Category Archives: Business

Some Ways to Finance a Start-Up Business

If you have been in the market recently seeking some type of financing for a new, start-up business, you are probably a little frustrated by now.

The thing is: Banks and most other non-bank or private lenders just do not lend money to start-up businesses. That is just the way it is.

They claim that the risk is just too high and their regulators or investors agree with them.
In fact, very few businesses last more than three to five years – the typical loan term for a standard business loan.

But, just like many businesses before you, there are ways to finance your new start-up:

First – always look to personal assets or personal means. Now, I know that you don’t want to hear this but if you don’t have any other choice and you truly believe in your business – then why not use your own assets or cash to get that business off the ground and making money?

You want a bank or lender to take a risk on you but you won’t take a risk on yourself – just does not seem fair.

Plus, I can guarantee you this: If you have your own assets at risk you will work harder and longer to make sure your business does succeed (which is the end goal anyways).

Second – other bootstrapping means. There are many ways to bootstrap your business besides using your own personal funds or assets. You might look into:

Crowd funding – while this might not provide a huge amount of money, it might provide enough to get started. Once started, other financing avenues will begin to open up.

Friends and family loans – your friends and family know you best and if you can’t sell your business concept and benefits to them then you will never be able to sell it to paying consumers. Even if your friends and family can’t or won’t invest in you, they may know of others who will – you just have to ask.

Micro credit lenders – backed by the SBA, these lenders provide more than just small amounts of capital – usually up to $35,000 with the average loan being around $13,500 – they also provide advice and guidance to help you better manage and grow your operation.

Third – Look to partners or investors. If your business concept is not in a huge market, has high and quick growth potential or has a lot of proprietary assets, then you will have to look locally. Get out and network in your community for other business owners or local investors.

You would be surprised at how many local or retired business owners just want to give back to their community and can provide more than just capital but can open up many other doors to you and your business. You just have to get out there and talk to everyone who will listen. And, don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, you will never get what you want!

While you might hear of others business owners landing some type of bank debt or professional investment to get their business started; also know that there had to be some outstanding circumstance or reason for it – like their uncle being the president of a national bank or as a favor to a well known family member or just simply that they have other sources of outside income that qualifies them for the loan.

The bottom line is that banks and other lenders just do not lend to start-up businesses.

In your early days, you really do have to go it alone. But, make it a challenge. Make it one of your goals to eventually qualify for that coveted business loan. This not only will help you financially manage your new business better (keeping items like cash flow, collateral, credit and debt ratios in mind) but, when you do get approved for your business loan, it will really let you know that your business has made it to that next level and on the right path to further success.

A true entrepreneur does not look at a failure to secure outside financing as a fatal obstacle to starting their new business but, in focusing on the long-term potential gains that business could provide, would easily utilizes these three steps and other self-funding means to get up and running as soon as possible.

The Affect Of Bad Customer Service Mistakes

Your company could be riding on innovative ideas with the likes of Steve Jobs, but none of it will ever matter if your brand’s customer services skills are lacking. Today’s businesses need every possible leg up over their competition, and customer service is proving to be a booming key factor. Unfortunately, most business owners today have little to no strategy when it comes to their customer support system, and unknowingly they end up shepherding new customers right into the arms of their competitors.

Bad Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid

For the business owner hoping to avoid a bad customer service disaster, here are three mistakes to avoid:

Not Training Your Staff Properly, Or Not Training Your Staff At All

Whether your employees contains an employee count of five or five hundred, the art of customer service training cannot be glossed over for anyone. Failing to train employees of every tier and department on proper customer service behavior is a huge mistake made by too many businesses, big or small. It’s a huge oversight that often ends up hurting sales because there’s no telling when a worker at your company will come face to face with a customer.

Customer service is an area of your business that should be held with equal importance throughout every position at your company. To ensure your employees have an understanding of what qualifies as an acceptable and unacceptable interaction with a customer, be sure to address customer service during employee training specifically. Sit down with your team and take some time to outline the standard of excellence at your business. Be sure to define customer service rules and expectations, doing so thoroughly will also arm your employees with a way of addressing the various unforeseen issues customers might hurdle their way.

