower the income of the individuals, while taxing the wealthy instead. It bans insurance companies fromlining coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. And while it penalizes individuals who do not get coverage, it requires insurance to include preventive care and immunizations at no cost – with the aim of avoiding more serious (and definitely more costly) health problems down the line.

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What To Expect When Selling Your Business

Building a successful business takes years of effort and attention. Having expired plenty of blood, sweat and tears over that time, business owners want to maximize their value when selling.

Many of the qualities that make a business owner successful will benefit a business seller, too. However, not many owners have much experience in selling a business. It is a long, complex process. Here are some of the major issues business owners should consider before, during and after a sale to secure the best value for their hard work.

Preparing For The Sale

No matter what sort of business you own or how big it is, determine why you are selling and what your priorities are. Do you want to hold out for an all-cash sale, which may be harder to successfully negotiate, or are you willing to consider an installation sale or taking equity in the acquiring company? Do you have a minimum price determined by factors other than the business's value, such as your retirement plans? Do you want to reserve the jobs of family members or long-term employees? These and other considerations may seem obvious, but it is essential that you articulate them to yourself before you begin.

It is generally wise to hire outside help. Look for advisors who have relevant experience and vet them thoroughly. Make sure your experts have no potential conflicts of interest in a sale. Advisers you may consider hiring an accountant, a tax expert, legal counsel, an appraiser or valuation expert, an investment banker and an intermediary or broker. Some people may fill more than one of these roles, and not every business sale will require all of them. Almost every business owner, however, will want at minimum an accountant, legal counsel and an interim on their side before and during a sale. The broker or intermediary can be the point person for identifying and working with potential buyers. The accountant (and the tax expert, if they are not the same person) will help you get your books in order and consider issues such as how to allocate the business's purchase price most effectively and how to deal with federal, state and local tax concerns. Legal counsel will draft and review the documents and agreements necessary to complete the sale.

Be aware that many lawyers or other advisors will expect you to sign retainer agreements up front once you have decided to hire them. This protects both parties, but it can mean a substantial outlay of money at the beginning of the process. Also, if you have a business that is very small, you may have trouble finding a broker who is interested in your transaction. Many brokers who specialize in business sales look for businesses valued at several hundred thousand dollars or more. For very large businesses, an owner is more likely to hire an intermediary, who generally functions as a consultant and offers more sophisticated services.

Once you have hired a team, work with it to understand how the sales process will unfold before you start. The better you understand the process, the more purposeful you can be with your choices through. One key aspect to have in order early is your bookkeeping and records. Consider conducting a mock due diligence process to make sure you are thoroughly prepared for a prospective buyer's examination. You may also want to obtain an objective third-party valuation. This will give you a realistic idea of ​​your business's worth and will help you decide on a realistic asking price.

Once a potential buyer has been identified, a tighter focus on compiling and presenting books and records is warranted, since the buyer will be able to specify the information for review and the preferred format. For example, many prospective buyers want to see books and records that have been prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which most small businesses do not routinely use. The process of converting a business's books to GAAP can be a significant undertaking, so if this is a concern, it should be addressed early in the process.

Finally, do not neglect personal personal preparation for letting your business go. Create or revisit your personal financial plan. Try to work out several scenarios for the sale to see how it will affect your short-term and long-term goals. For some business owners, especially founders, letting go of a business can also have an emotional component. Know what you plan to do next and accept that the new owners will change your business once you are gone. Both you and your business will begin new chapters after the sale closures.

The Sale

The process of selling a business can be triggered. Once you begin, prepare yourself for the sale to take six to 12 months, though, obviously, this timeline can vary. To make your business more attractive, consider improving assets, cleaning up potential liabilities and generally taking care to make your business look its best. Much as you may repaint your house before you sell it, you can take steps to spruce up your business, too. Consider the timing of the sale; try to avoid selling right before a lease or key contract so so that a buyer does not face the prospect of renegotiating it as soon as he or she arrives.