Attempting to Win an Argument with a Customer

It’s always worth it for brands to remember that it takes five times more effort and cost to onboard a new customer than it takes to maintain a loyal one. Of course, as a business owner, you’re probably well aware that the customer isn’t “always right.” Still, the sentiment that they should be treated as if they are is essential. Remember, when a client feels agitated or like they’ve been wronged, they’re at a point where they’re not really interested in having someone else prove how they could be right. Avoid efforts to “gain back power” over a situation with a customer by remembering your end goal: ensuring your client’s return.

Make sure that you maintain a positive interaction with your clients by practicing empathy towards their situation. One of the best ways to make a customer feel better about a faulty product or thwarted expectations is to relate to their frustration. Naturally, some interactions might not always motivate you to keep the relationship you have with your customer. In these scenarios, be sure to work to solve a problem with a customer with as much as respect as possible and then help them see their way out the door. Keep in mind that anything that could dissuade a customer from coming back; they will likely hurt you in the form of negative Yelp reviews or a bombardment of social media mentions.

Being Inaccessible

Customers who fail to get into contact with a customer service department will not return to try again. Be sure to secure repeat business for your brand by maintaining a presence that is consistently reachable by customers on multiple platforms. Today’s consumers have an expectation of being able to reach their brands on social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. They also expect to receive a prompt response: 72 percent of Twitter users expect a response to a customer complaint with the hour.

Avoid making your customers feel as if they are being kept at arm’s-length by training your customer support team to be equipped to address complaints that occur online. Craft an outline for employees that details how to properly address customers via email, and on popular social media platforms. A solid understanding of how to conduct themselves in these interactions will empower your employees to represent the voice and tone of your brand adequately.

Freelancers to Beat Fatigue

When you’re a freelancer everything about work comes down on your shoulders. You do the creating, the bookkeeping, the press, the marketing and the cleaning up. It’s a heavy load to bear and it can lead to freelance fatigue.

Freelance fatigue is exactly what it sounds like: exhaustion from the need to wear so many hats at once. The pressure to find clients, produce for them, track finances and promote your work can wear you down.

You can beat freelance fatigue with a few changes to your routine. Incorporating systems that work for you and finding time for self-care is the way to recharge yourself. When you’re a freelancer, you need to keep working to keep making money. Don’t let fatigue get in the way of your money!

Tips to Beat Fatigue for Freelancers

Self-care

You have to take care of yourself before you can offer your services or expertise to anyone else. Eating right, sleeping enough, and getting at least some exercise and fresh air are just as critical as pitching new clients. After all, what is the point of work if not to create the life you love?

I like to use my lunch break to listen to music I love or to take a walk outside. I live in the American south, so it’s warm pretty much year round here. Getting outside and getting some sun on my face is easy to do. If you’re somewhere that’s dark and cold, think about getting a sunlamp. Take a 15-minute break and stretch.

When you feel your best you do your best work. Scarfing down unhealthy food and sitting all day in front of a screen isn’t the best thing for you. Incorporate real time for self-care and you’ll beat freelance fatigue sooner.

Automation

Automating is the best way to make sure that things get done and you don’t have to be the one doing them. You can set up automated things in your personal and business life. Setting your student loans to autopay is a way to ensure you pay them and you’ll probably catch a small break on your interest rate.

Automate everything that you can to take some pressure off. Your payment systems, your email lists, and subscription renewals are great places to start.

Outsourcing

This is a tip you’ll hear time and time again from other freelancers. There simply comes a point when you can’t do it all by yourself. It can be hard to reach this point, especially if you think you can’t afford to hire help.

By piling everything on your own plate, you’re only hurting yourself. Your productivity suffers, your burnout rate increases and you’re probably not earning as much as you actually could be.

If you’re putting off outsourcing, take a step back. You can make it work for you. You can outsource the necessary evils in your life (like bookkeeping or accountant work) or you can outsource the minutia, like social media management or virtual assistant work.

Taking at least one time-consuming task off your plate will change your life. I like to think it’s how people felt when the microwave came out: no more sweating over the oven or stove? Just zap this in minutes? Yes, please!

Take On Work You Want to Do

I used to offer social media management as a part of my freelancing packages. It paid well, and there’s always someone who needs help with their social media. I have a steadily growing social media following, and I knew I could put my money where my mouth is.

The only problem was that I hate social media management. Being good at something and enjoying something are two very different things. Spending my time managing other people’s social media left me frustrated and annoyed.

Even though it was work that paid, it wasn’t worth the paycheck. I procrastinated doing the work because I disliked it, and I resented my clients each time they added a new account or referred someone my way to bring me more business.

I eliminated my social media management offerings a few months ago and referred my clients on to someone else. It was a huge load off my shoulders and helped me to feel energized about my freelancing all over again. I remembered why I enjoyed being my own boss, and I focused on finding more work that I actually enjoy. By eliminating the work I didn’t want to do, I had more time to cultivate the work I did want to do.

Freelance fatigue comes for us all at some point, but we don’t have to let it beat us down. We can create the job of our dreams and stay sane at the same time. I’m writing this from my small porch, where I’m getting some sun on my face as I check things off my to-do list. Two points for beating fatigue for me! What do you do when work has you feeling down?

Small Business Should Hire a Virtual Assistant

There’s a common misconception that virtual assistants are some kind of “luxury” only affordable by the big companies to outsource projects that require less management but are considered an overhead. Actually, the other way around seems to be true as more and more freelancers and small companies resort to hiring virtual assistants as a solution to the limited time they have available. By the point where business is stable, small business owners realize that, even though they’re doing well, they don’t have much time to be creative and take their dream further.

Some entrepreneurs think that a physical assistant will get the job done better than a hired virtual assistant would. But, the truth is, having a physical assistant takes up a lot more time and energy than a virtual one. And why should you hire a virtual assistant?

Here are a Few Reasons Why Having a Virtual Assistant Trumps Having a Physical Assistant:

  • It takes time to find the right person. It needs to be someone who’s qualified and matches your personality, so you can have them around all day.
  • In-house employees cost you more than their salary! You have to frequently train them, pay for their insurance and when they’re having a bad day/week/month (which is totally reasonable) your business may suffer.
  • You cannot afford someone full-time anyway but you’re overwhelmed with chores, tedious paperwork and a line of projects.
  • You are not willing to spend time on interviewing, hiring and training

If you find yourself thinking those things, then you might want to seriously consider hiring a virtual assistant. The niche of virtual assistants for hire is growing rapidly over the last few years, as the internet has us all interconnected so much, that it’s almost like having an in-house employee. Talented professionals from all over the world can be your call center, your social media manager or your SEO marketing expert.

However, there are things to consider before you hire an online virtual assistant that will determine the efficacy of your choice. The point is to gain profit from this move and carry out more projects than usual, with the best results possible. There is a wide variety of professions you can outsource to a virtual assistant or a virtual assistant company; from simple administrative tasks to accounting or human resources management.

Things to Consider When You Want to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Do You Really Need to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

The first question you need to ask yourself is: “What do I need to hire a virtual assistant for?”. Get your priorities straight first by listing all those pressing issues you need to get out of your way. You need someone to answer emails, support your customers and handle everyday micro-tasks? This could be anything from handling your schedule of appointments to managing your small business’s social media. Or you need someone with whom you can work closely on a project and delegate one of its aspects?

Which Kind of Virtual Assistant Mode will Address your Company’s Needs Properly?

The two major virtual assistant options available out there are ndividual virtual assistants and virtual assistant companies. The first option is suitable for working closely with a certain individual of your choosing. The second option is the best solution when you want to outsource specific tasks that don’t need your attention, like case studies, research or bookkeeping. It’s important to go with the option that best answers your needs and helps your small business grow. Your decision must be based upon factors such as project size, importance, virtual assistant’s monthly cost and the calculated benefits that you’ll enjoy in the long term.