Ensure that your business continues to operate effectively throughout the sale process. The sale can occupy a large chunk of your attention if you are not careful. Be sure to manage your time wisely and do not neglect day-to-day operations. Keeping performance high will not only make the business more attractive from without, but also will keep morale and dedication high within your staff. This is another reason to hire outside consultants, as spreading yourself too thin may hurt the business and extremely reduce the price you can obtain.

Consider carefully who in the business needs to know that your company is for sale. You have a duty to any partners or co-owners, as well as to shareholders, which may dictate a certain level of disclosure. However, widespread knowledge that the business is for sale can create anxiety among employees, customers and vendors. This, too, can reduce the ultimate selling price.

Once you or your broker has identified a prospective buyer, it makes sense to prequalify the candidate to make sure nobody's time is wasted. During the prequalification process, you will also want to secure confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements. Serious buyers should not have problems agreeing to such terms; if they resist, treat it as a red flag. (The same holds true for your team of advisers, who should also basically agree not to disclose sensitive information about the business.)

The prospective buyer should offer a letter of intent, which is a nonbinding offer outlining all the major terms of the proposed transaction, including the total purchase price, the structure and all other important conditions. The letter of intent serves as a basis for you, your buyer and your relative lawyers to negotiate terms and draft the final legal documents. Be sure to have a good idea of ​​which terms you are willing to compromise on and which are deal breakers. As a rule, the more thorough and specific you can be during the early stages of a deal, the better.

A key decision for many business owners will be whether they want to structure the sale as an asset or a stock deal. Generally, buyers prefer to purchase assets because they can obtain a step-up in basis, resulting in enhanced tax deductions in the future. Buyers also limit their own risk in an asset sale. Sellers generally benefit more from a stock sale, if one is possible, because they obtain clear, long-term capital gains treatment by doing so. If the seller holds stock in a C corporation, the seller may have no choice but to hold out for a stock sale to avoid double taxation. In other cases, an asset sale will tend to attract more buyers, but a seller should not hesitate to ask for a higher price accordingly, given the benefits to the buyer inherent in an asset sale. In many cases, the structure of the business dictates the tax treatment of the sale. For example, the sale of a sole proprietorship is always rated as an asset sale.

While a stock sale is reliably straightforward, an asset sale is valued as a sale of all business assets, with a portion of the purchase price allocated to each asset. Allocating the purchase price among assets is often a key part of the negotiating process, as buyers and sellers may want certain assets treated differently to receive the most favorable tax treatment. For example, buyers might want more of the purchase price allocated to hard assets, which they can depreciate, as opposed to intangible assets or goodwill, which generally must be estimated over longer periods of time. Sellers want the opposite, because the sale of hard assets often results in ordinary income tax treatment, whereas intangibles and goodwill can often receive capital gains treatment. Both parties must agree on the final allocation, as the buyer and seller will both distribute this in their tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

You should also address issues of transition as part of the selling process. Will you stay on for any length of time to ease the transition? If so, you will need to negotiate an employment agreement exlicitly outlining the terms of such work. If not, how will you hand over the business and when? At what point will key employees be notified?

Follow best practices even in the small details as you proceed through the negotiation and the sale. Keep good, clear records and follow any directions from your lawyer carefully. Meeting exacting ethical standards is the right thing to do, and it also limits your liability. As a seller, not only do you have duties to your partners or shareholders, but you also have legal disclosure obligations to potential buyers. Make sure there is no question that you have met all such obligations fully.

After The Sale

In most business sales, your involvement with the business does not end on the day it's sold. Founders and key executives often receive employment contracts to stay on and help the business transition to the new ownership. Depending on how the sale was negotiated, this can also include additional incentive payments, or “earn-outs,” which are contingent on how the business processes during the first few years after the sale. Earn-outs are common when founders and key executives stay on through the transition, providing them with incentives to keep the business running smoothly. Most business sale contracts include noncompete provisions, under which an owner's ability to continue to do business in a certain geographical area or industry can be limited.