Hire an Individual Assistant When:

You are a new small business owner who wants to focus on kickstarting your venture the best way you can. In order to do that, you need to get rid of small, repetitive duties and let an individual virtual assistant take care of all of this for you. All those small, daunting tasks that consume your time and interfere with your creativity can be a thing of the past. By hiring a task-based individual virtual assistant you don’t have to micromanage them too.

Hiring an individual VA has one more plus: you get to train them to work for you according to your workflow, style and corporate culture! Who knows? Maybe one day you can incorporate them into your team, provided that you’ve made an asset out of them!

Moreover, a dedicated virtual assistant is the best solution if you want to delegate sensitive financial procedures, like invoicing and billing. If you happen to use an invoicing platform, like Elorus, for your invoicing needs you have to grant access to your virtual assistant in order to do their job. You don’t want your business’s data to be visible by random virtual assistants working for a company.

Finally, one more reason to hire a virtual assistant that works alone is the reasonable pricing which varies from person to person and depends on the task. However, the best virtual assistants usually have a more specific price range, that doesn’t drop below $30 per hour. All you have to do here is literally weigh your options, but never forget that a good virtual assistant is worth every penny!

Hire a Virtual Assistant Company If:

However, individual virtual assistants don’t offer their skill set to you alone. They can cater for the needs of many clients at the same time, and it’s up to them to decide their priorities. This is not true when you choose to go with a virtual assistant company. They are experienced and have a large number of employees with specific skill sets to match your needs. You will always have an immediate response to your requests from a well-trained professional, no matter what!

VA companies can help you manage routine tasks, as well as, carry out entire projects for you! Therefore, they can contribute to your business’s productivity, boost its growth and avoid common mistakes that an individual, physical or virtual assistant would make due to lack of experience.

It’s very important to mention that when you hire a virtual assistant company you must make sure you get a free trial for their services. The best virtual assistant companies out there offer it by default, so if you contact one that doesn’t, there’s something definitely “off” about them.

As you’ve probably already imagined, the top virtual assistant companies can be out of your reach financially (if your business is young), so you might want to calculate your budget well. Good thing is, they have monthly packages so you can try them out and see if it’s feasible. Remember, this is an investment that will pay you back, in the long run, so be patient.

The decision to hire a virtual administrative assistant or company has a binary meaning; your business is growing! But it could grow out of control in the blink of an eye without help. So, why not outsource the burdening tasks to someone who possesses the expertise to keep your books neat, handle your correspondence professionally or do a market research with the most reliable data available?

How to Going Paperless

Not only does generating a paperless workplace help businesses save money and spend less, but it also puts them on the road to being more environmentally-friendly. If you are thinking about exchanging the file cabinets bursting with mountains of documents for a paperless system, but are not sure where to start, take a look at the following 10 steps to going paperless.

Going Paperless at Work

Share Files Digitally

Instead of relying on the printer to print off hordes of documents, share files with colleagues through digital methods, such as Google Docs. Furthermore, as this free service via Gmail continuously saves, work files will never get lost, unlike with a photocopier!

Nick Candito, co-founder and CEO of Progressly, told Small Business Trends of some key ways going paperless helps businesses. Speaking of ‘adherence’ and how digitalization improves working practices, Candito said:

“There’s no question that digitization improves collaboration. When everyone can access the essential documents and consistently collect the right information for the right person when it’s needed, you’re greasing the wheels of your intra-company communication engine.”

Store Files in the Cloud

Businesses of all sizes rely on paperwork, which soon mounts up to become hefty storage requirements. Instead of stuffing important paperwork into filing cabinets, store them conveniently on cloud-based systems, such as Dropbox. These paperless digital systems will save you incredible amounts of space in the office, not to mention will help keep vital documents safe.

Scan and Fax No More

Scanning and faxing documents requires the use of paper. Help your business be paperless by using a scanner app on your phone to scan documents. The saved documents can then be converted into PDFs and shared to colleagues via email.

Encourage Digital Communications

Encourage your workforce to adopt a culture of digital communication, whereby former paper-based methods of communication, such as mailing invoices and payslips, are replaced with digital methods like emails and instant messages.

Relying on digital communication instead of paper-based messages, will help save your business time. Candito notes, using digital instead of paper workflows allows management to “monitor your business and key collaborations in real time and with a view into analyzing bottlenecks to improve them and hence improve results.”

Swap Paper Bills and Statements for Digital Ones

Whether it’s energy bills, bank statements or contractor invoices, all businesses generate bills and statements. If your bills are still being created in paper form, simply ask for them to be sent digitally. Generally speaking, the likes of banks and other organizations prefer sending digital statements and mail, as it saves on printing and mailing costs.

Generate Digital Business Cards

Business cards, while essential, require substantial amounts of tree-guzzling paper. Instead of bulking out your wallet with a wad of business cards, digitize your business card. There is plenty of software and apps available, such as Pearl Scan and CamCard, which scan business cards and converts them into a digital document.

Use Electronic Signatures

Even our signatures can be signed electronically. Instead of having to print off a document, physically sign it with a pen and send it to a recipient, signatures can be signed electronically, meaning there is no need for time-consuming and costly paperwork. Abode Reader can be used to sign documents without having to print anything.

Such digital methods can help improve a business’s security. Candito says, “With digitized processes, identify governance and access controls ensure only the right people can access certain documents and systems.”

Sift and Sort Existing Paperwork

To successfully create a paperless office, you’ll need to ‘thin out’ some of the existing paperwork that may have been sitting in the office for the last 20 or even 30 years. Devote a morning, or longer, to sifting through old paperwork and determining what can be put through the shedder. Eliminating superfluous paperwork from the office will create more space, as well as being incredibly satisfying!

Make Meetings Paperless

Rather than giving out paper handouts at meetings, make use of projectors and technology that conveys the information you want to share from one visual source.

Train Staff to be More Digitally Savvy

A paperless business requires some digital know-how. From tasks like sending documents via email to using cloud-based systems to store files, if your workforce lacks digital acumen, investing the time and money into training them, is likely to prove to be a rewarding and invaluable long-term investment.

How Small Businesses Can Take to Offer Fast and Free Shipping

By the summer, eBay will be offering three-day delivery on 20 million items with no cost to customers. Any shipping charges from the online retail giant arriving late will be refunded and those items can be returned for free.

Customers will also be able to receive a $5 coupon toward another purchase when eBay’s new shipping policies take effect.  Competitors like Amazon have lowered their non-Prime free shipping threshold to $35 dollars adding to the trend that’s putting pressure on small businesses and entrepreneurs. Statistics report that 95 percent of Americans shop online at least once a year. Over half or 51 percent prefer online shopping and 5 percent shop on the internet daily. Small independent businesses need to come up with new ways to offer free or cheap shipping that’s fast to compete.

Ecommerce Shipping Best Practices

Tom Caporaso is the CEO of Clarus Commerce, an eCommerce solutions provider. The company has been a leader in the space since 2001. Caporaso, an expert in consumer trends and online retail, offered some suggestions on how small businesses can improve their shipping methods.

Set Minimum Thresholds

Many retail experts feel this is a much more realistic goal than offering free shipping on everything. Having a minimum order value for free shipping is an excellent way for small businesses to encourage larger orders. Caporaso says choosing the right products will help to make thresholds like this work.

“If you know there are specific items that you have a little higher margin on, you can tie free shipping to them,” he says.

Establish Loyalty/Member Programs

Small businesses can also charge customers a small annual fee to become members. Offering free shipping can be one of the perks for joining up. Having the benefit of a loyalty or premium loyalty program can offset the costs to business of free shipping.

“You can have premium loyalty with free shipping offers,” Caporaso says.

Pick Certain Times of the Year

Offering free shipping periodically at specific times of the year is another option for small businesses looking to compete with bigger players. For example, consumer demand for free shipping is at a peak during the holidays when competition in the online space is aggressive.

Caporaso notes that a full 40 percent of the business for online retailers happens in the fourth quarter which is the holiday season. He says the period of November to December is an excellent time to offer free shipping promotions to boost your bottom line.