Remember that Uncle Sam will take a healthy share of the business sale proceeds. Work with your accountant to prepare all necessary tax filings following the sale. The tax impact could extend over multiple years if you receive payments under an installation sale.

Selling a business is complex, and this article discusses only some of the legal and financial considerations involved. Do not hesitate to bring in a team with experience and to take the time you need to educate yourself before you proceed. Most business owners only sell a business once. It is important to get it right.

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Job Creation: Our Politicians Just Don’t Get It

In the two decades leading up to The Great Recession two-thirds of all new jobs in the US were created by small businesses. According to USA Today, in an article titled, Waiting Game: Why Small Businesses Will not Hire, “Even as the economy extends its growth and small businesses slowly add jobs, most owners are still holding off on hiring … Wells Fargo found only 21% planned to hire, and in a Citibank survey, 25% had plans – numbers consistent with other surveys in the past year. ”

One small business owner, who had to lay off 11 employees in 2009, now gives over-time to workers rather than risk expanding his work and to probably have to lay off workers again. Others say they can not find workers with the right skills to jump in and start the job without expensive training. According to BLS data, in the 1990's new firms hired an average of 7 to 8 workers, now they are hiring 4 or 5. They are investing more in technology and less in labor to become more efficient.

This is a big debate on the minimum wage issue. I can not think of anyone who does not want (any) worker to have a living wage, but what is the tradeoff? Why do we need hotel clerks? You could simply insert a credit card into a kiosk, in the hotel lobby, and it would tell you your room number and program your credit card to open your room. What about McDonald's? Why can not customers punch in their own orders and swipe a credit card? The reason for not doing these examples is customer service. How does one chain differentiate itself from another? But it is clearly a path small businesses will take to cut costs if push comes to shove.

Businesses need access to capital to grow, but access to capital for small businesses is a significant problem. SBA data show that small businesses (those with 500 or fewer employees) amount to 99.7% of all businesses and employ 49.1% of private sector employment. Clearly, small business job growth is critical after a recession. Pepperdine University published a study that showed a large discrepancy in bank loan approval rates: 75% of medium-sized businesses that bought a bank loan were successful, compared with 34% of small businesses and only 19% of micro-businesses. (Micro-businesses are defined as those with less than $ 500,000 in annual revenue.)

Many argument that an increase in government regulations has caused a pause in small business hiring. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5% to 2.0% per year during the period from 2017 to 2024. The reduction in the CBO's projections of hours worked represent a decline in the number of full-time equivalent workers (not actual job loss from full-time workers losing their jobs) of about 2.0 million workers in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million workers in 2024 .

Regulatory burdens on Americans increased by nearly $ 70 billion during President Obama's first term in office, according to the Heritage Foundation. In the first two months of 2014, 72 new proposed regulations affected small businesses, with 12 of them costing $ 100 million in compliance costs, according to The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. There are more than 175,500 total pages in the Code of Federal Regulations, an increase of more than 21 percent over the last decade. In 2013 alone, more than 80,330 pages were added to the federal register, as reported by the Congressional Research Service.

Seventy-two percent of small businesses reported that regulations were hurting their “operating environment,” according to a recent Wells Fargo / Gallup article, causing 59% of owners to think it's a bad time for expansion. And 55% of small business owners say they would not start a business today given what they know now in the current regulatory environment.

We had a 1% drop the GDP in Q1 2014. It's easy to blame the weather, but over-regulation is killing job growth in this country and leading to anemic economic growth. This should be a wake-up call in Washington DC.

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The Importance of Customer Retention in Vending

There are many businesses that overlook customer retention since the fact that it is the lifeline of every business. This article explores the importance of client or customer retention and how to manage this end of the business as your company grows and matures. Usually small start-up vending companies do a better job of this than many of the larger companies. There are various reasons for the same. Vending machine businesses have the owner handling his business while having front-line machines in his establishment and thus having regular interactions with the clients. This puts the human side into business and further builds up a relation of trust and delivery of reliable services.

However, the question that arises here is that how large companies manage their consumer retention. Most of the large companies involved in vending business typically combine their processes of sales, retention of clients and machine inspections. The person assigned this task wears all three hats and provides services which are valuable to both the customer as well as the company. Inspection is a time-consuming activity, which can bring you closer to your customers and a salesperson can use the know-how gained by the former to his advantage while also filling the inspection forms. These personnel usually have keys to all the equipment in the territory. In addition to the inspection of machines, there are other sections that have to be care for to ensure customer satisfaction.

Cleanliness of Machines
There can be instances when the food in the machine can melt, go bad or even get spilled, which can draw insects and rodents towards it. Therefore, it becomes responsibility of the owners to ensure that the machine is clean and that dust and bacteria remain away from it. While cleaning, one should make sure that the trays on which the snacks fall is clean as this is usually overlooked. This can take more time but can pay off in sales. More importantly, it can prevent customers from getting sick.

In addition, they also need to regularly assess the quality of foodstuff in the machine and get rid of anything that does not meet quality standards.

Mechanical Malfunctions
You never know when your vending machine can break down or stop functioning. Needless to say, this can frustrate a lot of regular customers. Although, there are various companies that deal with repair of vending machines; it might take them a few days time to fix your machines and cost you extra. Therefore, the owners of the machines should get frequent check-ups and tests of the machines to avoid embarrassing situations for both the consumers and themselves. It is there before your duty to check the functioning of machines on regular basis so that they are not on the verge of breaking down.

Vending machines are usually considered as a way for schools and large corporations to make additional income at specific locations. As mentioned earlier, providing quick resolutions to the problems faced by the consumers can build happy and strong relationships that boosting customer retention.

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The 8 Trillion Dollar Industry and the Advantages of Online Business Travel

If there is an industry that benefited from the discovery of the Internet, that would be the travel industry. Nowadays, it is just easy for people to browse through available flights if they are flying to another country or destination. If they wanted to see what the destination is like, they can check the Internet for pictures. They can even seek forums on the occasion that they are conflicted about going to one place so that they know what the pros and cons are. They do not even have to look very far-because of the fact that traveling has now become one of the most popular choices for recreation, there is a chance that a couple of your friends have already visited the place you are eyeing at. You may ask them about the experience, or you can simply take a look at their social media accounts for the photos they took during the trip. This is all thanks to the Internet.

Given that traveling is popular now, more than ever, it would be wise to invest in it. Striking while the iron is hot is not cliché-it is way of life for most business executives. Online business travel does not only give you a multitude of opportunities financially, but it could also be one of the business options that can help you change your lifestyle. A lot of people who ventured into business went for this route because of several factors, and we will be sharing them with you in a bit. Before you continue reading, though, it would be best if you will make a mental list of the things that you are looking for in a business, and let's see if they will be addressed by the next few items we will take you through.

First of all, this is a business venture that can completely and absolutely be done from home. Some people are just not cut for office based work, and this is nothing to be accused about. It is not just about the long hours spent at the office, but also about the time spend to get to work and back. You could be doing a lot of other things instead! Setting up your business at home also totally eradicates the difficulties a person working in an office usually encounters, such as difficult coworkers, and a difficult boss. By mounting your own business, you actually become your own boss.

Another factor to consider is the financial independence this type of business could give you. Gone are the days when you have to blindly wait for an evaluation or a promotion just to get a raise. By putting up your online business travel, you call the shots. Meaning, you get to dictate what the future has in store for you financially, but simply determining how much money you want to invest. It is not a simple task, but the birthing pains can definitely give you better options that you could only dream of in a corporate job. In a nutshell, financial stability is not a goal that you get at the very end, but more like along the way if you choose to invest in a travel business.