Depending on your product line, specific holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day can be advantageous times to offer free shipping. Caporaso, whose flagship brands include Freeshipping.com and ShopSmarter, agrees:

“Time of the year promotions are great examples of how you can leverage shipping offers.”

Limit Free Shipping to Certain Areas

Some small businesses put restrictions on their free shipping such as only to destinations in the United States. However, the new innovation is being called ship to store. Entrepreneurs ship the products to a brick-and-mortar location in the hopes consumers will make additional purchases when they arrive to pick up their online orders.

Offer Free Shipping Across The Board

This makes sense for small businesses with small lightweight products. Offering free shipping on everything also usually includes stipulations like delivery via ground only.

Add “Free” Shipping To The Product Cost

This isn’t really free shipping but lots of small businesses embed the cost of delivering orders into the product price. While this can generate more sales, Caporaso notes entrepreneurs need to tread carefully here.

“There are many price comparison engines out there now that you can plug the same product in and get all the different price points,” he says.

Offer Flat Rates as Another Alternative

This is another option that doesn’t really qualify as free shipping, but implementing these flat rates does encourage larger orders. On the other side of the coin, flat rates discourage potential customers who want to buy single items or have a smaller order.

Regardless of the method you choose for your small business, there doesn’t seem to be any way around offering some kind of free shipping. It’s an important aspect of competing online and a trend that’s accelerating by popular demand.

“Free shipping has a very visceral response for consumers,” Caporaso says. “A lot of people don’t want to spend money on shipping.”

Connecting With Customers Online

If you want your business to succeed online, you can’t just sell to customers — you have to actually connect with them. Luckily, there are tons of different ways you can do this. And members of our small business community are well versed in all of those different techniques. Check out some of their top tips below.

Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Connecting Through Instagram

If you use Instagram for your business, then you have access to a great tool for connecting with customers and other members of your target audience. But there are some do’s and don’ts to consider when using the platform. Lexie Lu elaborates in this post on Design Roast.

Consider User Intent With Your SEO Efforts

Your SEO efforts aren’t likely to go very far if you don’t put yourself in your customers’ or visitors’ shoes. That’s why user intent can be a very important part of the process, as Julia McCoy explains in this Content Marketing Institute post.

Start Caring About Organic SEO

When building a blog or other website, SEO can be key. But organic SEO may differ from the techniques you’re used to reading about. In this post, Jane Sheeba of The DoSplash Blog explains what organic SEO is and why your business should care. And BizSugar members commented on the post here.

Connect With People in These Facebook Groups

Facebook groups can be a great way to find and communicate with like-minded individuals on social media. If you’re a blogger, you might want to check out the groups in this Mostly Blogging post by Janice Wald. And then see what the BizSugar community had to say about Facebook groups here.

Apply Emotional Marketing to Your Facebook Ads

When connecting with customers online, it can help to appeal to people’s emotions. That’s also true when it comes to Facebook ads. This Kissmetrics post by Karola Karlson includes some genius ways you can apply emotional marketing to your Facebook ads.

Use These Social Media Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

If you run a local business, you can still use social media to connect with your customers online. There are plenty of effective tactics to consider. Blair Evan Ball of Prepare 1 shares some tips for local businesses in this post.

Determine Your Audience of One

Connecting with an individual can be a lot easier than trying to connect with a whole group. That’s why some businesses find it beneficial to create an “audience of one.” Learn more in this Resonance Content Marketing post and video by Rachel Parker. Then check out what BizSugar members had to say here.

Create More Personalization in Your Business

Personalization can be a great way to really connect with customers and get their attention online. But in order for your business to really employ complete personalization, you’ll need the key elements listed in this Target Marketing post by Stephen H. Yu.

Blow Up Your Blog Visits via Community Management

Blogging isn’t just a way for you to promote your business and share helpful content. It can also help you build a community online. And if you’re able to effectively manage that community, you can give your blog a major boost. This Basic Blog Tips post by Disha Dinesh offers some insights on the topic.

Build Your Own Content Marketing Strategy

If your business doesn’t have a content marketing strategy by now, it may finally be time to consider jumping on the bandwagon. This Biz Epic post by Ivan Widjaya goes into more detail about why such a strategy is so important.

Know More About Small Maryland Brewers

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a new bill that deals a major blow to breweries in the state.

The legislation slashes operation hours from 12 a.m. or 2 a.m. EST to 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. EST on weekends. Under the new law, Maryland breweries are also restricted from selling any beer in their taprooms not produced at the brewery. That includes collaboration beers made with other breweries, Washington City Paper reports.

While most of the legislation appears to be bad news for breweries, there is one bright spot. The bill lifts the cap on the amount of beer a brewery can legally sell in its taprooms from 500 to 2,000 barrels. Breweries now just have to figure out how they can sell an extra 1,500 gallons with 2-3 less hours of time.

The legislation comes on the heels of a major announcement for Maryland’s brewery scene. Ireland’s Guinness Brewery announced its plan to invest $50 million to build a brewing facility in Baltimore County, Md., last January. Guinness will reportedly focus on beers it can sell in the U.S. market, and will continue to make its flagship stout in Dublin.

dcbeer @dcbeer

Morning! Live in MD? Love #mdbeer? Have a phone and fingers? Use both. Call your state senator. Not after lunch. This AM. Great job!!!! https://twitter.com/flyingdog/status/843949096733949956 

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dcbeer @dcbeer

Not sure what to say when you call your state senator? No problem. Be polite and follow this script. A minute isn’t too much for #mdbeerpic.twitter.com/oI2gzj3Dm4

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DCBeer, a Twitter-based news outlet dedicated to beer news in the beltway, is taking the time to show consumers who might be angry with the Maryland legislation how they can fight back. “Not sure what to say when you call your senator? No problem. Be polite and follow this script. A minute isn’t too much for #mdbeer,” DCBeer posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Simple Tips To Boost Your Productivity

If you want your small business to be successful, then you and your team need to be able to get as much done as possible, even with limited time and resources. Members of our small business community have learned what makes teams more productive. And they share some of their top productivity tips in the list below.

Learn About Productivity From Top CEOs

If you want to be productive and build a successful business, it can help to learn from the best. In this case, that means looking at the productivity habits of some top CEOs. Mary Blackiston shares some in this SUCCESS Agency blog post.

Pay Attention to Your Employees’ Sleep Habits

As a business owner or manager, you might not think you should care much about your employees’ sleep habits. But they can actually make a big difference for your business, as Kyra Kuik explains in this Planday post.

Foster a Learning Culture to Help Your Business Grow

There’s always something more to learn when it comes to running a business. So fostering a learning culture for your small business team can really help your business grow over time, as Nikos Andriotis details in this Talent LMS post. You can also see BizSugar members’ thoughts on the post here.

Avoid These Email Marketing Mistakes

Mistakes are part of running a business. But avoiding common mistakes by learning from others can really save you a lot of time. To avoid time waste in your email marketing strategy, take a look at the common mistakes in this Search Engine Journal post by Reshu Rathi.

Pay Attention to Safety Issues at Work

Safety is a pretty basic thing that every business should offer to its team. But safety issues can also impact productivity if they leave team members feeling stressed or distracted. Ethan Theo of Getentrepreneurial.com elaborates in this post about why your business should pay more attention to safety.

Deliver Stress-Free Presentations

A well-delivered presentation can help you boost your business. But if presentations cause you stress and worry, it can lead to tons of wasted time. Instead, learn how to create stress-free presentations in this Fundbox post by Caron Beesley. Then see what members of the BizSugar community have to say.

Consider Why Some Leaders Fail

There are many factors that go into making successful leaders. And there are just as many factors that can make some people ineffective in leadership roles. This Techlofy post by Ashfaq Ahmad includes some of the common reasons why leaders fail.

Perform Mobile Keyword Research

If you’re not doing keyword research before starting your SEO or online ad campaigns, and if that research isn’t geared toward mobile users, then you could be wasting a ton of time. Here, Neil Patel details how you can perform mobile keyword research and why it’s important.