Lastly, this type of business is living up to its name – the 8-trillion dollar industry, because people are investing more and more here, every year. We know you also noticed how some people in your network have suddenly had inclining to travel. This, among others is an indication that the travel business is booming. If you are worried about risks, there is very little of that in the travel industry. Even someone without a business background can tell that this kind of exponential growth is one of the key factors in a successful business, and at the rate the travel industry is going, things are only bound to get better.

With this run-down of the top line benefits of online business travel, we hope that we helped you realize how much gain you will have should you choose to invest in this industry. Of course, there is always room for more information, so if you feel like reading up on this, visit .

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Aligning Your Business With The New Marketing Paradigm

Going into business is the dream of many people. Being a business owner represents a level of freedom and a potential for greater earmarking potential, but it seems there is something going wrong with the dream. Figures derived from chambers of commerce from western countries all tell a similar story. The rate of business failure is extremely high. While there are all sorts of variables involved with running a business, from choice of niche area, location, name, supply chains and pricing; there is one specific variable that has an intense influence on the income and that is marketing .

I speak with business owners of all sorts during the course of my work, I often ask them questions about how they go about promoting their business. Invariably I get responses like: “We do not have a website, but we do have a Facebook page, it does not really seem to do very much for us, we do not have many 'likes' and not many people visit it We spend a lot on radio and local newspaper adverts “While I know there are lots of savvy business owners out there, that response is quite typical of a range of business. What I usually try to do is explain that online marketing is an integration of many strategies, and that a Facebook business page must be managed. The style of posting must carefully chosen on all social media to encourage engagement, and natural discussions, not one directional advertising. Some are prepared to listen, and some of these become my clients. There are many that do not seem to quite get what I am saying, or maybe think they can muddle on by themselves. I have to say how is that working out for you so far?

There really is a new paradigm in marketing, many of the channels used almost exclusively even up to about 2-3 years ago are experiencing a dramatic reduction in demand. Newspapers are increasingly abandoning their paper publications and moving to an online model, AM / FM radio is competing with internet radio stations that are springing up all over the world, television is being challenged by online video channels and podcasting. It is very clear that the internet is the primary medium of our times.Where all the people are, that is where marketing efforts are best directed. Business is being done online at increasing rates, businesses are being searched for and engaged with from smart mobile phones, tablets, and of course desktop PC's. The smart business owner should be directing their marketing primarily online to maximize return on investment. Putting up a half-hearted Facebook business page, or one that surely acts as a bill board is never going to cut it, you may as well not bother. Beginning with a Facebook page that is assembled with good quality graphics. You should then go about posting interesting, concise stories about your business, short videos explaining what your business does, with humor and emotion preferably. Pictures, short text that invites comment works best with visitors derived from targeted advertising. This is the great strength of Facebook, its advertising platform is unique. With Facebook advertising it is possible to direct your messages to precisely the people who are interested in your business area, right down to each demographic detail. You can place the ads on their timeline, not just the sidebar.

Recent changes to the Facebook advertising platform have enabled the use of videos. Facebook is not the only game in town, of course, there are many other channels, with specific communication styles that appeal to different sections of the world community. Not every social media channel is going to be relevant to your business area, nor should you attempt to cover all of the social media platforms. I would suggest that the costs of hiring an online marketer to help you is going to pay massive dividends, by cutting costs on your marketing you are practicing false economy. I see this all the time, it is understandable, but quite wrong.

Today's business owner is advised to direct their marketing efforts online to a ratio of 80% online, to 20% offline and it is advisable to hire an online expert to manage your online presence. You have enough to do running your business, you can not be expected to devote the time in keeping up with online changes. If this is not possible, at least get someone to set up your website, and your Facebook business page. If you do this, you are assured of still being in business long after the statistics indicate you will probably fail, about 1 to 2 years.

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