Don’t Always Take Google’s SEO Advice

When it comes to SEO, Google often shares helpful advice to help website operators optimize their pages. But not every piece of advice is necessarily in your best interest, argues Nate Dame of Marketing Land. So it’s important to understand the nuances to avoid wasting time with unnecessary updates.

Attract a Flock of Angels to Your Venture

Extra funding can really give your business a boost. But in order to get angel funding, you need to understand how you can attract those investors. Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings goes into more detail here. And the BizSugar community also comments on the post.

Some Ways to Save on Small Business Travel

As the weather heats up so does the travel season. With the peak tourism period fast-approaching, travelers are exposed to increasing costs, with airlines, accommodation and other travel services putting up their prices during the premium travel months. If you’re a small business traveler, who does not have the luxury of an endless budget to spend on travel, making savings is essential.

Here are 10 big money saving tips for the discerning small business traveler.

How to Save on Small Business Travel

Track Unused Tickets When They Expire

Craig Fichtelberg, president and co-founder of Chicago-based travel management company AmTrav Corporate Travel, provided us with some insider tips for small business travelers, and how planning smart can save them money on business travel.

One tip Fichtelberg shared is to track unused tickets when they expire.

“This is the most missed opportunity by small businesses that allow their travelers to book on multiple websites. Cancellations of travel plans in business is common and unused tickets that are not tracked will never get used,” Fichtelberg warns.

Book in Advance

Research shows that travel services booked further in advance generally cost less that those made at the last minute. Fichtelberg advises businesses should require approval on last-minute travel purchases, enabling companies to ensure travelers are not waiting until the last minute to book a trip they knew about in advance.

Think Twice About Upgrades

Do you really require that legroom upgrade on a short-haul flight? Many airlines and other travel services offer upgrades to try and entice travelers into paying for more expensive tickets. Prices for upgrades vary significantly, so it is important small business travelers determine how much they can realistically afford to pay for upgrades and make it part of their travel budget.

Switch Business Class or First Class?

The differences between business and first class travel are not as dramatic as you may think. In terms of boarding, as Investopedia notes, many airlines board business-class and first-class passengers together, providing no real benefit to first class travelers.

Consequently, businesses should determine whether and when first class and business travel is allowed, which could be tied into the length of the trip or the mileage.

Use Virtual Credit Cards to Reduce the Risk of Fraud

Another top travel tip for small business travelers from Craig Fichtelberg, is that, in order to reduce the risk of a business falling victim to fraud, employees should travel on a virtual card which is created per trip, so they don’t need to carry a physical card and run the risk of being frauded.

Avoid Booking Airfares that Don’t Allow You to Make Alterations

As Fichtelberg highlights, changes are common in business travel. Consequently, money-conscious business travelers should:

“Avoid booking the new airline basic fares that do not allow changes, seat selection and boarding preferences.”

If changes to the travel arrangements need to be made, business travelers will lose the full price of the ticket

Sign Up for Company Loyalty Programs

Company loyalty points and programs are there to be benefited from. Fichtelberg advises companies to sign up for company-loyalty programs where the business earns benefits from air, hotel and car suppliers.

Take Advantage of Cash Back and Other Perks on Business Credit Card Deals

Credit cards for business use can come with a whole host of benefits, including cash back and travel insurance. Small businesses would be wise to take advantage of such deals, which could help them make significant savings on the likes of travel insurance and earn valuable cash back when they book flights and other travel services with the business credit card.

Use Hotel Comparison Websites

Business travelers can save money on accommodation expenses by taking advantage of hotel comparison websites. The likes of Trivago and Travel Supermarket compare the prices of thousands of websites around the world, helping travelers find the best deals. For cash-strapped small business travelers, paying less for hotels has to be a priority.

Get Uber Savvy

Uber has taken the world of taxi travel by storm, offering significantly cheaper rates for taxi services compared to traditional taxi companies. Small businesses that are traveling on a budget would be wise to take advantage of Uber and enjoy getting from A to B in an unfamiliar town or city for less.